THE WORLD FROM MY WINDOW: THE MOSQUE OF CHEBI-- AND MUSLIMS IN SECOND LIFE
For his World from my Window entry, Drown Pharaoh told me about the Mosque in Chebi, next to a Christian cathedral, and of course, that led to a broader conversation on the place of Islam in Second Life. His utterly fascinating insights on Muslims in the metaverse, after the break.
"The windows in my world only let in light, so I have plummed for a view from the minaret, which overlooks the delightful Church of the Holy Mother of God Maria on Chebi sim. [Direct teleport at this link.] The church was built by Marino Nuvolari, who also constructed the mosque I'm standing in, a replica of the Mezquita in Cordoba, Spain. It's a mildly subversive construction, in that Muslims can pray in the Meezquita in Second Life, whereas in the real world, Spanish Muslims are campaigning to be permitted to pray in what is now a Cathedral and a World heritage site. Yet you might be a little surprised to learn Marino is not a Muslim.
"However, no one is surprised when I mention Marino is an artist in real life. Everyone who walks through the mosque courtyard and under its textured arches uses the same word: beautiful. It's also scrupulously authentic, right down to the Moorish caligraphy in the Qur'an. And if you read Arabic, you will recognise it is opened at the chapter called An-Naml (The Ants), a title referring to a legend of Solomon's magic that has enchanted Muslims for over 1400 years. Chebi mosque has certainly cast a similar spell over me. May many others share in its wonder through this, insha Allah (God willing)." [Direct teleport at this link]
Drown Pharaoh (courtesy of his website)
"Defining my experience and perspective of SL as a Muslim, compared to other perspectives, is something I would approach cautiously. I consider myself someone who leans towards the Sufi tradition of Islam, but with a strong sense of solidarity with all Muslims. I have to be honest - I know there are Muslims who visit SL for all the reasons Muslims perhaps shouldn't, such as the cybersex! There are also a number of pious and conservative Muslims on SL, and a whole spectrum in between. For me, this makes SL a unique opportunity to network because its rare to find such a diverse Muslim population in one place in cyberspace, where no single group dominates by owning the site - or in this case, the sim. The fact the mosque is owned by a non-Muslim I'm sure facilitates this levelling. In addition, whereas most real life mosques are divided into male/female areas, Chebi isn't: another example of the Net empowering Muslim women. In short, as a Muslim, I think SL is great.
"I also network outside of the Muslim community - with a sim run by a University and also an in-world library, on educational issues pertaining to both Islam and religious studies. That puts me contact with other religious communities and some very beautiful places - I love the Buddhist Bodhi island, for example - very tranquil! As part of my work for the Peace Park next to the InfoIsland library (a religious studies resource), I have put together some webpages cataloguing sims and saying something briefly about faiths on SL.
"But is mine a particularly Muslim perspective? Actually, I think I fall within the catagory of 'project people', in accordance with Gwyn's analysis. Which is probably why I am currently applying to research a PhD on Muslims on Second Life."
And where in the world do you call home? Take a look at the entire Window series for inspiration, read the details for submitting to NWN's World From My Window series, then send me a screenshot or video link of your SL home or favorite haunt.