- The main public activity is the Service of Universal Worship which is a non-sectarian, devotional service, highlighting the unity of religious ideals. For other activities see the post “Sufi Message.” Through this service one is able to worship in an atmosphere of unity, without having to give up one’s own religion and thus strengthening one’s own faith.
Hazrat Inayat Khan taught that:
The Universal Worship is not another Church to be included among the variety of existing churches. It is a service which gives an opportunity to those belonging to different religions to worship together. Also it gives practice in paying respect to the Great Ones who have come from time to time to serve humanity. The different scriptures of those who have taught wisdom are read at the altar of the Universal Worship.
The object of the service therefore is to demonstrate the fundamental unity of the great world religions. Whilst each sounds its own note conditioned by the needs of the time in which it arose. They are all derived from one Source and all aspire to the same Ideal.
The religions symbolized on the altar by six candles and six sacred books are:
The highest candle centrally placed represents the Light from which all others are lit – the Godlight – the Source of Light and God’s message.
Each candle on the alter is then lit with each being a symbolic representation through which the Light of Truth has shone.
The second highest candle standing directly below the first, symbolizes the Light of Truth held aloft by the Messengers of God of all ages, known and unknown to the world.
Incense is used with its usual significance that “no prayer reaches God unless it arises from the glowing heart”.
The significance of the emblem on the altar cloth, a winged heart with a five pointed star and a crescent moon – has been rendered in the following words by Hazrat Inayat Khan:
“Verily the heart responsive to the Light of God is liberated”.
This ceremony is followed by the prayer Saum.
Readings are then delivered, illustrating the particular subject of the service from the passages of the scriptures of six of the living world religions and the writings of Hazrat Inayat Khan in the Gayan, (aphorisms) Vadan (poems) or Nirtan (prayers).
Basic similarity, even to the wording, is to be found in these sacred writings in which One Voice can be recognized as speaking through all, that of the Spirit of Guidance, Alpha and omega.
These readings are then followed by the prayer Salat.
In South Africa, where ever possible, ancient sayings of the African tradition are included in the service which echoes the spiritual message of the service.
The understanding of this “Unity in Diversity” creates an atmosphere of mutual tolerance and goodwill with the ideal of realizing “one single brotherhood in the Fatherhood of God” among people of all religions, races and nations.
The leading Cherag (light bearer) then brings a message based on the teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan and the service then concludes with the prayer Khatum, followed by the Blessing.
The first service Universal Worship was introduced to the world by Hazrat Inayat Khan in an impressive ceremony performed on Saturday, May 7th, 1921, at Tragantha Road, London, England.