Monday, June 14, 2010
By Mariana Baabar
ISLAMABAD: Mustafa Patel, a Canadian Muslim entrepreneur of Indian origin, is the latest on the blog with a Wikipedia-like encyclopedia being put together with the help of young Indian Muslim volunteers.
Ilmpedia (Ilm means knowledge in Arabic) will be launched in July and will be available in English and Arabic, followed by Hindi, Urdu, Bengali and Tamil. Other language versions in Spanish, Swedish and Malay are also in the works.
Ilmpedia has garnered around 100 volunteers to pen the entries. Over 50 are from India, others are mostly from Pakistan, Egypt, Algeria and the UAE, says a report in Outlook.A growing number of Muslims across the world are asserting themselves by launching Islamic versions of existing popular websites.
“Wikipedia and Facebook are only as good as their administrators,” says Patel, who runs Madina.com, a social networking site launched for the Muslims. “They may allow pictures and cartoons of the Holy Prophet and other Islamophobic content, yet won’t tolerate anti-Semitic content at all.” Many Muslim countries recently banned the Facebook after some people created a page on it, asking for submissions of caricatures of Holy Prophet (SAW). “There is a lot of information about Islam and Muslims online, yet much of it is not true and may be from anti-Islamic sources. So there is a need for an encyclopedia from authentic Islamic sources,” adds Patel.
When Ilmpedia becomes operational, says the report, it is sure to generate heat, as volunteers begin writing on contentious issues like the state of Muslims in Gujarat and police atrocities in Jammu and Kashmir. The entries submitted are vetted by a panel comprising Patel, Mazin Khan, the Delhi-based operations manager for Ilmpedia, and Amr Ali, a volunteer from Cairo.
Websites like these are part of a growing trend of Islamisation on the web. Many Muslims are creating a safe space for themselves online, with the firm notion that their faith is under attack and they believe that there are many like-minded people to support such a move.
Islamicfacebook.com has already made its appearance and a group of Pakistanis has recently launched Millatfacebook, another social networking site. In June 2009, a Saudi firm launched an Islam-friendly YouTube called NaqaTube. It was soon followed by imhalal.com, a Sharia-compliant search engine promoted by an Iranian living in Amsterdam.
Praising the Internet for popularising dissent among the Muslims, sociologist Imtiaz Ahmad says Islam is experiencing a kind of pluralism like never before due to the medium. “There’s no single standard theological position today and each one is liable to be questioned. But there is a problem, too,” he said and added: “Many radicals have seized the web to propagate their beliefs that reinforce a narrow Muslim identity.”
Source taken from: http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=244958