As a Muslim living in America, I know what it is like to feel like a minority. But a recent Pew Forum study suggests that Islam is making inroads towards the cultural mainstream.
According to the survey, one out of four people worldwide is Muslim, and the countries with the largest numbers of Muslims might surprise you. India, for example, which is a majority-Hindu country, is home to the largest number of Muslims outside Indonesia and Pakistan. Russia, China, and Germany (my birthplace) also have large Muslim populations.
In an effort to reach out to the growing Muslim community, a new Web site, IslamicConcern.com, has just launched which includes hadiths (sayings from the Prophet Muhammad PBUH) and quotations from the Qur'an and Islamic leaders about compassion for all of God's creation—including animals.
At IslamicConcern.com, people can learn about how modern factory farming techniques—such as branding animals, amputating their tails and castrating them without anesthetics, and burning off birds' beaks—violate the Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) teachings to cause no pain to an animal before she or he is slaughtered. Animals raised for food are often fed the ground-up bodies of pigs, chickens, and cattle, along with chicken excrement and other waste products as a supplement in their food, making their flesh haram (forbidden).
Even if you aren't a Muslim, I encourage you to check out IslamicConcern.com. You might be interested to learn how much Islamic teachings about kindness to animals have in common with Christianity, Judaism, and other major religions.