Hazrat Inayat Khan (5th July 1882 – 5th February 1927), founder of the Sufi Order International, came to the West as a representative of the highest musical traditions of his native India, and brought with him a message of love, harmony, and beauty that was both the quintessence of Sufi teaching and a revolutionary approach to the harmonizing of Western and Eastern spirituality. He dedicated his early life to the mastery of the subtle intricacies of classical Indian music, winning the high title of Tansen from the Nizam of Hyderabad, a powerful ruler and renowned patron of the musical arts.
In the fulfilment of his quest for a spiritual teacher, Inayat Khan took initiation from Shaykh al-Mashaykh Sayed Muhammed Abu Hashim Madani. While he was an initiator of the four main Sufi lineages in India, Madani’s primary connection was with the Chishti Order. At the end of his apprenticeship, Inayat Khan was enjoined by his teacher to travel to the West and harmonize the two cultures.
On September 13 of 1910 Inayat Khan began an odyssey which would encompass three continents, and transform the lives of thousands. He eventually settled in Suresnes, a suburb of Paris. During his sixteen years in the West, he created a school of spiritual training based upon the traditional teachings of the Chishti Sufis, and infused with a revolutionary vision of the unity of religious ideals and the awakening of humanity to the divinity within.
Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan (19th June 1916 – 17th June 2004) was the eldest son and successor of Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan. He traced his spiritual lineage through a long line of Sufi pirs (masters), but his teaching was free from any religious bias or attempt to proselytize. His teaching brought the timeless contributions of the ancient Sufi mystics and poets together with the discoveries of psychology and science.
Pir Vilayat was born in London in 1916 and spent most of his early years in England and France. He graduated from Paris University with a degree in psychology, studied philosophy at Oxford University and music at l«Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris. Pir Vilayat later travelled to the East where he underwent rigorous training in meditation, including long periods of seclusion devoted to spiritual exercises. He also studied the esoterica of the major world religions and the meditation techniques associated with them. Pir Vilayat passed away in June 2004.
Pir Zia Inayat Khan is the son and successor of Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan and president of the Sufi Order International. In addition to the interfaith mystical training he has received from his father, Pir Zia has studied Buddhism under the auspices of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Sufism in the classical Indian tradition of the Chishtiyya Order.