Internet links world's Muslims
during Ramadan By Andy Goldberg
dpa German Press
Published: Tuesday October 17,
San Francisco- In the real world Sheikh Mohamed
al-Moktar al-Shinqiti presides over a small Muslim
community in Lubbock, Texas. But in the online
world he ministers to millions of believers all
around the globe who ask for spiritual and legal
guidance on the popular religious site
Islamonline.com. The site's fatwa section, in
which Muslim websurfers can ask scholars religious
questions, has seen an upsurge of activity during
the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Shinqiti says.
As a legal scholar who specializes in the
interpretation of Muslim law in non-Muslim
countries, Shinqiti says he has answered questions
from people in India, Uzbekistan, France, Canada
and the US.
"It's amazing," says Shinqiti,
40, who was born in Mauritania, but who has lived
in the US since 1991. "Its a great achievement to
give people guidance and connect with people
without being in the same space."
says most of his questions during Ramadan reflect
the difficulty of fasting in a work culture that
makes no allowance for the ascetic religious
Numerous other Muslim religious
sites are available to delve into the theology and
religious technicalities of Ramadan observance.
But there are also many websites that provide
secondary services and information about Ramadan
for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
video sharing site YouTube.com for example you can
view over 300 clips about Ramadan and chat about
the holy month with other viewers with names like
"muslimspirit" and "mujahideen."
can be hard," says a narrator on a video presented
by a contributor called Living Halal. "But part of
loving Allah is about giving up something you love
On the photo-sharing site
Flickr the Ramadan action is even more hectic. The
website allows users to post and organize photos
with specific subjects and features some 3,000
pictures on the theme of Ramadan.
are dozens of attractive screensavers with Ramadan
motifs and messages from Mohamed Eissa, a young
graphic artist based in Cairo. There are
inspirational shots of prayer shawls and mosques,
and photos of dates and other traditional foods
that could grace the pages of gourmet cookbooks.
Flickr's Ramadan category also displays
more prosaic shots of food. One black and white
shot features a teenage girl eating a bowl of
breakfast cereal. The author looks like the
average American teenager, but her comments make
clear that she is different.
attempted to do Ramadan since 7th grade (this is
my 6th attempt) and this year is the longest I
have lasted," she explains. "I'll be beginning my
third day tomorrow, and I'm super proud of
Information about Ramadan is
featured prominently on websites like
Islamicity.com that offer links to sermons,
readings from the Quran, articles on Ramadan and
online tools for giving Zakat or charity - one of
the tenets of Islam.
Other websites, like
bestringdownload.com offer Ramadan ringtones for
mobile phones, while sites like Ramadan-cards.com
offer electronic greeting cards for the holy
month. Primarygames.com offers a section filled
with Ramadan-themed games, while a plethora of
websites offer Ramadan recipes.
Internet has changed my life as a Muslim," says
Walid Khan, a grocery store owner in the city of
Fremont, just outside San Francisco. "We have a
strong Muslim community here but being in online
contact with so many Muslims around the world
makes my faith much stronger."
© 2006 dpa
German Press Agency