by Misbah Noor
On Sunday, February 5—Visalat Day—a beautiful Universal Worship service was held in the khanqa at Fazal Manzil, in Suresnes, in remembrance of Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan (may his secret be sanctified) who passed into the Realm of Beauty on this day, ninety years ago. The khanqa, vibrant with flowers and smiles, was filled to capacity. A heart-warming sense of closeness was discernible in the community of mureeds belonging to many different traditions, cultures, and walks of life, yet all united on the spiritual path of Love, Harmony and Beauty. Indeed, there was something very special about celebrating the Urs of our beloved Murshid in the home where he resided during his life.
A garland of marigolds adorned the ceiling and a panel of gold fabric formed a backdrop against a table displaying the sacred books and candles representing the great religious traditions of the world. On this day, an additional candle, preceding the six customary ones, was included to represent the “tradition of God’s (feminine) creativity,” referring to spiritual traditions outside the Religions of the Book which take nature as their scripture and have often, historically, been administered by priestesses.
Sarafil Bawa offered inspiring words reflecting on this tradition. Throughout time, he said, “… from the priestesses of the Mediterranean to the indigenous grandmothers of our own time, there has flourished, and continues to flourish, a tradition of sacred remembrance that glorifies the divine creativity. This tradition transpires in many places in the world. It does not uphold a written scripture, but rather reads the scripture of nature itself. For every existent thing is a word written by God. And the revelations of nature resound, indeed, in all of the hallowed scriptures of the world’s greatest revelations. And this, the disclosure of the creative grace of the Creator, abounds everywhere, on the horizons and in ourselves. And it is intimated in these words of Murshid: Wide space, womb of my heart, conceive my thought, I pray, and give birth to my desire.”
Outside the glass walls of the khanqa, the air was dewy and the sky formed a mirror to our emotions—a vast, glistening ‘heart’ ambivalent with longing and the celebration of union. The laden horizon and the trees in the garden—still as a painting—matched the atmosphere of expectant stillness inside at the beginning of the ceremony. We joined voices in song, our spirits stirring, becoming uplifted. And as the service proceeded, the weather turned around, the sun suddenly breaking through the clouds! Sunlight beamed on the arches of the Universelle, reflecting the bare winter branches in patterns of delicate filigree.
Inside the khanqa, attuning to the atmosphere of Murshid, in the very place in which he lived and met with mureeds upstairs, we felt his spirit, his blessed presence and nearness. And in this room filled with ‘instruments’—leaders, teachers and workers of The Inayati Order kindled by his consciousness—we were ever conscious of the living pulse of Murshid’s teachings. Our view of the Universelle in the garden (housing the original cornerstone blessed by Murshid) reminded us that it stood as both witness and monument, an embodied form of the Universel prayer which, as we recite it, inspires us to realize the divine creativity working through us in our work on the physical plane.
At the end of his remarks, Bawa offered Murshid’s benediction:
May your heart be filled with heavenly joy
May your soul be filled with divine light
May your spirit uphold the divine Message
May you go on in the spiritual path
May God’s peace abide with you forever and ever more.
A moment of silence followed, then, suddenly, Murshid’s voice rose in our midst. It was as if he were physically there amongst us in the room, reciting the takbir al-‘id— Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar la ilaha illa’Llah Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar wa li’Llahi’l-hamd—singing the praises of the Almighty in a tone resonant with love, striking at the very core of our hearts, breaking up and clearing any residual hardness, mist, or doubt that might be lurking unbeknownst to us; tuning us; harmonizing us; and, above all, elevating us. Time and space collapsed in that transformative moment of Murshid’s power working via the conduit of his stirring voice.
The Urs culminated in a beautiful flower ceremony. We each, in turn, stepped forward towards Bawa, receiving his gaze of benediction as he presented a long-stemmed rose. We drank the light of his eyes, a fire that filled our very beings with the light of the Silsila, linking us to the chain of illuminated souls going back to the Divine source. What a gift and treasure that brief moment! It encompassed a lifetime, served as a vivid reminder of a sacred trust.
