What’s in a Name? Changes and Challenges in One Hundred Years of Inayat Khan’s (Inayati) Universal Sufism


  • Celia Genn University of Queensland




Universal Sufism, Inayat Khan, Sufism in Australia


In 2010, the International Sufi Movement celebrated one hundred years of Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Sufi Message in the West. This article draws attention to recent developments within Inayati Sufi groups and identifies how new tensions arising in relation to the religion of Islam pose challenges for the group’s identity and future. Separating Sufism from the exoteric tradition of Islam was part of Inayat Khan’s vision for the future of religion, though Inayati orders honour their origins in, and retain significant strands of the Chishtiyya Sufism of India. This article reveals a mix of tradition and innovation in the group’s history, thought and practice, and a variety of stances toward both Islam and the designation ‘Sufi’. Despite the tensions, this transnational Sufi community remains characterised by an inner core of disciplined ethical spiritual work directed toward self and God realisation, and an ecumenical vision of universal brother and sisterhood, that accommodates seekers from all backgrounds.

Author Biography

Celia Genn, University of Queensland

Celia Genn is an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics at the University of Queensland. She has taught courses in Buddhism, Hinduism and world religions at the University of Queensland and the University of New England, Armidale, as well as courses in sociology and Asian studies at Griffith University in Brisbane. Her primary research interests are Sufism, Asian traditions in the West, and the psychology of religion and spirituality.



How to Cite

Genn, C. (2013). What’s in a Name? Changes and Challenges in One Hundred Years of Inayat Khan’s (Inayati) Universal Sufism. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 26(1), 7–28. https://doi.org/10.1558/arsr.v26i1.7