Some Sufi Terms
Bayat – Fealty or homage but in Sufism, initiation.
Begum – Lady or queen; a term of respect, as, for example, ‘Pirani Ameena Begum Ora-Ray Inayat-Khan,’ the wife of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan who was leader of the Sufi Movement.
Dargah – A royal court, or in Sufi terms, the tomb of a saint or master. The Dargah of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan is in the suburbs of New Delhi.
Fikar – Thought, reflection. In Sufism, the name of a spiritual exercise involving breath and concentration.
Gayan – ‘Singing,’ ‘song’ or ‘chant.’ The title of a collection of inspired sayings by Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan. Often published together with two other books, Vadan (‘instrumental music’), and Nirtan (‘dance’).
Hazrat – ‘Presence’ or ‘dignity’; a title of respect given to the worldly great and to spiritual masters.
Khatum – ‘Conclusion,’ ‘end,’ the name of the third prayer of the Universal Worship.
Mureed – ‘Willing,’ therefore applied to a follower, student or disciple; an initiate in the Inner School.
Murshid – see Pir-o-Murshid, below.
Nabi – ‘Prophet’; encountered in the prayer Salat, ‘O Messenger, Christ, a Nabi, the Rasul of God…’ [see Rasul, below.]
Nafs – Breath or essence, but if that should be coarse and unrefined, it may also refer to the false ego.
Pir-o-Murshid – Both Pir and Murshid mean a spiritual guide or master. The combined term denotes a teacher of teachers, or in other words the spiritual head of a Sufi order.
Rasul – ‘Messenger,’ a prophet of the highest rank; encountered in the prayer of Salat, ‘O Messenger, Christ, Nabi, the Rasul of God…’ [see Nabi, above.]
Salat – The name of the second prayer of the Universal Worship, meaning, ‘prayer,’ ‘benediction,’ or ‘blessing.’
Saum – The name of the first prayer of the Universal Worship, also found in the Gayatri, in the book, Gayan. ln Arabic and Urdu, it means ‘fasting,’ and therefore evokes religious duty, but Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan may have also used the term because it is a homophone to the western word, ‘psalm.’
Sufi – According to Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan, it means wisdom, from the same root as the Greek Sophia. Other sources connect it with words meaning purity, and even wool.
Sura – In Arabic, a verse of the Qu’ran. In Sanskrit, a deity, the sun, a melody, breath, sound, or an angel.
Universal Worship – A devotional service given to the world by Hazrat Inayat Khan, in which lights are kindled and scriptures read for major religions as well as for the light of the Spirit of Guidance present in all names and forms.
Wazifa – A spiritual exercise involving the repetition of sacred names or phrases, similar to jap or mantra yoga.
Zikar – ‘Remembrance’; specifically, a spiritual exercise central to Sufism, the repetition of a phrase meaning, ‘There is no God but God; God alone is.’
Five Characteristics that the Sufi
Develops on his Path to Perfection
There are no principles that the Sufi is obliged to follow, but there are certain characteristics and favourites of the Sufi, and which make their life easy on the path to perfection.
The first characteristic is to recognize the divine in human form, which in time develops so that human beings recognizes the divine in all, deserving or undeserving, wise or foolish, saint or sinner. In all forms of life one sees God, and thereby he/she has toward everybody that attitude which a lover of God, a worshipper of God has toward God. Therefore the Sufi complains no more, has no grudge against anyone, has nothing to grumble about: “That person insulted me,” or “treated me badly,” or “behaved unjustly,” or “acted unkindly,” — no complaint whatever, for complaint comes to a person who thinks of him or herself most of the time. One is inclined to self-pity at every moment, self-pity, which is the worst poverty. The one who is sensitive to all things that come from the people around him or her will have a thousand complaints, whatever be his or her life’s position. In a palace or in a cottage, whether poor or rich, one is always full of complaints. Nothing is right to either him or her; and for that poor person life is death.
