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."
forbade cruelty to animals, saying in the Hadith popular tradition,
is kind to the creatures of God is kind to himself."
Similarly, Mohammed 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
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.
Extract from "A History of God"
by Karen Armstrong