Inayat Khan

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Hazrat Inayat Khan (Urdu: عنایت خان ) (July 5, 1882 – February 5, 1927) was an exemplar of Universal Sufism and founder of the "Sufi Order in the West" in 1914 (London). Later, in 1923, the Sufi Order of the London period was dissolved into a new organization formed under Swiss law and called the "International Sufi Movement". He initially came to the West as a representative of classical Indian music, having received the title Tansen from the Nizam of Hyderabad but soon turned to the introduction and transmission of Sufi thought and practice. His universal message of divine unity (Tawhid) focused on the themes of love, harmony and beauty. He taught that blind adherence to any book rendered any religion void of spirit.



Inayat Khan was born into a noble Muslim Indian family (his mother was a descendant of the uncle of Tipu Sultan, the famous eighteenth century ruler of Mysore). He was initiated into the Suhrawardiyya, Qadiriyya and Naqshbandi orders of Sufism but his primary initiation was from Shaykh Muhammed Abu Hashim Madani into the Nizamiyya sub-branch of the Chishti Order. He was also indebted to the philosophical Vedanta/Shankara spirituality of Hinduism.

With the Shaykh's encouragement he left India in 1910 to come to the West, traveling first as a touring musician and then as a teacher of Sufism, visiting three continents. Eventually he married Ora Ray Baker (Pirani Ameena Begum) from New Mexico and they had had four children: Noor-un-Nisa (1913), Vilayat (1916), Hidayat (1917) and Khair-un-Nisa (1919). The family settled in Suresnes, near Paris.

Khan returned to India at the end of 1926 and there chose the site of his tomb, the Nizamuddin Dargah complex in Delhi, where the eponymous founder of the Nizami Chishtiyya, Shaykh Nizamuddin Auliya (died 1325), is buried. Khan died shortly after, on February 5, 1927.

Today active branches of Inayat Khan's lineage can be found in the Netherlands, France, England, Germany, the United States, Canada, and Russia. He left behind a rich legacy of English literature infused with his vision of the unity of religious ideals, which calls humanity to awaken to the "Truth of Divine Guidance and Love."

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