The Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan      

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Social Gathekas

Religious Gathekas

The Message Papers

The Healing Papers

Vol. 1, The Way of Illumination

Vol. 1, The Inner Life

Vol. 1, The Soul, Whence And Whither?

Vol. 1, The Purpose of Life

Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound and Music

Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound

Vol. 2, Cosmic Language

Vol. 2, The Power of the Word

Vol. 3, Education

Vol. 3, Life's Creative Forces: Rasa Shastra

Vol. 3, Character and Personality

Vol. 4, Healing And The Mind World

Vol. 4, Mental Purification

Vol. 4, The Mind-World

Vol. 5, A Sufi Message Of Spiritual Liberty

Vol. 5, Aqibat, Life After Death

Vol. 5, The Phenomenon of the Soul

Vol. 5, Love, Human and Divine

Vol. 5, Pearls from the Ocean Unseen

Vol. 5, Metaphysics, The Experience of the Soul Through the Different Planes of Existence

Vol. 6, The Alchemy of Happiness

Vol. 7, In an Eastern Rose Garden

Vol. 8, Health and Order of Body and Mind

Vol. 8, The Privilege of Being Human

Vol. 8a, Sufi Teachings

Vol. 9, The Unity of Religious Ideals

Vol. 10, Sufi Mysticism

Vol. 10, The Path of Initiation and Discipleship

Vol. 10, Sufi Poetry

Vol. 10, Art: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Vol. 10, The Problem of the Day

Vol. 11, Philosophy

Vol. 11, Psychology

Vol. 11, Mysticism in Life

Vol. 12, The Vision of God and Man

Vol. 12, Confessions: Autobiographical Essays of Hazat Inayat Khan

Vol. 12, Four Plays

Vol. 13, Gathas

Vol. 14, The Smiling Forehead

By Date



Unity and Uniformity


The Sufi's Religion

The Aspects of Religion

How to Attain to Truth by Religion

Five Desires Answered by Religion


Aspects of the Law of Religion


The Effect of Prayer

The God Ideal

The Spiritual Hierarchy

The Master, the Saint, the Prophet

Prophets and Religions

The Symbology of Religious Ideas

The Message and the Messenger


The Spirit of Sufism

The Sufi's Aim in Life

The Ideal of the Sufi

The Sufi Movement

The Universal Worship





Vol. 9, The Unity of Religious Ideals



One of the words to which the term "Sufi" is related is the Greek Sophia, meaning wisdom; wisdom which is a knowledge acquired both from within and without. Therefore Sufism is not only an intuitive knowledge nor is it only a knowledge acquired from the outer life of the world. Sufism in itself is not a religion nor even a cult with a distinct or definite doctrine. No better explanation of Sufism can be given than by saying that any person who has a knowledge of both outer and inner life is a Sufi. Thus there has never in any period of the world's history been a founder of Sufism, yet Sufism has existed at all times.

As far as we can find out there have been esoteric schools since the time of Abraham; and many of them may be called Sufi schools. The Sufi schools of Arabia absorbed Arabic culture and were largely metaphysical; the Sufi schools of Persia developed more the literary aspect, and the Sufi schools of India developed the meditative faculty; but the truth and the ideal have remained the same, as the central theme of Sufism, in all these schools. Several exist even now, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that there are millions of souls, the followers of different religions, who are benefited by the wisdom of these schools.

No doubt every school has its own method, and every method has been colored by the personality of its leader. There are the schools of dervishes and there are the schools of faqirs; and there are the schools of the Salik, who teach moral culture together with philosophy.

The present-day Sufi Movement is a movement of members of different nations and races united together in the ideal of wisdom; they believe that wisdom does not belong to any particular religion or race, but to the human race as a whole. It is a divine property which mankind has inherited; and it is in this realization that the Sufis, in spite of belonging to different nationalities, races, beliefs, and faiths, still unite and work for humanity in the ideal of wisdom.

Another word which has a connotation with Sufism is the Arabic word Saf which means pure. All the tragedy in life comes from the absence of purity, and as pure really means to be natural, the absence of purity means to be far from being natural. Pure water means that no other substance is mixed with it, in other words that it is in its natural condition. Sufism, therefore, is the process of making life natural. One may call this process a religion, a philosophy, a science, or a mysticism, whatever one wishes. All the religious teachers who have come to this world at different times have brought this process of purification in the form of a religion. It is not a new process, it is the same ancient process that the wise of all ages have bestowed. If anything new is given in it, it is the form in which it is presented to suit a certain period of the world.

One may perhaps think that by spirituality it is meant that one must learn something which one did not know before, that one must become extraordinarily good, that one must acquire some unusual powers or have experiences of a supernatural kind. None of these things does Sufism promise, although on the path of the Sufi nothing is too wonderful for him. All these things, and even more, are within his reach; yet that is not the Sufi's aim. By the process of Sufism one realizes one's own nature, one's true nature, and thereby one realizes human nature. And by the study of human nature one realizes the nature of life in general. All failures, disappointments, and sorrows are caused by the lack of this realization; all success, happiness, and peace are acquired by the realization of one's own nature.

In short, Sufism means to know one's true being, to know the purpose of one's life, and to know how to accomplish that purpose. Through disappointment many say, "I shall probably never be successful in my life", not realizing the fact that man is born to do what he longs to do, and that success is natural while failure is unnatural. When man is himself, the whole world is his own; when he is not himself, then even this self does not belong to him. Then he does not know what he is, where he is, nor why he is here on earth; then he is less useful to himself and to others than a rock.

It is in self-realization that the mystery of the whole of life is centered. It is the remedy of all maladies; it is the secret of success in all walks of life; it is a religion and more than a religion. And at this time when the whole world is upset, the Sufi message conveys to the world the divine message. What is wrong with humanity today is that it is not itself, and all the misery of the world is caused by this. Therefore nothing can answer the need of humanity save this process of the sages and the wise of all ages, which leads souls to self-realization.