Baghdad Travel Guide
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Anyone approaching Baghdad from the north or the west will be Shrine of the Two Imams, Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) and Imam Mohammed Taqi al-Jawad (a.s.). They are respectively the seventh and the ninth of the Twelve Imam, at whose tombs we are accustomed to seek healing and to invoke their intercession for the forgiveness of our sins and the fulfilment of our needs.

If we bear in mind that the Two Imams who are buried here died in the beginning of the eight century, it will be evident that there are seven hundred years of the history of their tomb to account for, precious to the comparatively modern restoration of shah Ismail 1. The Imams lived in the early days of Baghdad, while the walls of Mansur’s round city on the western side of the Tigris were still standing. There were cemeteries to the north-west that went by various names- that at the Syrian Gate, that of the Abbasids, and that of the Straw Gate. The Two Imams were buried immediately to the west of this latter cemetery, but by the time Yakubi wrote the whole northern district was designated in a general way as the cemetery of Quraish. Both of these Imams were poisoned at the instigation of the reigning Caliphs, but it is significant that in the case of Imam Mohammad Taqi, the funeral service was read by a representative of the Royal family, which undoubtedly distinguished the Imam as an important person, at whose grave some sort of a mausoleum would be built.

It was shortly after the burning of the shrine in 1051 A.D. in the riots between Shias and Sunnis, that the Seljuk Sultans displaced the Buwahids as military dictators in Persia and “Protectors” of the Caliphs in Baghdad. They learned what they knew of Islam in the distinctively Sunni atmosphere of Bukhara. Nevertheless, when they came to Baghdad, no injury was done to the shrine at Kazmain. And when Sultan Malik Shah visited it in 1086, it had apparently been repaired from the damages of the fire of thirty-five years before.

When the Mongols came with their overwhelming force in 1258, they wrought almost complete devastation in and around Baghdad. There is said to have been an understanding, however, that the holy cities of the Shias should be spared, and in fact Kazmain was the only one of these shrines that suffered. This was perhaps to the destruction of the western part of the city first. It may have been during the subsequent siege of the fortress on the eastern side of the Tigris that the deputation of the Shias from Hilla arrived and arranged with Khalagu Khan for the special protection of Najaf and Karbala. However, that may be, we know that the city of Baghdad was utterly ruined by the Mongols, and that the tombs of Kazmain were burned. “Nearly all the inhabitants, to the number, according to Rashid ad-Din, of 800,000 (makrizi says 2000,000) perished, and thus passed away one of the noblest cities that had ever graced the East-the Cynocure of the Muhammadan world, where the luxury, wealth and culture of five centuries had been concentrated… the booty captured we are told, was great. The death of the last Abbasid Caliphs, Mu’tasim, has been so celebrated in literature that what actually happened is obscure.

After the fall of the last Abbasid Caliph, Baghdad was never built on its former grandeur. The 1I-Khan, who were the descendants of Khalagu Khan, held the city for 82 years, not as a capital, however, but merely as the chief town of the province of Iraq.

About that time the Mongol tribe of Julayr wrestled the power from the 1I-Khans, and their chief, Sheikh Hassan Buzurg, made his residence in 1340, as the town best suited for his tribal headquarters. Fifty odd years later, in connection with his widespread conquests, Timur spent three months in Baghdad.

When Timur took his departure, there was a brief reoccupation of Baghdad of Baghdad by the Julayrs, who were displaced by the ‘Black sheep’ Turkomans, who held the city from 1411-1469. They in turn were driven out by their rivals, the “white sheep” Turkomans. It was therefore after a long period of neglect, when the city had been held by successive generations of half savage tribes, that Shah Ismail 1, of the Safavid dynasty captured Baghdad in 1508, and it was in 1519, that he completed the rebuilding of the shrine at Kazmain much as it stands today. With the rise of Shah Ismail there is an interesting and significant story of the revival of Persian Shia power, which belongs in the history of Ardebil in Azerbaijan rather than in a description of the shrine of Two Kazims in Baghdad.

