Shrine of Ghaus ul Aalmeen, Peeran e Peer, Hazrat Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani
Baghdad (or the "House of the Peace") is certainly a historic city with numerous mausoleums of prophets, imams and saints. It is also the city of historic mosques with their minarets and blue domes, which make it a city of piety and beauty. Baghdad is the center of religious movements and various Islamic trends. It is from this city that the most influential Sufi movements sprang and endowed Islamic culture with new spirituality and knowledge. The followers of these movements called for the renouncement of the material aspects of life, and recommended austerity and perfection of the soul so that it merges in God's love. And, it is in Baghdad that the main sheikhs of this current, As-Sahrourdi, Maarouf Al-Karkhi and Ghaus ul Aalmeen, Peeran e Peer, Hazrat Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani were buried.
To the east of Baghdad, called "Al-Rosafa" or "Assawb al-kabir" (because it is larger than the west side on the Tigris named "Assawb Assaghir"), in Bab Al-Sheik ", is the mausoleum of the founder of the Qadiri order, one of the most famous and far reaching Sufi currents in the world, Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani. It is one of the best examples of Iraq’s Islamic architecture, where the traditional domes of bricks and gypsum mix admirably with the new false domes and Italian marble.
A short biography of Ghaus ul Aalmeen, Peeran e Peer, Hazrat Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani Abdul Qadir Gilani
Syed Abu Saleh Abdul Qadir Al-Hanbali Al-Bashtiri Gilani, a descendent of Imam Hassan Bin Hazrat Ali Bin Abi Talib, was born in Gilan, one of the suburbs of the Iranian city of Resht, in 470 HS. He traveled to Baghdad and studied under Abu Said Al-Makhrami, an ascetic religious scholar who directed a famous religious school in Bab Al-Azaj (now Bab Al-Sheikh). His intelligence soon became apparent and sponsorship and patronage was forthcoming.
Ghaus ul Aalmeen, Peeran e Peer, Hazrat Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani dedicated himself to teaching and sermons, surpassing his teachers in the observation of piety, renouncement of material things and up-holding his principles. He recommended the friendly welcome of strangers and asceticism and soon became a famous and venerable Syed with supernatural power, who attracted many followers.
The "Qadiria Order" which he established is one of the most influential Sufi orders, with an international following. It teaches love, tolerance, austerity and the rejection of violence. The followers have their own way of gaining adherents.
Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani remained at his school, especially during the last years of his life, because of the conflicts between the Islamic sects of the time. He died in 561 A. H. /1166 A. D. and was buried, as he decreed, in the school. He left 12 children, of which only one was a girl.
The Qadiria Mausoleum
Because of Gilani’s reputation and holiness, which is recognized by the entire Muslim world, there is a great interest in his tomb, which is visited by thousands of people, especially Pakistanis and Indians. The tomb was in a small room of the school but part of the building was transformed into a mosque that has been expanding over the years. A marvelous dome was built on the winter Prayer
Room. The biggest dome in Iraq built in 941 A.H/ 1534 A.D is white and has impressive dimensions and splendid architecture and decorations which can be seen from afar. It has been repainted from time to time. In 1970, it was extensively restored: the blue dome was renewed and other domes, decorated with Qashani, were built close to the white dome.
The Qadiria Mausoleum today
This mausoleum is considered one of the largest holy places in Iraq, with its numerous internal and external additions. It has a big esplanade and a "musalla" (place of prayer) capable of welcoming 1,100 persons. It is surrounded by a building on two levels consisting of 66 modern, furnished rooms, serving as residences for the sheikhs. There are also other rooms for the Sufi "Dhikr" ritual (recitation), that is usually held on Friday evenings, or on some religious occasions, such as the Mouloud (birthday of the Prophet), or at the time of the burial of the sheikhs and eminent personalities. This esplanade has an underground entrance leading to the ancient souk underneath, where traditional items, such as rosaries, Qurans and some prayer and dhikr books are sold. It is endowed with three minarets: the most recent has a marble base decorated with granite; one of the other two has a beautiful clock on top, installed in 1898 by Abdul-Rahman Al-Naqib, Prime Minister of the first Iraqi government. This imposing clock, 30m in height, was made in Mumbai.
There are two gates at the western and eastern ends of this esplanade, which have been restored recently: the western gate leads to Bab Al-Sheik, and the eastern gate to Bab Al-Sharji zone.
The pavilion and the mausoleum
Before entering the mausoleum, there is a vast hall where one finds the Hanafi prayer room. It is about 225 m2 and capable of welcoming 800 persons. The hall has a beautiful mihrab decorated with Quranic verses, and an original minbar, with seven steps, covered with marble, which replaced the wooden one. Some criticized the change, believing it weakened the consecrated minbar which was used by many sheikhs and scholars. There are also guest rooms for the the sheikhs, and for "Dhikr" sessions. Friday prayers are usually held in this hall. This holy place has an internal door that leads to the Shafi and Maleki Harams. The outside door of this haram is made of beautifully engraved wood. Women are also catered for with a haram capable of accommodating 500 worshippers.
It is characterized by the large number of marble columns and beautiful motifs decorating the ceilings and the top of the walls.
