Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan

Seven grades of the spiritual hierarchy
The unity of religious ideals
Part I, Book 3, chapter III
(Suresnes, 24 August 1923)
Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan


There are seven grades of those in the spiritual hierarchy recognized by the Sufis: Pir, Buzurg, Wali, Ghauth, Qutb, Nabi, Rasul . These are degrees which come from the inner initiations. One becomes entitled to the inner initiations on having received the outer initiations which are necessary.

It is beyond words to express what inner initiation means and in what form it is given. Those to whom inner initiation is unknown may explain it as a dream or as a vision, but in reality it is something higher and greater than that. I can only explain it by saying that the definite changes, which take place during one's journey through the spiritual path, are initiations, and it is these initiations which include man in the spiritual hierarchy.

In the life of a saint or a master there are five degrees that are known, and in the two last degrees the progress of the saint and of the master is silent. But in the life of the prophet these seven degrees manifest to view. For a saint or a master there is one facility: he can do his work avoiding the notice of the world. But the life of the prophet necessitates his coming into the world and thus, as he progresses from grade to grade through his life, he cannot very well cover himself from the gaze of the world, however much he may want to. The sage of every category - saint, master or prophet - at every degree always prefers not to be known to the world, and as he progresses that desire increases. It is not only out of modesty or humbleness, but also for the protection of the spiritual ideal which has developed in him, for it attracts dangers of all sorts by being exposed to the common gaze. All beauty is veiled by nature, and the higher the beauty the more it is covered. That makes it easy for a wise person to find out the difference between a true prophet and a false prophet, for one beats his drums and the other tries to keep in the background - if only his work in the world would let him keep back. It is his efforts in accomplishing something that bring him to the notice of the world. However, his longing is to be unknown, for the one who really deserves being known is God alone.

The work of the Pir is helping individuals towards the unfoldment of their soul. The work of the Buzurg is to help by the power of his soul those who wish to advance spiritually. The Wali controls a community, keeping it on the right track. The Ghauth helps its spiritual well-being. Qutb spiritually governs a country, a nation. Nabi elevates individuals and bears a divine Message. Rasul is the one who has fulfilled the Message he has borne.



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