The Digi-Cult

A New Religion for a Digital Age

Does this really need to be seperate?

Posted by Shannon O'Grady on December 9, 2008

So a friend of mine sent me this link to a BBC story about a Muslim oriented virtual world.  Think Habo meets The Sims.  I love the idea and the execution of it all, don’t get me wrong but I’ve got one question:

Does this need to be seperate?

I understand the whole idea behind starting a Muslim only community, but to me making such a separation seems strange to me.  Adding a prayer mat to The Sims would have much the same effect.  If you’re playing any other online game you could create a community for Muslims who play their characters according to Muslim customs.

Now I admit, this could be all my perception, and the whole reason I wrote this was to start some discussion.  I was raised Irish Catholic and have tried on various religions over the years.  Currently I’m undecided.  I just don’t see the big deal about religion and flaunting it or seeing it as a dividing factor.

The creators of Muxlim Pal say that the game is for those interested in Muslim culture, but to me, it seems like an excuse for people to cut themselves out of society and create even more of a mystique around themselves.  The developers also mention that Muslims don’t live a life all that different from non-Muslims.  If that’s true, then why create a seperate game?

I’m not saying this is bad or anything, please don’t get me wrong.  I just question this continuing need for “cultural diversity via separation” that I’m seeing everywhere.

Discuss people!

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4 Responses to “Does this really need to be seperate?”

  1. Johnson said

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  2. I’m a muslim (not really practicing) but I can kind of see both sides.
    On one hand, it seems as if they are totally cutting off their website from any other world. Why would they want to make their own website if they can merge into a bigger one. And yeah, it does seem like they are isolating themselves.
    For the creators, it probably functions like a website. This example may be a little ironic. But there are some virtual worlds exclusively for porn. There are some virtual worlds exclusively for muslims. There are virtual worlds for kids, people in specific countries etc. I can see why they would want something like that. They are like most people, they want to congregate around people who are like themselves. It is the same thing as what you see in urban areas today: Chinatowns, Jewish communities etc. The muslims just took this step to a different level. Plus, I think there are certain things that are allowed in other worlds that they don’t want a part of (i.e. sex in Second Life).
    Plus, I see where they are going. As a muslim living in a western nation, I wish I were closer to my roots and I’m not. Most people want to have a feel of their background and I thin k this serves that purpose. It takes muslim chatrooms and puts it into a Habo world.
    And then you have to realize that this is just a marketing venture. Not all muslims feel this way. Hell, this whole idea could crash and burn. Not everyone, and even muslims living in Eastern states, feel this way. Most of my cousins and aunts back home spend all their time on facebook without resorting to the South-Asian dominated Orkut. This is a very small group of people who want to segregate themselves and we’ll get to know in time how many are for it.
    I think the problem is that some groups like to segregate. They are used to being with similar people and globalization is starting to scare them. They don’t want to be multicultural or open-minded because they have no idea what this means. Luckily, their younger generations are growing up with this concept and eventually we’ll see more muslims intergrate into the normal world.
    For now, I’m really interested in seeing how many people demand hijabs for their avatars.

  3. Shannon O'Grady said

    Exactly. I can understand both sides… but to me it doesn’t seem like something you’d WANT To keep separate. I’m not saying that Muslims who want separate games aren’t proud of their heritage, but I don’t see it as something that needs to be hidden or withdrawn from the rest of the world. Frankly, I’m a huge fan of most Muslims, because I hardly ever meet anyone with as much religious conviction. Not to mention they know how to keep their convictions to themselves and not go around pressuring others to convert or change their ways. I’d like to see MORE of these kinds of people integrate more freely with the rest of the world, because they can and because we’d all benefit from it!

    Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if hijabs are fairly standard issue in the game. I kinda hope so, because some of the hijabs I’ve seen in real life have such pretty patterns! I’d love to wear one as a scarf or something but that would be disrespectful. 😛 I’m envious! ^_^

  4. I don’t know if it would be more widthdrawn from the world. When I first read the article, I was pretty angry but now I’m starting to think that it makes sense. The people who seclude themselves from the world usually aren’t found online anyway.
    The people who would be frequenting this site are probably going to be young people who intergrate themselves in their daily lives anyway.
    I’m a South Asian living in Canada. I’ve lived here for more than half my life. All my friends are not muslim, maybe one is but she doesn’t follow Islam at all (she’s less religious than me which is saying something) but on the same time, I have a separate muslim “community” and these are friends of my mom (but her best friends aren’t muslim either) and their daughter’s who I have become friends with. I don’t see them too often, only once a month and a special event or something but it gives me the chance to be South Asian for a little while. So I think basically the idea is something like that. It’s like how you can find muslim groups or Italian groups or groups like that. It’s a place for everyone to get together and share what they have in common.
    God, I would never wear a hijab. I remember trying to wear one in elementary school in the old country (you could wear one if you wanted to) and everyone laughed at me because I looked “cute”. I guess I was insulted or something but now the idea of a hijab makes me want to run no matter how pretty the colours of it are lol.

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