Is the metaverse Halal for Muslims? We have spent a considerable amount of time pondering this issue lately. And, the question has several dimensions including its business potential, the key players in the industry, the likely Impact of the emerging technology on Muslims, and, most importantly, shariah rulings in this regard.
What is the Metaverse?
Before we delve deeper into the metaverse we need to have an informed understanding of what it is.
The Metaverse is a digital world that’s expanding rapidly. It has the potential to change how we live and work.
A recent Economic Times article suggests the Metaverse will expand global data usage 20 times by the year 2023, but what does that mean for practicing Muslims?
Because of its potential, many people are excited about the Metaverse and what it could mean for their lives. However, it’s important for practicing Muslims to ask questions and do research. Ethical investing is vital for the Islamic lifestyle, whether it involves investing our time or money.
But, the question is whether it is Halal for Muslims.
Understanding the Metaverse
The news update that Facebook changed to Meta and wants to lead the creation of the Metaverse is causing a lot of talk around the world. The company is hiring more than 10,000 people in Europe and investing billions of dollars into its Metaverse project.
Mark Zuckerberg has big plans for the Metaverse. He wants to be in charge of the next big tech change on the internet, which he thinks will shift us from just “surfing” to “living.”
To explore the vast business potential of the metaverse, Microsoft, Google, and other big tech firms are also working hard and fast.
A Straightforward AnswerMany devices make us think, feel and believe that we’re actually in the Metaverse, which is a virtual world. We can connect to the Metaverse by using these devices, which make us feel, think, and believe we’re there. You could just use virtual reality glasses along with other gadgets, such as virtual reality gloves, to travel to a completely different world.
The Origins of the Metaverse
It’s from Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash,” which came out in 1992, from which the term “Metaverse” derives. This is a word people have used for imagining workspaces that are virtual or three-dimensional. Since then, the Metaverse refers to a digital world where we can engage with that which is meant to look like real life.
As of right now, the Metaverse that Facebook, along with other big companies, has invested in is a virtual and digital world we can access with virtual and augmented reality tech so that we can interact with each other there and have fun.
Engaging the MetaverseThis isn’t the only way we can have the devices we use in the Metaverse understand and show facial expressions in the real world. Another idea behind Metaverse is that we should be able to do everything we want, both for ourselves and with our avatars.
Global Popularity of the Metaverse
The Metaverse is real—to a point. In some regions, young people are looking for ways to make money in the digital world, especially if it has to do with the Metaverse. This is because of things like rising real estate prices, social inequality, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Reality of the Metaverse for SomeIf you live in countries like the Philippines or South Korea, you’ll see a lot of young people go to these games to make money and live their lives. Because it’s as normal for them as watching a TV show, it’s very real to them.
What It All Means
The Metaverse is the next step that will take the internet to the next level. So far, we can buy things, services, and entertainment either in the real world or in the virtual world, and we can still do that in the Metaverse.
The Metaverse is making a new world that brings together the real world and the virtual world. This new world is a kind of augmented digital reality.
There are two ways to look at the topic. When we’re in real life, we have our physical persona, and then we have our digital persona in the digital world, like on LinkedIn and Gmail.
You become part of the Metaverse by using your computer. Simultaneously, this makes the physical and digital you merge.
Muslims and the Nature of the Metaverse
In general, the Metaverse is halal. Again, the Metaverse is just a virtual world, or a lot of digital platforms that look like the real world we live in that people can interact with or experience through different technologies. This alone is halal.
Yet, some things in the Metaverse aren’t halal, but this doesn’t mean that everything in the Metaverse is haram. There will likely be more virtual platforms that are built for Muslims’ online activities and even financial opportunities as the Metaverse grows.
Scholars will look at each virtual platform’s purpose and use and decide whether it is halal, makruh, or haram based on what it was built for.
Muslims in the Metaverse
The Metaverse is already very common in the world of gaming. In games like Roblox and Fortnite, people can buy NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and use them in other games. NFTs work using blockchain technology that supports crypto.
In the Metaverse, however, people can buy costumes on Fortnite and use them on Minecraft. Still, there are more things about the Metaverse that could allow it to displace the internet as we know it.
For example, Apple and Google apps don’t work together. When you want to use your favorite Muslim consumer app, you don’t want to have to make two separate versions for each store.
Conversely, everything works together in the world of the Metaverse, so everyone helps each other. DC and Marvel superheroes are great examples of this.
You won’t see them together on the big screen, in comic books, on TV, or anywhere else. However, in the world of Fortnite, they’ll all work together in the Metaverse.
Halal or Haram: Knowing the Difference
In some cases, you may find you must seek Islamic Jurisprudence advice before you use Muslim brands in the Metaverse because of its gaming environment, its content, and how animate objects are shown as avatars, for example. This scenario isn’t the only reason you might need this advice.
