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Guru Nanak In Iraq

Dalvinder Singh Grewal

Jan 3, 2010
Dr Dalvinder Singh Grewal

The city of Baghdad (33° 20'N, 44° 30'E), is the capital of the Republic of Iraq which has remained a great centre of learning in the History of Islamic world. The old name of this ancient region is Mesopotamia located in south-west Asia with two main rivers flowing by known as Tigris (Dajla) and Euphrates (Furat). Al-Mustamik of Cairo ruled from 902-914 Hijri (1497-1508 AD) and Al-Mutawakkil III ruled from 914-923 Hijri (1508-1517 AD). A historical Sikh shrine dedicated to Guru Nanak in the graveyard of Karkh area of Baghdad existed till recently when it was destroyed during the period of attack by US Forces on Iraq which the Iraq Government has promised to reconstruct it recently.

Guru Nanak arrived in Baghdad and along with Mardana and he stayed towards east of the city down a hill in a garden where existed the place of Wali Hind. The Caliph of Baghdad then was Bakar, the great grandson of Caliph Walid. He troubled saints and faqirs as well as his people. He kept many saints to show miracles.

While one proceeds from main Baghdad city on Shar-e-Shaikh Omer about one kilometer away there is a graveyard on the right hand side where the holy tomb of Hazrat Imam Ghazali (R.A.), the holy Saint Hazrat Ghaus-ul-Azam (R.A.). Near the holy shrine of Hazrat Ghaus Pak (R.A.) is the eternal resting place of his family members. Next is Al-Qadereyya Shrine. It was originally a religious school built by the Hanbali scholar and pious man Sheikh Abu Said Al-Mubarak bin Ali Al-Mukharrami (died 1119 AD - 513 AH), later improved and enlarged by his pupil Sheikh Abdul Qadir Al-Gilani also known as Pir Dastgir, where he lived, contemplated, and taught until his death in 1165 AD. A huge dome was constructed over the indoor praying section of the mosque by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent on the mausoleum and the Mosque of Sheikh Abdul Qader Al-Gilani (famous as Pir Dastgeer) in 1534 AD (941 AH). This shrine owns a library of 35,000 volumes, including a fine collection of Holy Qu'rans.

Further up on the Shaikh Umar highway is the Grand Palace of the famous Caliph Harunul-Rashid. Further ahead on the road is a major crossing known as Bab-ul-Moazzam (Old centre of Baghdad city). From here one road leads to Azamiya and another to Al-Kirkh with eight bridge-crossings in between. Al Karakh is the area visited by Guru Nanak

Going on from central Baghdad to Mansura, there is a big Museum near the International Railway Station, built upon the location where the famous King Shaddad had built heaven and hell on earth. Nearby is the tomb of Zubaida Khatoon, the wife of Abbasi King Harun-ul Rashid. The holy shrines of Hazrat Maroof Kirkhee (R.A.), Hazrat Usha (A.S.), Hazrat Junaid Baghdadi (R.A.), Hazrat Sirri Saqti (R.A.), Hazrat Bahlol Dana (R.A.), Hazrat Zun-nun Misri (R.A.), Hazrat Ibrahim (R.A.) and Hazrat Shah Mansoor Khawas (R.A.). Near the old holy graveyard of ancient times, there is the sitting-place of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikhism [1]

On reaching Baghdad, Guru Nanak Dev sat down in a garden under the hill towards east of Baghdad whir platform of Wali Hind was erected. Guru Nanak sang a hymn in Sri Raag : Sun(i) man mitar piaria mil wela he eh. Jab lag joban sas hai tab lag(u) ih(u) tan(u) deh. (SGGS p. 20;11)