Even as rose petals fade and disintegrate, even as beloved Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan is no longer with us on this physical plane, the bloom and fragrance of his teachings live on. They do so, as Sarafil Bawa reminds us, in our manner of witnessing and experiencing and joining together “for the sake of the One from whom we have been brought forth from nothingness.” What joy to unite in love and remembrance at Fazal Manzil, Murshid’s House of Blessings.
The following is a transcription of a video posted by Pir Zia Inayat-Khan to the Inayati Order Facebook group.
Hazrat Inayat Khan said, “I see as clear as daylight that the hour is coming when women will lead humanity to a higher evolution.”
Today in Washington DC and across the world, women are preparing to march. God bless them. May the marches be filled with and surrounded by peace. And may the voices of the marchers resound.
Rumi said, “Woman is a beam of divine light. She is not the being whom sensual desire takes as its object. She is creator, it should be said, she is not a creature.”
The light of women is needed in our world. It will illuminate the shadows. It is time to gather the light of all souls, the old and the young, people of all religions, people of all races, people of all genders and orientations.
We are one humanity. Kindred in blood and spirit. Through every soul the divine light shines.
There is a need for a wide and deep, civil discourse. A need to collectively contemplate and act upon what matters to humanity in its entirety and to the earth. Hidden in multiplicity is unity. Hidden in unity is multiplicity. God is one and creation is manifold. Humanity is one and our stories are many and diverse.
It’s time to be gathered to do justice to the dispossessed. To hear every voice, including the silent voices of animals, plants and the earth. To be vigilant and resolute against oppression and belligerence. To be united in faith and love. To create and sustain robust and diverse communities at every level of scale. And to walk in devoted companionship with all travelers through time and space.
Toward the One. We invoke you, Divine Retriever, Summoner, Harmonizer, Reconciler and Unifier.
Ya Jami, O (wazifa repeated)
May God’s blessings encompass all beings and unite us all in God’s perfect Being.
Prayer for Universel.
(Many thanks to MaryAnn Gulbadan Vila who quickly and kindly transcribed Pir Zia’s Facebook Live for us.)
Another year has run its course, and a new year, a new circuit around the sun, is upon us. 2016 is already a bygone age, its faded days now consigned to the vaults of memory. Ahead, 2017 looms large, bristling with hazards, brimming with opportunities, and wrapped in mystery. Do you feel the ground under your feet? This embodied moment is the threshold between the past and the future, the boundary between the known and the yet-to-be-known. This is what we are given. Here we take our stand.
What are we to make of the past? Should we shrug it off and keep shuffling along? Or, faced with the onslaught of an unwelcome future, are we justified in making a perfumed shrine of what once was, or seemed to be—a halcyon haven in which to retreat in a pique of defiant nostalgia?
We will all always do as we wish. But our wishes are best rewarded when guided by understanding, and understanding is the product of reflection. To penetratingly reflect on the past is to absorb its lessons in our bones.
Murshid says, “The Sufi learns not only by the study of books but by the study of life. The whole of life is like an open book to a Sufi and every experience is a step forward in one’s spiritual journey.”
In retrospect, the past year consists of a series of steps taken. Looking back, we may ask ourselves, which steps of ours were sure-footed, and which were maladroit? Which were the strides that sped us along the road to the Friend, and what sorts of stumbles sent us into the ditch? We can learn as much from our collapses as from our advances if our eyes are open.
Trial and error is part of the forward march of life. The real error is the error of repeating our errors time and again, refusing to learn. The sign of learning is repentance: having the humility to admit mistakes, having the insight to understand our mistakes, forming the resolution to make amends, and taking the initiative to ask God’s forgiveness. What is requested must be accepted when it is granted. We show that we have accepted God’s forgiveness when we move forward resolutely.
But it is not only in studying our own lives that we stand to gain understanding. Wisdom is the butter of life, and just as the child Krishna was known to steal butter whenever he could, we do well when we avail ourselves of the knowledge that is available from every person and every situation. The wise and the foolish may equally serve as our teachers. The virtues and vices of those we encounter day by day may prove equally illuminating as mirrors revealing the choices that are ours to make.
