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Dargāh or Buddha? The Politics of Building a Sufi Sanctuary for Hazrat Inayat Khan in the West*

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Abstract Recent studies of the dissemination of Islamic architecture in the West have argued that newly devised Islamic buildings would not have attempted to materialise a generalised Islamic identity towards a generalised non-Islamic antagonist. Instead, patrons were shown to have recombined elements from venerated prototypes into whole new iconographies that closely followed internal theological rivalries. In the Dutch dunes near Katwijk a Sufi temple was built in commemoration of the Chishti sage Inayat Khan (d. 1927), a monument which serves as a clarifying case study of the seemingly confusing phenomenon where a shared example from Islamic architectural history, in this instance the Taj Mahal, may be transformed in the modern western landscape in such a manner that neither the prototypical origin nor the contemporary connection between the end results would be recognizable to anyone but a very small number of insiders. Based on a complete chronological reconstruction of the design process of the Katwijk temple, it appears that major shifts in the iconography of this ‘Universel’ occurred even in mid-construction, alternating with competing successors to Inayat Khan and their divergent interpretations of their master’s theological legacy as either Islamic or universal.

Affiliations: 1: University of Amsterdam The Netherlands


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