We are told that frequently from twenty-five to thirty-five thousand pilgrims visit the shrine in one day. If viewed from a point of vantage, this shrine with its twin domes of gleaming gold is one of the most beautiful sights in Baghdad; and if studied in its historical associations throughout the last eleven hundred years, it affords on thrilling resume of the changing fortunes of the far-famed city of Arabian Nights.

7th Imam

Name: Musa Ibn e Jaffer- the 7th Imam

Titles: Al-Kazim

Agnomen: Abu Ibrahim

Father: Imam Jaffer as-Sadiq –the 6th Imam

Mother: Hamida al-Barbariyah

Birth: At Abwa’ (between Makkah and Madina) Sunday 7th Safar 128 A.H. (744 AD)

Martyred: In Baghdad at age 55 on 25th Rajab 183 A.H. (799 AD)

Cause of Death: Poisoned by Harun ur-Rashid and buried in Kazmain, Baghdad.


Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) passed twenty years of his sacred life under the gracious patronage of his holy father. His inherent genius and gifted virtues combined with the enlightened guidance and education from Imam Jaffer as-Sadiq (a.s.), showed in the manifestation of his future personality. He was fully versed with the Divine knowledge even in his childhood. Allama Majlisi (r.a.) relates that once Abu Hanifa happened to call upon the holy abode of Imam Jaffer as-Sadiq (a.s.) to ask him about some religious matters (masail). The Imam was asleep and so he kept waiting outside till the Imam’s (a.s.) awakening. Meanwhile, Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) who was then five years old, came out of his house. Abu Hanifa, after offering him his best compliment, enquired: O the son of Holy Prophet! What is your opinion about the deeds of a man? Does he do them by himself or does God make him do them? O Abu Hanifa, “the five-year Imam replied at once, ‘the doings of a man are confined to three possibilities. First that God alone does them while the man is quite helpless. Second, that both God and the men do equally share the commitment. Third, that man does them alone. Now, if the first assumption is true, it obviously proves the unjustness of God who punishes His creatures for sins which they have not committed. And if the second condition be acceptable, even then God becomes unjust if He punishes the man for the crimes in which He is equally a partner. But the undesirability of both these conditions is evident in that case of God. Thus, we are naturally left with third alternative to the problem that men are absolutely responsible for their own doing”.


The Holy Imam Jaffer as-Sadiq breathed his last on 25th Shawwal 148 AH, and with effect from the same date Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) succeeded the holy office of Imamate as the seventh Imam. The period of Imamate continued for thirty-five years. In the first decade of his Imamate, Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) could afford a peaceful execution of the responsibilities of his sacred office and carried on the propagation of the teachings of the Holy Prophet (SAWW). But soon after, he fell victim to the ruling kings and greater part of his life passed in prison.

Political Condition

Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) witnessed the reigns of al-Mansur ad-Dawaniqi, al-Mahdi and Harun ur-Rashid. Al Mansur and Harun ur-Rashid were the despotic kings who put a multitude of innocent descendants of the Holy Prophet to the sword. Thousands of these martyrs were buried alive inside walls or put into horrible dark prisons during their lifetime. These depraved Caliphs knew no piety or justice and they killed and tortured for the pleasure they derived from human sufferings. The Holy Imam (a.s.) was saved from the tyranny of al-Mansur because the king, being occupied with his project of constructing the new city of Baghdad, could not get time to turn towards victimizing the Imam. By 157 A.H. the city of Baghdad was built. This was soon followed by the death of its founder a year later. After al-Mansur his son al-Mahdi ascended the throne. When in 164 A.H. he came to Madina and heard the great reputation of the Imam, he could not resist his jealousy and the spark of his ancestral malice against the Ahlul bayt were re kindled. He somehow managed to take the Imam with him to Baghdad and got him imprisoned there. But after a year he realized his mistake and released the Imam from Jail. Al-Mahdi was succeeded by Al-Hadi who lived only for a year.

Now, in 170 A.H. the cruellest and tyrannical king Harun ur-Rashid appeared at the head of the Abbasid Empire. It was during his reign that the Holy Imam (a.s.) passed the greater part of his life in a miserable prison till he was poisoned there. Harun had the Imam (a.s.) arrested in the Prophet’s mosque whilst Imam was praying. He was hand cuffed and shackled and sent to Basra. Imam (a.s.) put into prison under the custody of Isa bin Jaffer. After a year Isa wrote to Harun saying he could no longer imprison Imam (a.s.) as he could find only piety and righteousness in him.