Listen, O my mind, my friend, my darling: now is the time to meet the Lord. As long as there is youth and breath, give this body to Him. Without virtue, it is useless; the body shall crumble into a pile of dust. O my mind, earn the profit, before you return home. The Gurmukh praises the Naam, and the fire of egotism is extinguished. Again and again, we hear and tell stories; we read and write and understand loads of knowledge, but still, desires increase day and night, and the disease of egotism fills us with corruption. That Carefree Lord cannot be appraised; His Real Value is known only through the Wisdom of the Guru’s Teachings. Even if someone has hundreds of thousands of clever mental tricks, and the love and company of hundreds of thousands of people—still, without the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy, he will not feel satisfied. Without the Name, all suffer in sorrow. Chanting the Name of the Lord, O my soul, you shall be emancipated; as Gurmukh, you shall come to understand your own self. I have sold my body and mind to the Guru, and I have given my mind and head as well. I was seeking and searching for Him throughout the three worlds; then, as Gurmukh, I sought and found Him. The True Guru has united me in Union, O Nanak, with that God. (SGGS: p.20)

The people who heard the singing reported the matter to Caliph Bakar the grandson of Caliph Walid. He was a tyrant who had troubled his people especially the fakirs. Every fakir was supposed to show miracles. He had many fakirs got tortured as they failed to show miracles. As his follower Abdul Rehman heard the hymn singing, he said, “This is not the Azan, but some other call. I will send someone to check who is giving this call and why?” Abdul Rehman sent his disciple Abdul Wajid to check. Abdul Wajid saw the Guru singing the hymn along with rebec being played by Mardana. He was so mesmerized that he forgot questioning Guru Nanak. Instead he got lost in the lilting song and started singing himself. The Pir sent more men but whosoever came joined Guru Nanak’s singing of hymn. As the singing stopped Abdul Wajid said “In Islam singing and music are banned.” Guru Nanak said, Mohammad Sahib took Bibi Aisha to the camp of Bloch to listen to their songs.” Abdul Wajid asked. “Whom do you worship?’ Guru Nanak said, “Only One God! Who is the Greatest of all”. Abdul Wajid retorted, “Do you mean ‘Allah hu Akbar?’
Guru Nanak said: “Yes! ‘Allah hu Akbar’ means ‘God the Greatest’. I say the same in my own language and words ‘Ik Ongkar, Sat(i)nam(u), Karata Purukh(u), Nirbhau Nnirvair(u) Akaal Moort(i) Ajoonee Saibhang, Gurparsad(i)’ meaning “There is Only One God of the Entire Universe.” You consider it ‘Tawhid’[2]Quran, (Sura 112 (Al-Ikhlas), ayat 1-2) says: “He is God, the One and Only God, the Eternal, Absolute”

“But you said something more than this also?” Wazid questioned further. To this, Guru Nanak replied: “Yes, I said Sat(i) Nam: The One whose Name is God is the ultimate Truth. Quran mentions it as Al-Haqq (Ayats 6:62, 22:6, 23:116, 24:25.) The Truth: The Reality as God. Further I said ‘Karta Purukh’ meaning This Great person is the Creator of the entire universe.Al-Khāliq, (Sura 6:102, 13:16), [14] (36:81, 39:62, 40:62, 59:24) Quran (Sura 35 (Fatir) ayat 1) says: “Praise is to God, Creator of the heavens and the earth, [who] made the angels messengers having wings, two or three or four. He increases in creation what He wills. Indeed, Allah is the only competent over all the things of universe”. Then I said: ‘Nirbhau, Nirvair’: meaning: ‘He is fearless and has no enemies’: and ‘Akaal Moort(i), Ajooni Saibhang’ meaning ‘The God is beyond Time: He is not into birth and death as He is Self-Created”. Quran, (Sura 112 (Al-Ikhlas), ayat 3) [27]says: ‘He begetteth not, nor is He begotten.’ The last I said was ‘Gurparsad (i)’ meaning He can be reached by the Grace of the Guide/Guru/God.’ Quran mentions of ‘Al-hadi’, ‘Ar-Rashīd’, (Quran 2:256, 72:10). Quran (sura 35(Fatir) ayat 1) says [34] ‘God showers His grace upon the people ...’ (2:244, 251).

