The Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan      



Social Gathekas

Religious Gathekas

The Message Papers

The Healing Papers

Vol. 1, The Way of Illumination

Vol. 1, The Inner Life

Vol. 1, The Soul, Whence And Whither?

Vol. 1, The Purpose of Life

Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound and Music

Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound

Vol. 2, Cosmic Language

Vol. 2, The Power of the Word

Vol. 3, Education

Vol. 3, Life's Creative Forces: Rasa Shastra

Vol. 3, Character and Personality

Vol. 4, Healing And The Mind World

Vol. 4, Mental Purification

Vol. 4, The Mind-World

Vol. 5, A Sufi Message Of Spiritual Liberty

Vol. 5, Aqibat, Life After Death

Vol. 5, The Phenomenon of the Soul

Vol. 5, Love, Human and Divine

Vol. 5, Pearls from the Ocean Unseen

Vol. 5, Metaphysics, The Experience of the Soul Through the Different Planes of Existence

Vol. 6, The Alchemy of Happiness

Vol. 7, In an Eastern Rose Garden

Vol. 8, Health and Order of Body and Mind

Vol. 8, The Privilege of Being Human

Vol. 8a, Sufi Teachings

Vol. 9, The Unity of Religious Ideals

Vol. 10, Sufi Mysticism

Vol. 10, The Path of Initiation and Discipleship

Vol. 10, Sufi Poetry

Vol. 10, Art: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Vol. 10, The Problem of the Day

Vol. 11, Philosophy

Vol. 11, Psychology

Vol. 11, Mysticism in Life

Vol. 12, The Vision of God and Man

Vol. 12, Confessions: Autobiographical Essays of Hazat Inayat Khan

Vol. 12, Four Plays

Vol. 13, Gathas

Vol. 14, The Smiling Forehead

By Date




Towards Manifestation


Guardian Angel

Recording Angels

Questioning Angels




Vol. 1, The Soul, Whence And Whither?

Questioning Angels

The ancient belief was that after a dead person is put into his grave and buried, two angels come to ask him questions, and by this cross-examination to prove their arguments for and against. Their names are Munkir and Nakir.

There is a story in the Bible that Jacob wrestled with an angel all night; and before the breaking of the dawn Jacob won, and the angel asked his name, blessed him, and gave him a new name.

The interpretation of this is that the illuminated souls of the angels coming into contact with earthly beings are in conflict, and that conflict ends when man has given up his earthly point of view and has adopted the heavenly point of view. Then there is no more a conflict, but a blessing.

And the asking of the name is a paradox, for when once the false ego is crushed, the soul does not know what its real name is; for the old name belongs to the false ego, and he is given the true name, Israel, the great Name of God. In reality there is only one kind of angel; but their relation with human beings, and their desire to experience life through human beings, divides them into nine degrees. Then there is a belief that there are angels who are the inhabitants of heaven, and others who live in the contrary place; those of the heaven are called Nur, light, and the others Nar which means fire in Arabic. This is an extreme point of view; in reality, they can be distinguished as two kinds, Jelal and Jemal, Angels of Power and Angels of Beauty. A question arises as to why the angels who descend on earth as angels do not come as human beings, for every human being was originally an angel. The angels who are related with human beings are souls now in the angelic world, and they keep connection with human beings because of their wish; and now that they have returned from the earthly regions to the angelic heavens, they still keep in touch with the earth, either being on a certain duty or because of their own pleasure.

The angelic spheres, the highest heavens, are the spheres of light which are called Nur; and that current of power which runs through the divine Sun causes rays to spread, each ray being an angel or a soul. It is the divine current which is really Nafs, the breath, or the ego. Breath is the ego, and ego is the breath. When the breath has left the body, the ego has gone. The nature of this current, which spreads as a ray and which is a life-current, is to collect and to create. It collects the atoms of the sphere through which it is turning; and it creates out of itself all that it can create. Therefore in the angelic heavens, which is the sphere of radiance, the soul collects the atoms of radiance. A Sufi poet of Persia has given a most beautiful expression of this idea in a verse: "A glow garbed with a flame came." Before the angels were conceived by artists in the form of human beings they were symbolized as burning lamps; from this comes the custom of lighting candles in religious services, showing thereby to some extent what the angels were like before they became human souls.

