Caravanserai Magazine Archive

Published 1988-2000 semi-annually on behalf of the Sufi Movement International by the Sufi Movement in Canada.


1990 Volume 4. "The Sufi Message spreading through the World for Eighty Years"

This September 13th, 1990, Hejirat Day, will mark the 80th anniversary since Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan set sail from India, to bring the Sufi message to the West. In his own words, "I tried to think where I was going, why I was going, what I was going to do, what was in store for me. 'How shall I set to work? Will the people be favourable or unfavourable to the Message which I am taking from one end of the world to the other?' It seemed my mind moved curiously on these Questions, but my heart refused to ponder upon them even for a moment, answering apart one constant voice I always heard coming from within, urging me constantly onward to my task, saying: Thou art sent on Our service, and it is We Who will make thy way clear.' This alone was my consolation.

"This period while I was on the way, was to me a state which one experiences between a dream and an awakening; my whole past in India became one single dream, not a purposeless dream, but a dream preparing me to accomplish something toward which I was proceeding. There were moments of sadness, of feeling myself removed further and further from the land of my birth, and moments of great joy, with the hope of nearing the Western regions for which my soul was destined And at moments I felt too small and little for my ideals and inspirations, comparing my limited self with this vast world But at moments, realizing Whose work it was, Whose service it was, Whose call it was, the answer which my heart gave moved me to ecstasy, as if I had risen in the realization of Truth above the limitations which weigh mankind down."

In the seventeen years that followed, two things certainly were constant: incessant travel, and encounters with loving, _,; receptive hearts. The following articles detailing Pir-o-Murshid's journeys in the West, and giving the first-hand accounts of several of his mureeds, are reprinted from "1910-1950, Forty Years of Sufism," a special issue of the Sufi Quarterly published in the fall of 1950.

An Old Mureed Remembers

On September 13th, 1910, Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan sailed from India, a Living Lamp Whose rays were even then reaching a slumbering Western world. His brother, the late Shaikh-ul-Mahshaik Maheboob Khan, and His cousin, our Representative General, Pir-o-Murshid Mohammed Ali Khan, accompanied Him.

That same week, my own life began to change. So radically that I did not recognize myself. A new wisdom guided my actions. Sometimes, it seemed to be altogether a dream A year later — to the week — my old life fell suddenly apart and, as a direct consequence, I met Murshid. Six days later, I was initiated.

In those bygone days, when the earth bloomed where He passed, I do not recall hearing much talk of 'The Message.' I had merely become — as I understood it — a disciple of 'Sufism.' During the few weeks before I had to leave New York — and Murshid — I learned little about its teachings, for nothing had been written then.

I was amazed when, long afterward, I learned of the incredible wealth of teaching gathered up in the sacred papers; of the beautifully written books to illuminate our way; I wonder sometimes if we are all grateful enough for this treasure. It was a prodigious work He achieved for us in His few days on earth.

It surprised me, also, to discover that later mureeds must have protested at having to devote a half-hour to practices. I protested, too, but in those old days my evening practices alone required over two hours!

All that I received of Sufism, with the exception of four stories, was communicated by Murshid's Presence — 'on the current of the breath,' as we say, now — talking of life in general. Now and then a point of metaphysics was explained. These were the moments when, in my spiritual backwardness, I felt I was really getting something!

All mureeds know the stories Murshid told me — the boy who could not learn 'Alif,' and fled into the jungle; the young mureed who was not scandalized when his Murshid went to worship in the temple of the Goddess Kali; and — of course — the epic love of Leila and Maynun. What mureed of His day ever hears those names without seeing the ecstatic look of the Great Murshid!

During those first weeks away from my Murshid — weeks that were destined to stretch into eleven years — there occurred what seemed to me, even then, a sort of miracle. I had done no mystical, no philosophical reading, up to that time. A gift copy of Emerson's 'Essays' had been opened once — and put back to languish on the shelf. It was meaningless. But, one evening, I picked it up again. Dawn was breaking when I laid it down — another devotee. How had I failed so utterly to understand? His words seemed, now, to blaze with meaning, and the word 'illuminated' clarified the experience for me. These were first fruits of Bayat.

I was privileged to dine several times in the home of Hazrat Inayat before I went away. What was probably the supreme blessing of my entire life occurred on one of these unforgettable occasions. I did not know then that the glance of a seer falling upon a person could confer the greatest grace. So, when I chanced to look over, that evening, and meet the glance of my Murshid, I did not even faintly suspect that a divine impression had been made on my ignorant heart Yet it must have been so, for long years afterward, while doing a certain practice, I suddenly saw again, in memory, my Murshid sitting across from me at dinner, looking at me as He had looked so long ago. Every night, thereafter, I summoned the picture, and one night, as I rested in the benediction of that compassionate glance, a deep stillness fell upon me, and in that blissful instant I realized Whose dinner-guest I had been.

I saw then that, in those earliest days — when I had no idea that there had ever been or ever would be any Messenger but Jesus — I was, even then, in the very Presence of the Messenger for today. Even then, though he was just twenty-nine, Hazrat Inayat's full destiny was upon Him.

Once, I must have said something that caused Him to ask, His eyes twinkling, "But how old do you think your Murshid is?" I said politely — thinking Him much older — "Oh, in the forties?" He laughed. How He could laugh! I regarded Him more closely, then...No, not a mark of time. What had deceived me was the 'divine manner' — Ahklak Allah! The Weight borne by the Message Bearer always lent Him a majesty of Presence that touched even His youth.

