Sufi lodge

(Redirected from Khanqah)

A Sufi lodge[a] is a building designed specifically for gatherings of a Sufi brotherhood or tariqa and is a place for spiritual practice and religious education.[1] They include structures known as khānaqāh, zāwiya, ribāṭ, dargāh and takya depending on the region, language and period (see § Terminology). The Sufi lodge is typically a large structure with a central hall and smaller rooms on either side.[2] Traditionally, the Sufi lodge was state-sponsored housing for Sufis.[3] Their primary function is to provide them with a space to practice social lives of asceticism.[4] Buildings intended for public services, such as hospitals, kitchens, and lodging, are often attached to them.[4] Sufi lodges were funded by Ayyubid sultans in Syria, Zangid sultans in Egypt, and Delhi sultans in India in return for Sufi support of their regimes.[5][3][6]



Sufi lodges were called by various names depending on period, location and language: mostly, khānaqāh, zāwiya, ribāṭ, dargāh and takya.

The word khānaqāh (Classical Persian: خانَگاه, romanizedxānagāh or خانَقاه, xānaqāh; Arabic: خَانَقَاه, romanizedkhānaqāh; Azerbaijani: xanəqah; Ottoman Turkish: خانَقاه, romanizedhanekâh;[7] Urdu: خانَقاہ, romanizedkhānaqāh;[8] Uzbek: xonaqoh) is likely either Turkish or Persian in origin.[4]

The words zāwiya (Arabic: زَاوِيَة; plural زَوَايَا, zawāyā) and ribāṭ (Arabic: رِبَاط; plural: رُبُط, rubuṭ) were especially used in the Maghreb.[9] The literal meaning of zāwiya is 'corner', while ribāṭ means 'frontier guardpost'.

The Classical Persian word دَرگاه dargāh means 'doorway; shrine'.

The Classical Persian word تَکْیه takya (whence modern Iranian Persian: تَکْیه, romanizedtakye;[10] Azerbaijani: təkyə;[11] Panjabi: تَکْیہ, romanized: takya;[12] Urdu: تَکْیہ, romanizedtakya;[13] Uzbek: takya) at its core meant "support"; also "cushion" or "pillow".[14][b] The word was also borrowed in Ottoman Turkish as تَكْیه tekye[15] (modern Turkish: tekke), eventually making its way into Arabic as تَكِيَّة takiyya (plural تَكَايَا takāyā) and in languages of the Balkans (Albanian: teqeja; Bosnian: tekija).


The Budala Hodja Tekke in Thermes, Greece

Prior to the Timurid period, Sufi lodges were typically designed as large complexes with several structures.[2] After the fourteenth century, they were more commonly designed as one large structure.[2] This design is typically characterized by one large hall with cells or galleries on either side, allowing more interaction for those working in the lodge.[3] They commonly have domes, mosaics, arches, columns, courtyards, portals, and minarets.[16][17] The design and incorporation of these aspects varies by region and era.[17]



The patronage of Sufi lodges historically made an important political and cultural statement. The patronage of a Sufi building by a ruler showed their support for Sufi religious practices and the spreading of Islam.[9] Funding a Sufi building was seen as an act of piety and a way in which the ruler could align themselves with public opinion.[9]

Sufi lodges are often associated with tombs of Sufi saints or shaykhs.[2] Typically, they feature a large hall where practitioners could pray and meditate.[2] They also include lodgings for traveling Sufis and pilgrims.[4]

The Haruniyeh Tomb, named after Harun al-Rashid, in Tus, Iran. The present structure, a khānaqāh, was probably built in the 13th century. Al-Ghazali is buried here.

