Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan (1916- 2004) was the eldest son and spiritual successor of Hazrat Pir-O-Murshid Inayat Khan, the first Sufi master to teach in the West. Born in England, Vilayat Inayat Khan was educated at the Sorbonne, Oxford, and Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris. During World War II he served in the British Royal Navy and was assigned the duties of mine sweeping during the invasion at Normandy. His sister, Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan served in the French section of SOE as a radio operator. She was captured and later executed at Dachau concentration camp.
After the war, Pir Vilayat pursued his spiritual training by studying with masters of many different religious traditions throughout India and the Middle East. While honoring the initiatic tradition of his predecessors, in his teachings Pir Vilayat continually adapted traditional Eastern spiritual practices in keeping with the evolution of Western consciousness. Throughout his life, he was an avid student of many religious and spiritual traditions, incorporating the rich mystical heritage of East and West into his teachings, and adding to it the scholarship of the West in music, science, and psychology. He taught in the tradition of Universal Sufism, which views all religions as rays of light from the same sun.
Pir Vilayat initiated and participated in many international and interfaith conferences promoting understanding and world peace as well as convening spiritual and scientific leaders for public dialogues. In 1975 he founded the Abode of the Message in New Lebanon, New York, which continues to serve as the central residential community of the Inayati Order, a conference and retreat center, and a center of esoteric study. He also founded the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, a flourishing learning center, and published many books on aspects of meditation and realization.