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The Tomb of Salim Chishti at Fatehpur Sikri, India was built in 1581 during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar. Fatehpur Sikri near Agra 2016-03 img02.jpg
The Tomb of Salim Chishti at Fatehpur Sikri, India was built in 1581 during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar.
A qawwali performance at the Ajmer Sharif Dargah at Ajmer, India. The dargah houses the grave of Moinuddin Chishti of the Chishti order. Qawalli at Ajmer Sharif dargah.jpg
A qawwali performance at the Ajmer Sharif Dargah at Ajmer, India. The dargah houses the grave of Moinuddin Chishti of the Chishti order.
Shrine of Bahauddin Zakariya in Multan, Pakistan. Bahauddin Zakariya was a famous saint of the Suhrawardiyya order. Splendid Shrine of Hazrat Baha-ud-din Zakariya.jpg
Shrine of Bahauddin Zakariya in Multan, Pakistan. Bahauddin Zakariya was a famous saint of the Suhrawardiyya order.
Sufi saint Shahul Hameed's tomb at Nagore Dargah in Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu Sufi saint Shahul Hameed's tomb at Nagore Dargah in Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu.jpg
Sufi saint Shahul Hameed's tomb at Nagore Dargah in Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu
Shrine of Pir Hadi Hassan Bux Shah Jilani at Duthro Sharif in Sanghar District, Pakistan. Darbar-e-Jilani duthro Sharif.jpg
Shrine of Pir Hadi Hassan Bux Shah Jilani at Duthro Sharif in Sanghar District, Pakistan.

A dargah (Persian : درگاهdargâh or درگهdargah, Turkish: dergâh, Hindustani: dargah दरगाह درگاہ, Bengali : দরগাহdorgah) is a shrine built over the grave of a revered religious figure, often a Sufi saint or dervish. Sufis often visit the shrine for ziyarat, a term associated with religious visits and “pilgrimages”. Dargahs are often associated with Sufi eating and 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 same structure, carrying the same social meanings and sites of the same kinds of ritual practices, is called maqam in the Arabic-speaking world.

Dargah today is considered to be place where saints prayed and mediated (their spiritual residence), although islamically such actions are considered to be blasphemous. Shrine is modern day building which encompasses of actual dargah as well but not always.


Dargah is derived from a Persian word which literally means "portal" or "threshold." [1] The Persian word is a composite of "dar (در)" meaning "door, gate" and "gah (گاه)" meaning "place". It may have a connection or connotation with the Arabic word "darajah (دَرَجَة)" meaning "stature, prestige, dignity, order, place" or may also mean "status, position, rank, echelon, class".

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 , also known as dawat-e qaboor [2] [ Persian: da‘wat-i qabũrدعوتِ قبور, "invocations of the graves or tombs"] or ‘ilm-e dawat [ Persian: ‘ilm-i da‘watعِلمِ دعوت, "knowledge of invocations"]). Still others hold a less important 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.

However, dargah is originally a core concept in Islamic Sufism and holds great importance for the followers of Sufi saints. Many Muslims believe their wishes are fulfilled after they offer prayer or service at a dargah of the saint they follow. Devotees tie threads of mannat (Persian: منّت, "grace, favour, praise") at dargahs and contribute for langar and pray at dargahs. Dargahs dotted the landscape of Punjab even before the partition of the Indian Subcontinent. [3]

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. [4] [5]

Throughout the non-Arab Muslim world

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 in Iran, Turkey and South Asia. [6]

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. [7]

In South Asia, dargahs are often the site of festivals (milad) held in honor of the deceased saint on his passing away anniversary ( urs ). The shrine is illuminated with candles or strings of electric lights at this time. [8] Dargahs in South Asia, have historically been a place for all faiths since the medieval times; for example, the Ajmer Sharif Dargah was meeting place for Hindus and Muslims to pay respect and even to the revered Saint Mu'in al-Din Chishti. [9] [10]

In China, the term gongbei is usually used for shrine complexes centered around a Sufi saint's tomb. [11]


There are many active dargahs open to the public worldwide where aspirants may go for a retreat. The following is a list of dargahs open to the public.

Opposition by other Sunni groups

The Ahl-i Hadith, Deobandi, Salafi and Wahhabi religious scholars argue against the practice of constructing shrines over graves, and consider it as associating partners with God or shirk. [15] The Prophet Muhammad strongly condemned the practice of turning graves into places of worship and even cursed those who did so. [16] [17] The current Wahhabi rulers of Saudi Arabia have destroyed more than 1400-year-old grave sites of companions and ahl al-bayt including Othman, Khadija and Aisha amongst numerous others, [18] [19] [20] although visiting graves is encouraged in Islam to remember death and the Day of Judgment. [20] [21] [22]

See also

Related Research Articles

Chishti Order Sufi order in Islam

The Chishtī Order is a Sunni Sufi order within the mystic Sufi tradition of Islam. It began in Chisht, a small town near Herat, Afghanistan, about 930 CE. The Chishti Order is known for its emphasis on love, tolerance, and openness.

