The BBC reports that a trial version of Muxlim Pal, a virtual community catering to Muslims, is officially open for business. Don't confuse it with the actual Second Life, however. It's not a wraparound 3D virtual world, but more a series of isometric areas linked together, kind of like The Sims.
Muxlim Pal is the newest facet of web network Muxlim.com, which describes itself as "enhancing the Muslim lifestyle." It's vision, reads the site's "about" page, is to "connect Muslim communities to each other, and to the wider world, through shared online experiences." The site claims "tens of million[s] of users visit Muxlim every year, to enhance their Muslim lifestyle and enjoy a friendly social experience."
In Muxlim Pal, users create an avatar (or "pal") and interact with each other more or less the way they would in other social-tilted virtual worlds. You can visit bars, office spaces, shopping malls, outdoor concert venues, and gift shops, offering (or receiving) items and pausing to chat with others.
The interface is disarmingly simple, just a chat bar for inputting text and three colorful, stylish buttons labeled "navigation," "inventory," and "wallet." The navigation button lets you warp to different parts of the world. When you arrive in an area, you simply click where you want to move. While it's not a game, it does have a few game-like qualities, like "happiness, fitness, knowledge and spirituality" ratings that fluctuate depending on your activities.
According to the Beeb, it's specifically aimed at Muslims living in Western nations, but also "anyone who is remotely interested in the Muslim culture and the Muslim lifestyle," says Muxlim.com founder Mohamed El-Fatatry.
The creators claim Muxlim.com is not a religious site, though its tagline reads "enhancing the Muslim lifestyle." There's certainly a religious angle here that you won't find in other MMOs: You can literally kneel on prayer mats and presumably face in whatever direction the simulation defines as Mecca-ward.
Muxlim Pal is also part of a pretty rarefied religious-themed club. Scan around and you'll find rumblings about Christian MMOs, like Visions (work in progress) and Lions of Judah (not an MMO, but calling itself "a strong Christian MMORPG community"). Otherwise there's a curious dearth of religious-themed MMOs, which seems slightly odd when you consider 82% of adults in the U.S. said their religious preference was Christian in a 2002 Pew survey.