If this person thinks of their health, that they have many complaints to make about different pains and aches and disagreeable things they feel, and if they think of their friends and foes, then they have many things to say about them. The Sufi therefore finds the only way out of the distresses of life, the life which will always fail to prove true to one’s ideal. The Sufi rises above it, taking all things as they come, patiently. They do not mind how they are treated. Their principle is to do their best, and in that is their satisfaction. Instead of depending on another person to be kind to them, the Sufi thinks if they were kind to another person, that is sufficient. Every wise person in the long run through life will find in this principle the solution of happiness. For we can not change the world, but we can change ourselves; and if we made ourselves as we wish others to be to us, it would not be a small achievement in life.
The fourth characteristic of the Sufi is to fulfill their obligations in life, to think what is expected to be done by all those with whom they comes in contact in life, to answer all demands to the best of their ability, willingly, patiently.
And the fifth characteristic of the Sufi is to practice forgiveness, showing thereby the Divine Spirit reflected in their heart. Forgiveness can be overlooking; forgiveness acts in different forms.
The Sufi need not speak about these five principles, but goes about the practice of them. The Sufi does not profess to have these five characteristics, but they try to practice these principles, which enables them to tread the path with less difficulty and with ease.
The Sufi Message
(compiled from the Teachings given by Hazrat Inayat Khan)
The Message for which we have been preparing so long, as the workers of the Cause, is in reality now being born. We do not need to think or trouble about its greatness while it is yet so small, for the greatness of everything is according to our own idea; and there is One only Who can be called Great, and that is God.
As to the devotion of many among my mureeds, I have not the slightest doubt. In order for me to know the devotion of my mureeds I do not need words or any outer expressions, for devotion itself is a living thing; if there is anything living, it is devotion. But there is something more that could be done, thus utilizing that power of devotion to its best advantage. The Sufi Order (the inner esoteric school) is an embodiment, a body which is being composed to deliver that Message which is the Message of God. Therefore my mureeds are the particles of that body, the organs of that body; and the more they will realize that, the more they will know their responsibility.
But now there are rules to keep this embodiment of the Message in perfect condition. That can be learned by understanding how one hand is dependent upon the other hand to help it; how one finger bends with the other finger when it bends, in order to help the finger which is next to it; how the nerves of the body are in sympathy with one another. So my mureeds must work harmoniously with the thought of cooperation.
What is our need? Our need is for active workers who are ready to sacrifice their time and take every trouble that can be taken to do what they can in order to spread the Message. And how can one be a successful worker? By forgetting the self. Once a person stands to work in the cause of God and humanity, he or she does not consider themselves. And the moment one has forgotten oneself, one is already on the right path. We need among us some who should practice to become speakers. Another need is writing. A practice must be made to develop the faculty of putting into words the ideas which are given by the Message. We ought to have a great many among us who will be able to give the interpretation of the Message, and we shall never have too many workers for the cause. It is something to be thankful for that there are now, after many, many years of patient waiting, some among us who are able to do something tangible in order to help the cause.
Another work of the Message is the study and meditation in the school of Inner Culture, the Sufi Order, which has originated from the ancient school of Egyptian mysteries, a school which existed even before Abraham, the father of three great religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Those who know Sufism from superficial writings, and, sometimes from translations of the Arabic or Persian literature, are apt to think that Sufism is the mystical side of Islam. In reality, it is not true. Sufism existed before Mohammed, before Jesus Christ, before Abraham. It is true that the mystics in the world of Islam are Sufis, but that does not mean that Sufi means the mystics of Islam.
The Sufis of all nations are one. They are a nucleus made for human brotherhood and sisterhood. It is not our wish that all people in the world must become members of our Cause, but it is our wish that the members of the Sufi Message may be able to serve the world. Our Message, no doubt, is in its infancy, but the power that gives us courage is Truth. There is no question about the success of the Sufi Message. It is certain, since it is no man-made enterprise, it is the Message of God and Truth must be successful. At the same time, we do not work for success, we work for the sake of the work, It is the direction that we are given from above. We take it, and we shall go through life, making a way until the Message of God is fulfilled.