Harun had the Imam (a.s.) moved to Baghdad under the custody of Fadhl bin Rabi who too became a follower of Imam. The prisons were so small there was no room to stand and the food was a cup of water and two pieces of dry bread a day. Imam remained patient. Harun finally moved Imam in the care of Sindi bin Shahak (a very cruel man). Imam remained in prison for the last 19 years of his life. The 19 years of imprisonment gave the Shia population a little relief as the rulers concentrated on Imam. It enabled the Shias to disperse from Arabia to Iran, India etc. thus spreading Islam and it was one of the factors towards the popularity of the 8th Imam.

Moral and Ethical Excellence

As regards his morality and ethical excellence, Ibn Hajar al-Haytami remarks: “the patience and forbearance of Imam Musa al-Kazim was such that he was given the title of al-Kazim (one who swallows his anger). He was the embodiment of virtue and generosity. He devoted his nights to the prayers of God and his days to fasting. He always forgave those who did wrong to him. His kind and generous attitude towards the people was such that he used to patronize and help the poor and destitute of Madina and provide for them cash, food, clothes and other necessities of sustenance secretly. It continued to be a riddle for the receivers of gifts throughout the Imam’s (a.s.) lifetime as to who their benefactor was, but the secret was not revealed until after his death.

Literary Attainments

Time and circumstances did not permit Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) to establish institutions to import religious knowledge to his followers as his father, Imam Jaffer as-Sadiq and his grandfather Imam Mohammed Baqir (a.s.) had done. He was never allowed to address a congregation. He carried on his mission of preaching and guiding people quietly.


In 179 A.H. Harun ur-Rashid visited Madina. The furies of malice and jealousy against the Ahlul Bayt was kindled in his heart when he saw the great influence and popularity which the Holy Imam (a.s.) enjoyed amongst the people there. He got the Imam (a.s.) arrested while he was busy in prayer at the tomb of Holy Prophet and kept him in prison in Baghdad for a period of about four years. On the 25th Rajab 183 A.H. he got the Imam (a.s.) martyred by poison. Even his corpse was not spared humiliation was taken out of the prison and left on the Bridge of Baghdad. When Harun ur-Rashid’s brother Sulayman heard of this he was furious and arranged for his burial in a Quraish Cemetery outside Baghdad (the 8th Imam gave ghusl and kafan). A town grew around the tomb of Imam called Kazmain (meaning the two Kazim’s) since the 9th Imam is also buried there.

9th Imam

Name: Mohammad bin Ali – the 9th Imam

Titles: Al Taqi; Al Jawad

Agnomen: Abu Jaffer

Father: Imam Ali Ridha (a.s.)-the 8th Imam

Mother: Sabika (also known as khaizuran)

Birth: At Madina on Friday, 10th Rajab 195 A.H. (809 AD)

Martyred: In Kazmain at age 25, on Wed, 29th Zulqada 220 AH (835 AD).

Cause of death: Poisoned by Abbasid Khalifa Mu’tasim in Kazmain near Baghdad and buried there.

His Parents & Birth

He was the only son of the 8th Imam Ali Ridha (a.s.). The Prophet had said:

“My father be sacrificed on the mother of the 9th Imam who will be a pure and pious Nubian”.

Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) had told one of his companions that his daughter in law (Sabika) would be one of the most pious of women and to give her his salams. She came from the same tribe as the Prophet’s Wife-Maria Kubtiya who bore the Prophet his son Ibrahim (who died in infancy).

Imam Mohammad Taqi was born when his father was 45 years old. Till then Imam Ali Ridha (a.s.) had constantly been taunted that he had no children. When the 9th Imam was born, a brother of Imam Ali Ridha (a.s.) was angry because he would lose out in inheriting the Imam’s property and in his jealousy spread a rumour that Imam Ali Ridha was not the father. He was eventually proved wrong by a person who could tell parentage.


