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



Sufi Thoughts

Some Aspects of Sufism

The Sufi



Seeker of Truth

The Coming World Teacher

What think ye of Christ?

Considering Initiation

What Is Initiation


Objective of Initiation


Is Sufism a religion?

Is Sufism a belief?

Is Sufism Muslim?

Is Sufism theosophy?

Sufi's attitude toward right and wrong

Vol. 1, The Way of Illumination

The Sufi

Sufi's attitude toward right and wrong

In regard to the Sufi's attitude towards right and wrong -- that these are man-made -- one may ask how then it can matter what a person does.

The answer is, it matters to those to whom it matters, and it does not matter to those to whom it does not matter. In this respect, if the Sufi has to say anything to his follower, it is this: refrain from doing that which hinders you from accomplishing the purpose in your inner and your external life. Do not act against your ideal, for it will never be satisfactory to you; you will not be pleased with yourself and this inharmony in your inner and your external self will prevent peace, which is your life's craving, without which life becomes unhappy. "Right" is the straight path which the soul is inclined to take in life, but when one walks astray, leaving the straight path in life owing either to negligence or ignorance, or by reason of weakness, or by the attraction of some temptation on the way, one can say that is wrong.

What is good and what is evil? There are two answers to this question.

  1. First it may be said: good is that which you consider to be good, and the effect of which is agreeable to you both in its beginning and end. Evil is that which you consider to be evil and the effect of which is disagreeable in the beginning as well as in the end. If good and evil have no agreeable or disagreeable effect at first, or have a contrary effect at the beginning, whether they are really agreeable or disagreeable will appear in the end.
  2. The second answer is that all things that seem good and evil are the opposite ends of one line, and it is difficult to say where evil ends and good begins, for these are comparative terms; a lesser good would seem evil when compared with a greater good, and the lesser evil in comparison with the greater evil would appear good. If there were no evil, good would not have been valued. Without injustice, justice would not have been appreciated. Therefore the whole of life's joy is expressed in duality.

Why is there so much suffering in life, when God is described as merciful? If God were a separate being from man, and if He rejoiced in the suffering of man, then He could be blamed. But He, as the Sufi realizes, is the sufferer and the suffering; yet He is beyond all suffering. This fact can be understood, not merely by believing in God, but in knowing Him.

Suppose your hands dropped a heavy weight upon your feet and hurt them, are your hands to be blamed? No, for they share the pain with the feet, and although the feet seem to have been hurt, yet the one that feels hurt is your absolute being. In reality that being feels hurt, and therefore the hand shares the hurt of the foot.

So it is with God. Our very life is His, and He is not void of the feeling of joy or of pain which we feel. In reality, He feels what we imagine we feel, yet at the same time His perfect Being keeps Him above all earthly joys and pains; and our imperfection limits us, so that we become subject to all joys and pains, however small they may be.

According to the Sufi the difference between sin and virtue is like the difference between good and evil. They are comparative terms. Lesser virtue compared with greater virtue appears to be sin, and lesser sin compared with greater sin is considered virtue. The inclination of the soul is towards good; it is only when the soul is helpless in the hands of the lower self that it is inclined towards evil.

Again, it may be said: sin and virtue are the standards of good and evil made by the teachers of religion; it is the standards of morals that keep the world in order, and it is the breaking of this order that causes the decline of religion, with the effect of wars, famines, and disaster. In order to uphold this order, messengers are sent from time to time, and spiritual controllers are appointed in every part of the earth.

One might ask, "Why tread the path of righteousness and piety; why spend your life in teaching and preaching to humanity?" It is natural. Every loving and illuminated heart has a desire to see others partake in its vision of glory. On the other hand, it seems that some persons are quite happy in committing sin.

Is there then no restriction to be imposed on sin? The answer is: sin can never make one happy. Even were there pleasure in it for the time being, it would re-echo, and the re-echo of a false note is never pleasing to the musical ear. If a person were really happy in his "sin", one might be satisfied that it was really his virtue, and that it is only to us, from our point of view, that his action is sinful. Therefore the Sufi attends to his own journey, and does not judge others.

If there is only a comparative difference between good and evil, sin and virtue, why should there be punishment for evil and reward for good? The effect of good itself is a reward for good, and the effect of evil is itself a punishment. From our limited view, perhaps, we attribute these effects to a third person, to a divine ideal. But what then of the belief of the orthodox, that if anybody asks forgiveness before his death, his sins would be forgiven by God? It seems hard to believe that a person who has sinned all through life could be forgiven at a simple request made at the hour of death. The answer is, that it is absolutely true that the whole of life's sins may be forgiven by divine mercy in one moment, just as a chemical solution may wash away the stains of years from the surface of a rock in a moment.

The real question is, is the request earnest enough? It is not so easy as it seems, for this is a matter of divine mercy; and if a person has continued to commit sins, at every sin he has lost his belief in the judgment of the divine Being and in His power. Therefore he has sown the seed of disbelief in his heart and has reared this plant by his sins. That being so, how can he in the end develop sufficient faith in a moment to believe in divine mercy? The simplest thing becomes the most difficult for him.

For this reason, the teachers of humanity have taught man faith as the first lesson in religion. Those are forgiven the sins of their whole life, who have always believed that any moment death might come and have safeguarded themselves against doing anything that does not meet with the pleasure of their Lord, and whenever, owing to human imperfection, they have failed in doing right, they most earnestly have asked forgiveness.