The past is a treasury of experience from which to learn. To learn well, however, we must also unlearn. This means shaking off the compulsive grip of all kinds of half-truths, complacent assumptions, and niggling fears—in short, the full sum of our unexamined prejudices about our selves, other people, the world, and reality in its totality. We’ve got to open our minds, expand our hearts, and look anew at the universe with fresh vision.
As Jesus said, only when the “planks” are removed from our eyes will we properly perceive the present moment. Otherwise, the here and now is merely the shadowy perpetuation of the then and there. The dross of the past endures and obscures the essence of the present. We see through a glass darkly.
In Arabic the heart is called qalb, which is related to the word qalab, meaning “mold.” The heart is a mold, a vessel that contains whatever fits within its contours. If the heart is narrow it will hold little; if it is wide it will hold more. If it is rigid it will accommodate only that which conforms to its predetermined shape. If it is malleable it will encompass whatever is bestowed.
Disclosures of God’s presence are constantly given to the world, but a disclosure is never repeated—each is unique, as God is unique. A narrow, brittle heart can contain little more than the flaking residue of an old disclosure. An expansive heart, by contrast, meets the vividness of each moment in its fullness. Such was the heart of Abraham, who prayed each morning, “O God, this is a new creation!”
Hence a Sufi is called a “child of the moment.” To be a child of the moment is to be born anew with each dawning instant of time. It is to witness everything perpetually dissolving into emptiness and reappearing, reanimated by the rhythmic pulse of the Divine fiat: “Be!”
This is what we are given. This moment, this now, this ground under our feet, this sky over our heads, this encounter with faces and forms, this awareness. Revealing the whole of what is shown is a light that is continuously renewed in our minds. That light, we may be sure, will never die.
The past has morphed into this moment, and the present will become the future. What our minds nurture will be grown in us; what we renounce will be composted. Good seeds and the elixir of well-churned decay are bound to produce a rich harvest if Providence is smiling.
There is nothing to be gained in brooding listlessly over dark dreads. Jesus said, “Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.” Muhammad said, “Even if you expect the world’s end tomorrow, plant a tree today.”
Let beauty lead. It will lead to a more beautiful tomorrow if we follow it. Follow the trace of what-may-be, the track of the shimmering ideal. Travel in the footsteps of those who leave marks of wisdom and kindness in their wake. Their path will surely lead us to the Friend.
Look to the past, look to present, look to the future—wherever you turn, if your eyes are open, there is God’s Face. Past, present, and future are in essence no different from each other. All that is has always been, and will always be, in the One. It is only our perspective that alters, like a searchlight flashing across the sky. “Time is God,” says Murshid, “and God is eternal.”
May our perception widen, deepen, refine, extend, and partake more and more of the light of the One whose glance, encompassing and harmonizing all of the myriad angles of vision streaming through creation, is reality itself.
Let us pray:
O Thou who abidest in our hearts,
most Merciful and Compassionate God,
Lord of Heaven and Earth,
we forgive others their trespasses and ask Thy forgiveness of our shortcomings.
We begin the New Year with pure heart and clear conscience, with courage and hope.
Help us to fulfil the purpose of our lives under Thy divine guidance.
We will keep bearing witness to the One Being.
We will keep honoring the legacies of the prophets and prophetesses of all lands.
We will keep revering the sacredness of the Earth.
We will keep following the way of remembrance which all religions share.
We will keep pursuing justice for all people.
We will keep recognizing people of all races and persuasions as our sisters and
We will keep extending our hearts’ goodwill toward everyone, excluding no one.
We will keep witnessing the beauty that is all around us and within us.
We will keep learning the truth of our being.
We will keep working to draw back the curtains of egoism from our eyes.
Life goes on, and we will keep going.
