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Sufism History

Who we are: The Chishtiyyah

Khwaja Abu Ishaq Shami ("the Syrian") (d. 941 C.E.) brought Sufism to the town of Chisht, some 95 miles east
of Herat in present-day Afghanistan. Before returning to the Levant, Shami initiated, trained, and deputized the
son of the local Amir, Khwaja Abu Ahmad Abdal (d. 966). Under the leadership of Khwaja Abu Ahmad’s
descendants, the Chishtiyya flourished as a regional mystical order specializing in sama’, ritual music and

Early in the 13th century, Khwaja Mu‘in al-Din Hasan Sanjari (d. 1236) and his disciples introduced a branch of
the Chishtiyya in the Indian Subcontinent. Khwaja Mu‘in al-Din’s ethos was: "Generosity like a river, affection
like the sun, humility like the earth." Remembered as Gharib-nawaz, "the Helper of the Poor," his legacy is such
that today hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, of all castes and creeds, flock to his tomb in Ajmer for the annual
‘urs festival.

Khwaja Mu‘in al-Din's successor, Khwaja Qutb al-Din Bakhtiyar Kaki (d. 1235), expired after a mystical couplet
sent him into a swoon of ecstasy. He was succeeded by Khwaja Farid al-Din Mas‘ud (d. 1265), whose elegant
verses grace the pages of the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib. Khwaja Farid al-Din’s successor, Khwaja
Nizam al-Din Awliya’(d. 1325)—remembered as Mahbub-i Ilahi, "Beloved of God"—presided over an era of
florescence, when the Chishti message spread throughout the Subcontinent. The death of his successor,
Khwaja Nasir al-Din Mahmud (d. 1356), who was buried with the sacred relics of office, closed a glorious

The initiatic tree of the Chishtiyya sprouted many branches and shoots. The lineage of Khwaja Nizam al-Din
(the Nizamiyya) was paralleled by the lineage of Khwaja ‘Ala al-Din ‘Ali Sabir (the Sabiriyya). Our lineage is
traced to Khwaja Nasir al-Din through his nephew Shaykh Kamal al-Din ‘Allama (d. 1355), whose descendants
established a mystical institution in Gujarat that continues to this day. Among these descendants was Shaykh
Muhammad Chishti (d. 1630), who attained the cosmic initiations of Qutb (Axis) and Mahbub (Beloved) at the
dawn of the second hijri millennium.

In Medina, Shaykh Muhammad’s grandson Shaykh Yahya Madani (d. 1689) deputized Shah Kalim Allah (d.
1729), who came from the family of architects that designed the Taj Mahal. Shah Kalim Allah later composed the
meditation manual Kashkul-i Kalimi, which documents the technical repertory of the Chishtiyya, a sophisticated
combination of Arabic ritual formulae, Central Asian subtle physiology theory, and hathayogic body techniques.
Shah Kalim Allah established a school in Delhi that flourished under the leadership of the descendants of his
successor Shah Nizam al-Din (d. 1730), until it was displaced in the aftermath of the ill-fated Revolt of 1857,
when the Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar—a disciple of Shah Nizam al-Din’s great grandson Kale Miyan
—was exiled to Rangoon.

Just before the Revolt, a premonition prompted Kale Miyan’s successor Shaykh Muhammad Hasan Jili Kalimi to
take his family to Hyderabad. There he deputized Sayyid Abu Hashim Madani, who became the Murshid
(teacher) of Hazrat Inayat Khan.

Hazrat Inayat Khan’s own memories of his Murshid, beginning with the first encounter, are recorded in his

After a time of suspense the Pir-o-Murshid entered, bringing with him a very great sense of light. As all those
present greeted him, bowing down in their humility, it seemed to me all at once that I had seen him before, but
where I could not recall. At last, after gazing at him earnestly, I remembered that his was the face which so
persistently haunted me during my silence. The proof of this was manifested as soon as his eyes fell on me.

He turned to his host, saying, "O Mawlana, tell me who this young man may be? He appeals intensely to my

Mawlana Khayr al-Mubin answered, "Your holiness, this young man is a genius in music, and he desires greatly
to submit himself to your inspiring guidance."

Then the Master smiled and granted the request, initiating me into Sufism there and then.

Muhammad Abu Hashim Madani belonged to a distinguished family of Medina, and was a direct descendant of
the Holy Prophet. My joy in him was so great that it found its expression in poetry and music. I had at last found
my pearl among men, my guide, my treasure, and beacon of hope. I composed a song and sang it to him and
this, I feel certain, has brought me all my success and will aid me in my future life. And thus was my song:

Thou art my salvation and freedom is mine,

I am not, I melt as a pearl in sweet wine!
My heart, soul, and self, yea, all these are thine;
O Lord I have no more to offer!

I drink of the nectar of truth the divine,

As Moses thy word, as Yusuf they shine
who walk in thy ways; and Christ is thy sign:
Thou raisest to life everlasting!

Thou art as Muhammad to them that repine,

My spirit is purged as the gold from a mine!
I only know that my heart beats with thine,
And joys in boundless freedom!

My Murshid greatly appreciated this outburst of love on my part and exclaimed in deep emotion, "Be thou
blessed with Divine Light and illuminate the beloved ones of Allah!"

From this time a spiritual attachment between myself and my Murshid was firmly established, and as it grew
more and more it opened up in me the ways of light through my attachment to that Inner Radiance, which can
never be gained through discussion or argument, reading, writing, nor mystical exercises.

I visited him at the expense of all my affairs whenever I felt his call, receiving rays of his ecstasy with bent head,
and listening to all he said without doubt or fear. Thus the firm faith and confidence I brought to bear upon my
meditations prepared me to absorb the Light of the World Unseen.

I studied the Koran, Hadith, and the literature of the Persian mystics. I cultivated my inner senses, and
underwent periods of clairvoyance, clairaudience, intuition, inspiration, impressions, dreams, and visions. I also
made experiments in communicating with the living and the dead. I delved into the occult and psychic sides of
mysticism, as well as realizing the benefits of piety, morality, and bhakti (or devotion). The more I progressed in
their pursuit, the more unlearned I seemed, as there was always more and more to understand and acquire. Of
all that I comprehended and experienced I valued most that Divine Wisdom which alone is the essence of all
that is best and attainable, and which leads us on from the Finite World unto Infinitudes of Bliss.

After receiving instruction in the five different grades of Sufism, the physical, intellectual, mental, moral, and
spiritual, I went through a course of training in the four schools: the Chishtiyya, Naqshibandiyya, Qadiriyya, and
Suhrwardiyya. I still recall this period, under the guidance of so great and merciful a Murshid, as the most
beautiful time of my life. In him I saw every rare quality, while his unassuming nature and his fine modesty could
hardly be equaled even among the highest mystics of the world. He combined within himself the intense spell of
ecstasy and constant flow of inspiration with the very soul of spiritual independence. Although I had found most
wonderful attributes among the mystics I had met, some in greater and some in lesser degrees, I had never until
then beheld the balance of all that was good and desirable in one man.

His death was as saintly as his mortal life had been. Six months before his end he predicted its coming and
wound up all his worldly affairs in order to be freed for his future journey. "Death is a chain which unites friend
with friend unto the Beyond."

