February 5 marks the Urs of Sufi teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan that will be held at his mausoleum in Delhi. As a part of this event, special Sufi trails are being organised by international tour operators for followers of this Indian mystic who took Sufism to the West.
Abu Hashim Madani's dargah in Purana Pul and Aastan-e-Kaleemi in Tolichowki (both in old Hyderabad) — mausoleums of the great teachers of Hazrat Inayat Khan feature prominently on the list.
It was in Hyderabad that the musician became a spiritual guru. His grandson Zia Inayat Khan, in his work A Pearl in Wine: Essays on the Life, Music and Sufism of Hazrat Inayat Khan, chronicles Hazrat Inayat Khan's stay in the city.
A noted veena artiste and composer, Hazrat Inayat Khan was patronised by the sixth Nizam Mehboob Ali Pasha. He received rave reviews from officials in the royal court and the lofty title of ‘Tansen al Zaman' from the Nizam himself. During his stay in Hyderabad, he penned Minar -i-Musiqar — a treatise on music and had plans to open his own music school on the lines of the Gayanshala in Baroda started by his maternal grandfather Mawlabakhsh, a maestro in Hindustani and Carnatic music traditions alike.
Many would not know that Noor Inayat Khan, the World War II hero executed by the Germans in the Dachau Concentration Camp, was the daughter of Hazrat Inayat Khan and Ora Ray Baker.
Life changing meeting
A chance meeting with his spiritual teachers, Abu Hashim Madani and Syed Mohammed Hasan Jeeli Kaleemi, the latter a Sufi master in the then Tolichowki village, changed his life though.
“Madani was a follower of my grandfather as was Hazrat Inayat Khan. Inayat Khan delved into Sufism during his stay in Hyderabad,” said Syed Mohd. Rasheed-ul Hasan Jeeli Kaleemi, popularly known as Pir Rasheed — the only living descendant of the Chishti order founded by his grandfather Syed Mohammad Hasan Jeeli Kaleemi.
“Hazrat Inayat Khan travelled extensively. He held summer school on Sufism in Suresnes, France and went to Russia and England. The Sufi order founded by him there is now called the Sufi Order International, headquartered in the U.S. He returned to India in 1927 and died after a brief illness. His body was laid to rest near the dargah of Nizamuddin Auliya. His son Vilayat Inayat Khan was my father Syed Mohd. Fakhrul Hasan Jeeli Kaleemi's disciple,” recollected Pir Rasheed, as he got ready to leave for Hazrat Inayat Khan's Urs.
Today Hope Project, started by Vilayat Inayat Khan, takes up community health, livelihood and education-related works in the slums near Hazrat Nizamuddin dargah keeping Hazrat Inayat Khan's Sufi philosophy as a guiding principle.
But sadly for the city that saw Inayat Khan's transformation from a musician into a mystic and then a mureed or disciple, his teacher Madani's tomb in the old city lies in a decrepit condition with the history unheard of by many in its vicinity.