Monday, February 21, 2011

Unity Through Variety: An Introduction to Sufism

Pir-o-Mirshud, Inayat Khan
Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927), one of the first Sufi's to bring the teachings of this most mystical school of Islam to the West, wrote a brilliant and concise treatise on the Sufi perspective. Entitled, 'A Sufi Message of Spiritual Liberation,' it cuts to the heart of spiritual teaching that appear to be universal to the world's great wisdom traditions.

The powerful opening of the text talks to the universality and omnipresence of God as a fact, as a force that works in, behind and beyond the universe, regardless of belief or faith:

"Beloved ones of God, you may belong to any race, cast, creed, or nation, still you are all impartially beloved by God. You may be a believer or an unbeliever in the supreme Being, but He cares not. His mercy and grace flow through all His powers, without distinction of friend or foe."
Furthering the non-sectarian, ecumenical and universal message of the Sufi tradition (albeit that Sufism is founded upon and grounded in Islam), Khan demonstrates the universality of the messages of the world's wisdom tradition, a universality that flows by extension from the introductory paragraph regarding the impartiality of God, an impartiality that goes beyond belief or non-belief.

The universal message is that the gate to the path to higher consciousness and an awareness of God's universality starts within our own being:

"The wise man by studying nature enters into the unity through its variety, and realizes the personality of God by sacrificing his own. 'He who knows himself knows Allah' (Sayings of Mohammed). 'The Kingdom of God is within you' (Bible). 'Self-knowledge is the real wisdom' (Vedanta)."
The complete text , originally published by the Theosophical Society, is available on the Internet Archive site ( in either .pdf or .doc formats, and is a wonderful and concise introduction to the Sufi teachings that Inayat Khan brought to the West.

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