SAUDI ARABIA: Cleric delivering virtual sermons on Second Life


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Forget your image of a bearded old cleric delivering religious sermons in a corner of a mosque.

Muslim preachers are increasingly using sophisticated Internet tools to reach out to a wider audience.


Recently, a Saudi cleric delivered a “virtual” lecture on the social utility network Second Life.

The talk focused on the Palestinian cause, one of the central questions of contemporary Islam, and was delivered by an avatar of Sheik Ali bin Omar Badahdah, a professor at a Saudi university.

Badahdah said that the experience opened new horizons for Islamic preaching on Second Life and other virtual social services, according to the website of Arab satellite channel Al-Arabiya.

This is not the first time that Islam is promoted on Second Life, where millions of people undergo therapy, attend dinner parties and take dance lessons through 3D ‘avatars.’

In 2007, a group of fervent Muslim cybernauts created a full virtual representation of Islam’s holiest site, Mecca. The group,, made it possible for “residents” of Second Life to experience the pilgrimage, or hajj, which Muslims are required to perform at least once in their lives, if they are able.

The program, described as educational, offers Internet users who want to ‘embark on the soul-searching journey’ the possibility of virtually taking part in all the rituals of the pilgrimage.

-- Raed Rafei in Beirut