Hazrat Inayat: Thou Shalt not Kill?

The following question and perhaps surprising answer were recorded following an address to Cherags and Sirajs of the Universal Worship.  Hazrat Inayat Khan  makes it clear that such matters are not so easily classified as black and white or wrong and right.  In this context we could also remember that when he was asked if he was an optimist or a pessimist, he replied, “An optimist, but with open eyes.”

Q. : “Thou shalt not kill, and love thy neighbour as thyself,” is written in the Bible. Has then the State the right to condemn someone to death?

A. : This was not said to the State, it was said to the individual.  The State is responsible for many individuals; therefore its right and law is different.  Suppose that it were possible that the Christian countries could obey this law, there would not have been war or any kind of killing.  Human nature is such that it comes from the animal nature; every man does not live by the law of a Christian.  Every man is born selfish, every man wants to get all he wants, even at the sacrifice of the life of another.  If the revolver or the sword were not used at all, it is a beautiful thing, but what would happen?  Should all human beings think as a saint thinks?  The law given by Christ to his disciples was given to those who were seeking God and truth.  Is it everybody who is seeking God and truth? Everybody is living for the struggle of life.  Therefore in all cases the law that is given for an individual is not applicable for all, although one cannot deny the beauty of the teaching, which will certainly help those who take the path of truth in the search of love and kindness.

But then I shall tell you another thing.  In this place it is said, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’  In another place Christ has said to unsheathe the sword. If the sword was not for any use, or was to be condemned, there would not have been that suggestion.  But besides this : if the religion of Christ has spread into the world, one cannot take away the credit of the sword.  The blood of the martyrs is the foundation of the Church, those who exposed themselves for the Cause, for the Message.  Without them the world would not have known the Message of Christ; few would have known, and then it would have been extinguished.  it was meant that it should be so.  The sword has its place in bringing the Message of the Master; not only in the life and mission of Christ, but in the mission of the great Hindu teachers, Rama and Krishna.  Moses, who was before Christ, he had to take the sword.  Although the sword is something which today we do not need so much for religion, but it could not have been condemned at the time when it was necessary.  Even today, if all the nations decided that there should be no arms, the police will have to have swords just the same.  The condition of the world and human nature will not allow for the world to exist without a sword at the present time.  We may hope that in the future man may evolve, that there will be no necessity for the sword, but now it cannot be practical.

Psychology must not be forgotten when discussing moral principles.  Moral principle teaches us that we should be kind, forgiving, that we should give our life even, if it was asked, for love, truth, kindness.  But would that mean that we should go before a lion and tell him : ‘Here is my life, a prey for you, please come and eat me’? For the lion will never understand the principle; he will be only too glad to eat you.  There are human beings worse than the lion.  Even the lion might understand your principle, but not some men, and there are many men like this.  What will you do with them?  They will take your life and all that you have besides.  The lion will leave the bones, but such a human being will not; he will even use the skin and every bit of one.

Balance is the great thing: to understand morals and to understand psychology.  When there is a divergence between these two things, then the religion becomes unbalanced.  Religion is not only for saints; saints do not need it.  Religion must have a balance which is sent by the messengers from time to time, in order to give the same religion which is given before all men, to understand what is right for him and what is truly asked of him by God.

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