The following traces a portrait of Sufism, something not readily defined. Our words point to something inherent to all human beings, and to the awakened experience of life. It is not something that can belong exclusively to any one group. Some Sufi mystics say that, even to use the name, “Sufi”, already deceives the mind. And yet language allows us to bring something into form and to make it knowable.  So, we use the word “Sufism” which is related to the word “Sophia”/wisdom and to the word “Saf”/purity. ‘The Sufi is one who breathes well.’ —Pir Zia Inayat Khan


Collected Quotes by Hazrat Inayat Khan on Sufism

If anybody asks you, “What is Sufism?” you may answer: “Sufism is the religion of the heart, the religion in which the most important thing is to seek God in the heart of humanity.”

By the process of Sufism one realizes one’s own nature, one’s true nature, and thereby one realizes human nature. And by the study of human nature one realizes the nature of life in general. All failures, disappointments, and sorrows are caused by the lack of this realization; all success, happiness, and peace are acquired by the realization of one’s own nature. In short, Sufism means to know one’s true being, to know the purpose of one’s life, and to know how to accomplish that purpose. 

The teaching of Sufism is to transform everyday life into a religion, so that every action may bear some spiritual fruit.

Sufis believe that if evil is contagious, goodness must be even more so. The depth of every soul is good; every soul is searching for good, and by the effort of individuals who wish to do good in the world much can be done.

The principal mission of Sufism is to dig the soil under which the light of the soul has become buried. It is the same as the teaching of Christ, who has said that no one should hide his light under a bushel, and also that one should raise one’s light on high.

The term ‘Sufi’ is related to the Greek Sophia, meaning wisdom; wisdom is the knowledge acquired from within and without. Therefore Sufism is not only an intuitive knowledge nor is it only a knowledge acquired from the outer life of the world. Sufism in itself is not a religion nor even a cult with a distinct or definite doctrine. No better explanation of Sufism can be given than by saying that any person who has knowledge of both outer and inner life is a Sufi. Thus there has never in any period of the world’s history been a founder of Sufism, yet Sufism has existed at all times.

Another word, which has a connotation with Sufism, is the Arabic word Saf, which means pure. All the tragedy in life comes from the absence of purity. And as pure really means to be natural, the absence of purity means to be far from being natural. Pure water means that no other substance is mixed with it, in other words that is in its natural condition. Sufism, therefore, is the process of making life natural. One may call this process a religion, a philosophy, a science, or mysticism, whatever one wishes. All the religious teachers who have come to this world at different times, have brought this process of purification in the form of religion. It is not a new process, it is the same ancient process that the wise of all ages have bestowed. If anything new is given in it, it is the form in which it is presented to suit a certain period of the world.
— Hazrat Inayat Khan

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