Dargah

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The Dargah of Madurai Maqbara Hazrats, in the eponymous Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India.
The Dargah of Haji Ali, in Mumbai.

A Dargah (Persian: درگاهdargâh or درگه dargah) is a Sufi Islamic shrine built over the grave of a revered religious figure, often a Sufi saint or dervish. Local Muslims may visit a shrine to perform a practice of visiting the graves (ziyarat) as taught by Prophet Muhammad. Dargahs are often associated with Sufi meeting rooms and hostels, called khanqah or hospices. They usually include a mosque, meeting rooms, Islamic religious schools (madrassas), residences for a teacher or caretaker, hospitals, and other buildings for community purposes.

The term dargah is derived from a Persian word which can mean, among other uses, "portal" or "threshold". Some Sufi and other Muslims believe that dargahs are portals by which they can invoke the deceased saint's intercession and blessing (as per tawassul). Still others hold a less supernatural view of dargahs, and simply visit as a means of paying their respects to deceased pious individuals or to pray at the sites for perceived spiritual benefits.

Over time, musical offerings of dervishes and sheikhs in the presence of the devout at these shrines, usually impromptu or on the occasion of Urs, gave rise to musical genres like Qawwali and Kafi, wherein Sufi poetry is accompanied by music and sung as an offering to a murshid, a type of Sufi spiritual instructor. Today they have become a popular form of music and entertainment throughout South Asia, with exponents like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Abida Parveen taking their music to various parts of the world.[1][2]

Mainstream Muslims do not believe in the practice of constructing over graves and turning them into places of worship, and consider it as associating partners to God or shirk, though, visiting graves is encouraged.[3] Prophet Muhammad ﷺ forbade Muslims from turning graves into places of worship.[4][5][6]

Dargahs throughout the world[edit]

Sufi shrines are found in many Muslim communities throughout the world, and are called by many names. The term dargah is common in the Persian-influenced Islamic world, notably Iran, South Asia and Turkey.

In South Africa, the term is used to describe shrines in the Durban area where there is a strong Indian presence, while the term keramat is more commonly used in Cape Town, where there is a strong Cape Malay culture.

In South Asia, dargahs are often the site of festivals (Milad) held in honor of the deceased saint at the date of his Urs, which is a day dedicated to the saint which usually falls on the saint's death anniversary. The shrine is illuminated with candles or strings of electric lights at this time.

In China, the term gongbei is usually used for shrine complexes centered around a Sufi saint's tomb.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kafi South Asian folklore: an encyclopedia : Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, by Peter J. Claus, Sarah Diamond, Margaret Ann Mills. Taylor & Francis, 2003. ISBN 0-415-93919-4. p. 317.
  2. ^ Kafi Crossing boundaries, by Geeti Sen. Orient Blackswan, 1998. ISBN 8125013415. p. 133.
  3. ^ http://www.muslimhomeschool.net/lessonplans/mosqueengyr5/Buildingmosqueslightsongravesnotes.pdf
  4. ^ Sunan an-Nasa'i 2047. 
  5. ^ Sunan an-Nasa'i 2046. 
  6. ^ Sahih Muslim Book 4 Number 1083.