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All of the Koran's 114 chapters except one begins with the phrase "Allah is merciful and compassionate." A Muslim is expected to recognize the brotherhood of man and should treat a non-Muslim as a brother. Showing compassion and charity, Muslims believe, is doing service to God. Therefore, it is written in the Koran "No man is a true believer unless he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. God will not be affectionate to that man who is not affectionate to God's creatures. Assist any person oppressed whether he is Muslim or non-Muslim."
Mohammed repeatedly forbade cruelty to animals, saying in the Hadith popular tradition, "Whoever is kind to the creatures of God is kind to himself." Similarly, Mohmammed taught "A good deed done to a beast is as good as doing good to a human being; while an act of cruelty to a beast is as bad as an act of cruelty to a human being." The Koran (6:38) explains that such benevolence flows directly from God: "There is not an animal on Earth, nor a bird that flies on it's wings, but they are communities like you." The Koran does permit meat-eating, but its also encourages healthful foods (which, many Muslims conclude, does not include animal products). Given these traditions, many Shi'ite Muslims and the Islamic mystics, such as the Sufis, see vegetarianism as the Islamic ideal and choose this diet.
Islam teaches non-violence, except in extreme conditions in which God calls upon Muslims to fight in God's name -- Jihad. However, since militant groups receive most media attention, many people misunderstand Mohammad's largely pacifist message.

 

For further information, see Islam Veg, and Karen Armstrong, A History of God.

 

 

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