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  • Approved for CNN

  • Posted November 9, 2009 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Stories from Second Life

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    Do the HAJJ in Second Life


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     any1gynoid always shares examples of how different cultures are represented in Second Life.
    - hhanks, CNN iReport producer

    Fort Hood tragedy cannot contain the exuberance of Second Life citizens sharing Islamic faith globally. Surprisingly, Fort Hood is not as well known internationally as one might expect. At the Virtual Hajj in Second Life, I was getting reactions like "What is Fort Hood, Any?" When I relayed the Fort Hood story, people were very shocked, exactly as one might expect. Whether it is foreign governments surpressing Fort Hood stories or simply being too far away from their lives, I cannot tell. Nevertheless, no one can stop the march of time, and Hajj season is coming in real life (RL) and now in Second Life (SL), making this wondrous ritual of Islam accessible to everyone on the Internet. To experience Virtual Hajj, visit: http://slurl.com/secondlife/IslamOnline%20dot%20Net/35/52/70


    The Hajj is the 5th pillar of Islam. Islam is unique among major world faiths, in that the Prophet Mohammed, Peace Be Upon Him, lived to see his life's work published as the Koran and verified every Holy word. In an important passage just before revealing the 5 pillars, Mohammed entreats all to "be nice to the women," as if respect for women's rights is an essential prerequisite to Islamic faith. Then Mohammed explains the core duties of all Muslims as 5 obligations, called the 5 pillars. They include possession of faith, prayer, charity, observing Ramadan and Hajj. Once in a lifetime, if you are able-bodied, you should go on Hajj. a religious pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, where you relive many important experiences from the Koran, in the exact places where they actually happened in RL.


    The Virtual Hajj is a cultural experience accessible to anyone on the Internet. I highly recommend that you take advantage of this unique opportunity to understand Islam up close and personally. IslamOnLine.net is conducting 2 Hajj classes each week on Tuesday and Sunday at 4am SL time, now through November 24, 2009. CLASS TIMES HAVE CHANGED TO 4AM EACH DAY. I was at their 1st class. Picture 2 is a complete schedule of Virtual Hajj classes.


    In less than an hour, Mr. Mahmoud Ismail (RL name) walked us through the entire Hajj ritual.  It was a worldwind tour of one of the most important religious experiences on Earth. I asked Ruuh Casini (Picture 3), a leader at IslamOnLine.net his thoughts about Fort Hood and the Virtual Hajj: "I think that Hajj provides the opportunity for heightened individual spirituality and connecting with the Divine as well as having a communal sense of solidarity and security. That feeling of unity should be used to allow people to look beyond the colours and creeds and allow us to value the life of every single human being as something precious. Indeed this is the feeling that pilgrims get from Hajj. A sentiment that was clearly communicated by our Prophet, Peace Be Upon Him, in his last sermon on his final Hajj. I recommend people read that."


    The Story in Pictures!


    Picture 1 is the Kaaba, the most Holy site in Islam. It is located in the center courtyard of the Sacred Mosque (Picture 10).


    Picture 2 is the Virtual Hajj training schedule. Note that there are 1 hour Hajj training classes every Tuesday and Sunday at 4am SL time. CLASS TIMES HAVE CHANGED TO 4AM EACH DAY. No prerequisites and all are welcome. They will give you Hajj clothing, Picture 4.


    That part of the class was kind of funny. After a lot of urging, I put on my white Hajj burka. The Hajj burka has skirt slits and shows a lot of leg, and in my case, lots of gorgeous Neko leopard spots. This greatly concerned our instructor (Picture 5), who scolded me to "Any! Put some panties on!" LOL I put my Afghani pants on and that seemed sufficient. By the way, ladies can have a complete wardrobe of marvelous Afghani party dresses for FREE. See my related iReport for location and info: http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-350400


    In Picture 6 we are in class, wandering about the Virtual Hajj sim, which is very well organized with arrows and numbered signposts. Each numbered signpost contains a notecard explaining that part of the Hajj ritual.


    Picture 7 is Virtual Hajj organizer Emotions Magic. Picture 8 is student Abdullah Hazeeb. Picture 9 is Nada Catnap. Picture 10 is the Sacred Mosque, a beautiful SL replica of the RL site in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.


    --- Any Gynoid reporting for CNN iReports. Please send story ideas to any1gynoid (at) gmail.com

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