“Giaravahin Sharif” is a Muslim festival celebrated by Sunni Muslims, in reverence to one of their religious preacher and an ascetic – Abdul Qadir Gilani. He is believed to be the descendent of Prophet Mohammad, as his mother was the direct descendant of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.
He was the founder of Qadiriyya tarriqa (Sufi order) of Sufism. Abdul Qadir Gilani was born in Gilan province in present day Iran; hence, his name Gilani refers to his place of birth. He was born on 17th March 1078 CE and died on 21st February 1166 CE.
His birthday is celebrated on 1st Ramadan, which is the ninth month of Islamic Hijri calendar, and his death anniversary also known as “Giaravahin Sharif” is celebrated on 11th day of Rabi al Thani, the fourth month of Islamic calendar.
Giaravahin Sharif 2019
The date for the 2019 observance of “Giaravahin Sharif” was 22nd January, Tuesday.
When is Giaravahin Sharif Celebrated?
Giaravahin Sharif is celebrated on the 11th day of Rabi-al-Thani, fourth month of Islamic Hijri calendar, which corresponds with the day of demise of Abdul Qadir Gilani. Though, some scholars and traditions believe that he died on 17th day of Rabi-al-Thani.
Why is Giaravahin Sharif Celebrated?
“Giaravahin Sharif” is celebrated by the Sunni Muslims in honor of one of their religious scholar, preacher, ascetic and orator – Abdul Qadir Gilani. Gilani was highly revered and respected for his high levels of dignity, truthfulness and honesty and is believed to be the direct descendent of Prophet Muhammad.
The Story of Abdul Kadir Gilani
Abdul Qadir Gilani was a great Islamic scholar born in 11th century CE on 17th March (Gregorian calendar). He was born in the Na’if town of Gilan Province, Iran. His birthplace was 40 Kilometers from the town of Baghdad. He was Persian and Sunni Muslim of Hanbali jurisprudence.
The Hanbali School is one of the traditional Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence. His mother had a major effect on building up his character and his character of truthfulness and honesty are believed to be the reflection of his mother.
He was born to Sheikh Abu Saleh Moosa and Sayyida Bibi Ummul Khair Fatima. His mother Sayyida Bibi was a direct descendent of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad. Sayyida Bibi was a highly religious and pious woman and her most of the time was spent in the name of Allah.
Abdul Qadir Gilani is also called by the name Muhiyudin, meaning – the reviver of religion. He is also known to be descended from both Hasan ibn Ali and Husayn ibn Ali and thus called “al-Hasani wa’l – Husayni.
The early life of Gilani was spent in the town of Gilan, where he was born. Aged 18 in 1095, he went to the town of Baghdad for education. He was taught Islamic Jurisprudence, Hadith and Sufism, by many scholars. After completing his education, Gilani wandered in the deserts of Iraq for nearly 25 years.
He returned to Baghdad in 1127 and started preaching common public. He also joined the school belonging to his own teacher, al-Mazkhzoomi and was very popular with the students. He taught Hadith, tafsir and Quran. He was an excellent preacher and successfully converted many Jews and Christians.
Gilani died at the age of 91, in the evening of Tuesday, February 21 in 1166. The day corresponds with 11th Rabi-al-Thani and is celebrated as Giaravahin Sharif. The body of Gilani was entombed in a shrine within his Madrasa, located on the east bank of Tigris River in Baghdad.
Legend of Abdul Qadir Gilani
There are few miraculous events surrounding the birth of Abdul Kadir Gilani. His mother was 60 years old when she gave birth to Gilani, an unusual age for a woman to conceive. The footprints of Prophet Muhammad were believed to be imprinted on his chest. Legend also has it that, at the time of birth of Abdul Qadir Gilani, 1100 boys were born in Gilan and all of them became the wali of Allah or the custodians of God.
An infant Gilani is known to have refused the milk on Ramadan, making people to believe that child Gilani is observing the fast. In the succeeding years when people were unable to see a clear moon, they decided on their fasting, depending on whether Gilani had accepted milk or not.
There is also a story associated with the truthfulness of Abdu Qadir Gilani when he was an 18 years old boy. When he was leaving for Baghdad to pursue education, his mother sewed forty gold coins into his coat and advised him to always speak the truth.
On the way to Baghdad the convoy Gilani was travelling with was confronted by a band of robbers. A robber searched Gilani and found nothing on him and asked Gilani if he had something valuable with him. Surprisingly, Gilani replied in affirmative. The robber took young Gilani to the band’s leader and narrated the experience.
Leader searched again and found forty gold coins that Gilani’s mother had given him. The dacoit leader was awestruck by the truthfulness of Gilani and returned the coins regarding him as a true Muslim. He also asked his accomplices to return all the belongings of other travelers as well.
How is Giaravahin Sharif Celebrated?
Giaravahin Sharif is celebrated reverently by the Muslims belonging to Sunni denomination. Thousands of devotees visit the shrine of Abdul Qadir Gilani located in Baghdad. Celebrated on 11th day of Rabi-us-Sani, it is one of the most reverently celebrated events in Baghdad. Devotees throng the shrine from the night before, to offer prayer.
In India, Kashmiri Muslims throng in large numbers to the shrine of Abdul Qadir Gilani in Srinagar to mark his “urs” or yearly commemoration which lasts for eleven days. Thousands of devotees, both men and women, visit Peer Dastigir sahib shrine in Khanyar, in downtown Srinagar.
Night long prayers at the shrine are held ahead of urs, and people from distant parts come to the shrine braving the cold. Likewise, such prayers are held in many other shrines at Handwara, Varmul, Tujjar Sharif in Sopur and Pinjura Shopian.
Muslim clerics and scholars preach the teachings of Sufism and Quran; they also preach people about the life and teachings of Abdul Qadir Gilani.
Significance of Giaravahin Sharif
Abdul Qadir Gilani was a Muslim, preacher, orator and ascetic beyond comparison. Till date he is considered as an epitome of honesty, truthfulness and dignity by people of Sunni denomination. There are numerous stories about Gilani which teach the disciples to follow the path of religion and honesty.
Gilani is believed to be a direct descendant of Prophet Mohammad and his commemoration is also viewed as a mark of respect to the lineage of prophet. Gilani was the founder of Sufism order, and commemoration has much reverence for the Muslim followers of Sufism.
Gilani preached Sufism as a concept of holy war or jihad from one’s own ego and worldliness and to submit to the will of God.