Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, Vol 26, No 1 (2013)

What’s in a Name? Changes and Challenges in One Hundred Years of Inayat Khan’s (Inayati) Universal Sufism

Celia Genn
Issued Date: 9 Aug 2013


In 2010, the International Sufi Movement celebrated one hundred years of Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Sufi Message in the West. This article draws attention to recent developments within Inayati Sufi groups and identifies how new tensions arising in relation to the religion of Islam pose challenges for the group’s identity and future. Separating Sufism from the exoteric tradition of Islam was part of Inayat Khan’s vision for the future of religion, though Inayati orders honour their origins in, and retain significant strands of the Chishtiyya Sufism of India. This article reveals a mix of tradition and innovation in the group’s history, thought and practice, and a variety of stances toward both Islam and the designation ‘Sufi’. Despite the tensions, this transnational Sufi community remains characterised by an inner core of disciplined ethical spiritual work directed toward self and God realisation, and an ecumenical vision of universal brother and sisterhood, that accommodates seekers from all backgrounds.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/arsr.v26i1.7


Baumann, Martin
2001 Global Buddhism: Developmental Periods, Regional Histories, and a New Analytical Perspective. Journal of Global Buddhism 2: 1-43.
Bloch, Regina M.
1915 The Confessions of Inayat Khan. The Su Publishing Society, London.
Bouma, Gary
2003 Globalization, Social Capital and the Challenge to Harmony of Recent Changes in Australia’s Religious and Spiritual Demography: 1947–2001. Australian Religion Studies Review 16(2): 55-68.
2011 Freedom of Religion and Belief in 21st Century Australia. Australian Human Rights Commission, Sydney.
Chittick, William C.
1995 Susm: Su Thought and Practice. In The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, vol. 4, edited by John L. Esposito, 102-109. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Chodkiewicz, Michel
1993 An Ocean without Shore: Ibn ‘Arabi, the Book and the Law. State University of New York Press, Albany.
Dahnhardt, Thomas
2002 Change and Continuity in Indian Susm: A Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi Branch in the Hindu Environment. D.K. Printworld, New Delhi.
De Tassy, Garcin
1997 Muslim Festivals in India and other Essays, translated by M. Waseem. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Elwell-Sutton, L.P.
1975 Susm and Pseudo-Susm. Encounter 44(5): 9-17.
Ernst, Carl W.
2002 Between Orientalism and Fundamentalism: Problematizing the Teach¬ing of Susm. In Teaching Islam, edited by Brannon Wheeler, 108-23. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Frishkopf, Michael
2001 Changing Modalities in the Globalization of Islamic Saint Veneration and Mysticism: Sidi Ibrahim al-Dasuqi, Shaykh Muhammad ‘Uthman al-Burhani, and their Su Orders (Part 1). Religious Studies and Theology 20(1): 1-49.
Geaves, Ron, Markus Dressler and Gritt Klinkhammer (eds.)
2009 Sus in Western Society: Global Networks and Locality. New York: Routledge.
Genn, Celia A.
2004 Exploration and Analysis of the Origins, Nature and Development of the Su Movement in Australia. PhD diss., University of Queensland, Australia.
2007 The Development of a Western Susm. In Howell and Van Bruinessen 2007: 257-78.
2008 The Chishtiyya Diaspora: An Expanding Circle? In Tracing an Indian Diaspora: Contexts, Memories, Representations, edited by P. Raguram, A.K. Sahoo, B. Maharaj and D. Sangha, 237-56. Sage Publications, New Delhi.
Godlas, Alan
2006 Susm—Sus—Su Orders. Online:smwest.html (accessed April 17, 2012).