The 9th Imam was a 5-year-old when his father was called to Baghdad by Mamun ur-Rashid to be his ‘heir apparent’. When Imam ali Ridha (a.s.) was leaving he saw his son putting sand in his hair. He asked why and the young Imam replied that this was what an orphan did. Imam Ridha was fully aware of the treacherous character of the ruling king and was sure that he would not return to Madina. So before his departure from Madina he declared his son Mohammed Taqi al-Jawad as his successor and imparted to him all his stores of Divine knowledge and spiritual genius.


Their effect from the same date Imam Mohammad Taqi (a.s.) was commissioned by Allah to hold the responsibility of Imamate. At the tender age of eight there was no self-chance or means of young Imam reaching great heights of knowledge and practical achievements. But after a few days he is known not only to have debated with his contemporary scholars on subjects pertaining to fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), hadith (tradition), tafsir (Quranic exegesis), etc. and outwitted then, but also to exhort their admiration and acknowledgement of his learning and superiority. Right from then the world realized that he Divine knowledge and that the knowledge commanded by the Holy Imam was not acquired, but granted by Allah.

His titles, life & Works

The ruler of the time, Mamun ur-Rashid, thought that as all the rulers before him had oppressed the Imams and their schemes had backfired. He tried to make the 8th Imam his heir apparent and give him power and wealth but that also backfired. He now tried to use power and wealth with the 9th Imam again but from a much younger age thinking that he would be able to influence him. His main purpose was also to make sure that the 12th Imam (when he knew would bring justice to the world) would be from his progeny and therefore intended to give his daughter Ummul Fadhl to the Imam for a wife.

Mamun still continued oppressing the family and followers of Ahlul bayt. Mamun called the young Imam (a.s.) to Baghdad from Madina and offered his daughter. This infuriated his family (Bannu Abbas). To prove to them the excellence of Imam even at a young age he arranged a meeting between the Imam and the most learned of men at that time-Yahya bin Athkam.

It was a grand occasion with some 900 other scholars present. Imam a.s. was first asked by Yahya: “What is the compensation (kaffara) for a person in Ehram who hunted and killed his prey?”

Imam replied that there were more details required before he could answer the question:

Did the Muhrim (Haji in Ehram) hunt in the haram or outside?

Did the Muhrim know sharia or not? Did he hunt intentionally or not?

Did he hunt for the first time or was this one of many times?

Was he free or slave? Was his prey a bird or an animal?

Was it big or small?

Had he hunted by day or by night?

Was he baligh or not?  Was he repentant or not?

Was his Ehram for Hajj or Umra?

Yahya the scholar was stunned. He looked down and started sweating. Mamun asked the young Imam to answer the questions, which he did, and then Imam asked Yahya a question which he could not answer. Then Mamun addressed the audience thus: “Did I not say that the Imam comes of a family which has been chosen by Allah as the repository of knowledge and learning? Is there anyone in the world who can match even the children of this family? All of them shouted: “Undoubtedly there is no one parallel to Mohammad bin Ali al-Jawad.”

Imam lived for a year in Baghdad with Ummul Fadhl. She was very disobedient to Imam. When she found out that Imam had another wife (from the progeny of Ammar e Yasir (r.a.) and that there were also children. She was jealous and angry realizing that her father’s plan had failed. She complained to her father who also realized that his plan, to keep the 12th Imam in his progeny, had failed. He was enraged and in his rage he drank heavily and went to 9th Imam’s home and attacked the Imam with a sword. Imam was saved due to Hirze Jawad.

Imam was allowed to return to Madina. Imam used his time to prepare the masails of Taqleed and Ijtihad in preparation of 12th Imam. Knowing that both the 10th& 11th Imam would spend most of their lives in prison. He also prepared the people of Madina teaching true Islam knowing this would be the last time they would be able to receive guidance directly from an Imam for a long time.

Mamun died in 218 A.H. and was succeeded by his brother Mu’tasim billah. He openly announced that all Shias were non-Muslims.  He said it was required for people to kill and prosecute Shias, and to destroy property belonging to Shias.

Ummul Fadl now started complaining to her uncle who was sympathetic to her. Mu’tasim called the Imam to Baghdad. He asked him to pass judgement of how to punish a thief. Imam said only fingers could be cut as the palms were for Allah (as in Quran- it is one of the wajib parts to touch the ground during sajda. As this decision was contrary to the decision of the other Ulama, it strengthened the position of Shias. The other Ulama complained to Mu’tasim.