At the end of a small alley crossing the middle of this hall is the mausoleum. It is inside a small room and women enter through a lateral door. It appears that the austerity to which SyedAbdul Qadir Gilani had become accustomed when he was alive stayed with him after his death. The mausoleum only has a square silver wire fencing over the tomb, surrounded by an iron wall at its left base in order to separate male and female visitors. It may be small but this does not detract from the feeling of sacredness and serenity. The mausoleum is visited by thousands of pilgrims from Iraq, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. There is a large influx of visitors during Mouloud and the birthday of Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani - one month after the birthday of the Prophet - as well as on the Night of Destiny, the Night of Al-Israa wa Al-Mi'raj, the night of the middle of Shaaban, the 10th day of Moharram and on Friday nights.
Famous personalities buried at Gilani mausoleum
A number of famous Iraqi personalities and religious figures are buried in this mausoleum, among them the two sons of
SyedAbdul QadirGilani, Abdul-Jabbar and Salih. They are buried in separate mausoleum closed by an iron door and only accessible to certain visitors. The mausoleum is also the burial place of Abdul- Rahman Al-Naqib Gilani, the first Iraqi Prime Minister during the time of the monarchy and Rashid Aali Gilani, another prime minister and instigator of the 1941 coup which carried his name. Abdul-Muhsin As-Saadoun, another prime minister during the time of the monarchy, is also buried here.
The Qadiria Library
There are a number of other important buildings at the end of the summer haram on the ground floor, the most important of which is the Qadiria library, the oldest library in Iraq, dating back to the beginning of the 6th century Hejri (beginning of the 12th century).
It was first established within a Hanafite religious school and has been extended and renovated several times, most recently in 1993 when it was transferred to its present location.
The library is a two-storey building with two vast reading rooms, one for men and the other for women, a section for manuscripts which are kept in wooden bookcases with a transparent glass front, as well as a section for storing books. The first floor has a vast reading room and book stores, just like the floor beneath.
The library has about 65,000 books on various religious subjects, especially those related to Sufism and 1,949 manuscripts.
Most of these books have been acquired by the Gilani family, from other libraries, gifts from inside and outside Iraq, and through purchases from the local souks and fairs. Among its treasures is a handwritten copy of the holy Quran in large format dating from 1796, which was donated by the governor of Kashmir, As-Serdar Abdallah Khan Addarati and the manuscript of the famous book "Strange Terms in the Quran", with the following note: "I saved this work that has been thrown by the Tatars to the Tigris River in 656 A. H., I am the needy to Allah Abdallah Ben Abdul QadirAl Mekki".
Additions to the Gilani mausoleum
Numerous additions have been made to the Gilani mausoleum, including the administration of the Qadiri awkafs (endowments) and the seat of the administration of the Gilani mausoleum. It is managed by the "Metwalli", exclusively from the Gilani family. Hadj Abdul-Rahman Dhahr-eddine Abdallah Gilani is the present manager, assisted by a team of employees. His office is on the boulevard in front of the Qadiri mausoleum. It consists of a big reception room, a prayer room and offices. Haj Abdul-Rahman has a master’s degree in political science from George Town University and another master’s degree in international relations from George Washington University.
The charity kitchen
The mausoleum has the most famous kitchen in Iraq which prepared meals for 1,500 people. Every day, 20 sheep were slaughtered until March 2003 and the tradition of looking after the poor continues to this day. In spite of the present difficulties and the scarcity of assistance and grants, this kitchen offers a free daily meal, after Asr prayers to 400 people, mostly those in need but some well to do worshippers also partake to receive blessings.
This kitchen is situated within the administrative building and provision is made for men and women to be served separately. It also has rooms for keeping live stock, a warehouse for dry food, a slaughter house, refrigerators and a dining room for employees and their visitors.
The usual meal consists of rice with stew, the preferred dish of the Baghdadis. Also on offer is a soup rich in meat and vegetables. The meals are served every day after Asr (afternoon) prayers, mostly to students and Pakistanis.
Next to the administration is a function hall where prayers are said to commemorate the dead and for the deceased members of the Gilani family. The hall is also the place for religious festivities.
The school of SyedAbdul QadirGilani
The school of Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani, with 275 students and 25 teachers, is adjacent to the holy Qadiri place and follows the "Mula method" of traditional Quranic instruction. It was opened in 1991 by the Ministry of Endowment. There are six levels and graduates go to the Sharia College, to be trained as imams, preachers or teachers of religious sciences. Besides the religious disciplines, students are taught the Arabic language, English and IT. The school has nine classrooms, accommodation for foreign students and a mosque. Financing comes from the Sunni endowment.
Development is continuing: a new holy place named the "Hanbali Haram" for 4,500 people is under construction near the east gate, along with four new pavilions for VIP’s, a fourth 43m minaret, hammams and parking lots.
The surrounding area
This mausoleum is situated in one of the oldest and most popular areas of Baghdad with traditional houses. The alley ways are narrow and difficult to access by car. It is surrounded by a traditional souk where artisans sell cloth, rosaries, toys, Qurans and works of Sufis,