A picture of those early times that did not include a glimpse of the Master's lifelong companions would be incomplete. 'Maheboob! Ali Khan!' I hear His beloved voice calling them to share some moment — they must always share everything.

Those two were an unending source of amazement to me. Here were two greatly talented gentlemen, fine musicians, young — and yet — they had only one thought in the world — Hazrat! It was obvious that He was their very being! It seemed unnatural. "Why, they look at him, and hang on his words as if — as if he were God," I protested inwardly.

"He is lovable, but what is so remarkable about him?"

This phenomenon must have provoked me to make some comment — forgotten now — but I recall His brother's reply: "He is a Perfect Man." "No one is 'perfect,'" and we both laughed.

Since then, they have both had to shoulder the Cross, to stand firm against those forces that are fiercest where the Light is brightest. The selflessness that I once deplored has provided great Channels through which The Messenger guides The Message on its earthly way.
Munira Nawn

When the cry of the disciple has reached a certain pitch, the Teacher comes to answer it.

These words of our beloved Master explain best the situation, when Murshid came to Oslo in November, 1924, and gave his lectures. The weather was misty and uncomfortable — my mind and body suffering from still deeper darkness.

When Murshid gave his first lecture, we were sitting there looking at him spell-bound in the first silence, and a wish clear and distinct arose, as it were, from my innermost being:

"If only I could come into contact with such a noble personality!" — but in such a realization, doubts of it being possible also enter and tend to prevent one from making any move to go to Him.

But the thought and wish once being clear it seems as if the destiny will arrange the rest.

I happened to come to Murshid with two friends endowed with more courage than myself; and as I was sitting there, intensively listening to his talk with the others, and to his laughter so refreshing and uplifting and had quite forgotten myself, he suddenly turned to me, saying, "Have you not any question?" Question!! No. He gave me a glance and this glance made me feel, as if a new page had been turned in my life and made me realize wonderfully the Grace of God. As Murshid says: "Grace is all sided," so has all good come since that time. And when later, I read in Vadan, "Souls unite at the meeting of a glance," it struck me that these words best explain the experience of our meeting with our Murshid.

When Shaikh-ul-Mahshaik Maheboob Khan later gave me the Sufi name of 'Rahmat,' and explained it 'The Grace of God,' I felt, and feel it to be a connection with the first experience. An experience such as for which we can never be thankful enough and I pray: "Let me never forget to be thankful."
Rahmat Rasmussen

Not belonging to those fortunate ones who have met Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan, I had often wondered how it would have been to have met Him face to face. Most likely I would not have recognized what He was, or else, it seemed to me, that it must have been something so great — too great, perhaps, for a human heart to bear and yet go on bearing.

Then, at the Summer School, it happened to me that our Blessed Shaikh-ul-Mahshaik Maheboob Khan asked me in an interview: "Have you met Pir-o-Murshid?" "No," I answered, "I haven't." I could, however, not help feeling a little curious, when, at my next interview, he asked me that same question: "Have you met Pir-o-Murshid?" I again answered with regret: "No, I am sorry." But at the third interview he still asked: "Have you met Pir-o-Murshid?" It dawned upon me that he wished to make clear to me what I had pondered upon, and this time I only answered: "Not on this plane."

By now, I have had the great privilege and blessing to be a mureed for nearly 23 years, and when looking back I ask myself what life would have been like if I had not by the Grace of God come in contact with the Sufi Movement. At that time I was in great need of help both physically and mentally; life seemed a barren desert, and that it would have continued to be. Through the wonderful teachings of our Master Hazrat Inayat Khan and the help and guidance of our blessed leaders Shaikh-ul-Mahshaik Maheboob Khan and Pir-o-Murshid Ali Khan I was restored to a health I had never experienced before. Though life has not at all been only a dance on roses I have experienced the words of our Master Hazrat Inayat in his poem to His Murshid, which ends

All ill came from my yet unworthy self,
All good from thy Inayat which I seek.

In limitless gratefulness to God and the Master.

Bashiran Bjerke
Ten minutes

The writer was invited to translate Murshid's Oslo lectures. He recounts:

...Outside Inayat Khan's room at the Grand Hotel was a winding queue of curious enthusiasts, among whom an old friend, who promptly attached himself to me upon hearing my errand. We could go in together, he said, and thus ease the queue (and ease your waiting time, too, my fine-feathered friend, thought I, but his proposition was altruistically put. I could not turn it down).

Wondering how I would be able to get in my pot shots of practical questions about the lectures amid the heavy spiritual artillery lire I expected from my friend I entered the room a worried man.

Inayat Khan looked up at us with laughing eyes.

"Shall we have silence?"

The gentle, sincere, almost apologetic tone of his voice contrasted the startling sense of his words. With a graceful bow he asked us to sit down. We seated ourselves in opposite comers of a sofa and he sat down between us and closed his eyes. So did we.

I woke up, refreshed when a bell rang. The interview was over. My friend opened his eyes too. We rose, shook hands with our host, left.

"I had a lot of questions I wanted to ask him," said my friend as we walked out. A thoughtful frown creased his forehead "The funny thing is, I can't remember a single one of them now. They couldn't have been so important. But I feel fine!"

I translated Inayat Khan's talk the next evening, after it had been given in full, without taking notes. My memory had always been good — but not that good!...

Shamcher Beorse


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