Monday, 19 May 2008

IslamOnline dot Net

Have you ever wondered what happens on The Hajj, when Mecca becomes a mecca for muslims from around the world? I've seen plenty of pictures of the crowds going round and round that huge black cube, the Kaaba, but otherwise I've little idea about the rest of it. In fact, to be honest, I'm not entirely clear why they go walkabout around the Kaaba - although I do recollect it has a chunk of meteorite built into it. Well if you can no longer suppress your curiosity - or if you'd like to find out more - then help is now at hand in the form of the 'IslamOnline dot Net' sim.

The sim, along with its sibling 'IslamOnline dot Net2' have been constructed on behalf of (drumroll, please...), in order to promote a greater understanding of Islam, its culture and history. The wider mission of is "To create a unique, global Islamic web portal that provides services to Muslims and non-Muslims in several languages. To become a reference for everything that deals with Islam, its sciences, civilization and nation. To have credibility in content, distinction in design, and a sharp and balanced vision of humanity and current events."

The main "virtual Hajj" sim provides you with plenty of information - in the form of notecards - about the rites, routes and traditions, in a range of languages. While it compresses the whole route into a single sim, which inevitably means there are compromises, on the plus side, you are not likely to get trampled in the crowds, given the finite limits on the number of visitors to a sim. The overall build quality looks a little rough around the edges by today's standards, and I can't tell whether the sim is actually supposed to be finished. Everything appears to be there, but I think it needs more polishing. My doubt is also heightened by the fact that the second sim is definitely still under construction.

This sim houses an auditorium, a large building whose purpose I haven't fathomed (looks like offices and meeting areas from the outside) and - no doubt controversially - the Palestine Holocaust Memorial Museum. The purpose of this is described as "to prevent the crime of silence. By telling the stories of the victimized Palestinian children, we are saying 'no to any form of Holocaust." At the moment this is under construction and is awaiting further development, however you see it towards the end of the pictureset below, including the full text explaining the background to the museum.

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