Masjid vs. Dargah — What's the Difference?
By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on October 30, 2023
A "Masjid" is a Muslim place of worship, while a "Dargah" is a shrine built over the grave of a revered religious figure in Islam.
Difference Between Masjid and Dargah
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A "Masjid" and a "Dargah" both hold significant places within the realm of Islamic culture and tradition, but for different reasons. While a "Masjid" is a mosque, a place dedicated to Islamic prayers and rituals, a "Dargah" is a mausoleum or shrine, often built over the graves of Muslim saints or revered figures.
The primary purpose of a "Masjid" is to serve as a space for Muslims to gather for their five daily prayers, as well as other religious observances. On the other hand, a "Dargah" functions as a site of pilgrimage, where devotees visit to pay respects, seek blessings, and often tie threads to make wishes.
Architecturally, "Masjids" are often characterized by minarets, domes, and prayer halls. In contrast, "Dargahs" frequently feature intricate designs, a central tomb, and courtyards where devotees can sit and pray. The ambiance inside a "Dargah" is different from that of a "Masjid", with the former often having a more spiritual and serene atmosphere, accompanied by qawwali (Sufi devotional music) performances in some cases.
While both "Masjids" and "Dargahs" are associated with the Islamic faith, their cultural and regional manifestations can differ. "Masjids" are universal in the Islamic world, from Indonesia to Morocco. However, "Dargahs" are more closely associated with regions where Sufism, a mystical Islamic belief system, has a significant presence, such as in South Asia.
It's crucial to approach both "Masjids" and "Dargahs" with reverence and respect, as they are both considered sacred spaces in Islam. Before entering a "Masjid", one is required to perform ablution. Similarly, there are etiquettes to follow when visiting a "Dargah", such as covering one's head.
Place of worship
Shrine or mausoleum
Minarets, domes, prayer halls
Tombs, courtyards, decorative designs
Universal across Islamic regions
Prominent in regions with strong Sufi traditions
Calls to prayer (Adhan)
Often associated with Qawwali performances
Daily prayers, Friday sermons
Pilgrimage, tying threads, seeking blessings
Compare with Definitions
A mosque with architectural features like minarets and domes.
The masjid's minaret could be seen from miles away.
A mausoleum associated with Sufi saints.
The dargah of the saint is known for its annual festival.
A center of community gatherings and religious teachings in Islam.
The masjid also hosted weekly Quranic study sessions.
A shrine built over the grave of a revered religious figure in Islam.
Many devotees visit the dargah to seek blessings.
A Muslim place of worship.
We went to the local masjid for the Friday prayer.
A place of pilgrimage in Islamic culture.
Thousands traveled to the dargah during the Urs celebration.
A space for Islamic religious observances.
The masjid was filled with worshippers during Eid.
A spiritual space where devotees tie threads to make wishes.
She tied a thread at the dargah, praying for her family's well-being.
A building where Muslims gather for communal prayers.
The masjid was beautifully decorated during Ramadan.
A site often accompanied by qawwali performances.
The ambiance of the dargah was elevated by the soulful qawwali.
A dargah (Persian: درگاه dargâh or درگه dargah, Turkish: dergâh, Hindustani: dargah दरगाह درگاہ, Bengali: দরগাহ dorgah) 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”.
(Islam) A mosque.
Any masjid where the practices are devoted absolutely to The God ALONE.
If you assign a place in your home or office for prayer, then it can be considered as your own masjid.
A shrine associated with the grave of a Muslim saint or similar religious figure.
A Muslim place of worship; a mosque.
(Islam) a Muslim place of worship
What is the primary function of a masjid?
A masjid serves as a place of worship for Muslims.
Are there specific rituals to follow when visiting a dargah?
Yes, often including covering one's head, offering flowers or cloth, and showing respect to the shrine.
What is the significance of qawwali at dargahs?
Qawwali is Sufi devotional music, often performed at dargahs to honor saints and invoke a spiritual atmosphere.
Why do people visit dargahs?
People visit dargahs to pay respects, seek blessings, make wishes, and for spiritual solace.
What is the Urs celebration at a dargah?
Urs commemorates the death anniversary of the saint enshrined in the dargah, marked by special prayers, music, and gatherings.
Can non-Muslims enter a masjid?
It depends on the masjid's policies. Some allow non-Muslim visitors, while others might restrict entry.
Are masjids only for prayer?
While prayer is primary, masjids also serve as community centers and places of learning.
Do all Islamic countries have dargahs?
Dargahs are more prevalent in regions with strong Sufi traditions, like South Asia, but not exclusive to them.
Is a dargah the same as a mosque?
No, a dargah is a shrine or mausoleum, while a mosque is a place of worship.
Is a dargah specific to any Islamic sect?
Dargahs are closely associated with Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam.
Can women visit dargahs?
While most dargahs allow women, some might have specific sections for them or restrict entry to certain areas.
Are all masjids architecturally similar?
While there are common elements like minarets and domes, masjid architecture can vary based on region and cultural influences.
Is there a difference in the ambiance of a masjid and a dargah?
Yes, while masjids are primarily for prayers, dargahs offer a more spiritual and serene ambiance, often accompanied by devotional music.
Do all masjids have minarets?
While many do, it's not a strict requirement for a building to be considered a masjid.
How often are Muslims required to visit the masjid?
Muslim men are encouraged to attend communal Friday prayers, but daily attendance varies based on personal piety and circumstances.
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Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.