The Minqar-i Musiqar
Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Classic 1912 Work on Indian Musical Theory and Practice
Translation and introduction by Allyn Miner with Pir Zia Inayat-Khan
The Minqar-i Musiqar is of rare interest both for its contents and for its distinguished author, Hazrat Inayat Khan. Its sections on theory are based on the teachings of the author’s grandfather, Maula Bakhsh, and other late nineteenth century sources. The songs at the center of the book are the author’s own compositions, and the poetry collection includes more than sixty choice Urdu and Persian ghazals. As valuable as it is for its musical content, the Minqar is equally fascinating for what it tells us about the writer and the times in which it was written, and the musical learning and enthusiasms of Inayat Khan, whose personal drive, ambition to engage with the wider world, and longing for the divine are palpable throughout the book.
Available for purchase from Omega Publications
During Pir Zia Inayat-Khan’s recent visit to Australia, he was interviewed by Dr. Rachael Kohn on Sufism and music in Islam for the program The Spirit of Things. You can listen to the segment or download the audio here.
September 8, 15, 22 and 29, 2016, 7pm Eastern
This special online course will initiate a multi-part series where we collectively study the Sufi Message Volumes, beginning with Volume I: The Inner Life.
Please join us for the first four classes, originally premiering Thursday nights, September 8, 15, 22 and 29, at 7 pm Eastern Daylight Time. These classes, focusing on the section The Inner Life (beginning on page 77), will be free and open to the public, viewable anytime.
Complete details including Livestream viewing link and donation information can be found on The Inayati Order website.
About the Volumes
We are pleased to introduce a new series of volumes of the works of Hazrat Inayat Khan produced by Suluk Press, which will be the subject of a series of online classes given by Pir Zia Inayat-Khan.
The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan Centennial Edition begins with Volume 1: The Inner Life, which has been authenticated and updated with new material and gender-inclusive language. Pir Zia encourages all current students of Inayat Khan’s teachings, as well as anyone who feels called to explore the inner life, to use this volume as companion material for his course, which will be open and available to all via The Inayati Order website in September 2016.
We hope you enjoy this new volume, available in paper or hard cover at www.sulukpress.org.
My thoughts and prayers have been with the people of Turkey during the recent turmoil. My family and I were looking forward to being with our spiritual family there, but our flight was cancelled, as were all flights from the U.S. Still, the retreat went on by God’s grace, and I was able to be present via Skype. Though physically separated, we were united in spirit. I send my deep thanks to Zehra Hoja and Mehmet Hoja and love to all in the Yukunc Vakfi circle.
by Misbah Noor
On June 16 to 19, close to a hundred mureeds gathered at the Abode of the Message—with hundreds more all around the world attuned in heart and spirit—to celebrate the Urs and centennial birth anniversary of beloved Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan (qaddas allahu sirrahu), master of light and ecstasy. The Abode greeted us in all its summer glory! Flowers bloomed in jubilant hues and the afternoon breeze carried the humming of bees. The courtyard rung with laughter and the lively chatter of friends reuniting.
As if it weren’t enough that we were gifted with a pristine sky and sparkling weather—a wish readily granted by the One—the sun and the moon colluded, too, in a truly cosmic celebration of our spiritual father and teacher. For the first time since 1948, the full moon rose at the same time as the June solstice, flooding the atmosphere with lunar light. Meanwhile, the earth’s Northern axis tipped towards the sun to bring us the longest days and shortest nights of the year. An apropos light-filled celestial tribute to our Pir Vilayat!
Towards the end of his life, as he lay in a hospital bed in Suresnes, Pir Vilayat confided to Pir Zia: “I won’t be able to travel anymore,” he said, “but I am working on seven planes of light and I will be with them that way.” His enduring devotion to mureeds, streaming through the subtle spheres, was palpable amid the heart-opening gathering, touching even those who did not meet him in his lifetime.
Together, on the hallowed grounds of the Abode, we paid homage to Pir Vilayat’s memory, to his pioneering work in the science of meditation, and to the Inayati Silsila. We listened to his favorite music, performed by many stellar musicians amongst us, and savored his spirit of “aliveness” through voice recordings of him leading meditations and singing Murshid’s poignant song, “Before You Judge My Actions.” We garnered blessings being in the presence of his family, his “twin soul” and close collaborator in work, Taj Inayat, and senior teachers and devoted longtime mureeds serving the Message.
