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The Sciences

Second Life in Islam: Virtual Reality Hits the Muslim World

Reality BaseBy Melissa LafskyDecember 10, 2008 3:24 AM

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It's always interesting when technology and religion/culture collide like Mac trucks. The BBC reports that Muxlim Pal, the first virtual world aimed at the Muslim community, is now live in Beta, and will officially launch in 2009. The site, aimed at "Muslims in Western nations," is based on the standard virtual world model popularized by The Sims and the eponymous Second Life. Each player gets an avatar that can be fitted with a number of inventory and wardrobe options including hijabs. Avatars can earn and spend currency, though the creators haven't set up any of the money-making systems pervasive in Second Life. Each avatar multiple "meters" governing its "happiness, fitness, knowledge and spirituality that change when the character carries out tasks in the social world." Mohamed El-Fatatry, the founder of the parent site, Muxlim.com, stresses that the focus of the site is not religion itself—of the 26 different content categories on the site, only one is religion. Rather, the focus is on creating a space for Muslim culture in the virtual realm:

"We are not a religious site, we are a site that is focused on the lifestyle... This is for anyone who is remotely interested in the Muslim culture and the Muslim lifestyle."

The English-only virtual world is equipped with a beach bar, arena, and shopping areas, and each user is given a private room to decorate. As for content, it's no bacchanalian Second Life: Any content portraying violence, drugs, sexual references or profanity can be flagged by users and quickly removed. Related: RB: People Are Racist in the Virtual World, Too

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