We Rubies Four
The Memoirs of Claire Ray Harper (Khairunisa Inayat Khan)
by Claire Ray Harper and David Ray Harper
We Rubies Four traverses continents and historic eras through Claire Ray Harper’s vivid memoirs of life in the Inayat Khan family. With ancestral roots in both the East and the West, this remarkable family endured through World War I, the Great Depression, the traumatic events of World War II, and the postwar years, all the while cultivating a unique heritage of music and poetry, mysticism and heroism.
Born Khairunisa Inayat Khan, Claire was the youngest child of American Ora Ray Baker and Indian Hazrat Inayat Khan. Ora Ray spent her young adult years in the household of her half-brother Pierre Bernard, who introduced yoga to the United States; and there she studied the vina under the tutelage of her future husband. Hazrat Inayat Khan belonged to a family of respected classical musicians and Sufi mystics. Traveling from his native India to Europe and the United States, Inayat Khan introduced new audiences to Eastern music and established the first school of Sufism in the West. After the marriage of Ora Ray and Hazrat Inayat Khan, their family lived in Russia and England before finding a more permanent home in France.
Claire’s older sister, Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan was a harpist and a poet, a student of child psychology and a published author of children’s stories. During World War II, Noor-un-nisa joined Great Britain’s secret service to work undercover in occupied Paris under the code name Madeleine. Captured and tortured by the Nazis, she was executed at Dachau. To honor her courage and sacrifice, Noor-un-nisa was posthumously awarded Great Britain’s George Cross, and France’s Croix de Guerre with Gold Star.
The oldest brother Vilayat was a cellist and a student of philosophy and psychology who served as an officer on a British minesweeper in the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Following postwar careers as a journalist and a diplomat, Pir Vilayat later traveled extensively, teaching meditation, writing and speaking on Sufism as the head of the Sufi Order International.
Hidayat was Claire’s second brother; he continued the family musical and mystical traditions as a violinist and a professor of music, a conductor and a composer, and as Representative-General of the International Sufi Movement.
Claire trained as a pianist and a nurse, and during World War II she worked in British hospitals and in Dr. Heatley’s penicillin laboratory. Following the war, Claire moved between the United States and Europe while working and raising her son David. David’s own account carries the family history into the next generation.