Death & Burial

With instigation from both the Ulama and Ummul Fadhl, Mu’tasim sent poison which Ummul Fadhl put in Imam’s drink and gave it to him. Imam died on 29th Dhulqadah at the age of 25 years and is buried near his grandfather in Kazmain. His son gave him ghusl and kafan.

It is he who prepared and wrote books for the masails of Ijtihad and Taqleed which were essential to prepare believers for the ghaibat of 12th Imam.

Abu Hanifa Mosque

The Abu Hanifa Mosque is one of the most prominent Sunni Mosques in Baghdad, Iraq. It is built around the tombs of Abu Hanifa an-Numan, the founder of Hanafi madhab or school of Islamic religious jurisprudence. It is in the Adhamiyah district of northern Baghdad, which is named after Abu Hanifa’s reverential epithet Al- imam al-Azam.


Caliph Abu Jaffer al-Mansur offered Abu Hanifa to be Qadhi-al-Qudhat, chief judge, but he refused, which caused him being tortured and put in prison. He was lashed until he agreed. Al-Mansur ordered Abu Hanifa to make fatwas that expand the caliph’s authority, which Abu Hanifa disagreed to do, leading him back to prison.

While he was in prison, Abu Hanifa died in 150 A.H./ 767 CE in Baghdad, either from being poisoned or from old age.


The total area of the mosque is 10,000 Sq. meters (110,000 Sq. ft.) and it can accommodate 5,000 worshipers. On Friday prayers, the regular number of worshippers is 1,000 while on the regular everyday prayers, 200-250 worshippers come to the mosque.

Tomb chamber

Located under the main dome, the tomb chamber is a wide room. Abu Hanifa is buried in the middle of the room, his grave covered by a wooden Zareeh with metal bars.

Abu Hanifa

Abu Hanifa al-Numan b. Thabit was an 8th century Sunni Muslim theologian and jurist of Persian origin, who became the eponymous founder of Hanafi school of Sunni jurisprudence, which has remained the most widely practiced law school with Sunni tradition, predominates in Central Asia, Afghanistan, Persia (until the 16th Century), Balkans, Russia, Chechnya, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Muslims in India, Turkey and some parts of the Arab world. Born to Muslim family in Kufa, Abu Hanifa is known to have travelled to the Hejaz, region of the Arabia, in his youth, where he studied in Mecca and Madina.


He was born during the reign of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan. It is being said that his family emigrated from Charikar north of Kabul to Baghdad in the eight century. His ancestry is generally accepted as being of Persian origin. Abu Hanifa also supported the cause of Zayd bin Ali. Abu Hanifa studied under Imam Mohammed Baqir and Imam Jaffer al-Sadiq a.s. Abu Hanifa was born 67 years after the death of Holy Prophet.

Connection with the family of Holy Prophet& Shiism

Imam Abu Hanifa was a student of the Shiite Imam Jaffer as-Sadiq (6th Imam) a.s., who was the descendent of Prophet Mohammed (SAWW). He spent two years in Masjid Kufa to learn from Imam and he was boasting that if these two years were not in my life, I would have been perished. Thus, all of the four great Imams of Sunni Fiqh are connected to Jaffer from the household of Holy Prophet, whether directly or indirectly. In one hadith, Abu Hanifa once said about Imam Jaffer as-Sadiq: “I have not seen anyone with more knowledge than Jaffer ibn Mohammed Baqir”. In another hadith he said: “I met with Zayd (Jaffer’s uncle) and I never saw in his generation a person more knowledgeable, as quick a thinker, or more eloquent than he was”.

Mausoleum of Abdul Qadir Gilani

The Mausoleum of Abdul Qadir Gilani is an Islamic religious complex dedicated to Abdul Qadir Gilani, the founder of the Qadiriyya Sufi order, located in Baghdad, Iraq. Its surrounding square is named Kilani square. The complex consists of the Mosque, Mausoleum, and the library known as Qadiriyya library, which houses rare old works related to Islamic studies.


