My First Visit to Iraq

We left Damascus for Baghdad in one of the al-Najaf International Company coaches.

When we arrived in Baghdad, where the temperature was 40 degrees, we went to the Jamilah quarter in the district of al-Ummal, and entered my friend's airconditioned house. We had a rest, and then he brought me a long shirt called Dishdasha. Some fruit and food were also brought for me. Then members of his family came to greet me with respect and politeness, and his father embraced me as if we had known each other before.

As for my friend's mother, who stood at the door wearing a long black coat, she also greeted me and welcomed me. My friend apologized on behalf of his mother who could not shake my hands, because it was not permitted. I liked their manners and said to myself, "These people whom we accused of being deviants seem to observe the religion more than us."

During the days of our travel together I sensed in my friend his noble manners, his self-esteem and his generosity. I also sensed in him modesty and piousness that I had never experienced with anybody else before. I felt that I was not a stranger, but as if I was at home.

When darkness fell, we went up on the roof of the house where there were some beds prepared for us. I could not go to sleep easily for I was in a state of delirium: Was I really in Baghdad next to Sidi Abdul Qadir al-Jilani? My friend laughed as he asked me what the Tunisian people think of Abdul Qadir al-Jilani.

I started telling him about the miracles which are attributed to him, and all the places which are established and named after him. I told him that he is the "Centre of the circle", and as Muhammad the Messenger of Allah is the master of all the prophets, Abdul Qadir is the master of all the saints. His feet are on the necks of all the saints, and it was him who said, "Everyone goes round the house seven times, and I will go around the house with my tents."

I tried to convince him that Shaykh Abdul Qadir came to see his followers and treat them if they were ill and comfort them if they were depressed. I might have forgotten the influence of the Wahabi ideas on me, which state that all of that is polytheism. When I noticed the lack of enthusiasm in my friend, I tried to convince myself that all of what I have said was not right. I also asked him about his opinion.

My friend laughed and said, "Tonight have a good sleep and rest your tired body, and tomorrow, if Allah wills it, we will go and visit the grave of Shaykh Abdul Qadir."

I was absolutely delighted with the news and wished it was dawn then. I was so tired that I went into a deep sleep and did not get up until the sun was shining on me. I missed my prayer, and my friend told me that he tried several times to wake me up but without success, so he left me to rest.