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Khan, Hazrat Inayat

Category: Mystic

Hazrat Inayat Khan was the founder of Universal Sufism and the Sufi Order International. Today active branches of this order can be found in France, England, Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, Canada, and Russia.

Khan  was born in 1882 into a princely Muslim Indian family (he was a great-grandson of Tipu Sultan, the famous eighteenth century ruler of Mysore).  He left India in 1910 to come the West and traveled first as a touring musician, as a representative of several traditions of classical Indian music, having received the title ‘Tansen’ from the Nizam of Hyderabad. 

In 1922, during a summer school, Inayat Khan had a 'spiritual experience' in the South Dunes in Katwijk. He immediately told his students to meditate and proclaimed the place where he was on that moment holy. [A temple was constructed in 1969 on the site of the vision and every year a Sufi summer school takes place in this temple].

As a result of the vision Khan  began to introduce and explain Sufi thought and practice to the West. 


His teachings however were not pure Sufism, nor Islam.  Khan combined the teachings of his Sufi heritage with the philosophical ideas of Vedanta/Shankara spirituality in Hinduism in a uniquely mystical union of the two.  He also draws extensively from his musical roots.

Although the main driving force behind this fusion was his desire to harmonise the two great religions of Hinduism and Islam, his other motivation was to create a philosophy which would be acceptable to a western audience. 

Even though Inayat Khan was raised as a Muslim, he was keenly aware of the Euro-American prejudice against Islam in his time. In his autobiography he stated:

...a prejudice against Islam has existed in the West for a long time. …..Therefore there is little chance of Islam being accepted in the West. However, those seekers after religious ideals have more or less regard for the religions of the East and those who seek after truth show a desire to investigate Eastern thought.


He was not uncritical of the presentation of Islam itself, however, and taught that blind adherence to any book rendered any religion void of spirit, regardless of its external nature:

But if the following of Islam is understood to mean the obligatory adherence to a certain rite; if being a Muslim means conforming to certain restrictions, how can the Sufi be placed in that category, seeing that the Sufi is beyond all limitations of this kind?

Khan returned to India at the end of 1926. While there chose the site of his tomb, the Nizamuddin Dargah complex in Delhi and  died shortly after his decision, on February 5, 1927.


  • The Art of Being and Becoming (1989)
  • The Mysticism of Sound and Music

Also of interest

  • The Spiritual Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Volume I - The Way of Illumination
  • The Soul's Journey
  • The Heart of Sufism: Essential Writings of Hazrat Inayat Khan






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