Facing Islamophobic campaigns in the real world, Muslims are turning to the virtual world of Second Life to elucidate the teachings of Islam and clear stereotypes in the computer-generated world.
"We meet hundreds of avatars every month to explain the pillars and teachings of Islam," Second Life resident Mohammad Yusuf told IslamOnline.net correspondent in the virtual world.
Yusuf, a Sweden-based Saudi psychiatrist, said the know-Islam campaign he launched along with other Second Life Muslims has attracted non-Muslims.
"Hundreds of curious avatars of different nationalities want to know more about Islam," he said.
Yusuf, 39, said three Christian visitors have reverted to Islam.
Second Life is a virtual world entirely built and owned by its booming population, currently estimated at nearly nine million.
In the animated world, real people use proxies, called avatars, to "live" alternate identities in a virtual community, complete with homes, cars and shopping malls.
The cyber world has its own economy and virtual currency, known as Linden Dollars, in honor of Second Life creator Linden Lab.
Yusuf has further joined the board of the virtual Mosque of Chebi, where he preaches Islam and teach visitors mosque etiquette.
He teaches them how to perform ablution, pray and recite the Noble Qur'an, and helps women put on hijab available in a large clay-colored pot by the mosque's main doors.
"We are now seeking to hold the weekly Friday prayers at the mosque as well as conducting humanitarian activities," said Yusuf.
Designed as a virtual version of the Mezquita (Mosque) de Cordoba in Spain, the Mosque of Chebi is the most famous Islamic worship place in Second Life.
Decorated with Islamic architecture, the mosque has a minaret and a prayer niche indicating to qiblah (direction of the Ka`bah).
Inside the mosque, there are interactive copies of the Noble Qur'an and the English translation of its meanings.
Nearly 1,500 avatars are visiting the virtual mosque every month, including non-Muslims.
"I'm eager to visit the mosque every day," said Andromeda Felepine, Christian.
"I feel relieved whenever I come here and don hijab. It really makes me happy to know more about Islam."
Andromeda believes that Islam can explain itself better in Second Life than in the real world.
"Muslims here are quite moderate," she said.
Nearby, there is an Islamic center being constructed.
"We're building this center to promote Islam, especially the Sufi school," said Drawn Fero, British, who is supervising the construction of the Tasneem center.
Second Life residents say that the real world is increasingly materializing in their alternative universe.
Spotting a lucrative market, real corporations, including Dell, MTV and Reuters, are flocking to set up virtual offices in Second Life.
Nations are even opening embassies, with Sweden the first to have an official presence in the virtual world.
Last Mod: 25 Ağustos 2007, 23:49