Shrine Holy or sacred place dedicated to a specific deity

A shrine is a sacred or holy site dedicated to a specific deity, ancestor, hero, martyr, saint, daemon, or similar figure of respect, wherein they are venerated or worshipped. Shrines often contain idols, relics, or other such objects associated with the figure being venerated. A shrine at which votive offerings are made is called an altar.

Chishtī Muʿīn al-Dīn Ḥasan Sijzī, known more commonly as Muʿīn al-Dīn Chishtī or Moinuddin Chishti or Khwājā Ghareeb Nawaz, or reverently as a Shaykh Muʿīn al-Dīn or Muʿīn al-Dīn or Khwājā Muʿīn al-Dīn by Muslims of the Indian subcontinent, was a Persian Sunni Muslim preacher and Sayyid, ascetic, religious scholar, philosopher, and mystic from Sistan, who eventually ended up settling in the Indian subcontinent in the early 13th-century, where he promulgated the famous Chishtiyya order of Sunni mysticism. This particular tariqa (order) became the dominant Muslim spiritual group in medieval India and many of the most beloved and venerated Indian Sunni saints were Chishti in their affiliation, including Nizamuddin Awliya and Amir Khusrow.

Goripalayam Mosque

Goripalayam Mosque is a large mosque in Goripalayam containing two graves (tombs) of Sultans of Yemen namely Khaja Syed Sultan Alauddin Badusha Razi and Khaja Syed Sulthan Shamsuddin of the Madurai Sultanate. There is also one invisible grave of Khaja Syed Sultan Habibuddin Razi who is also known as Ghaibi Sulthan who came to India to spread Islam. Its dome is 70 feet (21 m) in diameter and 20 feet (6.1 m) in height and made of a single block of stone which was brought from the Azhaga Hills. It is said that it was built by Thirumalai Nayak for his Muslim subjects.

Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki Indian Sufi (1173-1235)

Qutb ul Aqtab Khwaja Sayyid Muhammad Bakhtiyar AlHussaini Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki (born 1173-died 1235) was a Sunni Muslim Sufi mystic, saint and scholar of the Chishti Order from Delhi, India. He was the disciple and the spiritual successor of Moinuddin Chishti as head of the Chishti order, and the person to whom the Qutb Minar, Delhi is dedicated. Before him the Chishti order in India was confined to Ajmer and Nagaur. He played a major role in establishing the order securely in Delhi. His dargah located adjacent to Zafar Mahal in Mehrauli, and the oldest dargah in Delhi, is also the venue of his annual Urs festivities. The Urs was held in high regard by many rulers of Delhi like Qutbuddin Aibak, Iltutmish who built a nearby stepwell, Gandhak ki Baoli for him, Sher Shah Suri who built a grand gateway, Bahadur Shah I who built the Moti Masjid mosque nearby and Farrukhsiyar who added a marble screen and a mosque.

In Islam, ziyara(h) or ziyarat is a form of pilgrimage to sites associated with Muhammad, his family members and descendants, his companions and other venerated figures in Islam such as the prophets, Sufi auliya, and Islamic scholars. Sites of pilgrimage include mosques, maqams, battlefields, mountains, and caves.

Urs Death anniversary of a Sufi saint

Urs or Urus, is the death anniversary of a Sufi saint, usually held at the saint's dargah. In most Sufi orders such as Naqshbandiyyah, Suhrawardiyya, Chishtiyya, Qadiriyya, Bukhari, etc. the concept of Urs exists and is celebrated with enthusiasm. The devotees refer to their saints as lovers of God, the beloved.

<i>Mazar</i> (mausoleum) Venerated structure in traditional Islam

A mazār, or darīh (ضَرِيْح) in the Maghreb, is a mausoleum or shrine in some places of the world, typically that of a saint or notable religious leader. Medieval Arabic texts may also use the words mašhad or maqām to denote the same concept. Another synonymous term mostly used in Palestine and in older Western scholarly literature is wali or weli.

Sufism in India History of Islamic mysticism in India

Sufism has a history in India evolving for over 1,000 years. The presence of Sufism has been a leading entity increasing the reaches of Islam throughout South Asia. Following the entrance of Islam in the early 8th century, Sufi mystic traditions became more visible during the 10th and 11th centuries of the Delhi Sultanate and after it to the rest of India. A conglomeration of four chronologically separate dynasties, the early Delhi Sultanate consisted of rulers from Turkic and Afghan lands. This Persian influence flooded South Asia with Islam, Sufi thought, syncretic values, literature, education, and entertainment that has created an enduring impact on the presence of Islam in India today. Sufi preachers, merchants and missionaries also settled in coastal Gujarat through maritime voyages and trade.

Maqbara Islamic mausoleum

The Arabic word Maqbara' is derived from the word Qabr, which means grave. Though maqbara refers to the graves of all Muslims, it refers especially to a Muslim cemetery. In some Islamic cultures it refers also to the graves of religious figures or Waliyullahs considered to have dedicated their life to Islam, striving to be true Muslims and training others to follow Islam as preached by the Islamic prophet Muhammad. In Asian countries, maqbara also refers to the Dargah of Waliyullahs, Sufis, Sheikhs, Imams, Qutbs and Ghouses. There are many Dargahs of Waliyullahs all over India, and their maqbaras are found therein.

