Reorienting Sufism

Murshida Ivy O. Duce with Meher Baba, 1956

In January 1948, Meher Baba interrupted his work in seclusion to meet with Ivy Duce, the newly appointed murshida (spiritual teacher) of the Sufi Order in America established by the spiritual leader Inayat Khan in 1910. Murshida Duce had come to India seeking guidance from Meher Baba, the reigning spiritual figure of the age. When they met, Meher Baba told her that he had drawn her to him because it was her destiny to lead the ancient path of sufism into a new spiritual age.

“He wanted me to go ahead and work for him in the world building up sufism ... he wanted sufism to spread ... that all would converge under my leadership, and he would help it be so.”
– Murshida Ivy Duce
When Baba came to America in 1952, he brought his draft of a charter creating an entirely new design for sufism. He immediately named his new spiritual school “Sufism Reoriented”.
“Listen very carefully, because for the first time, I am taking personal interest in Sufism. I am very serious about the reoriented Sufism....”
– Meher Baba
Over several days of lengthy meetings with Murshida Duce, Baba told her he wanted to complete the draft charter as a model for future schools under his guidance around the world. Murshida Duce and her associates worked for months to refine the charter under Baba’s direction. Baba reviewed this work with great care, writing to Murshida Duce, “This has to be a real thing to last.”

After spilling his blood on American soil, while recuperating from the auto accident that sealed his covenant with the West, Baba directed his secretary, Adi K. Irani, to write Murshida Duce: “In spite of the present state of health, Baba makes me read to him every day for half an hour on the Charter.”
“The Charter will be applicable to the whole Sufi world and will, by God’s grace, be lasting in its effect and influence.”
– Meher Baba
Baba added to the Charter that those who took formal initiation were to make a “grave, sacred declaration and promise”, invoking God’s presence to bind themselves “to the faithful adherence of the guidance laid down by Meher Baba, and to faith and trust in the Murshid.”

In the Charter, Baba specified that “a Murshid or Murshida ... should necessarily have Divine Vision – the highest state of illumination”.

When Meher Baba returned to India, he completed his work on the formal Charter and signed it with his own hand:

Meher Baba’s signature on the Charter with his given name, M.S. Irani
“Sufism is eternal, but just as it gathered force through Mohammed, so God will reinforce it through me.”

“Sufism Reoriented, emanating from me, to be conceived and practiced, will forge out into one of the few pure channels leading to one God.”
– Meher Baba
Baba wrote Murshida Duce saying, “You make a start with things as they stand at the moment and leave alone both the past and the future to be taken care of by God and the Qutub1 to the endless end as has been the case since the beginningless beginning.”

Baba said he wanted Sufism Reoriented to last for seven hundred years, until he comes again. When asked how the school was to function in the future, he answered:
“The preservation and purity for all times of the Order of Sufism Reoriented must necessarily be left to God and the Qutub.”
– Meher Baba
Until his passing in 1969, Meher Baba worked closely with Murshida Duce to establish Sufism Reoriented in America and supervise its development according to his design. Through these years, his devoted attention to the school reflected what he said in 1952:
“I love Sufism with all my heart.”
– Meher Baba
1. Qutub (literally “hub” or “axis”) is the traditional sufi term for the Perfect Master who is the reigning spiritual authority of the time.
The detailed Story of Meher Baba’s Charter for Sufism Reoriented
The full story is told here of Meher Baba’s creation of Sufism Reoriented in 1952 and its place in his universal work. This three-part illustrated series is reprinted from Glow International and draws from all available archival documents, letters, journals, and records. It is available in pdf format for print or download.