The Universal Message of Sufis
Author: Pir Zia Inayat-Khan
Pir Zia Inayat-Khan is the spiritual leader of the movement in Sufism “Inayatiyya; , Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927) founded Inayatiyya. The first article summarizes the basic goals of Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Sufi teachings. At the core of the Sufi message is an appreciation of the teachings of the various world religions and a view of what unites them, of the one and only source of divine truth from which all religious teachings emanate. In this sense, Pir Zia’s book “Mingled Waters”, which describes the essence of the different religions, also contains a chapter on the five pillars of Islam. The second article was taken from this chapter.
The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan
The message of Hazrat Inayat Khan adresses not only one nation, ethnic group or community, but the entire humanity. Its sole purpose is to bring about a better understanding between people who too often divide into different camps. It wants to awaken people’s awareness of the fact that humankind is one family. If one person in the family is sick or unhappy, it will certainly make the whole family unhappy. Another comparison fits even better: humankind is one body; all life is one in its source and destination, its beginning and end. No scientist will deny this. And if one part of the body is in pain, sooner or later it affects the whole body. If our fingers hurt, our body is not painless. Therefore, no nation, ethnic group or community can be considered as a separate part of humanity.
Therefore, the Sufi message is not only for people of certain color, nationality, or creed. It is a call to all to unite in wisdom.
Sufi movement is a group of people who belong to different religions, who have not abandoned their religion but have learned to understand it better. For people who are filled with love for God and humanity and life and not just for a single part of it. The Sufi movement does not call people away from their faith or their church, but calls them to live their faith. In short, it is a movement God commissioned to unite humanity in brotherhood and wisdom.
THE QUINTESSENCE OF SUFISM TODAY
Today’s Sufi movement is a movement of members of different nations and ethnic groups united in the ideal of wisdom. They believe that wisdom is not inherent to a particular religion or skin color, but to all humanity. It is a divine good humanity inherited, and it is in this realization that Sufis, despite belonging to different nationalities, ethnicities, and faiths, unite and work for humanity, while following the ideal of wisdom.
The tragedy in life lies in the lack of purity. And since purity actually means being natural, the absence of purity means being far from natural.
Pure water means that no substance mixes with it; in other words, it is in its natural state. Sufism, then, is the process of making life natural. This process we call religion, philosophy, science, or mysticism. All the faith teachings that have arisen at different times in this world contain this purification process in the form of religious guidelines. So this path is not new. It is the same ancient path that the sages of all ages have followed. If there is anything new in it, it is the form of this message. This form adapts – and should adapt – to the times and circumstances of the people of the world.
Dome of a mosque in Isfahan, Iran© Adobe Photostock
Dome of a mosque in Isfahan, Iran
You might think that spirituality means that we have to learn something we didn’t know before, that we have to become exceptionally good or acquire some unusual powers or have experiences of a supernatural nature. None of these things are promised by Sufism, although nothing is too wonderful for the Sufis on their path. All these things and more are within their reach; but that is not the goal of the Sufis.
When we follow the path of development in Sufism, we realize our own nature, our true nature.
Through this, we realize human nature itself, and through the study of human nature, we realize the nature of life in general.
CONFESSION OF FAITH AND PRAYER IN ISLAM AND SUFISM
Remember Me and I will remember you
Even the polytheistic Meccans in pre-Islamic times recognized the existence of a Supreme God, known by the name “Allah.” However, Allah seemed so distant and unapproachable to them, as if he had no relevance to their lives. They therefore took refuge in the pantheon of demigods, whose images they worshipped in figures of wood and stone.
When Mohammed proclaimed his message, he dispelled the beliefs of the Meccans. God is neither distant nor indifferent.
God is outside and inside the All-Gracious and All-Compassionate.
To speak of “gods” and to worship them is to obscure the unity of the One. God is limitless, and what has no limit cannot be multiple. If there had been any deities other than God in heaven and on earth, both heaven and earth would surely have sunk into ruin!
The conviction of God’s unity develops in three stages. First, the profession of faith is little more than a formality. The tongue confesses God’s oneness, but the heart is distracted and not involved. God is only a word, barely uttered and already forgotten.
When believers desire to know God and set out to do so, a truer faith is born. The believers must remember continuously: There is no deity except GOD. (47:19) These words are to be understood in the sense of saying, “There is no object of worship except GOD.”
At the first stage of faith, believers tend to think of God as a powerful succor. Just as aggrieved parties seek representation from a capable lawyer, believers turn to God when they have a mishap to overcome. However, once they overcame the mishap and restored stability of circumstances, they fall back into forgetfulness.
I have created the invisible beings and men for no other purpose than that they may worship me. (Quran 51:56)
On the night of Ambassador Muhammad’s night journey and ascent to heaven, God instructed the Ambassador and his community, before a glittering audience in the highest heavens, to offer 50 prayers daily. When the ambassador descended back to earth, he met Moses, the speaker. When the speaker heard about the 50 prayers, he said, “Prayer is a difficult thing, and your people are weak, so go back to the Lord and ask him to lower the number of prayers for you and your community.”
So the messenger returned to God, and God lowered the number to ten. But the speaker was still uncomfortable, so the messenger requested another lowering. This continued until the number of prayers was reduced to five. The spokesman suggested that the number be lowered still further, but the ambassador was unwilling to push the matter any longer. Regarding the five, the ambassador told his people, “Whoever of you performs them in faith and trust will receive the reward of 50 prayers.”
Jameh Masjid Mosque in Kerman, Iran© Adobe Photostock
Jameh Masjid Mosque in Kerman, Iran.
Each of the five prayers of the day associates with a sacred event in the lives of the prophets. Adam, the pure one, prayed the prayer of dawn at the end of his first night on earth. Abraham, the friend, prayed the noon prayer when he was commanded to sacrifice his son. Jonah prayed the afternoon prayer while in the belly of the whale. Jesus, the Spirit of God, prayed the evening prayer as he proclaimed the unity of God. Moses, the speaker, prayed the night prayer on a storm-tossed night in the desert while his wife was in labor pains and wolves attacked his flocks.
About the author
Pir Zia Inayat-Khan is a teacher of Sufism in the tradition of his grandfather Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927) and his father Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan (1916-2004). He is president of the Inayatiyya (www.inayatiyya.de) and founder of Suluk Academy, a school of contemplative studies, as well as a book author. He lives with his wife and two children in Richmond, Virginia.
This article was originally published on the German Homepage of Tattva Viveka: Ihr Geliebter ist Gott