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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] Muhammad forbade turning graves into places of worship.[2][3][4] but encouraged to visit the graves to remember the life after death (sahih Muslim 977).[5]

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.[6][7]

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]

Sunni View[edit]

Some Sharia experts consider visiting dargahs[8] specifically (and tombs, graves, and cemeteries generally[9]) to be shirk. Other scholars cite ayah and hadith to claim the desirability of visiting Muhammad's tomb.[10] (E.g., Al-Bayhaqi reports that Muhammad said, "The person who performs Hajj and then visits my Tomb, will be regarded as though he had seen me in my worldly life."[citation needed])

Shia view[edit]

Shī‘ah do not perform ziyarah to worship the dead. Ayatullah Borujerdi and Ayatullah Khomeini have both said

Shī‘ah perform ziyarah in the belief that the entombed figures bear great status in the eyes of God, and seek to have their prayers answered through these people (a form of Tawassul). Sayyid Muhammad Hasan Musawi writes,

Ibn Shu’ba al-Harrani also narrates a hadīth from the tenth Imām of the Twelver Shī‘as

Carrying corpses to the Holy Shrines, Persia, 19th century.

Shī‘ah do not consider the narrations in Bukhari to be authentic,[14] and argue that if things such as Ziyarah and Tawassul were bid'ah or shirk, Muhammad himself would have prohibited such practices as a precaution.[15] Some Sunni scholars such as Ibn Taymiyyah,[16] have also rejected the notion that such practices are innovations.

Ziyarah of Imāms is also done by the Shī‘ah, not only as a means of greeting and saluting their masters who lived long before they were born, but also as a means of seeking nearness to God and more of His blessings (barakah). It is popular Shi'i belief that to be buried near the burial place of the Imams is beneficial. In Shi'i sacred texts it is stated that the time between death and resurrection (barzakh, purgatory) should be spent near the Imams.[17]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Building Mosques or Placing Lights on Graves" (PDF). 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. ^ http://sunnah.com/muslim/11
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Kafi Crossing boundaries, by Geeti Sen. Orient Blackswan, 1998. ISBN 8125013415. p. 133.
  8. ^ "Do you go to ‘dargahs’ for help?". Saudi Gazette. Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  9. ^ "The types of Shirk". Al-Aqeedah.com. Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  10. ^ http://islam.ru/en/content/story/visiting-grave-prophet-muhammad-pbuh
  11. ^ Ayatullah Borujerdi, Tawdih al-Masa'il, p.172 ; Imam Khumayni, Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol.1, p.150; Risalah-ye Novin, vol.1, p.148.
  12. ^ Sayyid Muhammad Hasan Musawi, Risalah dar Kitab wa Sunnat, Majmu'ah Maqalat, Kitab Nida'-e Wahdat, Tehran, Chehel-Sutun Publishers, p.259.
  13. ^ Ibn Shu’ba al-Harrani, Tuhaf al-'Uqul, p.510.
  14. ^ Moojan Moman, Introduction to Shi'i Islam, Yale University Press, 1985, p.174 ; Ahmad Abdullah Salamah, Shia & Sunni Perspective on Islam, p.52.
  15. ^ Risalatan Bayn al-Shaykhayn, p.17.
  16. ^ Majmu'ah Fatawa Ibn Taymiyyah, vol.1, p.106, as cited in al-Mausu'ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, vol.14, pp.163-164. Ibn Taymiyya states: "Those who accuse a person of heresy for making tawassul deserve the most severe punishment."
  17. ^ Takim, Liyakatali N. (2006). The Heirs of the Prophet: Charisma and Religious Authority in Shi'ite Islam. Albany, NY, USA: State University of New York Press. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-7914-6737-4.