In addition to their religious spaces, Sufi lodges also had structures for public services.[2] This included hospitals, kitchens, bathhouses, and schools.[2] Everyone working to provide these services was paid through a waqf.[2]

Sufi lodges have been very inclusive.[9] Visitors from different cultures and religions could visit them and receive a blessing.[9]

Traditionally, Sufi communal lives of asceticism were seen as pious because solitude and self-sufficiency were believed to lead to ego-centricity.[4] Penitence and suffering were intended to bring Sufis closer to understanding divinity.[4]



Zangid Syria


Nur ad-Din Zangi was the first large patron of Sufi structures, he built and gifted khānaqāhs to Sufi groups in his dominion.[9] In Damascus, khānaqāhs were located inside as well as outside of the city walls.[9] Under the Zangids, khānaqāhs were very centrally located in Old Damascus, near the Umayyad Mosque.[9] Khanaqahs are very commonly placed near a madrasa that is dedicated to the same patron as the khānaqāh.[9] The main purpose of the khānaqāh was for legal education.[9] Most, including Nur ad-Din's khānaqāh, included hospices.[9] However, there was a deep interconnection between education and religion in Sufi buildings, by the end of the Mamluk period the distinction between religious and educational buildings became blurred.[18]

Ayyubid and Mamluk Egypt


Saladin founded the first khānaqāh in Cairo, Egypt in 1173.[3] This officially marked his defeat of the Fatimids, who were largely Shi'ite, and the beginning of the Ayyubid period of Sunnism.[3] In 1325, the Mamluk sultan al-Nāṣir Muḥammad relocated the khānaqāh north of the city.[3] Saladin changed the Sa'id al-Su'ada, a Fatimid palace, into a Sufi khānaqāh called al-Khānaqāh al-Ṣalāḥiyya (not to be confused with the Al-Khanqah al-Salahiyya Mosque in Jerusalem).[19] This khānaqāh provided a place to stay for Sufis who were not from Cairo.[19] It was provided by Saladin based on the exchange of Sufis supporting the Ayyubid dynasty and policies.[19]

Saladin also created the role of the Chief Sufi, whose job was to operate activities from day to day and mentor the Sufis that lived in and visited the khānaqāh.[19] There was a lot of competition for this role due to its great degree of influence.[19] The Chief Sufi maintained a close relationship with the Ayyubid Sultan, obtained military power and influence, and had the ability to teach at the madrasas in the area.[19] The Sultan gave a large degree of power to the Sufis in Cairo as part of an important trade off for political support which was incredibly important in solidifying the legitimacy of the Sultan's rule.[19] Scholars in the Mamluk world often did not differentiate between khānaqāhs, ribāṭs, zāwiyas, and madrasas.[2]



In the Maghreb, Sufi lodges have been mostly known as zāwiyas or ribāṭs.

Ottoman Empire


Many takyas (Ottoman Turkish: تَكْیه‌لر, romanizedtekyeler; modern Turkish: tekkeler) have been built in Turkey and in the countries which came under Ottoman rule. The Ottomans used the words takya (Ottoman Turkish: تَكْیه, romanized: tekye), dargāh (دَرگاه, dergâh) and zāwiya (زاویه, zâviye) instead of khānaqāh (خانَقاه, hanekâh).[7][20] Among the Ottoman Sufi orders which had the most takyas were the Mevlevi Order or Mawlawiyya and the Bektashi Order.[21] The takyas of the Mevlevi Order were called Mawlawī khānas (Ottoman Turkish: مولوی خانه‌لر, romanized: Mevlevî haneler, lit.'Mawlawī houses').[21]

By the 20th century, Istanbul itself counted many takyas. Some were dedicated to certain Muslim communities (for example, the Uzbeks' Takya[c] or the Indians' Takya[d]) which symbolized a certain recognition of these communities by the Ottomans.[24]

Ottoman takyas can be found in Albania, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Cyprus, in Egypt, in Greece, in North Macedonia and in Syria.


The Tohidkhaneh, a medieval khānaqāh in Isfahan, Iran

Many Sufi lodges existed in Iran during the Middle Ages. Examples include the Tohidkhaneh in Isfahan. After the Safavid conversion of Iran to Shia Islam, many Sufi lodges became used as ḥusayniyyas[25] (buildings where Shia Muslims gather to mourn the death of Husayn ibn Ali in the month of Muharram).