He apologized not only to his relatives, friends, and mureeds, but even to his servants, lest there might be aught
that he had done to their displeasure and hurt. Ere the soul departed from his body, he bade farewell to all his
people with loving words. And then, sitting upright and unwavering, he continued zikr, and lost in his
contemplation of Allah, he, by his own accord, freed his soul from the imprisonment of this mortal frame forever.

I can never forget the words he spoke, while he placed his hands upon my head in blessing, "Fare forth into the
world, my child, and harmonize the East and the West with the harmony of thy music. Spread the wisdom of
Sufism abroad, for to this end art thou gifted by Allah, the most Merciful and Compassionate."

Note: The quotation is from Regina Miriam Bloch, The Confessions of Inayat Khan (London: The Sufi Publishing
Company Ltd., 1915), pp. 38-42, with minor adjustments. For more on Hazrat Inayat Khan's Chishti heritage,
see Pirzade Zia Inayat Khan, "The "Silsila-i Sufian": From Khwaja Mu‘in al-Din Chishti to Sayyid Abu Hashim
Madani," in A Pearl in Wine: Essays in the Life, Music and Sufism of Hazrat Inayat Khan (New Lebanon: Omega
Publications, 2001), pp. 267-322.

. To spread the Message of Unity and promote the awakening of humanity to the divinity in all, as taught by Pir-
o-Murshid Inayat Khan, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, and Pir Zia Inayat Khan by offering seminars, conferences,
retreat events, Universal Worship services, and by publishing and distributing print and electronic media.

2. To provide a program of spiritual training to bring about deep personal transformation culminating in a
balanced, harmonious and creative life by developing a central school and local training centers around the
country, by offering guided group and individual retreats, and by training spiritual guides capable of giving
authentic training in the inner life and the integration of spiritual realization into everyday life.

3. To encourage and support as part of our training new ways of integrating our ideals of love, harmony and
beauty into all aspects of everyday life including professional, personal, social, political, and religious life.

4. To serve God and humanity by helping to relieve suffering through promoting service among our members
and sponsoring service projects such as the Hope Project in New Delhi; by promoting understanding and
goodwill among adherents of various faiths through Universal Worship services and participation in as well as
sponsoring of inter-religious conferences and celebrations; and by encouraging the unfoldment of universal
loving kinship by spreading the Message of Unity and the recognition of divinity in every living being.
1. To realize and spread the knowledge of unity, the religion of love and wisdom, so that the bias of faith
and beliefs may of itself fall away, the human heart may overflow with love and all hatred caused by distinctions
and differences may be rooted out.

2. To discover the light and power latent within all human beings, that is the secret of all religion, the power of
mysticism, and the essence of philosophy, without interfering with customs or belief.

3. To help to bring the worlds two opposite poles, East and West, closer together by the interchange of thought
and ideals, that the Universal Kinship may form of itself, and human being may see with human being beyond
the narrow national and racial boundaries.

The Five Aspects of Prayer and the Five Elements

by Pir Zia Inayat Khan

Five aspects to prayer are described by the Sufi teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan. I have found a
correspondence between these and the five elements to which we attune through purification breaths.

The best time for the breath practice is first thing in the morning, outside or in front of an open window.
Practise it standing, or if necessary sitting with your back straight. Once you are familiar with the
breaths, it is better to keep the eyes open, but at first you can close your eyes.

Earth purification breath

The first element is Earth, and the first aspect of prayer is gratitude.

The earth breath is inhaling and exhaling through the nose. To attune to one’s relationship with the
earth one needs to awaken to one’s subtle energetic body. In the same way that the physical body is
continuously nourished by digesting and metabolizing the physical substance of the planet, on a subtle
level our magnetic field is nourished by the magnetism of the planet.

It is useful to first locate the rhythm of your heart. Then see if you can find the echo of the heartbeat in
your hands, feet and head. Scientists used to speak of the heart as the pump of the circulatory system,
but now it is understood that the heart itself is pumped by the collective action of the entire circulatory
system. So you can’t think of your heart as being limited to your chest. In fact, if you feel the pulsation
of circulation in your hands, fingertips, feet and head, you may feel that there is no definite boundary.
When you eyes are closed, your hands don’t feel as if they are made up of five fingers, but rather you
feel the vibration that pulses through the hands, expanding in all directions and forming a field that
emanates into space.

Once you have attuned to your electromagnetic field, as you inhale you can become conscious of how
your life field expands with the influx of energy from the earth through the soles of your feet, through
the palms of your hands and through the base of your spine. Then as you exhale, feel yourself
collapsing into the gravitational field of the earth, sinking down to be composted and recycled in the
body of the earth. So you have to overcome the idea that you are separate from the earth. Remember
that your cells are always dividing, new cells being born and old cells dying – in the space of five years,
one’s entire body is recycled. So one thinks of oneself as a cell in the body of the earth, in which the
earth has articulated itself in order to experience itself.

Relax and open your eyes.


Related to the element earth is a specific quality of prayer, which is thanksgiving. Every day is an
opportunity to count one’s blessings, instead of the opposite which is to enumerate our troubles – and
of course in doing so we attract more trouble to ourselves. For example, if we give a gift to someone,
and that person appears indifferent and shows no gratitude, we are less likely to give a gift to that
person again. It’s the same way with the universe.

Gratitude is not only for the sake of obliging the one who has given us something; it is for our own
sake, because when one is inattentive to the blessings of life, even that which one has been given is as
if it were absent. But for the one who is grateful, even when that for which one is grateful is no longer
with you, it remains present because of your gratitude. Gratitude immortalizes one’s experience
because in gratitude one lives life vividly. That for which you are grateful engages your full attention and
comes alive in you.

So we can always remind ourselves to count our blessings, and you will find that it really does affect
your attitude in life. When you realize how much has been given to you, you simply feel happy. and if
you are happy, then other people are less likely to feel threatened by you, and so consequently they are
more likely to be nice to you.

Take a minute now. Invoke one object of your experience: a person, animal, plant, object, or an aspect
of nature like the blueness of the sky. As the Sufis say, taste it, savour it, enjoy it in your mind, feel what
it means to live in a world in which you have the privilege of experiencing that thing.

Water purification breath

Let us return to our breath, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. One becomes
attuned to the more fluid dimension of one’s subtle being. The body from the outside looks solid, but we
know that we are more than 75 percent water. A Sufi poet once said, ‘That which I took for stillness was
the essence of movement’. He meant that when I walk and move around, I feel that I am solid, but when I
sit in meditation, I feel the motion within, in the same way that water is buried deep under the earth. The
pulsation of the water within carries the memory of the state of the womb – that state of primal unity in
which we were bathed in the water of compassion; and the pulsation of the mother’s heartbeat that
filled the womb carried a deeper memory, the memory of the primeval ocean from which our life
emerged. The ebb and flow of the waves of the primeval ocean carries the memory of the ocean of light.

So through the breath we become conscious once again of this ancient lineage of pulsation that
continues to flow through us. Feel yourself washed within as the water flows through every particle of
your body and washes away everything that is superfluous, bringing movement where there was no
movement, washing away the blockages and obstructions that allow emotion to flow freely, because the
true nature of emotion is motion. As Hazrat Inayat Khan says, the water that purifies the heart is the
continual running of the love stream.

