A Pearl in Wine: Essays on the Life, Music and Sufism of Hazrat Inayat Khanby Zia Inayat Khan
Western Sufism�s claim to be an authentic continuation of the classical Sufi tradition receives a strong and solid voice of support in the new book published this June by Omega Publications, A Pearl in Wine: Essays on the Life, Music and Sufism of Hazrat Inayat Khan. The anthology, edited by Hazrat Inayat Khan�s grandson Zia Inayat Khan, contains thirteen essays by twelve authors, presenting new perspectives on the biography, the musical career, and the Sufi teaching of the man who introduced the Sufi tradition to audiences in Europe and the United States early in the 20th century.
The work is structured to gain acceptance by scholars in the field of religion, including extensive documentation for the information provided, and it contains a significant number of brief translations (mainly from Persian, Arabic and Urdu) from texts not previously available in English. Scholars who have reviewed the text have praised it as "a treasure of indispensable firsthand sources" and "a valuable contribution to the study of spirituality."
Beyond its academic market, however, A Pearl in Wine also addresses an audience interested in living an authentic spiritual life. It demonstrates that the Sufi tradition as presented in the West by Hazrat Inayat Khan, and those who have succeeded him and carried on his teaching, is clearly connected� both by initiatic link and by a thematic emphasis on love and service�to the classical Sufism found in premodern societies of Persia and India.
There is also a clear presentation of Inayat Khan�s ancestors, in particular his grandfather Mawlabakhsh, who is a legendary figure in the field of Indian classical music during the 19th century. Mawlabakhsh was instrumental in the transition of Indian music from a closed and primarily hereditary social structure, with limited access for the general population, to a more egalitarian and open system of musical education and training.
Hazrat Inayat Khan, who is known to have resembled Mawlabakhsh closely in character, carried the Sufi tradition to the West from India in 1910, as one of the first Sufi masters to actively teach in Europe and the United States. His teaching, in effect, seeks to take Sufism out of the somewhat closed and hereditary structures of its past, and open the mystical path and teachings to all those who are serious enough to study and pursue the way.
A Pearl in Wine includes a concise overview of Hazrat Inayat Khan�s teaching, written by his son Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. There are also memoirs written by Peter Lamborn Wilson, Wali Ali Meyer and Raden Ayou Jodjana, each of which suggests ways in which Hazrat Inayat Khan�s influence has proceeded down through time since his death in 1927. The section by Wali Ali Meyer is somewhat a history of Sufism in California, and focuses in large part on the experiences of Murshid Samuel Lewis. Lewis, a direct student of Inayat Khan, worked extensively with the hippies in San Francisco during the late 1960's, and founded what has come to be known as the Dances of Universal Peace, now a worldwide organization.
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