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Qadiriyah

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The Islamic World: Past and Present What is This? Accessible coverage of Islam from the seventh century to the twenty-first century

    Qadiriyah

    The Qadiri brotherhood is one of the oldest Sufi orders, taking its name from Persian theologian Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani ( 1078 – 1166 ). An expert in Hanbali law, Abd al-Qadir embraced Sufism late in life. His preaching inspired disciples from all over the Islamic world, including Christians and Jews. Abd al-Qadir's teachings reconciled mysticism with the teachings of Islamic law. He believed Muslims should embark on a personal jihad to conquer their desires and submit to the will of God. After Abd al-Qadir's death, his followers created legends about him, some of which earned him the wrath of his colleagues. Abd al-Qadir's followers claimed that he had crushed mountains, healed the sick, and raised the dead. Many Sufis revere him as a saint.

    Abd al-Qadir did not found any particular organization or belief system. His sons organized his followers into the Qadiriyah, a Sufi order bearing his name that promoted humility, moderation, and charity. A descendent of Abd al-Qadir continues to head the central body, which governs a loose organization of regional communities. Qadiri groups develop their own prayers and dhikrs (ritual chants). Many practice sama (the use of music for meditation). The early Qadiriyah adopted Indian breathing techniques and body movements into their rituals. After the Mongol invasion of the Middle East in the 1250s, many Qadiris settled in India. The movement thrived in the region, attracting converts from prominent Muslim families.

    The Qadiriyah supposedly built their first zawiyah near Abd al-Qadir's tomb in Baghdad soon after his death in 1166 . By 1300 the order had spread to Syria, Egypt, and Yemen. The Qadiri brotherhood remained strong in Iran for three centuries. The Shi'i Safavids, however, opposed the Sunni teachings of the movement's founder. When they took power in 1501 , they expelled most members of the Qadiriyah from Iran. The Qadiriyah reemerged in Afghanistan after the fall of the Safavids ( 1722 ). The brotherhood also expanded into Turkey, but membership decreased dramatically after Kemal Atatürk shut down Sufi brotherhoods in 1924 .

    According to oral tradition, Abd al-Qadir's grandsons brought the movement to Spain. Christian persecution, however, forced the Qadiriyah to flee to North Africa in the 1400s. The order gained strength in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and the Sudan. By the 1800s, it had reached Nigeria, Mali, Guinea, and Senegal. Several offshoot movements formed in Africa. One group, the Jilaliyah, combines Muslim mysticism with earlier tribal beliefs and practices. They revere Abd al-Qadir as a supernatural being.

    The Qadiri movement remains strong today, with a following in In-dia, Pakistan, Turkey, and the Middle East. In addition, the Qadiri have formed communities in China, Indonesia, Central Asia, southeastern Europe, Somalia, and the East African coast. See also Law; Saints and Sainthood; Sufism; Zawiyah.

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