When the meanings and their link to Quran was explained Abdul Wajid said: “Great: You are a real philosopher of Islam. Which lineage of religion do you belong to?” Guru Nanak replied, “I do not follow any other religion or lineage than that of God.” Abdul Wajid was surprised. He said, “It appears that you are not a Muslim? If you are not a Muslim, teaching other than Islam will land you in to trouble. Someone may even order your killing”. Guru Nanak sang: Ek tui, Ek tui (pp.143-144)

All the spiritual teachers, their disciples and the rulers of the world shall be buried under the ground. The emperors shall also pass away; God alone is Eternal. You alone, Lord, You alone (shall remain forever). Neither the angels, nor the demons, nor human beings, nor the Siddhas, nor the seekers shall remain on the earth. Who else is there? You alone, O Lord, You alone (shall remain forever). Neither the just, nor the generous, nor any humans at all, nor the seven realms beneath the earth, shall remain. The One Lord alone exists. Who else is there? You alone, O Lord, You alone (shall remain forever). Neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the planets, nor the seven continents, nor the oceans, nor food, nor the wind—nothing is permanent. You alone, O Lord, You alone. Our sustenance is not in the hands of any person. The hopes of all rest in the One Lord. The One Lord alone exists—who else is there? You alone, O Lord, You alone (shall remain forever). The birds have no money in their pockets. They place their hopes on trees and water. He alone is the Giver. You alone, Lord, You alone (shall remain forever). Nanak says that the destiny which is pre-ordained and written on one’s forehead—no one can erase it. The Lord infuses strength, and He takes it away again. You alone, O Lord, You alone (shall remain forever).’ (pp. 143-144).

Meanwhile the people had gathered at the strange hymn and thinking it to be against Islam, they were ready to stone the Guru and his companion Mardana. Hearing such proclamations of God’s supremacy and the Lord’s praises, the crowd was sobered as if under a hypnotic spell, and the stones fell off their hands. As Abdul Wajid did not return and public gathered to listen to the discussion, Caliph Bakar and Abdul Rehman came to the place. As they listened to the hymn themselves, they too were mesmerized. They understood that he is none other than Guru Nanak whose discussions had impressed even the king Selim at Medina.

Who was Caliph Bakar? If we go through the details of Caliphs during Guru Nanak’s period it was Abbasid Dynasty of Egypt (A.H. 659-923/ AD 1261-1517) which also ruled Baghdad who had declared themselves as Caliphs. Following were the Caliphs during this period: (a) al-Mustasmik (Ist reign) A.H. 903-914/A.D. 1497-1508, (b) al-MutaWakkil III (Ist reign) A.H. 914-922/ A.D 1508-1517, (c) al- Mustasmik (2nd reign) A.H. 922-923 /A.D. 1516-1517, (d) al-MutaWakkil III (2nd reign) A.H. 923/ A.D 1517. Ottoman Dynasty won over Egypt and Iraq and had the following rulers who too declared themselves as Caliph: (a) Bayezid II A.H. 886-918 /A.D. 1481-1512 (b) Selim I, Yavuz A.H. 918-926/ A.D. 1512-1520 (c) Suleiman I, Kanuni 926-974/A.D. 1520-1566.[3] Aq Quyunly Dynasty A.H. 780-914/A.D. 1378-1508 also had influence in Iraq especially in Baghdad for a short duration; none of them however was Bakar. It is most likely that the person was Sheikhof the Qadiriyya who was appointed chief Sufi of Baghdad. Caliph was Selim I whom Guru Nanak must have met him in Baghdad as well.

This event has been described by Bhai Gurdas in his ballad Vaar 1 Paudi 35.

‘Next (from Mecca) Baba went to Baghdad and stayed outside the city. Baba himself was in the form of Timeless and secondly, he had his companion Mardana, the rebec player. While praying, Baba gave out call to the Divine (like in Namaz). Listening to this the people around went into absolute silence. The whole city became quiet. The Peer also got wonderstruck. Observing minutely he found (in the form of Baba Nanak) an exhilarated saint. Peer Dastgeer asked him, which category of saints you belong to and what is your lineage. (Mardana told) He is Nanak, who has come into this Dark Age (Kaliyug); he recognises God and sainthood as one. He is known in all the directions besides earth and sky.’
Bhai Gurdas has quoted Pir dastgir who met Guru Nanak at Baghdad. [4] The grave of Pir Hazrat Dastgir Abdul Qadir Jilani is exiting in Baghdad, but it was his heir who too was called Dastgeer.

