From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For places in Iran, see Dargah, Iran (disambiguation).
A Dargah in Ooty Road, India
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). 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.

Many 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.[1] The Holy Prophet Muhammad forbade Muslims from turning graves into places of worship.[2][3][4]

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.[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.

Validity of Dargahs in Islam[edit]

Many Muslim scholars believe that the purpose of visiting the graves and cemeteries is only to remind people of death. Building tombs over graves and turning them into places of worship is considered shirk, associating or invocating to others besides God.[7][8]

In the Quran,

"If you join others in worship with Allaah, (then) surely (all) your deeds will be in vain, and you will certainly be among the losers."

—Quran, Surah Az-Zumar, 39:65

"…Verily, whosoever sets up partners in worship with Allaah, then Allaah has forbidden Paradise for him, and the Fire will be his abode."

—Quran, Surah Al-Maa-idah, 5:72

In the Hadeeth,

"The most evil of mankind are those who will be alive when the Last Day arrives and those who take graves as places of worship.[9]"

"...Beware that those before you took the graves of their Prophets as places of worship. Do not take graves as places of worship, for verily I forbid you to do so.[10]"


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Building Mosques or Placing Lights on Graves". 21 March 2008. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Sunan an-Nasa'i 2047. 
  3. ^ Sunan an-Nasa'i 2046. 
  4. ^ Sahih Muslim Book 4 Number 1083. 
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Kafi Crossing boundaries, by Geeti Sen. Orient Blackswan, 1998. ISBN 8125013415. p. 133.
  7. ^ "The types of Shirk". Al-Aqeedah.com. Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  8. ^ "Do you go to ‘dargahs’ for help?". Saudi Gazette. Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  9. ^ Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hambal (al-Fitan wal-Ashrat as-Sa’aat – the trials and signs of the Hour). See Ahkaamul-Janaa’iz, p.278. 
  10. ^ Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 1, Book 8, Hadith 426.