Relax again.


We come to the aspect of prayer that relates to water, and that is repentance, which is most beautifully
expressed in tears of repentance. There is the story of a Sufi who was in the habit of praying five times
a day. Once, going to sleep late, he was going to miss his morning prayer, when a supernatural creature
came and woke him up. You would think that must have been an angel, but it was the devil. You can
imagine how surprised he was that the devil should wake him up so that he could say his prayers! The
devil explained, ‘I saw that you were going to miss your prayer, and I knew that when you woke up you
would be so disappointed in yourself that you would cry, and a tear of repentance of such grace and
beauty would fall from your eye that it would wash away all the sins of the world’.

Tears are the perfume of repentance. Repentance is the act of accepting responsibility for one’s
mistakes, one’s shortcomings, one’s limitation. One needs to make the vow not to repeat the mistake,
and enquire into oneself to understand the condition that gave rise to that mistake so that one learns
from it, and then leave the matter to the divine mercy.

Our natural tendency is for the ego, the small self, to perpetuate itself by promoting its agenda and
suppressing other people. Denied by the ego, the impression of the mistake, of the harmful action, is
repressed and becomes unconscious, but it lingers within oneself as a source of guilt. The mistake
belongs to the ego, but there is another part of oneself that never made the mistake, that is one’s soul.
Since the ego denies the mistake and therefore the impression of it, the guilt becomes a covering over
the soul, covering that which is purity itself. For the soul to reclaim its light, the ego has to accept its
responsibility, to bring the error back into consciousness and attempt to grow and not repeat the
mistake. Then one finds that the soul becomes liberated because all of that residue of guilt and sin is
cleared, and the soul can shine through with such confidence that every action becomes a holy work.

At first it seems like an unpleasant thing to do, to return to bad memories, but one finds that there is
much grace that comes when one finally does face up to the Shadow, accept responsibility and turn to
the source of forgiveness. There was a Sufi named Samad who said, ‘Although I regret my error, I feel
so privileged that my limitation allowed me to experience the incredible beauty of Your forgiveness’. In
fact, the Sufis say that the most essential qualities of the divine nature are mercy and compassion. So if
there were no error, mistakes, sin, then that which is most essential to reality would have no scope to
express itself.

Could we again take a moment in silence. This time, look to see if there is something lingering in the
depths of your mind that you don’t feel quite right about, but you haven’t allowed yourself to look at
closely. Try to move beyond the rationales, the excuses that you give yourself, and really listen to the
voice of your conscience which can see beyond that.

Just imagine what it would be like to be a child who has made a mistake, admits it and turns to the
loving embrace of a parent.

Fire purification breath

The breath of fire is inhaling through the mouth and exhaling through the nose. The temperature of our
body is an indication that we are in a process of perpetual combustion. Combustion means that matter
is quickened; particles escape their frozen conditions and begin to move rapidly, and as a consequence
great amounts of energy are released. It is the same as in history when great empires or institutions
have fallen and suddenly there are new opportunities and a great surge of creativity and freedom.
Physiologically the rate of one’s metabolism can be intensified by consciously cultivating heat. What
begins as heat in the lower centres rises and is transmuted into light in the higher centres. As one does
this one can imagine what it means to have a countenance, a face, like the sun.

Now return to your natural breath.


The direction of earth is spreading (gratitude); the direction of water is descending (the mercy and
grace that descends with repentance); the direction of fire is rising: supplication, which means asking
for one’s need. Sometimes we wonder whether we ought to ask for our need. I recently visited a church
where they told the congregation they must never ask anything from God. That is a genuine teaching,
but it belongs to a very high level of attainment, to the station of one who has no expectations; but as
long as you are hopeful of something, then you have something to ask for. You might say, why should I
impose upon God to help me with what seems like a trifling matter? And moreover it might be said that
if God is omniscient and omnipotent, it means that God already knows what I want and if He/She hasn’t
fulfilled it there must be a reason that I don’t know.

The problem with that argument is that it is based on duality: God outside there and me over here. But
what if one understood one’s relationship with God as the Sufis do, as two ends of a line. On one end is
a state of limitation, but nonetheless a state of actualization, and the other side is an unlimited and yet
unactualized state. So the actualization of the unlimited can only be through the limited being. In fact it
is in prayer that the two poles come together, because in articulating your need you bring your desire
into concrete reality, through your thought and emotion.

Something begins as a universal impulse of ishq, of longing, but still very vague and unformed. Then
when it becomes more clear it becomes a desire. Then when the desire becomes more clear, it becomes
a wish. And when the wish becomes more clear it becomes a will, and it’s through will that everything is
accomplished in this world.

So supplication is the process of clarifying one’s desire, letting one’s desire resonate and pulsate within
oneself and become more and more strong and focused until it attracts its own fulfilment. Hazrat Inayat
Khan said something very challenging: if your desire was not fulfilled it means that you did not know
how to desire. It’s also true that sometimes we pray ardently for something and something else
happens. This means that the universe is not mechanical, it’s not a vending machine; if it were, there
would be no place for evolution. Evolution comes in dialogue: you put forward your wish, your will, with
all sincerity and clarity, and that will be heard. The answer may not be the answer you expect, but
nonetheless it incorporates the message that you sent in your prayer. And the answer in turn stimulates
a new need, a new desire; it is in this spirit that our desires themselves evolve and transform.

God is limitless, and we are creatures of limitation. That is precisely the role that we have to play: we
can offer forth our limitation, that is our best gift. We can offer forth our sincerest need in faith, in trust
that the answer that is intended will come.

Let us take another moment of silence now. Remember what Hazrat Inayat Khan says, that the one
whose desire is not fulfilled did not know how to desire. He goes on to say, ‘Failure is due to
indistinctness of motive.’ In fact, our greatest problem in life is being at cross purposes with ourselves.

So just imagine that a supernatural being appears, a genie of the lamp, and says, ‘You can have
whatever you want now’. What is it?

Air purification breath

Inhale and exhale through the mouth. Recall that if you were to look at your body through an electron
microscope you would have a very different profile than the one that you ordinarily see. Your body
would look like the starry sky at night: points of light in the midst of vast empty space. The points of
light are all in motion, and so one’s sense of solidity is belied by a profounder vision of oneself which is
not a form so much as a choreography. When one becomes frustrated in the constraint of the more
concretized mode of ones being, one can revert to this dimension and experience the sense of freedom
and liberation that comes with it. Float above everything, and nothing can weigh you down. One
identifies with the primordial state of the cosmos which was a swirling cloud of gas, rich with infinite

Return to your natural breath.


The next aspect of prayer is invocation. There is a saying of Ali, a great saint, who said, ‘Pray to God as
if you see God’. What does it mean, to ‘see’ God? It sounds paradoxical. Of course we keep speaking
about God and it seems to take for granted that we all believe in God. Do you believe in God? If I ask
you whether you believe in God, you’ll probably say, ‘That’s just a word. Define what you mean, and
then I’ll tell you whether I believe in God or not.’ But perhaps then I would change the question and
instead of giving you a definition I would ask you to supply the definition of the God that you believe in.
If we did that we might find that we have as many definitions as there are people. The Sufis say, there
are as many paths to God as there are breaths. Every path is an ideal, and everyone has an ideal.