Graham, Donald
2001 Spreading the Wisdom of Susm: The Career of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan in the West. In A Pearl in Wine: Essays on the Life, Music and Susm of Hazrat Inayat Khan, edited by Zia Inayat-Khan, 127-56. Omega Publications, New Lebanon.
Harris, Ian, Stuart Mews, Paul Morris and John Shepherd
1992 Contemporary Religions: A World Guide. Longman, London.
Harvey, Andrew
2009 The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism. Hay House, Sydney.
Hermansen, Marcia
1998 In the Garden of American Su Movements: Hybrids and Perennials. In New Trends and Developments in the World of Islam, edited by Peter Clarke, 155-77. Luzac Oriental, London.
2000 Hybrid Identity Formations in Muslim America: The Case of American Su Movements. The Muslim World 90(1 & 2): 158-97. Doi: 10.1111/j.1478-1913.2000.tb03686.x.
2009a Global Susm: ‘Theirs and Ours’. In Geaves, Dressler and Klinkhammer 2009: 26-45.
2009b Two Sus on Molding the New Muslim Woman: Khwaja Hasan Nizami (1878–1955) and Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882–1927). In Islam in South Asia in Practice, edited by Barbara D. Metcalf, 326-88. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
Howell, Julia Day
2005 Urban Heirs of Ibn al-’Arabi and the Defence of Religious Pluralism in Contemporary Indonesia. Australian Religion Studies Review 18(2): 197-209. Doi: 10.1558/arsr.2005.18.2.197.
2011 Neo-Susm = Su Renewal (Tajdid). In Encyclopedia of Global Religions, edited by Wade Clark Roof and Karl Juergensmeyer, 882-83. Sage Publishers, New York.
Howell, Julia Day, and Peter L. Nelson
1997 The Brahma-Kumaris in the Western World, Part I: Structural Adaptation and ‘Success’ in Transplantation of an Asian New Religious Movement. Research in the Social Scientic Study of Religion 8: 1-34.
Howell, Julia Day, and Martin Van Bruinessen (eds.)
2007 Susm and the ‘Modern’ in Islam. I.B. Tauris, London.
Hume, Lynne
2007 Creation and Innovation in Australian Paganism. Australian Religion Studies Review 20(1): 45-58. Doi: 10.1558/arsr.v20i1.45.
Inayat-Khan, Hidayat
2012 Handbooklet: Miscellaneous Reminders. Sunray, The Hague, The Netherlands.
Inayat-Khan, Zia
2000 The Paradox of ‘Universal Susm’. Heart & Wings, Summer–Fall. Online:sm.html (accessed May 15, 2013).
2002 PBS Interview, November 2002. Online:/pir_zia.htm (accessed May 19, 2012).
2006 A Hybrid Su Order at the Crossroads of Modernity: The Su Order and Su Movement of Pir-O-Murshid Inayat Khan. PhD diss., Duke University, Chapel Hill.
Jervis, James
1998 The Su Order in the West and Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan: Space-Age Spirituality in Contemporary Euro-America. In New Trends and Devel¬opments in the World of Islam, edited by Peter B. Clarke, 211-59. Luzac Oriental, London.
Jironet, Karin
2009 Su Mysticism into the West: Life and Leadership of Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Brothers, 1927–1967. Peeters, Leuven, Belgium.
Khan, Inayat
1923 Address to Cherags, August 13, 1923.
1963 The Unity of Religious Ideals, vol. 9. Barrie & Jenkins, London.
1979 Spiritual Liberty, vol. 5. Servire, Katwijk, The Netherlands.
Melton, J. Gordon
2004 Perspective: Toward a Denition of ‘New Religion’. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 8(1): 73-87. Doi: 10.1525/nr.2004.8.1.73.
Metcalf, Barbara D.
2009 Islam in South Asia in Practice. In Islam in South Asia in Practice, edited by Barbara D. Metcalf, xvii-xxv. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
Nekbakht Foundation (ed.)
1979 Biography of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan. East–West Publications, London.
Possamai, Adam
2003 Alternative Spiritualities, New Religious Movements, and Jediism in Australia. Australian Religion Studies Review 16(2): 69-86.
Rawlinson, Andrew
1997 The Book of Enlightened Masters: Western Teachers in Eastern Traditions. Open Court, Chicago.
Roy, Oliver
2006 Globalised Islam: The Search for a New Ummah. Columbia University Press, New York.
Said, Edward
1978 Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient. Penguin, London.
Sedgwick, Mark
2009 The Reception of Su and Neo-Su Literature. In Geaves, Dressler and Klinkhammer 2009: 180-97.
Sikand, Yoginder
2007 The Reformist Susm of the Tablighi Jama’at: The Case of the Meos of Mewat, India. In Howell and Van Bruinessen 2007: 129-48.
Summer, Bob
1995 Clear Some Shelf Space for Susm. Publishers Weekly, January 9: 33-35.
Webb, Gisela
1995 Susm in America. In America’s Alternative Religions, edited by Timothy Miller, 249-58. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Werbner, Pnina
2007 South Asian Sus in Britian. In Howell and Van Bruinessen 2007: 195-216.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email:

Privacy Policy