The complex was built near the Bab al Sheikh (al sheikh gate) in al-Rusafa, on the east bank of the Tigris. During the reign of Safavid Shah Ismail 1, Gilani’s shrine was destroyed. However, in 1535, the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the magnificent had a dome built over the shrine and it exists to this day.

Abdul Qadir Gilani, known by admirers as Muhyi I-din Abu Muhammad b. Abu Sahih Abd al Qadir al-Gilani al-Hassani was a Hambali Sunni Muslim preacher, ascetic, mystic and theologian, known for being the eponymous founder of the Qadiriyya tariqa (Sufi order) of Sufiism.

He was born on 29 Shabaan 470 AH (March 23,1078) in the town of Naif in Gilan, Iran and died on Monday, Feb 21, 1166 (11 Rabi al Thani 561 AH) in Baghdad.


Gilani spent his early life in Gilan, the province of his birth. In 1095, at the age of eighteen, he went to Baghdad. There, he pursued the study of Hambali law under Abu Saeed Mubarak Makhzoomi and ibn Aqeel. After completing his education, Gilani left Baghdad. He spent twenty-five years wandering in the deserts of Iraq.

Later Life

In 1127, Gilani returned to Baghdad and began to preach to the public. He joined the teaching staff of the school belonging to his own teacher, al Makhzoomi, and was popular with students. He was said to have been convincing preacher and converted numerous Jews and Christians. He was able to reconcile the mystical nature of Sufiism with the sober demands of Islamic law.

Birthday and death anniversary celebration

1 Ramadhan is celebrated as Gilani’s birthday while his death anniversary is on 11 Rabi al Thani. In the sub-continent his Urs or death anniversary is called Giyarwee Sharif, or honoured day.



Bahlool was the common name of Wahab ibn Amr, a companion of Imam Musa al-Kazim. He lived in the time of Caliph Harun Ur-Rashid. Because of the situation, Bahlool acted insanely as per the Imam’s order. He insulted the notorious Khalifah and his courtiers just by talking. Nevertheless, people acknowledged his superior wisdom and excellence. He dressed in rags, preferred desolate places over Harun’s palaces, lived on a bite of stale bread.

Bahlool was devoted to Allah, he was an intelligent and virtuous scholar. He was the master of the mind and manners; he spoke with the best answers ready on his lips; he protected his faith and the sharia. Bahlool became insane at the Imam’s command for the love of Ahlul Bayt, and so he could enforce the rights of which they had been wronged.

There was no other way for Bahlool to protect his life. Harun told his vizier, Yahya bin Khalid Barmaki, that listening to the words of Imam Jaffer al-Sadiq’s student Hisham bin Hakem-who proved Musa al-Kazim Imamate- was more dangerous to him than 100,000 swords. Harun said: “Even then it amazes me that Hisham is alive and I am in power”.

Bishr al-Hafi

Bishr (Bushr) b. al-Harith al-Marwzi known as Bishar al-Hafi (b. 150/767-8- d. 227/841-2) was among ascetics and leaders of Sufis in 3rd/8th-9th century. Bishr lived in Baghdad and according to some sources, repented under influence of the speeches of Imam al-Kazim. Since Bishr did not wear shoes after his repentance, he was called “al-hafi” (bare-footed).


Bishr was son of al-Harith b. Abd al-Rahman Maruzi who was one of government officials of Merv. Ibn Kathir mentioned Baghdad as his birth place.


According to some sources, Bishr al-Hafi repented under influence of the speeches of Imam al-Kazim. For a while he lived on extravagant life in Baghdad. When Imam al-Kazim (a.s.) was passing by his house, the sound of music was loud and heard outside his house. Imam al-Kazim (a.s.) asked a bondwoman who came out of the house: “Is the owner of the house, a free man or a slave?” She answered: “It is a free man”. Imam said: “You are right! If he was a slave, he would fear his master”.  When she went back in told Bishr about Imam’s treatment (without knowing if was Imam). Bishr ran out of the house bare-footed and followed Imam al-Kazim and after a conversation he had with Imam (a.s.) he repented. Some books of Sufis mentioned this story without mentioning the name of Imam al-Kazim.

