"Fare forth into the world, my child, and harmonize East and the West with the harmony of your music; spread the wisdom of Sufism abroad, for to this end art you gifted by God." — Abu Hashim Madani
Inayati Sufism is a universalist spiritual path with roots in classical Sufism. Its founder, Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan (1880-1927), was a brilliant practitioner of Indian classical music and a Chishti Sufi master, charged by his own master, Abu Hashim Madani, with bringing Sufism into the West: “Fare forth into the world, my child, and harmonize East and the West with the harmony of your music; spread the wisdom of Sufism abroad, for to this end art thou gifted by God.”
Following this directive, Hazrat Inayat Khan sailed for America from India in 1910. As one of the foremost Indian classical musicians of his day, he gave concerts, after which, he would lecture on Sufism. In San Francisco, in 1911, he met his first Western murid or student, a woman named Ada (Rabia) Martin (1871-1947), who became the first Inayati Sufi, and also the first acknowledged spiritual teacher of Sufism in America.
But in taking a Western murid, it soon became clear to Inayat Khan that it was not necessary, nor his mission, to spread classical Islamic Sufism in the West. The people he was teaching were already Jews and Christians, and there seemed no reason to interfere with their religion. Thus, he introduced them to Sufism without Islam, as an esoteric path and tradition of teachings that would catalyze or ‘turn on’ what was dormant in their existing religious practice. Later, he would say, “If anybody asks you, ‘What is Sufism?’ … you may answer: ‘Sufism is the religion of the heart, the religion in which the most important thing is to seek God in the heart of humanity.’” In this way, universalist Sufism was born, and at the same time, the Inayati lineage was formed (as a new emphasis in a Sufi lineage is often marked by the addition of a name to it, often the name of the innovator).
A Web-site of the Inayati-Maimuni Order.
"Heart and Wings of the Dunes." Photo by N. Miles-Yepez (C) 2015.