The general idea is that you can draw things that aren’t alive, like mountains, trees, planes, and cars. In the case of Upland, for instance, this is in the form of homes. People who study this say there’s nothing wrong with it.
An exception is made when it is important to draw pictures of people who need to be identified and arrested, for example, or when it is important to make ID cards, passports, licenses, and other things that need to be drawn.
Shariah Compliant Digital Life in the Metaverse
Many religions can be found in Second Life, but female Muslim women who wear the e-hijab show that they are religious. For the most part, these women use this new public space to go to religious events and meet together to talk about religious things.
A Dubai-based foundation has also set up the Middle East’s first NFT digital Islamic art agency. The Behnoode Foundation, which is based there, started the agency. If it succeeds, it will sell its unique digital footprints through live auctions to people who want to buy art all over the world.
Where Problems Could Arise With the Metaverse
Like with the internet, there will be inappropriate content, such as sexual content, violence, illegal gambling, and so on. Just like there’s cyberbullying, which could rise as more people interact with each other in the Metaverse.
The Metaverse could also lead to addictions that could cause problems like forgetting time, not taking care of your health, not getting adequate sleep, and so on. Relationships between people in the real world and their families could be damaged because some people might use only the Metaverse to communicate with others.
There will be a lot of good things about the Metaverse and a lot of bad things about it, just like there are with the internet. So it’s very important to know how this new technology can be both good and bad for our kids and us.
You might wonder, “What are the benefits of the Metaverse?” You could also wonder why you should use it.
You can use the Metaverse to get in touch with others, such as your family and friends, easily and quickly. It doesn’t even have to be in person to “meet” someone for coffee. Also, in our homes, we can go to work meetings and not have to leave.
More Potential Benefits of the MetaverseIt’s easy to learn about other cultures and explore the streets of other countries without leaving the calm of your own home when using the Metaverse. Also, the Internet of Things and robotics could one day further enable you to work from home. The Metaverse might also help you unleash your creativity, especially when it comes to art.
Also, cyber communities don’t have to be in the same town or country for you to be a part of them. By being able to go to the classroom online, you can try out a new type of online education.
As there’s more interaction, there are added ways to communicate. It may even be possible to try out products before you buy them.
Mecca in the Metaverse
In December 2021, Saudi Arabia announced a new Metaverse project, which allows Muslims to see a religiously important rock in Mecca from the comfort of their own homes.
It’s called the Hajr Aswad, or “Black Stone.” It’s in the Kaaba, which is in the Great Mosque in Mecca, which is the most important place in Islam.
The Virtual Black Stone Initiative lets Muslims experience the Hajr Aswad virtually before the pilgrimage to Mecca. This is according to the official Haramain Facebook page. Haramain, which means “the two sanctuaries,” refers to Mecca and Medina, as well as the two holy mosques in each city.
When the program began, it was started by the general president of the mosques, Abdul-Rahman Al-Sudais, whose department isn’t part of but works with the Haramain organization.
They’re working with Umm Al-Qura University to make this happen. The Exhibitions and Museums Affairs Agency is behind it.
The president of mosques says that it’s important to have a simulation that isn’t just for people to see and hear but also for people to touch and smell.
He stated that the mosques in Mecca and Medina hold a great deal of historical and Islamic legacy. He went on to say that this should be made available to everyone through digital means.
The Metaverse and Safety
One of Mark Zuckerberg’s dreams for a long time has been to see how the internet changes us so that we can “live” in it. People in movies like The Matrix or Ready Player One do things like this.
However, simultaneously he’s also very concerned about the security of his social network, which is always in the middle of a public storm because of its information leaks and the misuse of the personal data of its users.
It’s normal for people to be suspicious about new things, especially when it comes to technology. However, when they’re working on something as big, promising, and intimidating as Meta, tech companies need to make sure that privacy and security are part of the project from the start. It is not going to work out if they don’t.
Cybersecurity Points to ConsiderThe truth is that if Meta doesn’t have trust, Zuckerberg’s plans are already at risk of failing. Even though Facebook has been working to improve the security and privacy of its website, recent scandals have damaged the company’s image, making it less and less important to younger people who want to use the site.
This could also take place with other companies that want to help make the Metaverse better for everyone. Security may have considerable consequences for the direction the Metaverse will take.
Conclusion: Create Your Own Metaverse
We are not yet sure what direction the metaverse will take at the end of the day. However, we are certain that Muslims can prevent storms only by being proactive, taking the charge, and engaging with the larger metaverse community globally to create their own mini versions of the metaverses so that our future generations could be protected from the harmful effects of the technology. We have already seen some efforts being made in the right direction.