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A Classical Document of Islamic Mysticism

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A cursory glance at some of the discourses indicate that the Shaikh addresses issues that are as pertinent in our times as when he spoke about them many centuries ago.
Reviewed by A Staff Writer

Book: Futuh al Ghaib (Revelations of the Unseen)
Author: Sheikh Muhiuddin Abdul Qadir Jilani
Translated into English by: Maulana Aftab-ud-Din Ahmad, formerly Imam, The Mosque, London
Publisher: Kitab Bhawan, 1784, Kalan Mahal, Darya Ganj, New Delhi.110002
7th Edition: 2013, Pages: 154, Price: 150
Reviewed by A Staff Writer

Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani, also known as Ghaus -ul-Azam, was the founder of the Qadriya Sufi order. Besides in the Arab world, South-East Asia and the West, the Qadri Sufi order has deep roots in the Indian subcontinent too.
Ghaus -ul-Azam is esteemed for his spirituality, piety, deep humanity, abundant knowledge and generosity of spirit. Many people, including rulers and governors, figured among his disciples. They venerated the Sufi Shaikh for his unparalleled personality, unaffected simplicity and nobility of purpose.
Apart from being a great theologian, eminent Islamic scholar, earnest preacher and a well-versed writer, the Shaikh was a large-hearted humanitarian. He would pray for all human beings, irrespective of race, religion, colour or creed. This is evident in the discourses he regularly gave in his khanqah (sufi seminary) on Friday mornings, Monday evenings and Sunday mornings. This book, entitled “Futuh al Ghaib” (Revelations of the Unseen), is a collection of such 78 brief, yet forceful, discourses of the Shaikh on various topics suited to the taste of every seeker of the spiritual path. It was compiled by the Shaikh’s son, Sayyed Abd al- Razzaq. By rendering the work into English, the translator has done a wonderful service to make this work known to the English-speaking world. Given that, the numerous typographical and printing errors and editing mistakes that abound in the book may be overlooked.
A cursory glance at some of the discourses indicate that the Shaikh addresses issues that are as pertinent in our times as when he spoke about them many centuries ago. These sermons speak volumes about the spirit of charity and philanthropy that the Shaikh breathed. The book is counted among the masterpieces of Sufi Islamic literature ever written on account of its marvellous contents and touching style that cast a spell on both Muslims as well as others.
“Futuh al Ghaib” primarily contains nasaih (spiritual sermons) and mawa’iz (discourses) that Shaikh Jilani preached to Muslims and others alike in the city of Baghdad. They were written down by scribes as he delivered them and were compiled and handed down through the centuries as a classical document of Islamic mysticism. A striking feature of these discourses is that while reading them, you would feel as if they were addressed to you directly.
Shaikh Abd -al-Qadir Jilani begins his discourses with an exalted, lofty and detailed durud (invocation of blessings on Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him), in which he expresses his deepest love for, and gratitude to him. He describes the bounties gifted to the beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and tells us that he identified God as no one else did, that he praised God as no one else did, and that he was inspired by God as no one else was. While reciting durud beginning with the name of Allah, he also enumerates the Asma ul-Husna (the most beautiful names of Allah) and His sifat (attributes) in the same breath.
As I was turning pages of Futuh al-Ghaib, I stumbled upon a lofty piece of advice that if one adheres to, he/she will cease to live in despair. Dwelling on how people encounter events and calamities, Shaikh Jilani explains that there are two kinds of people:
1. Those who are endowed with good fortune. and
2. Those who are put in test by whatever Almighty God has destined.
“Both kinds of people should be aware that “Lo! Thy Lord is Doer of what He wills.” (11:107), and that He changes and transforms, sweetens and embitters, enriches and impoverishes, exalts and abases, honours and humbles, gives life and causes death, brings forward and puts back. Why should either of them be complacent about his good fortune? Why would he be deluded by it? So be of good cheer!”