Our Own Murshid of Love
by Jane Sky
Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan, born in 1882, lived a life of mythical proportions. He states in his “Confessions” that music and mysticism were his heritage (his grandfather was called the Beethoven of India) and his search for the divine truth began in his childhood. Early on he wrote poetry and composed songs, and under the guidance of his grandfather he grew to be an esteemed musician throughout India. He was devoted to the Holy Prophet and loyal to Islam and prayed faithfully, though once, doubt seized him and he wanted to give up on his pursuit of God. He went to his grandfather with his questions. Then his grandfather quoted from the Qur’an, “The signs of God are seen in the world, and the world is seen in thyself.” Murshid Inayat Khan experienced a sudden illumination upon hearing these words, his doubts were quieted and he began to see the symbols of God in all of nature and in himself.
At 18 years of age he left his home and traveled to all the leading cities of India, performing his music for the rajas and maharajas and being rewarded richly for his efforts. One of his listeners asked what mystery was in his music. Murshid explained, ”My music is my thought… my emotion... the deeper I dive into the ocean, the more beautiful are the pearls I bring forth in the form of melodies… my sole object in music is to achieve perfection.” One day, though, all his medals and decorations of honor were stolen from him, which at first was a horrible disappointment. Then came another moment of illumination and he realized the transiency of worldly honors. He then set forth in pursuit of philosophy, visiting every mystic he could, "traveling through jungle, across mountains and along river banks playing and singing before them."
It was during these times that he met the Sufi dervishes and grew to love their sweet nature and their manner of using music as the “food of the soul.” He experienced visions, dreams and inner initiations, all leading up to the first meeting with his ideal master, Mohammad Abu Hassim Madani. From him he received training in the four schools of Sufism and became absorbed in the "Light of the World Unseen." It was his master who spoke the words that sent Hazrat Inayat Khan to the West, “Spread the wisdom of Sufism abroad, for to this end art thou gifted by Allah.”
He left India in 1910 and arriving in America was initially a bewilderment, but being a Sufi, he found he could soon adapt to this complete change in his surroundings. He began “the noble object” of establishing the Sufi Order of America while on tour and performing at universities, halls and stages from coast to coast. He began to see that despite the materialistic ambitions of Americans, they had a strong desire for spiritual progress. Murshid’s lofty ideals included the intentions to: establish a human brotherhood with no considerations of caste, creed, race, nation or religion; spread the wisdom of Sufism; harmonize East and West in music, the universal language; and promote Sufi literature, which he considered the most beautiful and instructive in all the aspects of knowledge. In San Francisco he met and initiated Rabia Ada Martin, who became Samuel Lewis’s first Sufi teacher.
Hazrat Inayat Khan then traveled to Europe, living in London during WWI and establishing a strong following there. He lived in Geneva and near Paris as well. For 17 years he worked tirelessly to bring to the world the Message of Love, Harmony and Beauty, to focus on and teach the unity of religious ideals, to give lectures and initiate students and to give prayers that resonate with power to illuminate and inspire. There was a majestic vastness and depth to the mission of this enlightened human being. The many photographs of him show clearly the tremendous grandeur of his energy; especially in his eyes, one can see and feel the Baraka, the spiritual blessings and power.
It was during his last visit to the U.S. in 1926, a year before his death at age 47, that he had 6 interviews with Samuel Lewis. Thus began the connection between them that transcended the limits of the material world, for he continued to guide and instruct Murshid Sam throughout Sam’s life. Hazrat Inayat Khan is considered to be the grandfather of the Dances of Universal Peace. His Message has reached thousands of people through the Dances and the Sufi organizations around the world that continue to follow the path of his teachings. He is a beacon of light in a struggling world. His words and guidance are a great source of inspiration, comfort and strength to all who are blessed to receive them.