South Asia

The Tomb of Naqshbandi Saints Faiz-ul Hassan Shah and Muhammad Amin Shah Sani in Allo Mahar, Sialkot

In South Asia, the words khānaqāh, jamāʿat-khāna (Urdu: جماعت خانہ), takya (Urdu: تَکْیہ, lit.'pillow, bolster'), dargāh (Urdu: درگاہ, lit.'royal court'), langar (Urdu: لنگر, lit.'refectory'[e]), and sometimes ʿimārat (Urdu: عمارت, lit.'building').[26] are used interchangeably for Sufi lodges.

The Madrasa-i-Firozshahi was built by Sultan Firoz Shah Tughlaq near Hauz-i-Alai.[6] Its architecture was said to be so appealing to locals that they relocated to be closer to the complex.[6] The khānaqāh-madrasa structure had educational opportunities for the pious, and teachers were paid with stipends.[6] Its main purpose was to offer lodging for travelers.[6]

The Khanaqah of Sayed Ghulam Ali Shah Mashadi in India was visited by and open to pilgrims from many different cultures around the world.[5] Khānaqāhs had langar-khānas, which served as free public kitchens for the poor sponsored by endowments from lakhiraj lands.[4] Islamic values of equality and fraternity brought khānaqāhs to provide services for members of the lowest castes.[4] The popularity of khānaqāhs declined in the early 14th century in India.[4]

See also



  1. ^ Sometimes also called Sufi monastery or Sufi convent.
  2. ^ Other words were derived from تَکْیه takya in Classical Persian, such as تکیه‌نشین takya-nishīn and تکیه‌دار takya-dār both meaning a Sufi.
  3. ^ Ottoman Turkish: اوزبكلر تكیه‌سی, romanizedÖzbekler Tekyesi;[22] Turkish: Özbekler Tekkesi.
  4. ^ Ottoman Turkish: هندولر تکیه‌سی, romanizedHindiler Tekyesi;[23] Turkish: Hindiler Tekkesi.
  5. ^ From Sanskrit.


