Islamic Democracy in Second Life

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Peace on you all,

For the last several days, I’ve been playing out in my mind the possibilities of using a virtual world such as Second Life as our laboratory for an Islamic Democracy. Second Life is a virtual online world, where anybody can choose a graphic representation of themselves, called an avatar, and meet and greet people from around the world, who have entered Second Life with their own avatars. Some feedback I’ve received from my colleagues, however, has led me to rethink making Second Life the central forum for our discussions right now.

First, I recognize that it is difficult for many of us to get into Second Life because it requires rather significant computer resources (I can’t even get in through the laptop I am using right now). Considering that this project’s purpose is to open up dialogue and invite many voices, I strongly hesitate to exclude members right off the bat just because they don’t have the technological capabilities to enter Second Life.

Second, I realize it might be difficult at this early stage to gather enough buzz to organize an event where all of us who are interested in an Islamic Democracy experiment would be able to arrange to meet together in Second Life. At this point, it may be better to document our ideas in other media, such as on this blog, or on WIKI, so that we can steadily and surely gather steam.

But certainly, for once we have gained sufficient momentum, I’ve thought of another purpose for Second Life.  After we have put some ideas of Islamic democratic governance on the table, we might use Second Life, or some other virtual reality tool, as a laboratory for actually applying such principles. One of the great things about a virtual world is that we could test our ideas there, before we apply them to the “real world.” And we wouldn’t simply be philosophizing about ideas in the abstract. The vision of experimenting, in Second Life, with an “Islamic state” that embodies certain principles of democracy, is quite an exciting one. Perhaps as our project develops, we can consider how to make such an experiment in Second Life viable.

As always, this project is as much yours as it is mine. I invite feedback about how to best use Second Life or other online media to facilitate our project.

Peace,

Tawfiq Ali

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