In celebration of Pir Vilayat’s love for creatures of the sky, particularly eagles and falcons, we enjoyed a demonstration of birds of prey in the herb garden. Through the course of our days and evenings, mureeds shared stories brimming with love and lined with laughter and tears that conjured memorable mountain retreats and moments with Pir Vilayat. We visited the archives, traveling back in time via the conduit of diligently saved memorabilia. And we broke bread together in a Ramadan feast in the Rezak dining hall which was handsomely adorned with white tablecloths, flowers and candles. We offered our hearts up to the occasion and experienced the magic of discipleship threading us together, working its secret mystery in and through us. And, above all, we felt Pir Vilayat’s joy-filled presence.
To be sure, Pir Vilayat’s legacy encompasses the ecstatic meeting point of the two flames, earthly and divine. Echoed again and again over the weekend was the shared sentiment that Pir Vilayat was the quintessential embodiment of joy. And yet, as Pir Zia reminded us, his was not “… the simple naïve joy of those angels who have not touched their feet to the earth. It was another kind of joy. It was the joy of one who has walked on this earth and partaken deeply of the pain of this earth. It was a joy, in fact, that arose from the very crucible of human suffering.” Pir Vilayat’s joy was the joy of suffering transformed—by love. Murshid said, “The children of sorrow are the bringers of joy in the world.” Pir Vilayat became a bringer of joy, finding his path through healing music, especially through Bach’s B Minor mass, which towards the end of his life, he conducted in Dachau in memory of his beloved sister, Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan.
On Saturday evening, we were gifted with a glorious production of segments of the B Minor Mass, organized by conductor Tarana Sara Jobin of the Gulzar Class, and performed by a mix of professional musicians and Abode residents and community members. Some of us closed our eyes and listened; some of us tried to imagine the nature of Pir Vilayat’s own deeply devoted listening of this magnificent piece of music which follows the passion of the Christ—a listening described by Pir Zia as a “regenerative, illuminating meditation.”
Proceeds from the concert benefited the Hope Project in Delhi, founded in 1980 by Pir Vilayat to serve the needs of the desperately poor slum dwellers in the vicinity of Nizamuddin Dergah. The Hope Project, a cause close to Pir Vilayat and to the Inayti Order, was remembered throughout the weekend celebration with a pewter kashkul—the Sufi dervish’s begging bowl—placed in the entrance of the Meditation Hall to stimulate generosity. Cherished teacher and former head of the Esoteric School, Aziza, donated proceeds from her newly published booklet of memories of Pir Vilayat, too, to the Hope Project.
How felicitous that Pir Vilayat’s centennial anniversary and Urs were celebrated during the auspicious month of Ramadan—historically a time of retreat, prayerfulness and revelation. He was, after all, a Hanif, in the ancient tradition of mystics who were monotheists of a universal mind; who kept vigil, fasted, practiced silence and seclusion. Furthermore, elucidated Pir Zia, Hanifs were drawn to mountains and caves. And Pir Vilayat loved both the exaltation of the upper strata as well as the hermetic interiority of caves.
On Friday afternoon, a procession made its way in hallowed silence on foot and by car up the mountain to the site of Pir’s Pod. It was a pilgrimage to a space of illumined receptivity—geographical and spiritual—where radiant ideas and inspirations came to Pir Vilayat, which he transmitted in writing, and where he kept one foot in the ancient world and another apace with the changing times, through his computer. A lover of simplicity, he was at home here in the rugged setting of his pod and adjacent wooden hut. Standing there, we were reminded of a story Pir Zia shared earlier in the day of a visit he once made as a child up this very mountain to his father’s pod. He happened to glance at the electric socket in the wall of the pod and discovered, to his great surprise, a snake’s head peering out of it!