Vaaran of Bhai Gurdas is accepted as the key to understand Gurbani by the majority of the Sikh theologians, scholars and researchers. The Dharam Parchar Committee of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has recommended preaching from Vaaran of Bhai Gurdas in the Gurdwaras [Reht Maryada]. Many Sikh scholars think that no article/paper on Sikhi (Sikhism) is considered complete unless some Pauris are not quoted from Vaaran of Bhai Gurdas. In view of this we must examine as to who was this Pir Dastgeer?

History records one Pir Hazrat Dastgir Abdul Qadir Jilani, who flourished at around 1075--1167 CE. Hazrat Dastgir Abdul Qadir Jilani (1075--1167 CE) is the founder of the Qadiriyya sect. Qadir Jilani, was a respected scholar and preacher. [5]Having been a pupil at the school (madrass) of Abu Sa’id al-Mubarakhe became leader of this school after his death in 1119 CE. Being the new Sheikhhe and his large family lived comfortably in themadrasauntil his death in 1166, when his son, Abdul Razzaq, succeeded his father as Sheikh. Gilani's son, Abdul Razzaq Jilani, published a hagiography of his father, emphasizing his reputation as founder of a distinct and prestigious Sufi order.[6] The mausoleum confirms his pre-existence. Since he was not alive then, there has to be some of his ‘gaddinashin’ as identifiying with the name of the elders have been a prevalent tradition globally.

Guniyate Salahine, [16]an autobiography by Pir Kadar Jilani details this incident. The disciples of the pir had issued the fatwa to kill Nanak. When the pir and his disciples met Nanak, the pir bowed in front of Nanak and said in Arabic:

Eh Pire Dasatgir Tu Mara Bagir
Dastam Duna Bagir Ke Goind Dasatgir
Taksire Nafas Ma Ra Raza Buay Name Risad

Meaning “My respected audience, do not be surprised that I am bowing before him. I am doing so after recognizing him. You too should bow and offer salam. He is not a mere pir, he is a prophet. If you see him through my eyes, he is the God himself.”

Prof Espiritu [7] as quoted by Dr Chahal has also provided some more information about the use of word “Dastgir.”

“Just 3 days ago, I was informed by a pious Naqshbandi Muslim who is living in Van, Eastern Turkey, by the name of Nevzat Varlik Vanli (via email) that the custodians (khidmatgar) of Qadri Sufi dargahs among Kurdish speaking areas in Van, Turkey are collectively called "Dastagir". In short, Dastagir also can mean Hazrat Abdul Qadir Jilani Sheikh Dastagir Piran Pir or the mutawwali (attendant) or khidmatgar (religious custodians) of any Qadri Sufi Dargahs (dargahs associated with Hazrat Jilani) in Kurdish areas around Southern Turkey (Anatolia) and in Kurdish areas in Iraq. So I feel from this input of Nevzat Varlik Vanli Hazretleri that Dastagir can mean also custodian of a shrine; that ][8]Guru Nanak Padshah may had been to Baghdad Sharif and had a conversation with a dastagir (custodian) of a Qadri dargah. There is one famous dargah of Baghdad Sharif--and that is the blessed tomb of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani Dastagir Pir. So, I feel that there may be a possibilitythat Guru Nanak Padshah went to Baghdad Sharif; but he talked to the Dastagir custodian and not to Hazrat Dastagir Jilani himself . But then again his having been to Baghdad can be a possibility--but he talked to a Dastagir shrine custodian and not to Hazrat Dastagir Jilani himself. Dastagir thus can also mean the direct kith and kin of Hazrat Jilani who oftentimes are the custodians of the grave of Piran Pir in Baghdad Sharif.”[7]

