Islam Online (IOL), the Islamic news portal operated by global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, has opened its own “island” in the virtual reality world known as Second Life. Earlier posts have detailed the activities of the “Ramadan Tent”, a joint project between IOL and the Islamic Group, a group of people managing the virtual Chebi Mosque, one of the most well known mosques in Second Life and the host location for the IOL tent which was located near the mosque. Moving to their own island, in essence a complete server, will allow IOL a much larger scope to conduct Dawa (preaching) activities. IOL has already announced that a haj “training experience” for Japanese Muslims was launched in conjunction with the opening of the new Second Life location:
“We were impressed by IslamOnline.net’s program which aims to spread awareness about hajj using a new and innovative method,” Ichiro Ohira, regional manager of Japanese TV Asahi in Cairo, told IslamOnline.net. In association with Asahi, IOL has translated into Japanese all the material of its virtual hajj training program, which was launched on IOL’s own island in Second Life on December 9. In the program, visitors can go through all the steps of 3D hajj rituals, using note-cards spread around the island that guide trainees through the training course step by step. “This will help the Japanese Muslims learn about hajj in a proper way,” said Ohira whose TV has already produced a report about the program to be aired back in Japan….The hajj program gives visitors a hands-on experience of the annual ritual. Ohira believes that IOL hajj program would serve as a powerful educational tool for Japanese people about Islam. “For the Japanese people the benefit of this project is doubled, they will learn about hajj while enjoying the virtual world,” he said. As most of the Japanese are technology savvy, the Japanese-language version of the hajj program would attract many visitors. “According to this year’s estimates, more than 25 thousand people from Japan log on Second Life every month,” said Shayma’ Sami, a program designer at TV Asahi. Sami said there are nearly 35 Japanese islands in the computer-generated world.