Q: Are Sufis Muslims?

A:  Since much of the historical development of Sufism has been in parts of the world where Islam is the predominant form of religious practice, many Sufis worldwide are Muslims. However, the Sufi Order Ināyati inherits a stream of “universal” Sufism which began in India nearly 800 years ago, affirming the common ideals of all faiths. We do not ask or inculcate an acceptance of any specific religious or philosophical beliefs — even belief in God — nor do we seek to convert anyone from one faith to another. We feel that real development can only take place if people work with what is meaningful for them, and that a deepening of one’s spiritual experience is essential to informed practice within any faith tradition. We create a safe environment where people can feel free to be spiritually open and to discover their own inner truth for themselves.  See About Us.

Q: What is Initiation?  Do I need to be initiated to participate?

A: Many Inayattiya events are open to the public. Beyond that, there are two different kinds of initiation (bayat) that are given. For those people who come in a spirit of love and connection and want to spend time in the community and participate actively, there is the initiation of bay’at-i tabarruk, commonly known as the ashiq initiation or blessing. This is appropriate for persons who are new and are interested in exploring the Inayatiyya path and for people who choose not to pursue the rigorous and focused spiritual study available in the esoteric school.

For those interested in pursuing the spiritual study available in the esoteric school then the initiation of bay’at-i haqiqat is available. This is a path of initiation and mentorship, as well as one of individual study of spiritual teachings; written spiritual teachings actually make a living guide necessary, not optional. “Initiation” signifies a deep commitment to oneself to orient one’s life around personal growth; it is not “membership in the club,” but is a linking of the deep consciousness of the seeker with a profound source of inner guidance and the Initiatic Lineage.  Most classes and activities are open to all, with a few being reserved for those who have made the commitment of taking initiation.

Q: Do I need a teacher or guide?

A: Sufi Initiates (bay’at-i haqiqat) are encouraged to connect with an authorized teacher to receive individualized guidance and instruction in the framework and practices of the Order. The Sufi teacher is not the deified “perfect master” of other traditions, but is rather a spiritual friend who is living a human life, one who has traveled the path ahead and knows the territory. The guidance relationship is one of equal beings whose role and function are different; the role of the Sufi teacher, especially as articulated by Hazrat Inayat Khan, does not assume or promote the teacher as having a position of authority or superiority.  The role of the guide is to see where the student is headed in terms of his/her ideal and to mirror this back to the student, sharing guidance as needed.  For more information about initiation and/or finding a guide, please see our Spiritual Training page.

Q: How are Inayati Order teachers trained?

A: Ināyati teachers undergo a rigorous and lengthy training and mentoring before being authorized by the head of the Order (the “Pir”) to teach, and ongoing training and supervision are a mandatory part of the function of a teacher in this Order. “Representatives” and “Guides” are authorized to confer initiation into the Order and to give and guide the spiritual practices of initiates. A “Retreat Guide” is someone specially trained in guiding the process and practices of individual and group retreats.

Teachers of the Order offer individual spiritual guidance and coaching, and most are authorized to guide personal private spiritual retreats. It is our experience that private spiritual retreat is the most effective method of accelerating one’s personal transformation. One need not be an initiate to make a personal retreat; however, the breakthroughs achieved on retreat are solidified and integrated into one’s life through the personalized  practices which one receives from one’s guide.  For more about spiritual guidance and retreats, please see our Spiritual Training page.

Q: How can I find out more about Sufi teachings?

A:  Please see our Teachings page, attend a class, seminar, or other event (see our Calendar for listings.)  Our teachers and guides are happy to have tea with you or answer your questions via email.  Books and other resources are available at Omega Publications and Suluk Press; an independent publishing house specializing in the classical and contemporary literature of Sufism, with a special focus on the universal spiritual teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan and his successors, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan and Pir Zia Inayat-Khan.


The Inayati Order invites and encourages the full participation of people of all faith traditions (or none at all), all ethnicities, ancestries, sexual orientations, and gender identities. We recognize that all-inclusivity in our membership is like species and genetic diversity in a healthy and evolving natural system. We embrace the challenges of inclusivity as being in alignment with the attitude of fearless inquiry implicit in the nature of the spiritual path.

© Copyright 2014 Sufi Order Inayati — Seattle