  1. ^ Berkey, Jonathan Porter (2003). The formation of Islam : religion and society in the Near East, 600-1800. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-58214-8. OCLC 50476676.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Foundation, Encyclopaedia Iranica. "Khanqah". Retrieved 2022-12-05.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Hofer, Nathan (2015). The popularisation of Sufism in Ayyubid and Mamluk Egypt, 1173-1325. Edinburgh. ISBN 978-0-7486-9422-8. OCLC 919188147.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Nizami, Khaliq Ahmad (1957). "Some Aspects of Khanqah Life in Medieval India". Studia Islamica (8): 51–69. doi:10.2307/1595247. JSTOR 1595247.
  5. ^ a b Hussain, Pirzada Athar (2021), Chauhan, Abha (ed.), "Sufism and the Khanqah of Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah in Shahdara Sharief: An Ethnographic Fathom", Understanding Culture and Society in India: A Study of Sufis, Saints and Deities in Jammu Region, Singapore: Springer, pp. 33–58, doi:10.1007/978-981-16-1598-6_3, ISBN 978-981-16-1598-6, S2CID 238049797, retrieved 2022-12-05
  6. ^ a b c d e Irfan, Lubna (2018). "Medieval Indian Madrasas". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 79: 260–269. ISSN 2249-1937. JSTOR 26906255.
  7. ^ a b Redhouse, James W. (1890). "خانقاه". A Turkish and English Lexicon. Constantinople: A. H. Boyajian. p. 827.
  8. ^ Platts, John T. (1884). "خانقاه". A Dictionary of Urdu, Classical Hindi, and English. London: W. H. Allen & Co. p. 486.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k EPHRAT, DAPHNA (2021), "THE DEVELOPMENT AND SPATIAL LAYOUT OF PHYSICAL SETTINGS", Sufi Masters and the Creation of Saintly Spheres in Medieval Syria, Arc Humanities Press, pp. 83–100, ISBN 978-1-64189-208-7, JSTOR j.ctv22d4z9m.11, retrieved 2022-12-05
  10. ^ Hayyim, Sulayman (1934). "تکیه". New Persian-English Dictionary. Vol. 1. Teheran: Librairie-imprimerie Béroukhim. p. 469.
  11. ^ "təkyə". Azərbaycan dilinin izahlı lüğəti (in Azerbaijani).
  12. ^ Salah-ud-Din, Iqbal (2002). "تکیہ". Vaḍḍī Panjābī lughat: Panjābī tūn Panjābī. Lāhaur: ʻAzīz Pablisharz. p. 790.
  13. ^ Platts, John T. (1884). A Dictionary of Urdu, Classical Hindi and English. London: W. H. Allen & Co. p. 332.
  14. ^ Steingass, Francis Joseph (1892). A Comprehensive Persian-English Dictionary, including the Arabic words and phrases to be met with in Persian literature. London: Routledge & K. Paul. p. 319.
  15. ^ Redhouse, James W. (1890). "تكیه". A Turkish and English Lexicon. Constantinople: A. H. Boyajian. p. 585.
  16. ^ "Archnet > Site > Khanqah wa Qubbat al-Amir Shaykhu". Retrieved 2022-12-05.
  17. ^ a b "Archnet > Site > Khanqah al-Farafra". Retrieved 2022-12-05.
  18. ^ Kugle, Scott Alan (2021). Hajj to the heart : Sufi journeys across the Indian Ocean. Chapel Hill. ISBN 978-1-4696-6532-0. OCLC 1303712460.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  19. ^ a b c d e f g Hofer, Nathan (2014-08-20). "The Origins and Development of the Office of the "Chief Sufi" in Egypt, 1173–1325". Journal of Sufi Studies. 3 (1): 1–37. doi:10.1163/22105956-12341260. ISSN 2210-5948. S2CID 110058093.
  20. ^ "Hankah". TDV Encyclopedia of Islam (44+2 vols.) (in Turkish). Istanbul: Turkiye Diyanet Foundation, Centre for Islamic Studies. 1988–2016. Osmanlılar'da hankah yerine daha çok dergâh, tekke ve zâviye kelimeleri kullanılmıştır
  21. ^ a b "Tekke". TDV Encyclopedia of Islam (44+2 vols.) (in Turkish). Istanbul: Turkiye Diyanet Foundation, Centre for Islamic Studies. 1988–2016.
  22. ^ ايغناتس قونوس (1925). تورك خلق ادبياتی (in Ottoman Turkish). p. 38.
  23. ^ Ahmet Cevdet Paşa (1893). تاريخ جودت (in Ottoman Turkish). p. 70.
  24. ^ M. Naeem Qureshi (1999). Pan-Islam in British Indian Politics: A Study of the Khilafat Movement, 1918-1924. BRILL. p. 16. ISBN 90-04-11371-1.
  25. ^ محمد صادق محمد الكرباسي (2019). معجم المشاريع الحسينيّة - الجزء الثالث: دائرة المعارف الحسينية (in Arabic). ISBN 978-1-78403-031-5. بناء الحسينية كان حديث العهد بإيران، وأما التكايا فكانت معروفة ومنتشرة في أنحاء إيران وكانت تقام فيها بعض الشعائر الحسينية أيضا قبل أن تنتقل إلى الحسينيات التي تخصصت بالشعائر الحسينية.
  26. ^ Ridgeon, Lloyd (2020). Routledge Handbook on Sufism. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-351-70647-6. takya is used also in India and in Xinjiang (China). In the Indian subcontinent, the terms used are jamā'at-khāna (meeting room), takya (pillow, bolster) or dargāh (royal court) and langar (refectory), a term of Sanskrit origin, and sometimes imarat (religious complex).

Further reading

  • Fernandes, Leonor E. (1998). The Evolution of a Sufi Institution in Mamluk Egypt: The Khanqah. Berlin: Klaus Schwarz. ISBN 3-922968-68-6.
  • Hattstein, M. and P. Delius — Islam: Art and Architecture, 2000, ISBN 3-8290-2558-0.