For Muslims generally, and Sufis in particular, the Sufi Centre is often the heart of a community across the Muslim world. Known variously as a zawiya, ribat, khanaqah, tekke, and dargah, the development of these institutions shows some historical diversity that has converged into a soteriologically significant place for individual development and congregational worship. In tracking the historical development of these institutions, this paper highlights how the once literal meanings have retained symbolic significance in referencing the functions of a Sufi Centre. There have been some scholarly attempts to make specific distinctions between these institutions. However, the convergence with regard to function and content has meant the differences are often indicative of location and/or cultural heritage, and the titles used to refer to a Sufi Centre have become almost equivalent.
The Sufi Centre occupies a significant place within Islam generally and the Sufi community in particular. For the general population, a Sufi Centre may be seen as a place wherein people gather and worship. For the adherents of Sufism, the Sufi Centre is a transformative space wherein teaching is transmitted, subtle energy (baraka) is concentrated, and soteriological development is intensified. This paper is divided into three sections. The first section will provide a historical overview of the diversified institutions that mutually developed into the Sufi Centre. The second section will detail what a Sufi Centre ideally contains and how this informs its functionality. The third section will explore how companionship (suhba) is an important aspect of the Sufi Centre and how this can contribute to an intensified soteriological development for the adherents of Sufism.
This was written upon the request of White Thread Press for the recent publication of The Book of Wisdoms. The Book of Wisdoms is a gathering point for a multifaceted approach to the Kitab al-Hikam, a traditional and much loved Sufi text. It draws together, in English, Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah’s Kitab al-Hikam, in al-Muttaqi arrangement, with Gangohi’s … Continue reading The Book of Wisdoms
This article originally appeared in The Journal of Islamic Philosophy, Vol. 8 (2012). An earlier version of this article, under the title “Ibn Sab’in – A Man Accused,” appeared in The Treasure: Australia’s Sufi Magazine, no. 27 (2010), pp. 14 – 18. A PDF of the article can be found here: CookSab’in2012 Amongst the various images of Ibn Sab’in (c. 614/1217-668/1270), most … Continue reading Ibn Sab’in and Islamic Orthodoxy: A Reassessment
This article originally appeared in The Treasure: Australia’s Sufi Magazine, no. 26 (2009), pp. 29 – 37. “After Buddha was dead, his shadow was still shown for centuries in a cave — a tremendous, gruesome shadow. God is dead; but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which … Continue reading Nietzsche and the Science of Prophethood