Saturday, December 15, 2007

Prayer and Dancing at the Alhambra

In Second Life, an intrepid or determined explorer can find almost anything he/she can imagine. When I first entered the world of Second Life, I explored many Christian churches and cathedrals. I found churches devoted to the 'Dark Side' as well, many of them the haunts of Vampires and Vampyres. For those who seek a serious cultural and religious experience of Islam, there is a sim named Al Andalus where the Alhambra and other places from the Moorish civilisation in Spain have been recreated.

The Alhambra has been created beautifully with a very serious attention to detail as well as mood. In the mosque, the light filters through latticework to create patterns on the floor. Many prayer rugs have been set out and all include prayer animations that allow the worshipper to participate in virtual salat or prayer. An open copy of the Qur'an is displayed and there is a mimbar (the Islamic equivalent of a pulpit) and a mihrab (the arch that provides the worshipper with the direction of qibla, which is Makkah).

The atmosphere in the mosque is subdued but inspirational. Other parts of the Alhambra are equally beautiful and provide the venue for social events and gatherings, including dance parties. Two photographs of a recent dance party are included here. Cynthia Wilder performed traditional Arab dance accompanied by Arabic streaming, allowing those who attended to dance to Arab songs.

A Muslim organisation recently opened an offic at Al Andalus in order to provide Second Life residents with genuine contact with Islam.

For non-Muslim visitors to any mosque, whether in Second Life or the 'real world', it is important to note that shoes must be removed before entry and the head should be covered. As you can see, the avatar in the photographs has done both.

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