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Tuesday, March 20, 2007


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CoyoteAngel Dimsum

It would be interesting to hear various imams' takes on the representation of the human form in VREs.

Traditionally, representations of other-than-abstract forms are forbidden in mosques, aren't they? Could an "orthodox" Muslim use SecondLife? What if they never left mouse-mode and thus never saw themselves represented onscree?



Laetizia Coronet

As far as I know, as a former student of Arabic, representations of humans are not allowed (as it is perceived as trying to imitate Creation and therefore Allah himself), but in the arts and culture in many Muslim cultures there is a lot of it, even in mosques. I visited a rather strict one here in Holland which sported a poster explaining the prayer rituals through a series of pictures of a man going through the motions. His face was, however, blanked out.

All Muslim countries finally succumbed to television... not until after some debate though. Depending on the future importance of SL I guess it will undergo the same scrutiny before being grudgingly accepted.


Drown's the no. 1 authority on one of the most intriguing yet understudied phenomena in Second Life: religion and spirituality and their manifestations in the virtual world. His research will be groundbreaking both for the study of virtual worlds and the academic understanding of what religion "is." Be sure to chat with him when you get the chance.

CoyoteAngel, you make a good point. However, based on my admittedly small set of experiences with the community at Chebi, there are several practicing Muslims that some may call "conservative" or "orthodox" who have quite comfortably made Chebi their online home. The rules about graven images are followed in the mosque - their are no depictions of reality save for the geometric abstractions both in architecture and in texture that Marino has brought to life. However, the more nuanced point I think you're making is whether or not the avatars themselves are graven images. Frankly, and again I draw from my experiences with Chebi, Second Life has done an impressive job in simulating and augmenting reality, which I guess is what the Lindens were aiming for. That being said, the avatars are less graven images and more virtual manifestations of the users behind them - just as a Muslim has one set of clothes to convey his identity as "wedding guest," and another to convey his identity as "attending mosque," and yet another to convey his identity as "visitor to friends," I think avatars are not detached, little depictions of creatures that are moving about on the screen (and thus graven images), but a set of virtual "clothes" (but more extensive) that an individual puts on to be "virtual."

When my "avatar" visits the Mosque, I feel compelled to take of my avatar's shoes... because, really, it's me visiting that Mosque, and while that Mosque never can be real in the strictest sense of the term, it does harbor a rather noticeable social and cultural reality.

On the other hand, Second Life does bestow we mere humans with fantastic powers of creation that make us almost god-like... something that may challenge the humility mandated not only by Islam but many world belief systems!

Memory Harker

Fortunately for me, the only belief system I adhere to is Absolute Faith In The Divinity of Taco Rubio ... and Taco *never* makes me take off my shoes!

(Well, okay, that *once*, yes ... but, dammit, that was a Special Occasion ...)

~ Mem

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