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date: 15 October 2019

Khanaqah [khānaqāh]locked

  • Jonathan M. Bloom



Building reserved for Muslim mystics belonging to a religious order. The Arabic word is of Persian origin (khān: ‘lodging’; gāh: ‘place’), but several variant forms (khanqah, khanka etc) underscore its distance from that origin. The word first appeared in the works of 10th-century geographers in reference to Manichaean institutions of teaching and evangelism in eastern Iran and Transoxiana, as well as to those of the ascetic Karrami sect of Islam. By the end of the century, however, khānaqāhs begin to be associated with groups of Sufis, who lived a communal mystical life regulated by a code of rules. The khānaqāh seems to have absorbed and replaced the earlier institution of the ribāṭ, although in some regions the two terms, together with zāwiya, were used interchangeably. In the second half of the 11th century, adherents of khānaqāhs allied themselves with the ruling Saljuq élite and vice versa, which led to the rapid proliferation of the institution throughout the eastern Islamic lands under Saljuq suzerainty. The spread of the ...

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Encyclopaedia of Islam (Leiden, 1954–)