The Princess Spy:
Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan

Hazrat Inayat Khan and Sufism

A.  Hazrat Inayat Khan

Noor's father was Hazrat Inayat Khan.  He was born on July 5th, 1882 to the proud parents Khatija-Bibi and Rahmat Khan.  He had two younger brothers and a cousin who lived with the family.  The family grew up with two different cultures: Hindu and Muslim.  To justify ideas from both cultures, a natural merger was adopted.  Rahmat Khan, Hazrat's father, came from a Sufi tradition.  Sufism was the religion which merged the Hindu and Muslim ideas together.  Hazrat became fascinated with the religion.  He was very dedicated, studious, and reflective.  So much so that Hazrat's father, Rahmat became a little concerned about his eldest son, but Hazrat's dedication was rewarded.  Khwaja Syed Mohammed Abu Hashim Madani, the Chief of the Sufis, took Hazrat under his tutelage.  Hazrat would eventually become the head of a Sufi order with the mission of uniting the East and the West through the harmony of music.
A young Hazrat Inayat Khan
Hazrat Inayat Khan playing the sitar

B.  What is Sufism?

So what is Sufism?  Understanding this unique religion is one of the keys to understanding the character and mental make-up of not only Hazrat, but also of his daughter Noor.  Then what is sufism?  Sufism teaches that everything is connected.  For example, people should not separate themselves into separate little groups based on differences of opinion or dogma.  People should accept differences in belief.  A Sufi is one seeking to remove the false self and discover God within their own lives.  A Sufi seeks happiness, illumination, and harmony for themselves.  They believe the ultimate goal is to practice love towards all things and to lose one's selfishness.

C.  Inayat Khan's contributions to the Sufi order
Hazrat Inayat Khan

Throughout his adult life, Hazrat Inayat Khan went from place to place, mainly in the Western world, establishing new Sufi movements in different countries.  The fruits of his labor include the International Sufi Movement and the Sufi Order International-North America.  Both organizations are in existence today.  The International Sufi Movement maintains a web page at this link.  This sect of Sufism currently maintains a website at this link.  One source for resources and more information about the Sufi movement is the Wisdom's Child bookstore.  To visit the Wisdom's Child bookstore, click here.

D.  Hazrat Inayat Khan marries Ora Ray Baker

Ora Ray Baker was born on May 8th, 1890 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.  She was the niece of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science religion.  She was also the niece of Senator O'Brien and came from a fairly wealthy family.  Many members of her family were lawyers.
Ora Ray Baker
(Photo taken after her marriage to Hzrat Inayat Khan)

Hazrat fell in love and eventually married Ora Ray Baker.  She became Begum Inayat Khan.  No one either in Hazrat's or Ora Ray's family approved of the marriage.  Hazrat and Ora Ray waited several years to get married.  They waited in the hopes of winning their families' approvals.  It did not happen.  Finally, Hazrat and Ora Ray were married in the civil register office of St. Giles, London, on March 20th, 1913.  The couple were living in London at the time.  Soon after their marriage, Hazrat, his wife, his brothers, and another guest or two moved to Moscow where they met Count Serge Tolstoy.  Hazrat and Begum were living in Moscow during December 1913 when Begum gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter named Noor.
Hazrat and Begum Inayat Khan

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