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Hazrat Inayat Khan

Hazrat Inayat Khan, founder of the Sufi Order International, came to the west as a representative of several musical traditions of his native India. As a sufi teacher his message was one of love, harmony, and beauty developed from several sufi teachings and an innovative approach to the harmonizing of western and eastern spirituality traditions. He dedicated his early life to the mastery of the intricacies of classical Indian music, winning the title of Tansen from the Nizam of Hyderabad, a ruler and patron of the musical arts.

In the fulfillment of his quest for a spiritual teacher, Inayat Khan took his sufi initiation from Shaykh al-Mashaykh Sayed Muhammed Abu Hashim Madani[?]. While he was an initiator of the four main Sufi lineages in India, Madani's primary connection was with the Chishti Order. At the end of his apprenticeship, Inayat Khan was enjoined by his teacher to travel to the West and work at developing a culture that combined the wisdom of the east and the rational scientific outlook of the west.

On September 13, 1910, Inayat Khan began a spiritual quest over three continents. He eventually settled in Suresnes, a suburb of Paris. During his sixteen years in the west, he created a school of spiritual training based upon the traditional teachings of the Chishti Order, and infused with his vision of the unity of religious ideals and a hope for the awakening of humanity to the divinity within. His sone Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan has continued his father's teaching role.

While modern sufi scholars and teachers state that his teachings were watered-down versions of the esoteric teachings of other sufi masters it is undisputed that he was one of the first individuals who brought the teachings of the east to a western audience planting a seed for further growth in later generations; a role which had also been played by spiritual teachers such as G. I. Gurdjieff, the Greek-Armenian mystic.


  • Jay Kinney, Sufism Comes to America Gnosis magazine, No. 30, pg. 18 (Winter 1994)

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