GOD ONLINE: Exploring media spirituality

Web sites, TV, films, books and the search for meaning.

Some Ramadan reading

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What do Muslims do on Ramadan? What are the Five Pillars? How is the Quran different from the Hadith?

Many Americans don’t know even the basics of the world’s second-largest faith. Ramadan, the month of prayer and fasting — which, BTW, just ended — is a good time to learn a bit about Islam.

And a good starting place is IslamiCity. If you can sort through all the in-house jargon, that is.

The site does try to introduce the faith to non-Muslims. It includes numerous FAQ files, a slideshow of photos from the Islamic world, and a searchable English translation of the Quran.

A 15-chapter history of Islam includes an account of Muhammad sending letters to surrounding kings “inviting them to submit to Islam.” It also gives a frank account of the murders of early caliphs, including Uthman and Ali.

IslamiCity is media-rich, with radio and TV links. A music subsite has some fun stuff, like Muslim pop, hip-hop and children’s music. Other frills include a downloadable Arabic font and a database of the Hadith (the sayings and stories about the prophet Muhammad).

But there are some holes in this otherwise fact-heavy site.

For one, it doesn’t give the doctrinal position on terrorism — even in a column called “Ask the Imam.” Muslim leaders have, in fact, condemned terrorism often. But aside from discussion group threads and some reposted articles, the matter isn’t addressed much here.

IslamiCity also suffers from the problem of many such sites: too ingrown. It’s sprinkled with a lot of terms like Tajweed and Taraweeh.

The site does have a glossary, but it can be a problem to keep opening it while reading an article. Thank Allah for tabbed browsing.


Written by Jim Davis

September 7, 2008 at 2:56 am

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