By the end of the fifteenth century the Qadiriyya had distinct branches and had spread to Morocco, Spain,Turkey, India, Ethiopia, Somalia and present-day Mali. [9][4]Established Sufi sheikhs often adopted the Qadiriyya tradition without abandoning leadership of their local communities. During the Safavidrule of Baghdad, from 1508 to 1534, the Sheikhof the Qadiriyya was appointed chief Sufi of Baghdad and the surrounding lands. Shortly after, the Ottoman Turksconquered Baghdad in 1534, Suleiman the Magnificent commissioned a dome to be built on the tomb of Jilani, establishing the Qadiriyya as his main allies in Iraq. Sultan Bahoo, a Sufi saint, contributed to the spread of Qadiriyya in western India. [2] Bhai Kahn Singh [3] also mentions that Pir Dastgir Abdul Qadir of Jilan City breathed his last on February 22, 1166 CE. He explained the meaning of ‘Dastgir’ as the one who holds the hands of others, helpful and supporter. Giani Gian Singh mentions him to be Juljalali son of Pir Jalal in the lineage of Pir Dastgir. [4] [8]

Guru Nanak and Pir Dastgir at Baghdad

Guru Nanak Dev Ji came to the outskirts of the city of Baghdad. It was early morning. The cool breeze was blowing. The sky was blue and the sun was shining. Many people were passing by. For them it was the time for early Naamaz (Muslim Pray). Guru Ji started singing Divine Hymns, with Mardana playing the rebec. When some Muslim who was listening to it and understood its purport went and reported the blasphemy of the utterance - inasmuch as the Qu'ran had mentioned seven earths and seven skies only - to the Sajjdanashin of the Shrine of Pir Dastagir, Abdul Qadir Jilani. An agitated crowd gathered on the spot. The people were on the verge of throwing stones when they heard the Guru’s divine invocation. The people in remorse went to their Pir and told him of the presence of a holy man.

Guruji then called "Satnam" loudly in such a style that listening to which the whole city went into absolute silence in astonishment. Guru Ji's voice, full of Divine Melody, drew the attention of surrounding people of Bagdad.

Bhai Gurdas Ji said… It was a pure Divine bliss that calmed people's mind and soul. They were absorbed within their own consciousness. The news spread in the city like fire in the forest. Now where there I s Amrit (ambrosial nectar), also present is the poison. This is the truth. [10]

Gurbani says: Poison and nectar dwell together. Sandalwood trees are beautiful but snakes full of poison encircle them too.

Long discussions with the heir apparent of Pir Dastgir with Guru Nanak were in the form of question and answers. He was so satisfied that tears flowed from his eyes. Guru Ji's messages saturated his heart with Divine feelings and he fell at Guruji's feet. He requested Guru Nanak to occupy the high chair on which he himself sat. This chair was called "Amar Singhasan" and is stated to be situated in Bagdad. Following label was affixed in the chair

"Rabul MaJid Hazrat Baba Nanak”

Its translation: The Blessed Messenger of God, Hazarat Baba Nanak
In Baghdad Guru Nanak stayed at a graveyard outside the town, and Mardana as usual was with him. Early in the morning before dawn, Mardana played the rebec and the Master recited hymns about the infiniteness of God and His Creation wherein occurred the expression: there are numerous patals (earths) and innumerable akashs (sky), when some Muslim who was listening to it and understood its purport went and reported the blasphemy of the utterance, inasmuch as the Qu'ran had mentioned seven earths and seven skies only, to the Sajjdanashin of the Shrine of Pir Dastagir Abdul Qadir Jilani.

The Pir ordered that the offender be stoned to death and numerous people armed themselves with stones and rushed out. In the meantime Guru Nanak concluded his morning prayers with the greeting "Sat Kartar", in a voice divinely electrifying, which immediately disarmed the mob.

On this, a pir [saint], Bahlol by name, came forward and had a discourse with Guru Nanak on the subject of the morning prayer. Accompanying the pir was his son and such was the effect of the Guru's answers that first the son and then the father confessed their conversion and admitted the truth of the maxim that creation was not confined to seven earths and seven skies only. Guru Nanak stayed in Baghdad for four months and had many discourses with other holy men. Before his departure from there he was presented a chola [robe] as a token of respect on which verses in Arabic are inscribed. This chola lies preserved in the Gurdwara at Dera Baba Nanak, in Pakistan. [11]

The Pir, having reached the place, enquired from Mardana who the holy man was. He was told that he was Nanak who had rejected all others except one God who was all pervading on earth, sky and in all four directions. Guru Nanak Dev Ji stayed in Baghdad for four months and had many discourses with other holy men.

