Abd Al-Rahman Al-Gillani

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Abd Al-Rahman Al-Gillani
1st Prime Minister of Iraq
In office
November 11, 1920 – November 20, 1922
Monarch Faisal I
Preceded by None
Succeeded by Abd al-Muhsin as-Sa'dun
Personal details
Born 1841 (1841)
Died 1927 (1928)

Qutb-ul Aqtaab Naqib Al Ashraaf Syed Abd ar-Rahman al-Qadri al Gillani (1841–1927) was the first Prime Minister of Iraq, and its head of state. He is 15th direct descendant of Abdul Qadir Jilani[citation needed], the Cardinal Sufi Saint in Sufi Islam. Al Gillani was chosen in 1920 to head the Iraqi Council of Ministers following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. He used his influence to oppose the appointment of Faisal I as King of Iraq and resigned his post when his efforts were defeated. Nevertheless, Faisal reappointed him as prime minister in order to curb opposition.

In 1922 Gillani negotiated the first Anglo-Iraqi Treaty, which ensured nominal independence for the country, though Britain maintained control of the military and foreign affairs, essentially establishing a Mandate in the country. Opposed to these results, Gillani resigned shortly after.

Percy Cox states in page 128 of the HAND BOOK OF MESOPOTAMIA that he was the most influential "Sunni" and official head of the Arab Community. He continues, "It is worthy of note that extreme deference is paid to the Naqeeb of Baghdad and his family by many of the most influential and wealthy as well as the humble and poorest, of Indian and Afghan Muslims"[citation needed].

When chosen by the British to head the government, it was felt doubtful that he would accept, in view of his old age, ill health and habitual seclusion, and a statement in an interview declaring his reluctance to take part in political activities, even if it would save IRAQ from disaster. The British Administration, however, persuaded him to accept. This is portrayed by Gertrude Bell, who writes:

In came Mr. Philby and others and on top of them Sir Percy. Every one but Mr. Philby melted away, and we two turned to Sir Percy breathless with excitement. ‘Well he said, he has accepted’. He had come straight from the Naqeeb who had agreed to undertake the formation of the Provisional Government. So the first success is scored and not one but Sir Percy could have done it. Indeed, that even he should have inducted the Naqeeb to take a hand in Public affairs is nothing short of a miracle[1]

Despite the formation of the Council of Ministers, the question as to the form of permanent Government and of the person of its ruler was constantly under discussion in the Coffee houses, in the tents of the Sheikhs, or wherever Iraqis met in social and political gatherings.

It is reported that the throne was offered to the Naqeeb of Baghdad, but under such conditions and limitations as would have made him, in his own words no more than an "Iraqi Rajah". He himself never sought it and felt that if it had been freely offered to him by the people he would be obliged to accept the honor and the duties (Ireland, p. 304).[citation needed]

During another interview with Bell, replying to a question regarding his or one of his sons' candidatures for Sharaf or Emir of Mesopotamia, he said,

"I am a relative of the Sharaf. I come of the same stock and I share the same religious opinion, you therefore understand that I am not actuated by difference of blood, of thought when I tell you that I would never consent to the appointment of myself or of my sons as Emir. The Hejaz is one and Iraq is one. There is no connection between them but that of faith. Our politics, out trade, our agriculture is all different from those of Hejaz. The Hejaz is the Holy Land of Islam. It must remain a separate and independent state by which all Muslims can profit".

He was asked again, "If for political reasons it were necessary to put an Emir at the head of Iraq would you accept the responsibility with British help and support"? He said,

"Can you put a question as that to me? I am a Darwesh, concern is not with the things of this world. It would be contrary to the deepest principles of my creed to become the political head of the state. In the time of my ancestor, Syed Abdul Qadir al Gillani, the Abbasid Caliphs were accustomed to consult him as you and your colleagues consult me, but he would never have consented to take an active part in public affairs. Neither would I, nor any of his descendants consent to do so. This is my answer on the ground of religion, but I will give you also an answer, based on personal reason I am an old man. These five or six years of life, which remain to me, I wish to spend in reflection and study. When you came today, I kept you waiting. I was busy with my books. They are my constant preoccupation".[2]

He was a scholar, and his personal Library consisted of 36,000 books on various subjects. Of these, about 2,000 were manuscripts. The Present Makteba Qadiria (Qadri Library) is in fact, the altered name of his personal library. A 700-year-old copy of the Quran written in gold was, after his death, presented to the King Idris of Libya, by Pir Ibrahim Saif-ud-din, who became Naqeeb after the son of Syed Abd al-Rahman passed.

Among his grandsons are Pir Sayed Tahir Allauddin; Sayed Ahmed Zafar al-Jilani, the elder brother of Pir Sayed Tahir Allauddin and the Naqeeb of Iraq as of 2012, who blessed Shaykh Sayyid Ahmed Amiruddin in 2007, Deputy of Shaykh Nazim al-Qubrusi, and advised him to work uplift relations between Westerners and Muslims, Arabs, and the people of Iraq.[3]

In the book shown in http://www.algillani.com/index.php?bid=38, the detail report on Middle East Conference, Correspondence between His Holiness Qutb-ul Aqtaab Naqib Al Ashraaf Syed Abd ar-Rahman al-Qadri al Gillani and Sir Winston Churchill was shown in http://www.algillani.com/index.php?bid=38&read=1&txtid=383, telegraph from High commissioner of Iraq in 1921 http://www.algillani.com/index.php?bid=38&read=1&txtid=384, Letters to and from Prime Minister of Iraq and Mr. Churchill regarding Middle East affairs http://www.algillani.com/index.php?bid=38&read=1&txtid=385, some pictures are also shown about the visit of His Holiness first Prime Minister of Iraq http://www.algillani.com/index.php?bid=38&read=1&txtid=386


  1. ^ Ireland, Philip Willard. Iraq: A Study in Political Development. p. 82. 
  2. ^ Wilson, Arnold (1931). A clash of Loyalties Vol. II Mesopotamia 1917-20. Oxford University Press. 
  3. ^ Naqib Al Ashraaf at www.alsunnahfoundation.org


Adapted from http://www.algillani.com (official website of Qadri Gillani)

Last paragraph added with reference from http://www.alsunnahfoundation.org/naqib/naqibalashraaf.htm

New Reference for History of Qutbul Aqtaab Al-Naqeebul Ashraaf Al-Syed Abdul Rahman Al-Mahdh Al-Gillani Al-Qadri http://www.algillani.com/index.php?nid=5

Political offices
Preceded by
Prime Minister of Iraq
1920— 1922
Succeeded by
Abd al-Muhsin as-Sa'dun