While meeting with a small group of students, Hazrat Inayat Khan was asked if it was advisable for a mureed to study and to read books.
I would say that there is one thing, to make physical exercises and develop muscles; and there is another way, to learn the way of wrestling, to learn how to bring a person down. These are two different things. The person who does not want to wrestle, he can simply build his muscles and keep in perfect condition. But the one who thinks it is necessary, that he will meet some thieves or robbers in his daily life, that there will come an occasion for boxing, then it is better to know it. Exactly the same with the Sufi. In order to be a Sufi you do not need to read books and develop your knowledge. You develop your intuition, and your daily experiences will teach you wisdom. But if you have to do the work of the Sufi Movement and teach and preach, then it is like wrestling. You will have to wrestle, and you must know the way of wrestling, how to defend yourself, how to express yourself, how to stand firm on your feet. And all those ways can be learnt also by studying more.
Now I shall tell you one little story that will explain more. During the war I lived in England for about six or seven years and never had a chance of speaking at the University. And there came a professor from the United States. He was a scientist, and he came to hear my lecture. After hearing my lecture he said, “I have never believed in God, or soul, or hereafter. So please know that I am an unbeliever. I have come to hear your lecture because you are from another country; I wanted to hear what you said. And what strikes me in your lecture is not what you have said, but only what has been given without saying. And now what I want to ask you is, what is it? What have you given? I have felt that I have received something more tangible than words and their meaning. Now you must tell me what it is, because I do not know what soul and spirit and God are. You have given me something spiritual, but I want to know it scientifically. Do you call it magnetism?” I said, “Please, do not call it magnetism. That is quite different.” He said, “Excuse me, I have no other words to use. Therefore please have patience with me. I want to know more about it.” I said, “All right. If you want to know more about it, I shall allow you to have silence with me alone.” So one day he came to have silence with me. When I was going to sit for silence he said, “Shall I feel your pulse? Or put the thermometer here?” I replied, “Please, do not put any machine.” But he said, “I have got all these machines….” and he put them all on the table. I said, “If you want to put it, put it on yourself.” So he was very amused, also. He said, “All right.” He put it on himself. And after the silence he found the rhythm of his pulsation and of his heart and of his circulation quite changed. In half an hour’s silence, after having been sitting, his rhythm was quite changed. So afterwards he was very surprised and said, “This is something that science has not yet discovered. But I want to catch it.” So, I thought the man was very eager, and sincerely seeking for something, so I told him the three different breaths, Jelal, Jemal, and Kemal, and their influence on the rhythm of breath, and their influence on the body and its influence on the atmosphere. And he listened. Imagine, after listening to that much, he took that principle and went to the zoological garden with the same machines, and tried the tigers and lions from the point of view of Jelal, Jemal, and Kemal, got all the experiences, and wrote two books on that subject, and went to the university. On London University he made such an impression; they said it was quite a new idea; they had never heard about it. He was a stranger but he was given a chair in the university. And then he published books and presented them to me, about Jelal, Jemal, and Kemal. And I said, “Seven years I have lived in England; the university has never even inquired if I lived there. Here this man comes, hears about Jelal, Jemal, and Kemal, weaves upon it, puts it in university terms, and there it has become a great science.”