The shrine of Guru Nanak is located in Karkh District in Sheikh Maaruf Neighbourhood. This shrine can be reached from a road that goes from Sheikh Maruf Cemetery towards 14 July Road. In the shrine, the following inscription is engraved: "Guru Nanak headed for Baghdad as a traveler, and there he took a house for himself at its gates." Karkh, or Al-Karkh, is historically the name of the western half of Baghdad in Iraq, or, alternatively, the western shore of the Tigris River as it runs through Baghdad. The eastern shore is known a Al-Rasafa.[12] Today, it is also a neighborhood between the international zone and the Tigris. Karkh is one of nine administrative districts in Baghdad.[12]


Map of Baghdad 1931 shows the location of Guru Nanak’s shrine. It is one mile to the right of Tigris River and a mile and a half from Baghdad

Map of Baghdad in 1931 shows the location of Guru Nanak's shrine. It is one mile to the right of river Tigris and a mile-and-half from Baghdad Railway Station West, between two railway lines. To the northwest is an old and extensive graveyard, extending from the town of Zubaida Khatum. To its east stands a magnificent edifice (118 feet by 55 feet) commemorating the famous Jewish saint, Nabiullah Usha, and to the northeast is the shrine of Sheikh Ibrahim forming a square of 27 feet. It is believed that during his stay in Baghdad Guru Nanak had a large following including the successors of Sheikh Bahlol Dana (the Wise) and those of Sheikh Muhy-ud-din Abdul Qadir Jilani. [13]

A front view photograph of the shrine was taken in December 1931. On the platform where the Guru sat is a plaque in Arabic. The tomb of Bahlol is toward the west. Another tomb is in the center and the platform is 7 feet by 4 feet. In the mausoleum of Bahlol is a small rectangular garden (26 feet 5 inches by 12 feet 5 inches) in the center of the courtyard with a masonry pavement round it. There are a few tut (mulberry) and palm trees.

The text on a pillar on the shrine reads as under

Behold! How a wish has been fulfilled by Holy and High Providence. That the building of Baba Nanak has been newly built with the help of seven autat (great valis). That the happy murid of God (Baba Nanak) has started a fountain of grace issuing new water in the land. 917 Hijri.

The inscribed stone slab was found in 1931. It measures 21 feet 14 inches. Its inscription was slightly damaged during the collapse of the building after 1920. The date given as 917 is supported by the Abjad system. 917 Hijri is equivalent to 1511 A.D. and 1568 Sammat Bikarmi.

A memorial platform was raised on the spot where the Guru and his companion, Mardana, the Muslim bard, had stopped. A few years later, a room was constructed there and a stone slab with an inscription in Ottoman Turkish was installed in it. Guru Nanak held discourses with some local Sufi saints at this site. The plan of the Guru’s shrine shows that it is situated within a walled square, with the gateway in the southeast corner. It measures 54 feet and 4 inches on the east and west; 54 feet, 6 inches on the north and 56 feet, 7 inches on the south. The platform on which the Guru sat is in the northeast corner with a plaque on which some words were written in Arabic. The tomb of Bahlol Dana stands to the west. Another tomb is in the center and the platform is about 7 feet by 4 feet to the east with an inscribed slab in the wall to the north about 4 feet above the ground. The slab made of sandstone, measures 21 inches by 15 inches.

During the World War I, when the British and Indian armies conquered Baghdad, they discovered the place where Guru Nanak had his discourse was held with Bahlol’s descendant. It lies to the west of the town and between the old graveyard to the north and the present Baghdad-Samara railway line to the south. Dr Kirpal Singh, then a Captain in the Indian Medical Service, also saw it during the war, and he, in his letter, [12] dated October 15, 1918, described it as follows:

"It is really a humble looking building and known to very few people except Sikhs. To some Arabs it is known as well by the name of tomb of Bahlol. You enter the building by a small door, on which something is written in Arabic, not visible to a casual visitor. Even with attention it is difficult to read. I could not read it hence could not copy it. I have taken the photograph of the outside, which I shall forward to you in due course. Entering the building, you come to a brick paved passage going to your right straight into the room (with a veranda), wherein you find the tomb and the raised platform. In the courtyard there are a few trees, mostly pomegranates”.

