The Qadiriya Sufi order (tariqa) was established in the 12th century in Baghdad by Abd al-Qadir Jilani (1078-1166) originally from the Gilan in Iran. The Qadiriya is more than religious rituals, but also a movement stressing importance issues in the everyday life. Philanthropy, humility, piety and moderation are central values.  The Sufis maintained that the human soul came from the world of command and is capable of reflecting the Divine Light, but due to impurities of the self, it does not do so.

History and Development

Qadiriyyah is one of the oldest tariqhas, and derives its name from 'Abd al-Qadir al-Djilani (1077-1166), a native of the Iranian province of Djilan. In 1134 he was made principal of a Hanbalite school in Baghdad. His most famous work, Sufficiency for the Seekers of the Truth, contains his sermons and gives accounts of various Muslim sects. Contemporary accounts of his life reveal him to have been responsible for the conversion of many Jews and Christians to Islam. Posthumous accounts of his life attribute miraculous powers to him.

The early spread of Qadiriyyah was very slow. It was only in the fifteenth century that the order spread significantly beyond Iraq and Syria. At this time it became established in India through the work of Muhammad Ghawth (d.1517). In the seventeenth century it was established in Istanbul by Isma'il Rumi (d. 1631). In the nineteenth century it reached as far as Malaysia and Indonesia.

The order has also played an important role in Islamic religious and political life in North Africa. In the eighteenth century, under the leadership of Usuman dan Fodio (1754-1817) the order moved to enforce Islam over those practising traditional tribal religions in the regions that are now Nigeria and Niger. In nineteenth century Algeria the Qadiriyyah fought at length against the French colonialists. The order continues today in various parts of the Muslim world.


The Qadiriya order is well fitted inside mainstream Islam, but interprets Islam in a mystical manner, meaning that the full understanding of the Islamic truth is experienced through rituals of the dhikr type. The actual rituals set down by Abd al-Qadir Jilani were few, and this reflects upon the order today. Each regional community may develop its own dhikrs.

 The order's rituals are characterised by the loud recitation of verses in praise of Muhammad and the singing of sacred hymns. These are sometimes accompanied by various bodily movements designed to induce ecstasy. In some areas local pilgrimages to zawiyas (shrines) of the saints who are believed to be descendants of 'Abd al Qadir, and festivals are celebrated in their honour.

Qadiriyya Today

Qadiriya has the majority of its members in India, Pakistan, the Balkans, much of East and West Africa and Chechnya (Russia). But there are also strong Qadiriya communities in Turkey. It is  generally spread throughout the Muslim world


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