A sheikh of Sufiism

Bishr is considered among the leaders of Sufiism. His biography, speeches and stories of his life are mentioned in the books of Sufis such as Tadhkirat al-awliya, Hilyat al-awliya and Tabaqaat al-Sufiyya. Also according to Sufi sources, people of Baghdad considered Bishr like a prophet.

Demise and Burial

Bishr passed away in 227/841-2 in Baghdad and was buried in Bab al-Harb of Baghdad.

Junaid of Baghdad

Junaid of Baghdad (Persian 830-910) was a Persian mystic and one of the most famous of the early Islamic saints. He is a central figure in the spiritual lineage of many Sufi orders.

Junaid taught in Baghdad throughout his lifetime and was an important figure in the development of Sufi doctrine. Like Hasan of Basra before him, was widely referred by his students and disciples as well as quoted by other mystics. Because of his importance in Sufi theology, Junaid was often referred as the “Sultan”.

Early life and education

The exact date of Abu I-Qasim al Junaid al-Khazzaz al Qawariri is disputed and ranges from 210 to 215 A.H. according to Abdel-Kader. His death is more certain and ranges from 296 to 298 A.H. (908 to 910 CE). It is believed that al-Junaid was of Persian ancestry, with his ancestors originating in Nihawand in modern-day Iran.  Al-Junaid was raised by his uncle Sirri Saqti, after being orphaned as a boy. Al-Junaid early education included teachings from Abu Thawr, Abu Ubayd, al-Harith al-Muhasibi and Sari ibn Mughallas.


Regardless of special sorrow, he was known for his quick understanding and discipline when Sirri Saqti accepted him. According to Attar, Junaid was only seven years of age when Sirri Saqti took him along for the Hajj. In al-Masjid an-Nabawi, there were 400 sheikhs discussing the concept of ‘thankfulness’ whereby each expounded his own view. When Sirri Saqti told him to present his definition, Junaid said, “Thankfulness means that should not disobey God by means of the favour which he has bestowed upon you nor make of His favour a source of disobedience”. The Sheikhs unanimously agreed that no other words could define the term better. Sirri Saqti asked Junaid from where he learnt all this. Junaid replied: “From sitting with you”.

Spiritual Journey

His traditional hagiography continues by starting that Junaid went back to Baghdad and took up selling glasses. However, he spent most of the time in prayer. Hence, he retired to the parch of Sirri Saqti’s house and kept himself away from wordly matters devoting his thoughts only to God. People need to “relinquish natural desire, to wipe out human attributes, to discard selfish motives, to cultivate spiritual qualities, to devote oneself to true knowledge, to do what is best in the context of eternity to wish good for the entire community, to be truly faithful to God, and to follow the prophet in the matters of the sharia. This starts with the practice of asceticism (Zuhd) and continues with withdrawal from society, intensive concentration on devotion (ibadah) and remembrance (dhikr) of God, Sincerity (ikhlas), and contemplation (muraqaba) respectively contemplation produces fana.

Junaid spend 40 years in his mystic course praying while sacrificing his sleep away other worldly desires but then a conceit in his heart arose that he has achieved his goal. By then he inspired by God that “He who is not worthy of union, all his good works are but sins”. This meant that the prayers which become a source of pride are useless as true prayer makes a person more humble and devoted to God. His name became famous in many parts of the world despite the persecution he faced and the tongues of slander shot at him. Even then, he did not start preaching until 30 of the great saints indicated to him that he should now call men to God. However, he chose not to preach as yet saying, “while the master is there, it is not seemingly for the disciple to preach”. After witnessing Holy Prophet (SAWW) in his dream commanding him to preach, he had to listen t Sirri Saqti.

Sari al-Saqati

Hazrat Sirri Saqti was born in Baghdad in the year 762 A.D. about 155 A.H. Abu al-Hasan Sari b. al-Mughallis al-Saqati (867 CE) also known as Sirri Saqati was one of the early Muslim Sufi saints of Baghdad. He was one of the most influential students of Maruf Al Karkhi and one of the first to present Sufiism in a systematic way. He was also a friend of Bishr al-Hafi. He was the maternal uncle and spiritual master of Junaid of Baghdad.