In the ancient scriptures it is mentioned that human beings produced angels by their virtues; but this is only a symbological expression; it is not that human beings produced angels by their virtues, but that their virtues lifted their souls to the angels. One may ask, "If the souls who have settled in the angelic heaven are angels, then what makes them come to the earth?" The answer is that it is not the angels who have settled in the angelic heaven who come to the earth; for these rays have finished their creative power in manifesting as angels. If they had had a greater power they would certainly have gone farther, even to the physical plane, and would preferably have manifested as human beings; for the desire of every soul is to reach the culmination in manifestation, and that culmination is the stage of the human plane.

It is the work of the souls who return from the earth to communicate with the earth very often, and it is such angels who are generally known to man. Angels who have never manifested as men on earth, only experience life on earth by the medium of other minds and bodies, which by their evolution come closer to the angelic heavens. They take these as their instruments, and at times reflect themselves in them, and at times have them reflected in themselves. This is not obsession, but inspiration.

Souls in the angelic heavens live as a breath. The soul in its nature is a current; a current the nature of which is to envelop itself with all that may come along and meet it on its way. The soul collects all that comes to it, therefore it becomes different from its original condition. Yet in its real being the soul is a vibration, the soul is a breath, the soul is intelligence, and the soul is the essence of the personality.

The question very often arises, "If an angel comes from above, does it descend outwardly before a person; or manifest within a person in the heart?" The "lift" which brings a soul down and takes it back to heaven is situated within; that "lift" is the breath; the soul comes to earth with the breath, and with the same breath it returns. Those among human beings who are not even aware of their own breath, how can they know who comes within themselves and who goes out? Many seem wide awake to the life without, but asleep to the life within; and though the chamber of their heart is continually visited by the hosts of heaven, they do not know their own heart; they are not there.

There is a very interesting story told in the Arabic scriptures. It is that God made Iblis the chief among the angels, and then told him to bring some clay that He might make out of it an image. The angels, under the direction of Iblis [Satan], brought the clay and made an image; then God breathed into that image, and asked the angels to bow before it. All the angels bowed; but Iblis said, "Lord, Thou hast made me the chief of all angels, and I have brought this clay at Thy command, and made with my own hands this image which Thou commandest me to bow before." The displeasure of God arose and fell on his neck as the sign of the outcast.

This story helps us to understand what Jesus Christ meant when He said, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." What Iblis denied was the reflection of God in man; and one can observe the same law in every direction of life. A person may be rich in wealth or high in position, but he still must obey the policeman; it is not the rank and wealth which the latter has, but in him is reflected the power of the government, and when a man takes no heed of the policeman, he refuses to obey the law of the state. In everything small or great it is the same law; and in every person there is a spark of this tendency of Iblis; the tendency which we know as egotism, the tendency to say, "No, I will not listen; I will not give in; I will not consider. Because of what? Because of "I"; because "I am." But there is only one "I"--the perfect "I." He is God, whose power is mightier than any power existing in the world, whose position is greater than that of anyone; and He shows it in answer to the egotistic tendency of man, who is limited. This is expressed in the saying, "Man proposes, but God disposes." It is this thought which teaches man the virtue of resignation, which shows him that the "I" he creates is a much smaller "I", and that there is no comparison between this "I" and the "I" of the great Ego, God.

Another story tells how frightened the soul was when it was commanded to enter the body of clay; it was most unwilling, not from pride, but from fear. The soul, whose nature is freedom, whose dwelling-place is heaven, whose comfort it is to be free and to dwell in all the spheres of existence, for that soul to dwell in a house made of clay was most terrifying. Then God asked the angels to play and sing, and the ecstasy that was produced in the soul by hearing that music made it enter the body of clay, where it became captive to death.

The interpretation of this idea is, that the soul, which is pure intelligence and angelic in its being, had not the least interest in dwelling in the physical plane, which robs it of its freedom and makes it limited. But what interested the soul, and made it come into the body, is what this physical world offers to the senses; and this produces such an intoxication that it takes away for the moment the thought of heaven from the soul, and so the soul becomes captive in the physical body. What is Cupid? Is not Cupid the soul? It is the soul; the angel going towards manifestation, the angel which has arrived at its destination, the human plane; and before it manifests there it is Cupid.