Music, according to Sufi teaching, is really a small expression of the overwhelming and perfect harmony of the whole universe—and that is the secret of its amazing power to move us. The Indian Sufi master Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882–1927), the first teacher to bring the Islamic mystical tradition to the West, was an accomplished musician himself. His lucid exposition of music's divine nature has become a modern classic, beloved not only by those interested in Sufism but by musicians of all kinds.
About the Author
Khan was a great mystic and musician who spread the message of spiritual liberty in the US & Europe between 1910 and 1926.
Hazrat Pir-O-Murshid Inayat Khan (1882-1927) is the best known teacher of Sufism in America and Europe. He came from India in 1910, and was the first Sufi teacher to establish Sufism in the West. He started ""The Sufi Order in the West"" (now called the Sufi Order International) in the early part of the 20th century. Though his family background was Muslim, he was also steeped in the Sufi notion that all religions have their value and place in human evolution. Inayat was born into a family of classical musicians in 1882. His grandfather Moula Bakhsh was a well-known and respected musician. A composer, performer, and developer of a musical annotation which combined a group of diverse musical languages into one simplified integrated notation. The house in which Inayat Khan grew up was a crossroads for visiting poets, composers, mystics, and thinkers who met and discussed their views (religious and otherwise) in an environment of openness and mutual understanding. This produced in the young man a sympathy for many different religions, and a strong feeling of the basic unity of all faiths and creeds. Inayat would listen to the evening prayers sung in his household with great interest, and was impressed with the spiritual atmosphere produced by the chanting. From a young age, he was interested in going beyond thinking about religious issues. He wanted a direct link with God. Inayat Khan developed considerable skill at the vina. At eighteen, he went on a concert tour throughout India intent on reviving some of the older folk songs which were being replaced by more popular melodies which he felt carried a special spiritual quality. This brought him some critical acclaim, and he was invited to perform in the courts of the rulers of India's princely states. At this point, Inayat began to seek spiritual guidance. He took initiation with Syed Mohammed Abu Hashem Madani, a member of the Chishti Sufi Order. Inayat studied with his teacher for four years. During this time, he experienced a level of realization that made God a reality in his life. As his master lay dying, the teacher told him: "Go to the Western world, my son, and unite East and West through the magic of your music." Two years later, in September of 1910, Inayat sailed for America. He began to teach and discuss his world view with different people, and to travel and lecture first in the United States and later in Europe. Taking up residence first in London and then near Paris in Suresnes, his teaching strongly emphasized the fundamental oneness of all religions, and the prayer and meditation techniques necessary to develop higher consciousness in mankind. He had a deep concern that people who did esoteric practices and had profound spiritual experience find ways to harmonize with the larger religious community and society of which they were a part. He wrote that a person deeply involved in the spiritual life could go to church, mosque, or temple and act in harmony with their fellow religious seekers though their paths might inwardly be very different. Thus, the Sufi at the Mosque, the householder sadhu at the Hindu temple, or the saintly person at the church would fit in with the larger community. Inayat recommended that such people carry out their responsibilities and practice the group's rituals as an ordinary member of their religious congregation. Such an approach conveys respect and admiration for religious people regardless of how they choose to practice their tradition. Inayat was a tireless teacher, writer, and lecturer traveling and lecturing almost continuously for seventeen years. But his difficult schedule had weakened him over the years. In ill health, he left for India to see his homeland where he hoped to restore his health. He died in New Delhi in 1927 of pneumonia.
"A powerful book of mystical insight for people of all traditions."—Monos
"Inayat Khan says that music is the 'picture of our Beloved' and then draws the picture stroke by stroke from every angle and plane until we see it. He is the only holy man I know who delivers an authentic and inclusive spiritual message from a musical sensibility. He does this rigorously, poetically and spontaneously, until we perceive our own actions as music. Open to any line on any page: you will be opened."—W. A. Mathieu, author of The Listening Book and The Musical Life
"Inayat Khan brought one of the strongest and sweetest lineages from India to the West: the music and open heart of Sufism as it blends with Persian poetry and Western intellect. He is a source and a great joy."—Coleman Barks, author of Open Secret and The Essential Rumi