Hazrat Inayat Khan, (1882-1927) founder of the Sufi Order International, came to the West as a representative of the highest musical traditions of his native India, and brought with him a message of love, harmony and beauty that was both the quintessence of Sufi teaching and a revolutionary approach to the harmonizing of Western and Eastern spirituality. He dedicated his early life to the mastery of subtle intricacies of classical Indian music, winning the high title of Tansen from the Nizam of Hyderabad, a powerful ruler and renowned patron of the musical arts. In fulfillment of his quest for a spiritual teacher, Inayat Khan took initiation from Shaykh al-Mashaykh Sayed Muhammed Abu Hashim Madani. While he was an inititator of the four main Sufi lineages in India, Madani's primary connection was with the Chishti Order. At the end of his apprenticeship, Inayat Khan was enjoined by his teacher to travel to the West and harmonize the two cultures. On September 13 of 1910 Inayat Khan began an odyssey which would encompass three continents, and transform the lives of thousands. He eventually settled in Suresnes, a suburb of Paris.
"Inayat Khan opened a new chapter in Sufi history when he brought Sufism from India to North America and Europe in the early twentieth century. Founded in London in 1918, Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Sufi Order represents both a faithful continuation of the fourfold lineage he inherited from his predecessors and a visionary renewal of Sufi thought and practice attuned to the needs of today’s world. Hazrat’s esoteric teachings provide a potent framework for the transformation of human consciousness, while his exoteric teachings trace a glowing template for the spiritual reconstruction of society.In Hazrat Inayat Khan’s lifetime his Order was active in the United States, Europe, and India. It has since spread further afield. Once contained in a single organization, several groups working along parallel tracks now maintain and transmit its traditions. While these groups vary in their emphasis on the original form of Hazrat’s teaching and practice, their common heritage remains a basis of shared spiritual culture. For all who light their candle from his lamp, Hazrat Inayat Khan is Murshid (the Guide)." Pir Zia Inayat-Khan from the introduction to Caravan of Souls