The Last Song of Inayat Khan

Sufi prayer – Hazrat Inayat Khan                          – a song-bite by Tim McKamey

Inayat Khan, 1882-1927

“Before you judge my actions Lord, I pray you will forgive.
Before my heart has broken, will you help my soul to live?
Before my eyes are covered, will you let me see your face?
Before my feet are tired, may I reach your dwelling place?

Before I wake from slumber, you will watch me, Lord, I hold.
Before I throw my mantle will you take me in your fold?
Before my work is over, You, my Lord, will right the wrong.
Before you play your music, will you let me sing my song?”

The Last Song of Inayat Khan was composed as a prayer in 1926 a few months before he passed from the earthly realm. I set the prayer to music in the summer of 2011. Because I am not schooled in the ancient music that I know Hazrat Inayat Khan preferred, I was hesitant to set the great Master’s words to so humble a tune. Nevertheless this is the musical language I know and the words moved me to sing them. Click here to listen to a recent recording of this song.

     ”A study of ancient traditions reveals that the first divine messages were given in song, as were the Psalms of David, the Song of Solomon, the Gathas of Zoroaster and the Gita of Krishna.” So writes Hazrat Inayat Khan, the great Sufi musician, teacher and writer. I ran across this quote in Kenny Werner’s book Effortless Mastery, Liberating the Master Musician Within. It was like returning home to read this for Inayat Khan’s were some of the first writings I encountered that led me to the path of music and healing. I remember reading The Mysticism of Sound and Music many years ago while attending classes on the Sufi tradition of healing.

     Inayat Khan (July 5, 1882 – February 5, 1927) was the founder of The Sufi Order in the West in 1914 (London) and teacher of Universal Sufism. Though his family background was Muslim, he was also steeped in the Sufi notion that all religions have their value and place in human evolution.

     Inayat was born into a family of musicians in 1882. His grandfather was a well-known musician respected as a composer, performer, and developer of a musical annotation which combined a group of diverse musical languages into one simplified integrated notation.

     The house in which Inayat grew up was a crossroads for visiting poets, composers, mystics, and thinkers. There they met and discussed their views (religious and otherwise) in an environment of openness and mutual understanding. This produced in the young man a sympathy for many different religions, and a strong feeling of the “oneness” of all faiths and creeds.

     Inayat would listen to the evening prayers sung in his household with great interest, and was impressed with the spiritual atmosphere produced by the chanting. From a young age, he was interested in going beyond thinking about religious issues. He wanted a direct “link with God”. He sought this through prayer, meditation and the science of sound and music.

     He developed considerable skill at the Vina (an Indian stringed instrument). At eighteen, he went on a concert tour throughout India intent on reviving some of the older folk songs which were being replaced by more popular melodies. He felt these songs carried a special spiritual quality which was being lost. This brought him some critical acclaim, and he was invited to perform in the courts of Rajas.

In addition to his music, Inayat Khan wrote extensively on the spiritual aspects of music and life. His published works include the following;

The Mysticism of Sound and Music

The Music of Life

The Mysticism of Music, Sound and Word

The Art of Being and Becoming

The Inner Life

Mental Purification and Healing

Mastery Through Accomplishment

The Awakening of the Human Spirit

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