He passed away on a Tuesday, the 13th of Ramadhan, 253 A.H. (year 867 A.D.) At the age of 98. His resting place is in a place called Shawneez.

Maruf al-Karkhi

Born; c. 750 -60 CE Baghdad

Died; c. 815-20 CE

Influences; Ali ibn Musa and Dawood Tai

Maruf was born in the district of Wasit or Karkh in Baghdad. His father’s name was Firaz, which suggests that he was Persian origin. His original religion is usually understood to have been Christian, which may mean that the Armenian Islamic preacher and mystic, Farqad Sabakhi, may have mentored Maruf Karkhi. Attar narrates in his memorial of the saints that Maruf converted to Islam at a young age at the hands of Ali ibn Musa al Ridha 8th Imam, after rejecting all forms of polytheism. Tradition recounts that he immediately went and told his father and mother, who rejoiced at his decision and became Muslims themselves. After accepting Islam, Maruf became a student of Dawood Tai, and underwent a severe trial of his discipleship. Maruf, however, remained steadfast and proved himself so devout that his righteousness became locally famous.

Sufi tradition

In Sufiism, those of the order of Marufi are those connected to Maruf Karkhi. Maruf thus forms a penultimate link in what is known as the golden chain (silsila) of Sufiism, the initiation line which forms an unbroken chain to Holy Prophet. Maruf, being the disciple of Ali al-Ridha, formed part of that lineage, while at the same time maintaining the teachings of his master Dawood Tai and thus being his successor as well. Sufis venerate Maruf highly for the multiple spiritual chains which interlock in his teachings.

Shihab al-din ‘Umar al-Suhrawardi’

Title: Sheikh al Islam

Born: 1145 Sohravard, Seljuk empire, now Khodabandeh county, Zanjan province, Iran

Died: 1234 (aged 89) Baghdad

Sheikh Shahab al-Din Abu Hafs Umar Suhrawardi (c.1145-1234) was a Persian Sufi and nephew of Abu al-Najib Suhrawardi. He expanded the Sufi order of Suhrawardiyya that had been created by his uncle Abu al-Najib Suhrawardi, and is the person responsible for officially formalizing the order. Suhrawardi is the author of the Awarif ul-Maarif, which is recognized as a masterpiece work in Tasawwuf.


Suhrawardi traces his lineage back to Abu Bakr, the first Caliph. From an early age onwards, Suhrawardi studied Islamic jurisprudence, law, logic, theology, Quranic studies and Hadith studies. Suhrawardi quickly excelled in his studies and mastered, at an early age, the shafii and Hambali madhabs. Suhrawardi was eventually designated as sheikh al Islam by caliph al-Nasir under the Abbasid.

The Awarif ul Maarif

Suhrawardi wrote the Awarif al- Maarif or “The knowledge of the Spiritually Learned”.  The Awarif ul-Maarif quickly became one of the most popular books an Sufiism throughout the Muslim world. This book was allegedly translated into English by Henry wiberforce-Clarke and published as “A Dervish Textbook” in 1891, although the Persian Text which was the basics for this translation is likely to have been misattributed. It was reprinted by Octagon Press in 1980.

Tomb of Joshua

Revered Prophet, Beckons Believers in Baghdad

In the old Testament, Joshua was a companion of Moses, leading the tribes of Israel into battle and, as the hymns tells it, bringing the walls of Jericho tumbling down. The Quran considers him the assistant of Moses.

Joshua’s shrine is now surrounded by the tomb of St. Junaid al-Baghdadi and the grave of Bahlool, a judge and poet who lived about 100 years earlier.

Masjid Buratha

Buratha is a holy place near Baghdad where an old church was built before Islam.  Imam Ali (a.s.) while returning from Nahrawan battle against the Kharijites, stopped at that place and prayed Salat ul Jamaah along with his army which was in tens of thousands. He ordered the monk to build a Masjid on that place. The Masjid was built a year 37 Hijri which is more than 109 years before the establishment of Baghdad by the Abbasids.

There are a few narrations that a prophet was buried in Buratha, and narrations that Lady Mariam (Mary) deliver her son Jesus on a stone which is inside that place till now.

Compiled by: Mohamed Raza Jaffer

Alavi Travel


28th March,2021.