Islam is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one God (Allah) and that Muhammad is His last Messenger.

Madurai Maqbara Three Sufi shrines in the Kazimar Big Mosque, Madurai, India

Madurai Maqbara refers to the Dargahs of three Sufi saints: Mir Ahmad Ibrahim, Mir Amjad Ibrahim, and Abdus Salaam Ibrahim situated in Kazimar Big Mosque, Madurai, India.

Muhammad Amjad, was a legal scholar of Qur'an, Hadith, and the Hanafi school of Islamic law.

Khwaja Ghareeb Nawaz Hazrat Mawlana Pir Fazal Ali Shah Qureshi was an Islamic scholar and the leading Naqshbandi Shaikh of colonial India in the early twentieth century. He was born to Murad Ali Shah in 1270 AH in Daud Khel, Punjab, and died at 84 in the first night of Ramadan 1354 AH and was buried at Miskeenpur shareef, district Muzaffargarh, Punjab.

Ajmer Sharif Dargah Sufi shrine of Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer, Rajasthan, India

Ajmer Sharif Dargah, Ajmer Dargah, Ajmer Sharif or Dargah Sharif is a sufi shrine (dargah) of the revered sufi saint, Moinuddin Chishti, located at Ajmer, Rajasthan, India. The shrine has Chisti's grave (Maqbara).

Nadir Ali Shah

Syed Nadir Ali Shah, popularly known as Murshid Nadir Ali Shah, was a 20th-century Sufi saint of the Qalandariyya Sufi Order of Islam, Muslim preacher, ascetic, mystic, philanthropist and humanitarian. He was born in Gandaf in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent and eventually ended up settling in Sehwan Sharif, Sindh. He was spiritual successor of the famous Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, in Sehwan Sharif. Nadir Ali Shah's legacy rests primarily on his having been one of the most notable figures among saints of Qalandariyya Sufi Order with regard to the Islamic preaching, mysticism and asceticism. Additionally he is believed to have contributed significantly to the promotion of human welfare and social empowerment as an essential feature of the Qalandariyya Sufi Order of Islam. He was also custodian of the shrine of the Sufi saint Abdullah Shah Ghazi in Karachi.

Ahmad Zayni Dahlan was the Grand Mufti of the Shafi'i madhab in Mecca, and Shaykh al-Islam in the Hijaz region of the Ottoman state, and Imam al-Haramayn, as well as being a historian and an Ash'ari theologian. He was known for his extreme criticisms of Wahhabism and his tendency toward Sufism (Mysticism). In his treatise against Wahhabi influence, Dahlan clearly views Sufism as a legal and integral part of Islamic practice – including such aspects as Tawassul, Tabarruk, and Ziyarat al-Qubur.

Pir Hadi Hassan Bux Shah Jilani

Pir Hadi Hassan Bux Shah Jilani, commonly known by the title Hadi (1846–1900), was an eminent Sufi saint and poet from Sanghar in modern-day Pakistan who belonged to Qadiriyya Sufi order. He was born at Dargah Bhuro Bhawan Shah Jilani near Hyderabad Sindh and lived most of his life in Duthro Sharif Sanghar Sindh after traveling through Sindh to spread Iaspam and Sufism. He wrote his poetry in many languages, mostly in Sindhi but also in Urdu, Persian and other languages. The annual Urs of Hadi take place in the month of Jumada al-Awwal in Duthro Sharif Sanghar.


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  20. 1 2 Ondrej, Beranek; Tupek, Pavel (July 2009). Naghmeh, Sohrabi (ed.). From Visiting Graves to Their Destruction: The Question of Ziyara through the Eyes of Salafis (PDF). Crown Paper (Crown Center for Middle East Studies/Brandeis University). Brandeis University. Crown Center for Middle East Studies. p. 19. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 August 2018. Relying mainly on hadiths and the Qur’an, Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s most famous work, The Book of God’s Unicity (Kitab al-tawhid), describes a variety of shirk practices, such as occultism, the cult of the righteous (salih), intercession, oaths calling on other than God himself, sacrifices or invocational prayers to other than God, and asking other than Him for help. Important things about graves are remarked on in a chapter entitled “About the Condemnation of One Who Worships Allah at the Grave of a Righteous Man, and What if He Worships [the Dead] Himself.”72 Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab starts by quoting a hadith: “Umm Salama told the messenger of Allah about a church she had seen in Abyssinia in which there were pictures. The Prophet said: ‘Those people, when a righteous member of their community or a pious slave dies, they build a mosque over his grave and paint images thereon; they are for God wicked people.’ They combine two kinds of fitna: the fitna of graves and the fitna of images.” He then continues with another hadith: “When the messenger of Allah was close to death, he ... said: ‘May Allah curse the Jews and Christians who make the graves of their prophets into places of worship; do not imitate them.’” From this hadith Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab derives the prohibition of building places of worship over graves, because that would mean glorification of their inhabitants, which would amount to an act of worship to other than Allah.
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