A term of art is a word or phrase with a specific or precise meaning within a certain profession, craft or field. Different spiritual paths employ terms of art which may not be readily understood by others. The Sufis have a large vocabulary of terms for different spiritual practices, points of view, and states of consciousness. In fact, a major focus of the earliest books authored by Sufis was to provide definitions of Sufi terminology. The modest glossary that follows provides definitions for some terms that may be heard in talks given by Hurqalya presenters or encountered in writings found on this website.


adab – a polite, respectful, gracious manner; proper etiquette

akasha – an accommodation for something to arise; a capacity

bayat– initiation; a sacred bond between a disciple and a spiritual teacher

baraka – blessing

bhakti – the path of devotion

consciousness – awareness; “the wakeful state of the knowing faculty”; the divine element within the human being

contemplative inquiry – a process leading to deepened understanding of the self through accessing the light of guidance within

dervish – a Sufi practitioner; can be used to describe a Sufi whose expression of spirituality manifests in unconventional manners of behavior or dress

dhikr – see zikr

dargah – a burial tomb or shrine of a Sufi teacher or saint; a place of pilgrimage

dunya – the material world; worldly life; similar to samsara in Hinduism or Buddhism.


  • fana – the annihilation of the false self; passing through the illusion of the separate ego identity
  • baqa – the state following fana; the emergence or resurrection of the real self

fikr – the Sufi practice of the silent repetition on the breath of a sacred word or phrase

Gathas, Githas – a collection of esoteric papers by Hazrat Inayat Khan


  • hal – a temporary state of exultation; a state of grace that descends upon the heart without effort.
  • maqqam – a station; a stage of realization arrived at by the seeker through spiritual practice. haqq – truth; the Real

ishq – love

jemal-jalal-kemal – attributes of being; qualities of energy

  • jemal – beauty; a passive or receptive state of being
  • jalal – majesty; power; an active, assertive state of being
  • kemal – the point of balance between jemal and jalal; a state of perfection

jnana – the path of seeking spiritual knowledge

intelligence – the pure knowing faculty of being; consciousnesss emptied of content

latifa, lataif (pl.) – chakra(s)

murshid(a) – a spiritual teacher or a title given to a spiritual teacher; equivalent to guru in Hinduism. In our lineage, when referring to “Murshid”, we are speaking of Hazrat Inayat Khan.

mureed – a Sufi disciple

nasut – the experience of the physical plane of existence through thought and sensation

nafs – the individual personal self or ego, sometimes referred to as the false self.

pir – the spiritual head of a Sufi order

rasul – prophet

silsila – a chain of transmission; spiritual lineage


  • suluk – morals and moral culture
  • Suluk – the name of the Inayatiyya’s esoteric school founded by Pir Zia

Sufism – generally understood to refer to the mystical dimension of Islam. In the lineage of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Sufism is the spiritual essence or underlying wisdom of all religions free from fixed principals and beliefs. A Sufi purifies one’s heart from distinctions and differences, sympathizes with all, and cultivates within oneself the qualities of love, harmony, and beauty.

soul – the birthless, deathless, infinite reality of the human being; consciousness; awareness

sohbet – spiritual conversation

Saum, Salat, Khatum – the three main prayers in the lineage of Hazrat Inayat Khan

samadhi – meditative absorption; the state of unity consciousness

sifat – divine qualities, sometimes referred to as the names of God

wazifa, wazaif (pl) – a Sufi practice consisting of the repetition of the name of a divine attribute; similar to mantra in Buddhism and Hinduism.

Universel – the Sufi temple in Suresnes, France, envisioned by Hazrat Inayat Khan; the awake, interconnected consciousness emerging throughout all humanity

urs – the day commemorating the anniversary of the death of a saint

vairagya – a state of indifference and independence that gives freedom to the soul

zikr (dhikr) – the fundamental Sufi practice of repeating a sacred phrase, most commonly la illaha illa ‘llah hu

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