Sufism Empowers Women

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Biography – Noor Inayat Khan

Noor Inayat Khan lived a remarkable life of self sacrifice for the cause of freedom. Brought up in the mystical Sufi tradition, Noor abhored violence but she willingly volunteered for the dangerous task of being a secret agent in occupied France.

Noor was the great great great granddaughter of the celebrated Muslim ruler of Mysore – Tipu Sultan, who in the 18th Century fought the British, stemming their advance into South India. Ever after the British held the family with high suspicion but her father Hazrat Inayat Khan did not pursue a political path. Instead Hazrat Inayat Khan was responsible for bringing the great spiritual tradition of Sufi mysticism to the West. In particular Hazrat emphasized the role of music as a means of promoting spiritualityHazrat Inayat Khan married an American, Ora Meena Ray Baker Noor (distantly related to Mary Eddy Baker founder of the Christian Science movement) The couple married in Paris and settled in Russia. Hazrat Inayat Khan was also the father of Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan who was later to take on the leadership of the Sufi order in the West.

Noor was born in Russia in 1914 and after a brief spell living inEngland the family relocated to France. Noor believed in the principles of ahimsa (non violence) but in the face of overwhelming Nazi aggression of 1939-40 she felt compelled to take an active role in the liberation of Europe. (see link at end for her discussion of non violence with her brother Pir Vilayat) Therefore Noor decided to flee France and getting on one of the last boats to England, she was able to sign up in the WAAF (the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) where she trained as a wireless operator.  Since Noor stood out as an accomplished wireless operator and was also bilingual in French and English she was invited to join the SOE on a perilous mission as a radio operative in occupied France. She was told about the potential dangers but Noor was quite eager to participate and also working as a radio operative did not compromise her principles of non violence. (read more here)

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