Hazrat Inayat Khan was born in India in 1882 and was very talented in poetry and music. He felt himself drawn to the spiritual life and especially the mysticism in music. Inayat Khan found a spiritual teacher and stayed with him for four years. He then brought Sufism to America in 1910 and after spending some time here, visited Europe, eventually settling down in France in 1920. He and his wife had four children. He died of pneumonia in 1927.
Caravan of Souls is a guidebook to the Sufi path of Hazrat Inayat Khan replacing an earlier edition called The Way of Illumination. This work has been compiled and edited by Pir Zia Inayat-Khan, a scholar and teacher in the lineage of his grandfather Hazrat Inayat Khan. He is president of the Sufi Order International and founder of the Suluk Academy, a school of contemplative study with branches in the United States and Europe.
Hazrat Inayat Khan was a pioneer of interfaith exploration who saw that the Sufi path was "a call to unite in wisdom." He wrote:
"The Sufi Movement is a group of people belonging to different religions, who have not left their religions but who have learned to understand them better, and their love is the love for God and humanity instead of for a particular section of it. The Sufi Movement does not call man away from his belief or church; it calls him to live it. In short, it is a movement intended by God to unite humanity in brotherhood and wisdom."
In "Ten Sufi Thoughts" Hazrat Inayat Khan set down the important subjects with which the inner life of human beings is concerned (see excerpt). He also shares the three objects of the Sufi Order; the meaning of initiation into the Order; the steps on the path; freeing the soul; knowing God; dying before death; the light of God; the spirit of guidance and much more. One section covers key historical figures in the order, and another covers how it is structured. In a chapter on practices, he explains how to work on seven kinds of concentration through postures, breath, subtle center, rhythms, and more. It's obvious when we try some of these practices that they are useful not only for those on a Sufi path, but also those of any path and the spiritually independent.
We were especially taken by the 10 Iron Rules, 10 Copper Rules, 10 Silver Rules, and 10 Golden Rules. We plan to spend some time reflecting on the sayings of Hazrat Inayat Khan. Here are a few to give a sense of them:
• "Do not reproach others, making them firm in their faults." (Iron Rule)
• "Bear no malice against your worst enemy." (Copper Rule)
• "Let not your spirit be humbled in adversity." (Silver Rule)
• "When you posess something, think of the one who does not poses it." (Golden Rule)
• "Meet the world with smiles in all conditions of life." (Golden Rule)
• "The truly great souls become streams of love."
• "The pain of life is the price paid for the quickening of the heart."
• "Spiritual attainment is attuning oneself to a higher pitch."
• "To discover the heart is the greatest initiation."
Be sure to check out the Sufi songs, the section on Spiritual Healing, and the glossary of names and terms. Here is a blessing from Hazrat Inayat Khan:
"May your heart be filled with heavenly joy,
May your soul be illuminated 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 for ever and evermore."