Our New Name


Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan, our founder, brought the wisdom of Sufism to the Western world in 1910. He founded “The Sufi Order” in London in 1918 and “The Sufi Movement” in Geneva in 1923.

The word “Order” was, and remains, the standard English rendering of the Arabic word tariqa, referring to a Sufi school centered around an initiatic lineage and body of practice. The word “Movement” was a familiar designation in the early 20th Century for international spiritual organizations.

After Inayat Khan’s death, his brothers and cousin successively led The Sufi Movement.  To distinguish his own lineage and circle of students, Inayat Khan’s elder son Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan revived the name “The Sufi Order of the West” in 1968 (later updated as “The Sufi Order International”).

“The Sufi Order” is a nonspecific name: it refers to Sufism in general, but to no one tradition of Sufism in particular. When Inayat Khan established his Order in the West, no other Sufi Orders were active in Western Europe or North America. A more specific name was therefore unnecessary and, in fact, would likely have caused confusion. This was still largely the case in 1968.

Today the situation is just the opposite: there are many Sufi Orders in the West—not to mention in Asia, where our Order is also spreading—and a nonspecific name is therefore a source of misunderstandings in the current environment.

In the history of Sufism, Orders have traditionally adopted the name of their founder in the decades following the founder’s death. Hazrat Inayat Khan understandably did not name his Order after himself, but long-established Sufi custom renders it natural and proper for us, who follow in his footsteps, to honor his memory and confirm our allegiance to his spiritual transmission by taking his name as the rubric of our work.

In consideration of these facts, and moved by a deep sense that the time has come, on this first day of the year 2016, we announce that The Sufi Order International will henceforth be known as The Ināyati Order (pronounced i-NAA-ya-ti). As a fuller designation the Order will be introduced as The Inayati Order: A Sufi Path of Spiritual Liberty. The name Ināyatīyya (i-NAA-ya-TEE-ya) will be considered a welcome synonym and in alignment with traditional nomenclature.

In adopting this name, we make no claim of exclusivity in representing Inayat Khan’s Sufi Message of Spiritual Liberty. Indeed, we affirm all lineages, communities, and organizations linked to him through initiation and devotion as our esteemed friends and allies in the Sufi cause.

The name Ināyat means “lovingkindness.” May the name of our Order remind us always of this vitally important quality of being as we follow the path of service to God and humanity.

© Copyright 2014 Sufi Order Inayati — Seattle