We crossed the threshold of the foundation where the former pod once stood. Clustering together in the compressed space, we prayed and sang. Afterwards, some of us visited the adjacent hut. Inside, Pir Vilayat’s high-backed chair greeted us, emanating an expectant, dignified air. Some of us wondered about Pir Vilayat’s wish to build a cave nearby— a dream that may yet, one day, manifest.
Over those concentrated days of devotion, our hearts widened and deepened. Exalted moments of flight during meditation shattered the narrow confines of our consciousness. We were borne aloft by the magnificent and lyrical invocations of Pir Vilayat, encapsulating “the harvest of the wisdom of the world.” How beautifully he opened the way to communion! We invoked, too, the six principles of alchemy, guided by Pir Zia in a meditation that offered a foretaste of “a larger music.” We were lifted into realms of light and joy, transported on the wings of breath, prayer and remembrance. And yet the ambiance was not without sobriety, a sobriety communicating the sheer wealth of our spiritual inheritance, brought forth in Pir Zia’s recitation of the Shajara, or chain of transmission. We sensed the living presence of the Silsia and remembered our responsibility as individuals to be vigilant, attentive and attuned to serving the highest truth in each unfolding moment.
The celebrations culminated in a breathtaking Universal Worship service on Sunday, June 19—Pir Vilayat’s centennial birthday and, fittingly, Father’s Day, too—the theme of joy and ecstasy threaded through an array of incandescent offerings. In his poignant, -soul-affirming sermon, Pir Zia invoked St Francis and Brother Leo, narrating through allegory, the path to joy amid—and despite—the trials and tribulations of our dense, earthly lives. “And if I am patient, and if I’m not upset, then is true joy. Then is the salvation of the soul,” he said, concluding his sermon by sharing a personal challenge—an adversarial impulse to tackle anyone who criticizes Murshid or the sacrosanct ones who dwell in his heart, but then, on hearing Murshid’s voice, If I am criticized, do not defend me, bowing in deference to Murshid, putting down his sword, and opening the doors of the sanctum. “And those swords that have been laid down are lifted up and hammered into ploughshares. And by the ploughing that is done seeds become grain. And the grain becomes the bread of pure joy!”
Clustered together beneath the chaddar—the blessed covering of Pir Vilayat’s tomb infused with the fragrance of roses—we were one family, merged in the spiritual being of our Pirs and our lineage. This symbolic sanctuary imprinted itself in our hearts. Here we will return, again and again, to nourish and fortify ourselves even as we seek the way ahead, as Pir Vilayat once did, seeking the path his father had ordained for him.
TOWARDS THE ONE
THE PERFECTION OF LOVE, HARMONY, AND BEAUTY
THE ONLY BEING
UNITED WITH ALL THE ILUMINATED SOULS
WHO FORM THE EMBODIMENT OF THE MASTER
THE SPIRIT OF GUIDANCE
You are cordially Invited to the
12th Urs celebration of
Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan,
Sajjada Nashin of Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan and Founder of the Hope Project
Friday, 17th June 2016
At Dargah Sharif Sufi Inayat Khan and
Dargah Sharif Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
Friday, 17th June 2016
8.00 am, “THE LEGACY OF AN EXTRAORDINARY MIND”
Meditation with Munir Voss at Dargah Sharif Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
10.00 am, Fatiha and blessing of the Chaddar at Dargah Sharif Hazrat Inayat Khan Procession to Dargah Sharif Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, Prayers and Offerings
followed by a program by and exchanges with the community of the Hope Project, at the Noor Inayat Khan Library, in honor and memory of Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, on the occasion of his 100th birth anniversary
Organized by the Inayati Order and its President and Sajjada Nashin
Pir Zia Inayat Khan
Dargah Sharif Hazrat Inayat Khan
and Dargah Sharif Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
The Hope Project Charitable Trust Founded by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
Pir Zia will be represented by Haji Aslam Hussain
Dargah Hazrat Inayat Khan and Dargah Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
129 Basti Hzt. Nizamuddin,
New Delhi 110013
For further info contact email@example.com