Vilayat Inayat Khan


Leader of the international Order of Sufis. Vilayat Inayat Khan travelled to India where he underwent rigorous training in meditation and later confirmed as a 'Pir' (master) in Ajmer. He formally assumed his duties as head of the International Order of Sufis in 1956. Pir Vilayat travelled extensively in America, Europe, India, and Japan, teaching meditation, lecturing, writing, and holding seminars and retreats. From 1965, he hosted an annual Congress of Religions in or near Paris to promote interfaith understanding and, every summer, held camps in the Swiss Alps and in America. Pir Vilayat has written several books including Awakening: A Sufi Experience. Sufism originated in the 9th century as an ascetic movement within Islam opposed to the formal, legalistic theology that was being developed at the time. Sufism gives prime importance to the development of an individual's 'oneness with God', achieved through meditation and other practices, including poetry, music, ritual chanting and dance. The Sufis have traditionally borrowed elements from other religions and reached its peak during the Mughal and Ottoman empire, but lost influence in the 20th century following the revival of more puritanical and core version of Islam. Sufism's spirituality and universal message of 'love, harmony and beauty' appealed all over the world. Pir Vilayat's father, Hazrat Inayat Khan arrived in London, in 1910, from Punjab and founded the Sufi Order. He activated the Sufi Movement in London in 1916 and the International Sufi Movement in Geneva in 1922. Inayat Khan encouraged his followers to practice their own religions as they explored Sufi mysticism, demonstrating open-mindedness towards other faiths and married an American lady. Vilayat Inayat Khan was born in London and spent most of his early years in England and France and from where he graduated. During the Second World War, he served in the Royal Navy. Pir Zia Inayat Khan, the eldest son, has been designated his father successor.

Compiler: M. Nauman Khan

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