The room that has the tomb and the platform has two doors, one of which is open whilst the other is barred. As you enter the room, you come face to face with the platform, which is roughly 2 to 2.5 feet high and about 3' by 4' in dimensions. It is now covered with handkerchiefs of various colors presented by Sikhs. In the center close to the wall you find a picture of Sri Guru Nanak, presented by some energetic Sikh, above which you find the slab with the writing which I reproduced in this letter for you. The name of the man in charge is Sayed Yusuf.

The mutvali in charge of the shrine told Sardar Kartar Singh Kartar [13] who visited the shrine in 1931AD that he had an old Arabic manuscript containing an account of Guru Nanak’s visit, but unfortunately it was stolen in 1920. In the same year, another stone inscription related to the Guru’s visit was found in the wall to the east of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani’s shrine near Baghdad Railway Station East. It had been seen by many, but was missing in 1926, when the wall collapsed. It is possible that similar relics may be found there.

The Queen of Baghdad had no child. By the blessings of Guru Nanak, a son was born to the Queen and she offered a chola (robe) to Guru Nanak prepared by her, having the hymns of Quran on it. That chola is still lying in Gurdwara Chola Sahib at Dera Baba Nanak, Gurdaspur district, Punjab. [14] From Baghdad, Before his departure from there he was presented a chola (robe) as a token of respect on which verses in Arabic are inscribed. This chola lies preserved in the Gurdwara at Dera Baba Nanak, in Pakistan. This chola is sometimes sited by Muslims that Guru Nanak Dev Ji was somehow a follower of Islam. The chola was given to Guru Sahib Ji by his devotees in Baghdad and Guru Sahib Ji took it in the spirit in which it was given. Pir Bahlol, a Sufi saint was deeply influenced by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to live where the Guru had stayed.

People of Baghdad depend on river Tigris for water. Wells, in and around Baghdad are brackish. It is said that the Guru’s disciples together with others who visited the takia complained to the Guru about the difficulty in procuring drinking water. Guru Nanak got a well dug in the southeast corner and it produced sweet water. Even now, it is the only well with sweet drinking water. Its diameter is about 21 feet and the date of its construction is 917 Hijri as given on the plaque. The well and the compound were reinforced in 1320 A.H. (1942 AD) by Qasim Pasha, Beg-Bashi, son of Mohammad Beg..The monument erected near this well makes a mention of the Guru.

Bahlol Dana’s tomb and other buildings were in a sad state of disrepair, but in 1120 Hijri, Qazim Pasha practically rebuilt the tomb. The roof and verandah of Guru Nanak’s shrine had also collapsed.
About the inscription on the stone slab, Sardar Kartar Singh Kartar, the late president of Central Sikh Committee, Baghdad wrote to S. Manjeet Singh, on 6 August 1932,

“Sikhs desired to rebuild [the shrine]. Once the Central Sikh Committee applied to the Auqaf Department for repair of the shrine but no reply was received. At last the Central Sikh Committee, Baghdad again sent an application to His Excellency the High Commissioner of Iraq in 1931, who, … has very kindly given sanction to carry out the repairs at the expense of the Committee.”

Again on 1 February 1952, S. Kartar Singh wrote to S. Manjeet Singh: “The Sikh committee, Baghdad was very anxious to repair Guru Nanak Dev’s shrine as early as possible, but it was not an easy job to approach the Iraqi Government for the purpose. All such buildings are under the control of Ministry of Auqaf whose sanction was absolutely necessary to carry out the necessary repairs. At last the Iraqi Government was kind enough to give the sanction during 1934 and repairs were done.

“In addition to the repairs of the existing building a room is also added in front of the room where Bahlol Dana’s tomb exists. It is really gratifying to note that the Sikh community in Iraq has done a splendid job in repairing the shrine of their Guru who is well known among Arabs as Baba Nanak or Hindu Pir”. In 1934 I was glad to receive the information that repairs to the Guru’s shrine in Baghdad had been completed. On the 23rd of November, 1969, his followers celebrated his 500th birthday by erecting a memorial statue at his tomb.[14]

It is said, "Even today there are several disciples of Guru Nanak in Iraq. These people live on the banks of the TigrisRiver, particularly in the cities of Al Kutand Baghdad. They are called Sobiand generally they are gold-smiths by occupation. They are experts in their trade. They keep long hair and do not cut their beards and remember the Guru by names of Baba Nanak or Baba Nana."


