A khanqah, khaniqah (also transliterated as khanqa, and khaneqa Persian: خانگاه khanegah and خانقاه khaneghah), ribat, zawiya, or tekke 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 (Talib). Khanqahs are very often found adjoined to Dargahs (shrine of a Sufi saint), mosques and madrasas (Islamic schools). They are found throughout the Persian-influenced Islamic world, especially Iran, Central Asia and South Asia.
In the Arab world, especially North Africa, similar buildings are also found, which are known in Arabic as a zawiya or zaouia (Arabic: زاوية zāwiya). In Turkey and other formerly Ottoman areas like Albania and Bosnia, similar buildings are called locally tekke or tekye (تكيه).
It is not at all clear when Sufism emerged as a movement within Islam, or when the first khanqah was built. Sufis themselves trace their movement back to Muhammad; academic historians argue for later dates. Jonathan Berkey writes:
All khanqahs, regardless of size, feature a large central hall. The daily ritual prayers incumbent on all observant 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. Ordinary Muslims may regard these khanqahs as sites of ascribing partners to God almighty.
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, or allowed to decay. In other countries, Sufism survives and the old khanqahs are still in use. KHANQAH