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Local headquarters for Sufi orders.

Tekke is the Turkish word for the local meeting and living center of a Sufi fraternity. The Persian equivalent, khangah, is commonly used in most non-Turkic contexts, while zawiya (Arabic) functions as a distinctively North African synonym.

The late tenth and eleventh centuries saw a rise in the popularity of Sufi teachings and charismatic leaders, as well as the concurrent evolution of various Sufi organizations or "fraternities." As they expanded, these fraternities began to establish special living quarters for their members, as well as space for the various ritual, scholarly, and social service activities conducted by the local chapters of what gradually grew into international Sufi orders. In different contexts, either the state or private citizens endowed a vast network of tekke and khangah complexes designed to serve as regional headquarters for the fraternities. Many of these were composed of residence cells, a large kitchen-refectory for members and guests, a Qurʾan school for local youth, a library for advanced study, a tomb-shrine of a deceased spiritual master, and a mosque. Partly because the money used to endow tekkes and khangahs was often invested in local business and agriculture, a number of them throughout the late medieval and early modern Muslim world (c. 12001900) functioned as important economic, cultural, and political centers. In fact in some regionsparticularly southern Asia, western North Africa, and the Balkanstekkes and khangahs played a role in the Islamization of local peoples and cultures. Although the institution of the tekke generally flourished under Ottoman patronage, the stridently secularist vision of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his regime led to the 1925 closing of all the great Anatolian tekkesincluding that of the Mevlevi Brotherhood (the famed "whirling dervishes") in Konyaand the subsequent abolishment of nearly all institutional Sufi activity in the new Turkish republic.

see also sufism and the sufi orders.


Trimingham, J. Spencer. The Sufi Orders in Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

scott alexander