Sometimes someone will say, ‘I can’t relate to prayer because I don’t believe in God and I feel it would
be hypocritical to pray to God whom I don’t believe in’. When you ask why it is hypocritical, they
answer, ‘It is contrary to my sense of the truth, and truth is something absolute that can never be
compromised; it’s an essential principle; it’s of the essence.’ Then suddenly a light comes on, and you
see: it’s something prior to all other phenomena; it’s of the nature of essence, and it’s an absolute
principle that cannot be compromised. You have a God ideal: it’s Truth.

Everyone has an ideal; one could not live in this world without an ideal – one would be broken. When
Hazrat Ali speaks of praying to God as if you see God, it is to bring that ideal from the abstract realm of
conjecture into one’s lived reality. So if one’s God ideal is the Truth, it means living according to the
Truth, reminding oneself on all occasions of the imperatives of the Truth, seeking the manifestation of
Truth in all things. And you may find that that which defines the ideal for a person is precisely what that
person needs to develop himself or herself, and it changes at different times in one’s life.

Murshid says, ‘God is what is needed to complete oneself’, so each of us is a work in progress and
there are qualities that belong to our essence but are not yet adequately expressed in our life and are
struggling to be born. They are brought to our attention in the form of our ideal, and in life we are
attracted to people who manifest that ideal in a way that we are not yet able to manifest. That person
then becomes a mirror in which our true self sees itself, because all of the perfection that we witness in
the world is only the reflection of that which exists within ourselves: you cannot recognize it unless it’s
already there in you.
Invocation means, to live with that quality of being just as you would live with another person, to
experience it as having such validity, such vividness in your life, that it is a relationship perhaps more
important than any other relationship.

Let us take another moment in silence. Open your awareness to perfection. And receive the form,
whatever form it is, in which that perfection manifests itself to you.

Ether purification breath

Now we return to the breaths, and we’ll review five breaths of each element beginning with Earth…

Let your breath return to its natural state, deepened and refined through the purification of those four
elements, feeling them balanced in your constitution. In this balanced state intuit the presence of the
most fifth and most subtle element, ether.


Open yourself to the fifth aspect of prayer, which is ‘at-onement’ or communion. A great dervish once
said, when you look for God, God is in the look in your eyes. And so suddenly one realizes that it is God
that prays to God. And the person that you took to be yourself is just a mirror in which the divine light
reflects back on itself.

As we come to the end of this meditation, feel the soles of your feet on the ground, and open your eyes.

This article is an edited transcription of a talk given in Suresnes, Paris on January 28, 2005.


There are ten principal Sufi thoughts, which comprise all the important subjects with which the inner life of man
is concerned.

There is One God, the Eternal, the Only Being; none exists save He.

The God of the Sufi is the God of every creed, and the God of all. Names make no difference to him. Allah, God,
Gott, Dieu, Brahma, or Bhagwan, all these names and more are the names of his God; and yet to him God is
beyond the limitation of name. He sees his God in the sun, in the fire, in the idol which diverse sects worship;
and he recognizes Him in all the forms of the universe, yet knowing Him to be beyond all form: God in all, and
all in God, He being the Seen and the Unseen, the Only Being. God to the Sufi is not only a religious belief, but
also the highest ideal the human mind can conceive.

The Sufi, forgetting the self and aiming at the attainment of the divine ideal, walks constantly all through life in
the path of love and light. In God the Sufi sees the perfection of all that is in the reach of man's perception and
yet he knows Him to be above human reach. He looks to Him as the lover to his beloved. and takes all things in
life as coming from Him, with perfect resignation. The sacred name of God is to him as medicine to the patient.
The divine thought is the compass by which he steers the ship to the shores of immortality. The God-ideal is to a
Sufi as a lift by which he raises himself to the eternal goal, the attainment of which is the only purpose of his life.


There is One Master, the Guiding Spirit of all Souls, Who constantly leads His followers towards the light.
The Sufi understands that although God is the source of all knowledge, inspiration, and guidance, yet man is the
medium through which God chooses to impart His knowledge to the world. He imparts it through one who is a
man in the eyes of the world, but God in his consciousness. It is the mature soul that draws blessings from the
heavens, and God speaks through that soul. Although the tongue of God is busy speaking through all things, yet
in order to speak to the deaf ears of many among us, it is necessary for Him to speak through the lips of man.
He has done this all through the history of man, every great teacher of the past having been this Guiding Spirit
living the life of God in human guise. In other words, their human guise consists of various coats worn by the
same person, who appeared to be different in each. Shiva, Buddha, Rama, Krishna on the one side, Abraham,
Moses, Jesus, Mohammed on the other; and many more, known or unknown to history, always one and the
same person.

Those who saw the person and knew Him recognized Him in whatever form or guise; those who could only see
the coat went astray. To the Sufi therefore there is only one Teacher, however differently He may be named at
different periods of history, and He comes constantly to awaken humanity from the slumber of this life of illusion,
and to guide man onwards towards divine perfection. As the Sufi progresses in this view he recognizes his
Master, not only in the holy ones, but in the wise, in the foolish, in the saint and in the sinner, and has never
allowed the Master who is One alone, and the only One who can be and who ever will be, to disappear from his

The Persian word for Master is Murshid. The Sufi recognizes the Murshid in all beings of the world, and is ready
to learn from young and old, educated and uneducated, rich and poor, without questioning from whom he
learns. Then he begins to see the light of Risalat, the torch of truth which shines before him in every being and
thing in the universe. Thus he sees Rasul, his Divine Message Bearer, a living identity before him. Thus the Sufi
sees the vision of God, the worshipped deity, in His immanence, manifest in nature, and life now becomes for
him a perfect revelation both within and without.

It is often for no other reason than clinging to the personality of their particular teacher, claiming for him
superiority over other teachers, and degrading a teacher held in the same esteem by others, that people have
separated themselves from one another, and caused most of the wars and factions and contentions which
history records among the children of God.

What the Spirit of Guidance is, can be further explained as follows: as in man there is a faculty for art, music,
poetry and science, so in him is the faculty or spirit of guidance; it is better to call it spirit because it is the
supreme faculty from which all the others originate. As we see that in every person there is some artistic faculty,
but not everyone is an artist, as everyone can hum a tune but only one in a thousand is a musician, so every
person possesses this faculty in some form and to a limited degree; but the spirit of guidance is found among
few indeed of the human race.

A Sanskrit poet says, 'Jewels are stones, but cannot be found everywhere; the sandal tree is a tree, but does
not grow in every forest; as there are many elephants, but only one king elephant, so there are human beings all
over the world, but the real human being is rarely to be found.'

When we arise above faculty and consider the spirit of guidance, we shall find that it is consummated in the
Bodhisatva, the spiritual teacher or divine messenger. There is a saying that the reformer is the child of
civilization, but the prophet is its father. This spirit has always existed, and must always exist; and in this way
from time to time the message of God has been given.


There is One Holy Book, the sacred manuscript of nature, the only scripture which can enlighten the reader.