[1] His Holiness Shaikh-Al-Mashaikh Syed Tahir Alauddin Gilani, 2014, Darbar Ghous ul Aalmeen, Peeran e Peer Hazrat Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani at Baghdad known as Darbar E Ghousia (Gilania), September 25, 2014 . [2] Omer Tarin, Hazrat Ghaus e Azam Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani sahib, RA: Aqeedat o Salam, Urdu monograph, Lahore, 1996.
[3] Jonathan Neaman Lipman (1 July 1998).Faimiliar strangers: a historyof Muslims in Northwest China. University of Washington Press. pp. 88–. ISBN978-0-295-80055-4.
[4]Qadiriyya - Wikipedia
[5] Vaaran by Bhai Gurdas (In Punjabi), Giani Hazara Singh Pundit and Padam Bhushan Bhai Sahib Dr Vir Singh (Interpreters), 1984. Pub: Manager, Khalsa Samachaar, Hall Bazar, Amritsar
[5] Singh, Kahn (Bhai), 1981. Mahan Kosh (Punjabi), Bhasha Vibhag, Punjab, Patiala, page 831.
[6] Dr. Kirpal Singh
[7] Chahal, D. S. 2007, How Long was Guru Nanak’s Travel Towards Middle East? Understanding Sikhism, Res. J. 9 (2): 34-36, 26, 2007.
[8] Shri Ananda Acharya, “On Reading an Arabic Inscription in a Shrine Outside the Town of Baghdad dated 912 Hijira,” ‘Snow Birds’, Macmillan and Co., 1919 [8]
[9] Afridi, Shah Alam, 1922, Mazaraat-e-Auliya-e-Delhi, Delhi-6, India
[10] Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman, Hazrat Sakhi Sultan (2012).Sawane Hayat Syed Abdullah Shah Madni Jilani: A biography of Syed Abdullah Shah Madni Jilani.Sultan-ul-Faqr Publications Regd.(Lahore, Pakistan).ISBN9789699795022.
[11] Devinder Singh Chahal, Dr. 2010, Did Guru Nanak Meet Pir Dastgir and Pir Bahlol Dana? Understanding Sikhism –Research Journal, January - December 2010, Vol. 12, No 1-2 page 49-51
[12] Singh, Trilochan, 1969, Guru Nanak: Founder of Sikhism. Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Sis Gang, Chandni Chowk, Delhi.
[13] The account of Guru Nanak's visit to Baghdad was taken from (a) The Divine Master, Lahore 1930 by Sewaram Singh, published in Punjab: Past and Present and Guru Nanak's Visit to Baghdad, by Manjeet Singh, The Sikh Review, Oct-Nov. 1969 -- Editor
(b) Guru Nanak And Pir Dasatgir at Baghdad | Discover Sikhism
(c)Nanak in Baghdad Tribune India, Friday, July 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India
(d) Twarikh Guru Khalsa of Giani Gian Singh
(e) http://www.sikhsangat.com/index.php?/topic/17645-guru-nanak-in-baghdad/
[14] Macauliffe, M.A (1909).The Sikh Religion: Its Gurus Sacred Writings and Authors.Low Price Publications.ISBN 8175361328.
[15] Singh, Manjeet (Oct-Nov 1969). "Past and Present and Guru Nanak's Visit to Baghdad".The Sikh Review': [16] "Gurudwara in Iraq damaged, Amarinder writes to US",[news.indiainfo.com], (April 22, 2003)
[17] "Gurdwara in Baghdad."New light on Guru Nanak's Visit to Baghdad (Prof.Kulraj Singh).Accessed onMay 22,2005.
[18] Bhai Bala (Sandhu) (2010).Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji Janamsakhi Pages: 671-675.CSJS- Chattar Singh Jeevan Singh.ISBN 81-7601-000-6.


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