Muxlim.com, the largest online Muslim-oriented site on the web, has launched a virtual world called Muxlim Pal that appears to be at least in part based on other virtual worlds such as Second Life. From the creators:
Muxlim Pal is the first Muslim virtual world providing a new kind of family friendly social online environment for your entertainment. In this Beta phase we are giving you a taste of what we plan to be a continually growing online and getting your feedback on how we can make your experience here fun and even more enjoyable.
Muxlim.com has about 1.5 million visitors per month, and the site has given each of its members a pal or avatar (who apparently are all male if the images on the site are any indication) and some free coins to get started. Since virtuality is a place where we can leave the constraints of material reality behind and explore, create, fantasize, and free ourselves from the shackles that burden us in the real world, it is a real shame that Muxlim Pal appears to cater to the shopping side of its members, not the creative side.
Going to the Mall is fun for everyone. Check out the Clothing Store to dress your Pal in a new look. Buy furniture with your coins to give your room a personal feel. From the Gifts Shop, you can give gifts to the friends your Pal meets.
Yes now Muslims too have a place to escape to, to dream, to be bold, to …. shop. There are of course prayer spaces and other elements of “Muslim culture” inside Muxlim’s virtual world (including a beach bar), but at first glance this mirage is just another way to encourage consumptive habits. I sure hope someone invents a virtual world for atheists where there is no currency and we get to burn down malls for fun instead of shopping in them. I mean, it’s only make-believe right?
Go here for today’s BBC’s news article on Muxlim Pal.