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Khalwa (Arabic, also khalwat; lit., "solitude"; pronounced in Iran, "khalvat"; spelling in Turkish, halvet).



In Sufism, a solitary retreat, traditionally for 40 days (see "chella"), during which a disciple does extensive spiritual exercises under the direction of a Sufi master.[1]

A Sufi murid will enter khalwa under the direction of a shaykh for a given period, sometimes for as long as 40 days, emerging only to pray and, usually, to discuss dreams, visions and live with the shaykh. Once a major element of Sufi practice, khalwa has become less frequent in recent years.

It is the act of total self-abandonment in desire for the Divine Presence. In complete seclusion, the Sufi continuously repeats the name of God as a highest form of dhikr, remembrance of God. Then, "Almighty God will spread before him the degrees of the kingdom as a test".

Other uses[edit]

  • A religious school is known as "a khalwa" in the Sudanese dialect of Arabic. This reflects the former dominance of Sufism in the Sudan.
  • The Khalwati order (Halveti) of Sufism derives its name from the term "khalwa".
  • In Islamic jurisprudence, a state in which two members of the opposite sex are alone and, if unmarried, ought to get out.

Other contexts[edit]

In Malaysia, Muslims who are unmarried non-relatives of the opposite sex can be apprehended by state religious police under the offence of khalwat for being in "close proximity".[2]

Khalwat al-Bayada is the name of the prayer-houses of the Druze religion.

See also[edit]