Harmlessness is a good moral, but the difficulty is that
we cannot be good to one without being harmful to another.
For instance, we are good to our cat and we give it lamb's
meat to eat; so we are harmful to the lamb. Or we sacrifice
the vegetable for the sake of being good to the lamb. We
harm the mineral when for the sake of some flowers we put
clay in water, bend and knead it and then put in the fire
in order to make a bowl to hold the flowers. How many things
do we make out of iron, how much do we torment it in order
to make ourselves comfortable? How many things do we make
out of wood? The lives of how many animals do we sacrifice
in order to make ourselves comfortable and happy? As to
ourselves, how much do we sacrifice the benefit, the comfort
of our fellow beings for our own benefit? We do not ponder
upon it, but it is so.
How many things do we make out of the bones of animals?
Our shoes are made out of the skin of animals; the furs
of animals cover us warmly. The flesh of animals we use
for our food. Fishes, which never dreamed of harming us,
we catch in nets. We load burdens upon horses, camels and
elephants, and we take from the calf its share in the form
of milk and butter upon which our everyday's livelihood
depends. This shows that what we have built up and have
comforted ourselves with is nothing else than tyranny –
of which we never stop to think for a while.
We are so placed that we cannot live one instant without
being harmful. In Persian it is said: Bandagi bi-charagi
– bondage is helplessness. Man cannot help being harmful,
and without being that, he is helpless. It is this dependence,
this helplessness, which makes him the servant of God. The
Quran speaks of abd Allah, the servant of God, and
this is the highest title that can be given to man.
The moral is rather to be harmful to the lower creation
for the sake of the higher, rather than to be harmful to
the animal than to man. If a man has stolen your dog, rather
let him have the dog, than have him sent to prison, because
the man is more valuable than the dog. If your child has
hurt the cat a little, and if you shake the child and hurt
it, it is a mistake, because the child is of more value
than the cat. If an animal has eaten your corn, your flowers
and fruits let the corn go, do not break the back of the
animal. By this moral a person becomes so harmless that
in the end he is not harmful any more – not even to the
mineral. Harmlessness is the essence of moral.