Qadiri is one of the two main sufi orders in Kurdistan, the other being the Naqshbandi. The Qadiris take their name from Sheikh Abd al-Qadir (1077-1166) — a most revered Islamic saint whose tomb in Baghdad remains a well-known shrine—but he had nothing to do with establishing them. It is not unusual for groups to later claim descent from famous reputed progenitors in order to gain legitimacy from the association.
   Two brothers—Sayyid Musa and Sayyid Isa—are said to have established the Qadiri order in what is now Iraqi Kurdistan around 1360, and until early in the 19th century, the Qadiris monopolized sufism throughout the region. By the 19th century, the Barzinjis, Sa-date Nehris, and Talabanis became the best-known Qadiri sheikhs. From these religious connections, all three families developed strong temporal authority too. Indeed, Sheikh Mahmud Barzinji and Jalal Talabani are two of the best-known Iraqi Kurdish nationalists of the entire 20th century.
   Due to the prodigious efforts of Maulana Khalid, however, the Naqshbandi order spread rapidly after its introduction early in the 19th century and replaced the Qadiris in many areas for a variety of reasons. The Sadate Nehris adopted the Naqshbandi order, and the sheikhs of Barzan were also Naqshbandi. On the other hand, one of the main reasons Sheikh Mahmud Barzinji failed to unite more of the population behind him when he proclaimed himself king of Kurdistan in the 1920s was because most inhabitants of Kirkuk owed allegiance to the rival Qadiri Talabanis. It is also interesting to note that the two great contemporary rivals in Iraqi Kurdistan (Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani) are scions of the Naqshbandi and Qadiri orders, respectively.
   The Qadiri order is noted for holding much more ecstatic rituals than its rival the Naqshbandis. Some, but not all, of the dervishes, or participants, can go into trances and inflict self-mutilation upon themselves. When reciting the shahada (confession of faith) la il-laha illa llah (there is no god but God), drums can join in and bodily movements become ever wilder. When turbans are pulled off, the long hair adds a fierce look to the performance. Others actually take skewers or other sharp objects and cut themselves with them. At times, glass is chewed and eaten, poisonous chemicals swallowed, and bare electric wires touched.
   The dervishes believe that they are protected from harmful consequences by the karama, or special graces of the very holy Abd al-Qa-dir (the Qadiris' reputed founder) transmitted to the present sheikh or his khalifa, or deputy. The ecstatic practices apparently demonstrate that Islam is the one true religion and that the Qadiri tariqa (path) is particularly blessed with supernatural powers. In addition, the Qadiri dervish who performs these acts illustrates his trust in God and his tariqa and thus proves his superior spirituality.

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

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