Most people consider as sacred scriptures only certain books or scrolls written by the hand of man, and
carefully preserved as holy, to be handed down to posterity as divine revelation. Men have fought and disputed
over the authenticity of these books, have refused to accept any other book of similar character, and, clinging
thus to the book and losing the sense of it, have formed diverse sects. The Sufi has in all ages respected all
such books, and has traced in the Vedanta, Zendavesta, Kabah, Bible, Qur'an, and all other sacred scriptures,
the same truth which he reads in the incorruptible manuscript of nature, the only Holy Book, the perfect and
living model that teaches the inner law of life: all scriptures before nature's manuscript are as little pools of water
before the ocean.
To the eye of the seer every leaf of the tree is a page of the holy book that contains divine revelation, and he is
inspired every moment of his life by constantly reading and understanding the holy script of nature.

When man writes, he inscribes characters upon rock, leaf, paper, wood or steel; when God writes, the
characters He writes are living creatures.

It is when the eye of the soul is opened and the sight is keen that the Sufi can read the divine law in the
manuscript of nature; and that which the teachers of humanity have taught to their followers was derived by
them from the same source; they expressed what little it is possible to express in words, and so they preserved
the inner truth when they themselves were no longer there to reveal it.


There is One Religion, the unswerving progress in the right direction towards the ideal, which fulfills the life's
purpose of every soul.

Religion in the Sanskrit language is termed Dharma, which means duty. The duty of every individual is religion.
'Every soul is born for a certain purpose, and the light of that purpose is kindled in his soul', says Sa'adi. This
explains why the Sufi in his tolerance allows every one to have his own path, and does not compare the
principles of others with his own, but allows freedom of thought to everyone, since he himself is a freethinker.

Religion, in the conception of a Sufi, is the path that leads man towards the attainment of his ideal, worldly as
well as heavenly. Sin and virtue, right and wrong, good and bad are not the same in the case of every individual;
they are according to his grade of evolution and state of life. Therefore the Sufi concerns himself little with the
name of the religion or the place of worship. All places are sacred enough for his worship, and all religions
convey to him the religion of his soul. 'I saw Thee in the sacred Ka'ba and in the temple of the idol also Thee I

There is One Law, the law of reciprocity, which can be observed by a selfless conscience, together with a sense
of awakened justice.

Man spends his life in the pursuit of all that seems to him to be profitable for himself, and when so absorbed in
self-interest in time he even loses touch with his own real interest. Man has made laws to suit himself,, but they
are laws by which he can get the better of another. It is this that he calls justice, and it is only that which is done
to him by another that he calls injustice. A peaceful and harmonious life with his fellow-men cannot be led until
the sense of justice has been awakened in him by a selfless conscience. As the judicial authorities of the world
intervene between two persons who are at variance, knowing that they have a right to intervene when the two
parties in dispute are blinded by personal interest, so the Almighty Power intervenes in all disputes however
small or great.

It is the law of reciprocity which saves man from being exposed to the higher powers, as a considerate man has
less chance of being brought before the court. The sense of justice is awakened in a perfectly sober mind; that
is, one which is free from the intoxication of youth, strength, power, possession, command, birth, or rank. It
seems a net profit when one does not give but takes, or when one gives less and takes more; but in either case
there is really a greater loss than profit; for every such profit spreads a cover over the sense of justice within,
and when many such covers have veiled the sight, man becomes blind even to his own profit. It is like standing
in one's own light. 'Blind here remains blind in the hereafter.'

Although the different religions, in teaching man how to act harmoniously and peacefully with his fellow-men,
have given out different laws, they all meet in this one truth: do unto others as thou wouldst they should do unto
thee. The Sufi, in taking a favor from another, enhances its value, and in accepting what another does to him he
makes allowance.

There is One Brotherhood, the human brotherhood which unites the children of earth indiscriminately in the
Brotherhood of God.

The Sufi understands that the one life emanating from the inner Being is manifested on the surface as the life of
variety; and in this world of variety man is the finest manifestation, for he can realize in his evolution the
oneness of the inner being even in the external existence of variety. But he evolves to this ideal, which is the
only purpose of his coming on earth, by uniting himself with another.

Man unites with others in the family tie, which is the first step in his evolution, and yet families in the past have
fought with each other, and have taken vengeance upon one another for generations, each considering his
cause to be the only true and righteous one. Today man shows his evolution in uniting with his neighbors and
fellow-citizens, and even developing within himself the spirit of patriotism for his nation. He is greater in this
respect than those in the past; and yet men so united nationally have caused the catastrophe of the modern
wars, which will be regarded by the coming generations in the same light in which we now regard the family
feuds of the past.

There are racial bonds which widen the circle of unity still more, but it has always happened that one race has
looked down on the other.

The religious bond shows a still higher ideal. But it has caused diverse sects, which have opposed and despised
each other for thousands of years, and have caused endless splits and divisions among men. The germ of
separation exists even in such a wide scope for brotherhood, and however widespread the brotherhood may be,
it cannot be a perfect one as long as it separates man from man.

The Sufi, realizing this, frees himself from national, racial, and religious boundaries, uniting himself in the human
brotherhood, which is devoid of the differences and distinctions of class, caste, creed, race, nation, or religion,
and unites mankind in the universal brotherhood.


There is One Moral, the love which springs forth from self-denial and blooms in deeds of beneficence.

There are moral principles taught to mankind by various teachers, by many traditions, one differing from the
other, which are like separate drops coming out of the fountain. But when we look at the stream, we find there is
but one stream, although it turns into several drops on falling. There are many moral principles, just as many
drops fall from one fountain; but there is one stream that is at the source of all, and that is love. It is love that
gives birth to hope, patience, endurance, forgiveness, tolerance, and to all moral principles. All deeds of
kindness and beneficence take root in the soil of the loving heart. Generosity, charity, adaptability, an
accommodating nature, even renunciation, are the offspring of love alone. The great, rare and chosen beings,
who for ages have been looked up to as ideal in the world, are the possessors of hearts kindled with love. All
evil and sin come from the lack of love.

People call love blind, but love in reality is the light of the sight. The eye can only see the surface; love can see
much deeper. All ignorance is the lack of love. As fire when not kindled gives only smoke, but when kindled, the
illuminating flame springs forth, so it is with love; it is blind when undeveloped, but, when its fire is kindled, the
flame that lights the path of the traveller from mortality to everlasting life springs forth; the secrets of earth and
heaven are revealed to the possessor of the loving heart, the lover has gained mastery over himself and others,
and he not only communes with God but unites with Him.

"Hail to thee, then, O love, sweet madness! Thou who healest all our infirmities! Who art the physician of our
pride and self conceit! Who art our Plato and our Galen!", says Rumi.


There is One Object of Praise, the beauty which uplifts the heart of its worshippers through all aspects from the
seen to the unseen.

It is said in the Hadith, 'God is beautiful, and He loves beauty.' This expresses the truth that man, who inherits
the Spirit of God, has beauty in him and loves beauty, although that which is beautiful to one is not beautiful to
another. Man cultivates the sense of beauty as he evolves, and prefers the higher aspect of beauty to the lower.
But when he has observed the highest vision of beauty in the Unseen by a gradual evolution from praising the
beauty in the seen world, then the entire existence becomes to him one single vision of beauty.

Man has worshipped God, beholding the beauty of sun, moon, stars, and planets; he has worshipped God in
plants, in animals; he has recognized God in the beautiful merits of man, and he has with his perfect view of
beauty found the source of all beauty in the Unseen, from whence all this springs, and in Whom all is merged.

