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The Need for Patience Based Upon the Life and Commentary of Sayyid Muhammad al-Jiylani

By: Dawud Walid

When many Muslims reflect, sometimes romantically, on eras within Islamic history, there is a tendency

to discuss the outer manifestations of excellence without looking towards the seeds which helped

produce specific outcomes. One such instance is the multi-generational spiritual training which took

place that revived the hearts of Muslims to be able to retake Jerusalem in 1187 C.E. after it had been in

under occupation of the Crusaders for approximately a century. During this time, there were stellar

spiritual guides who embodied the teaching of patience (al-Sabr) that taught Muslims how to be

steadfast in the face of adversities. One such guide who taught through example as well as didactically

was Sayyid Muhammad al-Jiylani al-Hasani (may Allah sanctify his spirit).

Sayyid Muhammad al-Jiylani was one of the sons of the famed Hanbali ascetic Sayyid Abd al-Qadir al-

Jiylani (may Allah sanctify his spirit) who is affectionately known as the Rose of Baghdad. Sayyid

Muhammad inherited spiritual traits from his father and his ancestors of Ahl al-Bayt which included

deep knowledge of the sacred sciences. He was known for his detachment from materialism, his

devotion for worship and his struggle against irreligiousness while serving on the path of the People of

Allah. 1 The descendants of Sayyid Muhammad can be found today in the Hijaz and in Palestine. From

the knowledge which he transmitted which is with us today is a treatise on Islamic spirituality entitled

Abwab al-Tasawwuf: Maqamatuhu wa Afatuh which was taught at the time of the recapturing of


The following is a translation of Sayyid Muhammad’s chapter on patience from this treatise: 2

And patience has three stations: Patience concerning a thing, patience with a thing and patience

in a thing.

Thus, patience concerning a thing is from the strength of one’s certitude.

Patience with a thing is from the strength of one’s forbearance.

And patience in a thing is from the grasping the inward reality (Haqiqah) of that thing.

Thus, blight from the lack of patience concerning a thing is greed.

Blight from the lack of patience with a thing is feebleness.

And blight from lack of patience in a thing is hastiness.

1 Al-Zu’bi, Ithaf al-Akabir fi Sirah wa Manaqib al-Imam Muhyi al-Din Abd al-Qadir

al-Jiylani al-Hasani al-Husayni wa Ba’d Mashahir Dhurriyatih Uli al-Fadl wa Maathir, p. 335

2 Al-Kiylani, Abwab al-Tasawwuf: Maqamatuhu wa Afatuh, p. 94

In the context of socio-political challenges in the West, Muslims must place more emphasis on the

spiritual means needed to bring success, not being exclusively or overly consumed with material means

as is presently the case in much of our community’s activism scene. Patience is one of those virtues

which is modeled by our righteous teachers and elders to be cultivated within ourselves if we are going

to make true societal progress. May Allah (Mighty & Sublime) connect us with teachers who are upon

the pathways of righteousness just as Muslims of the past were connected to the likes of Sayyid

Muhammad al-Jiylani al-Hasani.

Dawud Walid is the Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic

Relations (CAIR-MI) and is a senior fellow of the Auburn Seminary based in New York. He is also the

author of Towards Sacred Activism and the upcoming book Blackness and Islam. He previously served as

an imam at Masjid Wali Muhammad in Detroit and the Bosnian American Islamic Center in Hamtramck,


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