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A khanqah or khaniqah (also transliterated as khanqa, khaneqa, khanegah or khaneqah (Persian: خانقاه‎)), also known as a ribat (رباط) – among other terms – is a building designed specifically for gatherings of a Sufi brotherhood, or tariqa, and is a place for spiritual retreat and character reformation. In the past, and to a lesser extent nowadays, they often served as hospices for Sufi travelers (salik) and Islamic students. Khanqahs are very often found adjoined to dargahs (shrines of Sufi saints), mosques and madrasas (Islamic schools). They are found throughout the Persian-influenced Islamic world, especially Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and South Asia.

In the Arab world, especially North Africa, similar buildings are also found, which are known in Arabic as zawiyya (زاویه; also transliterated as zawiya, zāwiya or zaouia). In Turkey and other formerly Ottoman areas like Albania and Bosnia, they are locally referred to as tekije (تكيه; also transliterated as tekke, teqe or takiyah). In South Asia, the words khanqah and dargah are used interchangeably for Sufi shrines.

An example of a medieval khanqah at Isfahan, Iran.

Khanqahs later spread across the Islamic world, from Morocco to Indonesia.


Haruniyeh tomb, named after Harun al-Rashid. The present structure, a khanqah, is located in Tus and was probably built in the 13th century. Al-Ghazali is buried here.

All khanqahs, regardless of size, feature a large central hall. The daily ritual prayers incumbent on all Muslims, salat, are held in this hall, as are the specifically Sufi forms of dhikr, meditation and celebration of the divine.

Large khanqahs often grew up around the tomb of a tariqa's founder or the mausoleum of a Sufi saint. The Wahhabi ideology may regard these khanqahs as sites of ascribing partners to God almighty due to their hard line stance on these issues. It is argued by supporters that such sites, as long as there is an absence of any Islamically illegal acts, are fully permissible.

Some khanqahs include dwellings for the Sufi sheikh or pir, and his family, or cells for Sufis who wish to pursue their dhikr in quiet and isolation. They may also include lodgings for traveling Sufis and pilgrims and premises for charities such as hospitals.

Sufi movements have been banned in some Muslim-majority countries (such as secular Turkey, Islamist Iran, Salafi Saudi Arabia, or the Communist and post-Communist states of Central Asia). In these countries, khanqahs have been converted to other purposes, turned into museums or mosques. In other countries, Sufism survives and the old khanqahs are still in use.

Notable Khanqah[edit]

  • Khanqah Munamia Hasania Teeksal Dargauh, situated at Khwaja Kalan Ghat, Patna City, Patna, Bihar, India
  • Spiritual centre in Bihar
  • Khanqah Silsila Sarwari Qadri Lahore Pakistan

See also[edit]


  • 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
  • Berkey, Jonathan -- The Formation of Islam, Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-521-58813-8

External links[edit]