The Sufi, realizing this, worships beauty in all its aspects, and sees the face of the Beloved in all that is seen,
and the Beloved's spirit in the Unseen. So wherever he looks his ideal of worship is before him. 'Everywhere I
look, I see Thy winning face; everywhere I go, I arrive at Thy dwelling-place.'


There is One Truth, the true knowledge of our being, within and without, which is the essence of all wisdom.

Hazrat All says, 'Know thyself, and thou shalt know God.' It is the knowledge of self which blooms into the
knowledge of God. Self-knowledge answers such problems as: whence have I come? Did I exist before I
became conscious of my present existence? If I existed, as. what did I exist? As an individual such as I now am,
or as a multitude, or as an insect, bird, animal, spirit, jinn, or angel? What happens at death, the change to
which every creature is subject? Why do I tarry here awhile? What purpose have I to accomplish here? What is
my duty in life? In what does my happiness consist, and what is it that makes my life miserable? Those whose
hearts have been kindled by the light from above, begin to ponder such questions but those whose souls are
already illumined by the knowledge of the self understand them. It is they who give to individuals or to the
multitudes the benefit of their knowledge, so that even men whose hearts are not yet kindled, and whose souls
are not illuminated, may be able to walk on the right path that leads to perfection.

This is why people are taught in various languages, in various forms of worship, in various tenets in different
parts of the world. It is one and the same truth; it is only seen in diverse aspects appropriate to the people and
the time. It is only those who do not understand this who can mock at the faith of another, condemning to hell or
destruction those who do not consider their faith to be the only true faith.

The Sufi recognizes the knowledge of self as the essence of all religions; he traces it in every religion, he sees
the same truth in each, and therefore he regards all as one. Hence he can realize 'the saying of Jesus, 'I and my
Father are one.' The difference between creature and Creator remains on his lips, not in his soul. This is what is
meant by union with God. It is in reality the dissolving of the false self in the knowledge of the true self, which is
divine, eternal, and all-pervading. 'He who attaineth union with God, his very self must lose,' said Amir.

There is One Path, the annihilation of the false ego in the real, which raises the mortal to immortality, in which
resides all perfection.

'I passed away into nothingness--I vanished; and lo! I was all living.' All who have realized the secret of life
understand that life is one, but that it exists in two aspects. First as immortal, all-pervading and silent; and
secondly as mortal, active, and manifest in variety. The soul being of the first aspect becomes deluded,
helpless, and captive by experiencing life in contact with the mind and body, which is of the next aspect. The
gratification of the desires of the body and the fancies of the mind do not suffice for the purpose of the soul,
which is undoubtedly to experience its own phenomena in the seen and the unseen, though its inclination is to
be itself and not anything else. When delusion makes it feel that it is helpless, mortal and captive, it finds itself
out of place. This is the tragedy of life, which keeps the strong and the weak, the rich and poor, all dissatisfied,
constantly looking for something they do not know. The Sufi, realizing this, takes the path of annihilation, and, by
the guidance of a teacher on the path, finds at the end of this journey that the destination was himself. As Iqbzl

I wandered in the pursuit of my own self; I was the traveller, and I am the destination.
The Music and Life of Inayat Khan
An excerpt from Great Masters of Hindustani Music, by Susheela Mishra:

Many years ago, Mrs H. van Tuyll van Serooskerken, an ardent Dutch lover of Indian classical music
wrote to me from the Hague, requesting me to give her all the information I could gather about the
great Sufi-mystic-musician-Pir Inayat Khan who had earned great popularity and fame in the West
during his travels (from 1910 to 1926) in the U.S.A., U.K. and Europe. She wrote:-

"I am a pupil of the late musician and philosopher Professor Inayat Khan of Baroda, the grandson and
pupil of Professor Moula Baksh of Baroda ... We people of the west are getting more and more
interested in the grandeur and beauty of Indian music... During the first World War, Prof Inayat Khan
(known in the west as Pir-O-Murshid) lost his whole set of 22 gramophone records which were made
in Calcutta by the firm VICTOR between 1908-1910..."

I felt quite ashamed of myself because when I received this letter from Holland I knew next to nothing
about this Sufi musician of India. However, her letter whetted my appetite to learn more about this
great savant who had earned a high reputation and many followers abroad, and is yet, so little-known
in his own country. Subsequently, I have been able to gather the following information about the Pir-
O-Murshid, thanks to the curiosity aroused by the letters from this music-lover living in Holland! She
had also been generous enough to send me a couple of good photographs of her guru and thoughtfully
added:- "Please keep these photos; it might occur that some day people may ask you about this
musician, and you will be glad to have these photos". The photo in this book is one of the two sent by
H. van Tuyll van Serooskerken years ago. Many thanks to her.

Inayat Khan Rahmatkhan Pathan was the grandson of Prof. Moula Bux, the eminent founder of the
Academy of Indian Music established in Baroda under the patronage of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad
of Baroda. It is said that Moula Bux's wife was a grand-daughter of Tippu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore.
However, it was not the martial qualities of the Tippu blood, but the rich musical and spiritual heritage
of Prof. Moula Bux that Inayat Khan had inherited. He was born in Baroda on 5th July, 1882. The most
important influence on him during his early formative years was that of his grandfather. Even as a
school- boy, he showed great liking for poetry, music, and religion. Once he pleased the Maharaja
Scindia so much with his singing of a classical song (in Sanskrit) that the royal patron rewarded him
with a valuable necklace and a scholarship. Very early in life Inayat Khan shaped into a versatile
linguist with a remarkable, mastery over several languages such as Sanskrit, Gujarati, Marathi, Urdu,
Hindi, Persian, Arabic, and English! He did not seem to be interested in any of the games that boys are
usually fond of. A very thoughtful boy with a serious bent of mind, he preferred the company of elders,
intellectuals and artistes who surrounded his revered grandfather. At eleven he managed a small
organisation "Bala Sabha" where he astounded his listeners by his fluent speeches in his attractive
sonorous voice. Right from an early age, he was very broad-minded, kindhearted towards all-
irrespective of caste, creed, colour, and status. While his academic and musical training was going on
successfully under the loving and close supervision of Prof. Moula Bux, it was Inayat Khan's father
Rahmat Khan (Pathan) who moulded his religious temperament and his noble character with simple
teachings such as:-

"Tell only the Truth; Truth is God; lead a pure and simple life. Forget all the good you do, but
remember your faults and mistakes". "Neki kar paani me daal (Do good and forget about it); Baadi kar
pallu me baandh (Remember all your misdeeds)".

Alongside his academic studies, the young Inayat did excellently in the five years music course of the
Baroda Music Academy under the expert guidance of his grandfather who was himself a great
musician, Veena player and composer. Moula Bux is also remembered as one of the pioneers in
introducing notation into Indian music. In the final examinations of the Academy, Inayat Khan topped
in both vocal and instrumental music. What was even more remarkable was the fact that he was
equally good in Karnatak as well as Hindustani music. Gifted with a sweet and sonorous voice, he
could keep his listeners in a spell. What set apart his music from that of the others was the fact that he
considered music as a sacred and divine art. He composed beautiful songs with religious word contents
and he poured his soul into them as he rendered them.

Inayat Khan was the author of many books on music such as:- "Minqar Mousiquar," "Stee Sayaji
Garbavali", "Inayat Fiddle Shikshak", and "Inayat Harmonium Shikshak."

Recently I was delighted to come across his book Inayat Geet-Ratnavali which was published by the
Baroda Vatsal Printing Press and Bombay Equator Printing Press in the year 1903. At that time, the
book was priced at an incredibly low sum of Rupee One! Today, 77 years later, the owner of this
yellowing and dilapidated book will not think of parting with it for any tempting sum! The book is
dedicated to the royal patron:- "H.H. Gaekwad Sayajirao Maharaja Saheb", and the author's name is
given in full as "Professor Inayat Khan Rahmatkhan Pathan, Musical Educationist and Gold
Medallist." The book contains a mixed assortment of 75 songs - Thumris, Dadras, Ghazals, Bhajans,
Khayals, Lavanis, Horis, and even a few English songs - all given in the notation system initiated by
Prof Moula Bux. The songs are couched in Karnatak as well as Hindustani ragas such as
Kharaharapriya, Shankaraabharanam, Keerwani, Mand, Manji, Sindhura, Badhams, Zila, Hussaini,
Barwa, Sorat, Malhar and so on --- all of which goes to prove Inayat Khan's knowledge of both the
Karnatak and Hindustani systems of music. There are songs in praise of Lord Ganesha, and Lord
Gopal (Krishna). His compositions can be identified by the name "Inayat" woven into the last line.
Grateful references are made to Prof. Moula Bux, founder of the system of notation followed in the
book. A major part of the Introduction is a paean of praise to him. Inayat Khan writes:-

"Taking pity on the degraded state of our classical music, God has specially created a great man like
my grandfather who established music-schools, introduced notation-system, composed many songs,
and popularised our music widely--".

The long introductory chapter by Inayat Khan is in a very strange dialect of Hindustani and spelt
unusually. There is a Testimonial (dated 16th June, 1902) written by Sri Sreenivasa Raghava Iyengar
(Ex-Dewan of Baroda State) whose children had been students of Ustad Inayat Khan. Sri Iyengar says
in the Testimonial:-
"... Prof Inayat Khan comes of a distinguished family of musicians, his grandfather being the famous
Prof. Moula Bux, a distinguished professor of Hindu music, author of a series of graduated text-books
in music. He is the nephew of Dr. A.M. Pathan, L.R.A.M who was educated in England and in the
European system of music and passed his examinations with high distinction. Inayat Khan has studied
both the Hindu and European system scientifically and has already acquired great proficiency in the
former. He has winning manners..."

From 1900 to 1910, Inayat Khan made an extensive tour of the length and breadth of India. He and his
maternal uncle Murtuza Khan visited Nepal, Gwalior (to pay his obeissance near Tansen's tomb),
Banares, and the Punjab. During these tours, he came into contact with many musicians, Sufi mystics,
Swamis and saints who initiated him into the mysteries of sound and into the mystic beauties of the Art
of Music. The death of his dear grandfather Moula Bux in 1896 at the age of 63 was the first blow in
young Inayat Khan's life. When he lost his gentle, pious mother in 1902, he decided to spend his time
wandering all over this vast sub-continent. At first he visited all the important places in South India
and made warm contacts with a number of cultured and important people. Wherever he sang or gave
lecture-demonstrations everyone was charmed and Inayat was presented with medals and "addresses."
One such address, presented by the music loving public of Madras is published in the Inayat Geet
Ratnarali. It says:-

To Prof. Inayat Khan Rahmat Khan Pathan, Musician of Baroda.

Dear Sir,
We, on behalf of the public of Madras, have assembled here to express our deep-felt joy at having had
you in our midst The public entertainment given by you on 12-7-1902 has led us to form a very high
opinion of your attainments in the history and practice of Music. It is no wonder that young as you are,
you have acquired such pre-eminence in your Art and displayed a wonderful insight into its intricacies
for which a right explanation is to be found in the fact that you are descended from that great and
famous musician Prof. Moula Bux who is renowned throughout India . . . . You have not only given us
exquisite pleasure by your sweet melody and scientific harmony of your songs, but you have created in
us an instantaneous appetite for the symphonies of the celestial art of music. It is gratifying to us that
you have made it your life-work to improve the Music of India, to introduce a uniform system of
notation, and also establish some sort of friendly understanding between the Hindustani and gentle
Karnatic systems and musicians. We sincerely wish you all success in your noble undertaking. Your
skill, talents, and manners have endeared you to us. May you win the affection of all those whom you
come in contact with. Please accept this gold medal as a slight token of our sincere gratitude and high
esteem for your talents and attainments .......

The above is only a sample of the many addresses be received, from his appreciative audiences. It was
also the age of Gold Medals.

From South India, Inayat Khan went to Colombo, and then to Calcutta, where Babu Lahiri, a Sufi in
spirit, arranged for his lecture-demonstrations in the University Hall in the presence of Gurudev
Tagore, Sir Gurudas Benerji and other celebrities. In deep appreciation, the people honoured him with
the title of the "Morning Star of Indian Music Revival." He made numerous friends and admirers in
Calcutta through his sweet music. It was during this trip that the Victor Gramophone Company cut
several discs of his. Alas, none of them are available any longer in India, except perhaps in the
precious collection of some music connoisseurs. Many have been already taken away by his numerous
followers in Holland. Mrs. H. van Tuyll van S. had also mentioned this in her letters to me -

"The Firm VICTOR does not exist any more in Calcutta and the records are long since sold out. I am
now making every effort possible to retrace the whereabouts of those old records of Prof. Inayat Khan
of India. A few months ago I was at last so fortunate to find one of those records in a private collection
in Dacca. May I ask you if you have ever come across any of his records in India? As Prof. Inayat
Khan who sang and played on the Vina was for years travelling in the south of India where his singing
was highly admired, also stayed for a year in Calcutta. I suppose that the greatest chance of finding his
records would be in those parts of the country. There is a difficulty in the fact that there existed more
musicians with the name of Inayat Khan. However, only those records on which is printed the word
'Baroda' together with the name of Prof. Inayat Khan are genuinely his. . . ".

In a very informative article on Hazrat Inayat Khan, Sri Vibhu Kumar S. Desai explains how the true
secret of Inayat Khan's "divine music" lay in its "soul quality" which captivated easterners and
westerners alike. Quoting Inayat Khan's musical credo, Sri Desai writes:-

"The true use of music is to be musical in one's thoughts, words and actions. True harmony of music
comes from the harmony of the soul, its true source, and when it comes from there, it must appeal to
all souls".

Once when the Nizarn asked Inayat Khan to explain why listeners found his music "so divine and
magical", the latter is said to have replied:-

"Your Highness, as sound is the highest sources of manifestation, it is mysterious within itself and
whosoever has the knowledge of sound, he indeed knoweth the secret of the Universe. My music is my
thought, and my thought is my emotion. The deeper I dive into the ocean of feeling, the more beautiful
are the pearls I bring forth in the form of melodies. 'My Music is my Religion'. Therefore, worldly
success can never be a proper price for it and my sole object in music is to achieve perfection".

Truly these are the words of a Sufi mystic, and these words fully reveal the man and his art. The reply
impressed the Nizam so deeply that he named him as "the modern Tansen"! He also presented him
with an emerald ring and a purse full of gold coins.

Inayat Khan began to have an increasing number of friends and admirers among sages, Fakirs, and
Sufi mystics like Maulana Hashmi, Sirdar Dastur Hoshang, Maulana Khair, Maulana Khair-ul Mubin -
all of whom detected in Inayat's eyes "the sparkling genius of a mystic". Later on, he met his Murshid
Maulana Sayed Mohammad Abu Hashim Madani at whose behest, Inayat proceeded to the West for
the twin purpose of spreading Sufism and popularising Indi an classical music in the West. Before
going abroad, he had acquired considerable proficiency in Western music from his maternal uncle Prof.
Alauddin Khan Pathan of Baroda, a highly qualified musician with many covetable degrees in Western
music. With his proficiency in 3 systems of music - Western, Hindustani, and Karnatak - with his
command over so many languages, and his noble and charming ways, Inayat Khan was excellently
equipped for his chosen mission. In September 1910 he reached U.S.A. accompanied by his brother
Mahboob Khan and cousin Ali Khan.

It was while he was giving a Veena recital at the Ramakrishna Ashrarn in San Francisco that he met,
and fell in love with, Miss Ora Ray Baker - "a sensitive, fragile, feylike American girl" who was the
niece of Mrs. Mary Eddy Baker, the founder of the Christian Science Movement. They got married in
Paris, and Inayat Khan rechristened her as "Sharada Ameena Begum". In one of the later photographs,
Inayat Khan in a long loose robe, and with a flowing white beard, looks a bit like Poet Tagore. His
wife, clad in a sari in the Parsi style looks serene, gentle, and charming. Her head is covered with the
"Pallu" in true Indian style. Their elder son Vilayat Khan married an English lady, the second son
Hidayat Khan married a Dutch lady, and Inayat Khan's brother and cousin also married Dutch girls,
and all of them have become citizens of Holland. The greatest tragedy in the family was the brutal
political assassination of Inayat Khan's beloved daughter Noor, a highly sensitive, talented, and
clairvoyant girl, who had later become a secret agent working for the French Resistance Movement
against the Nazis. She was captured by the Gestapo, tortured and brutally killed in the Dachau
Concentration Camp on 13-9-1944. One of the witnesses of this sadistic torture chamber wrote later:-
"What happened was terrible. The girl was a bloody mass. The only word she uttered before they shot
her through her head was- "Liberte"-". Thus tragically ended the young life of the vivacious Noor
Inayat Khan (1914 to 1943) at the age of 29. In the words of Ravibala Shenoy, "Noor was the only
woman to win a posthumous George Cross and the CROIX de Guerre". Inayat Khan was lucky that he
died many years before this terrible tragedy.

From 1910 to 1926, Inayat Khan's life was a saga of constant touring all-over Europe, UK and
repeated trips to U.S.A. Everywhere he gave an incredibly large number of lectures on Indian
philosophy, mysticism, and sufism, and lecture-demonstrations on Indian music. His impressive
personality, speeches and music won for him a vast circle of friends and throngs of admirers. In 1912
he met Poet Tagore and Fox Strangways (author of a well-known book on Indian Music) in England.
In Russia he made friends with Count Serge Tolstoy (son of the great Tolstoy who later became a
representative of the Sufi Order). Regarding the reception he got in Russia, Inayat Khan wrote:- "The
warmth that came from the heart of the people kept us warm in that cold country". In many places, his
lectures on Sufism were published as books like "The Inner Life". In 1920 he established his Sufi
Headquarters in Geneva. In his very first visit to Holland in 1921 Inayat was completely won over by
the people of Holland about whom he said:- "Though the Dutch are proud and self willed, I saw in
them love of the Spiritual. They are straightforward, most inclined towards religion, lovers of justice,
and seekers after Truth".

In 1923 he met Dr Ananda Coomaraswamy who was in charge of the Boston Art Museum, and he met
also many other famous personalities. His music and his lectures were so greatly admired that "people
thronged around him acclaiming him as their Hazrat, and calling themselves as his Mureeds". In 1925
Mr Ford expressed his admiration by saying:- "if you had been a businessman, you certainly would
have been a success. But I am glad that you are as you are". When the Sufi societies started by him in
England, Holland, Germany, and U.S.A. were thriving in all these places, Sufi Inayat Khan felt a deep
urge to revisit his Motherland where he hoped he would have some respite from this constant round of
engagements and perpetual throngs of admirers around him.

Looking forward to some weeks of rest and relaxation in India, he arrived in Delhi on the first of
November, 1926. But his fame had preceded him into his country. Therefore, he was once again
crowded with admirers and pressing invitations to give lectures and recitals. By 1927 he was tired and
exhausted with overwork. He contracted pneumonia and died in Delhi in 1927 in the Tilak Lodge on
the banks of the river Yamuna.

Thus ended the busy life of Sufi Inayat Khan who did pioneering work in the West in his mission of
propagating Indian music and Sufism all over the West. Through his lectures and demonstrations, he
revealed to the Westerners a rich hidden Indian world of endless treasures, spiritual and artistic. With
his varied accomplishments, his rare qualities of head and heart, and his noble manners, Inayat Khan
was one of the best "Cultural Ambassadors" that India has had. But since he spent the best part of his
life from the age of 28 till the last year of his life abroad, very little is known about him in his own.
What he achieved in the West in the short span of 45 years is really amazing. His devoted wife Sharada
Ameena Begum died in Paris in 1949.


Date: 5 Jul 1998 23:34:51 GMT
Subject: Great Masters 27: Inayat Khan, the Sufi-Musician
From: Great Masters of Hindustani Music by Susheela Mishra

Additional On-line Biographical information:

On this web site:

Biography of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan ... on-line version of the East-West Publication
Brief Biography of Hazrat Inayat Khan ... brief bio based on the East-Wast Publication
Volume XII - Confessions ... ... biography written by R.M.Bloch in the fall of 1914 and published in 1915.
Other Web Sites with biographical information:

Biographical Texts:

Biography of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan, East-West Publications, 1979

A Pearl in Wine: Essays on the Life, Music and Sufism of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Omega Publications, 2001


Inayat Khan singing Allahu Akbar

Inayat Khan singing Surat Mullar (available on CD, see below)

Translation of Surat Mullar by Harunnisa Khanim Maula Bakhsh:

Without the name of Rama no comfort can come. Without a guru, no wisdom can be attained. Whoever pays full attention
to the guru, is always blessed with the darshan of God, Who draws all unto Himself.

That one who opens the door of his heart, he is the one who attains the darshan of Rama. Never leave the repetition of
Rama's name. Without mentioning the name, remembrance is not kept up. The need for remembrance lies upon everybody;
therefore, hold on to this attention every day.

Sheet music for the Sung Zikr of Hazrat Inayat Khan

In 1909, Hazrat Inayat Khan made a series of musical recordings in India. In 1994, a CD version of the recordings was
produced by EMI. (EMI CD NF 1 50129/30 Inayat Khan, The Complete Recordings of 1909). CDs may be available from: ... Switzerland ... Netherlands ... USA