Islam Vs. Secularism on Facebook

Islam Vs. Secularism on Facebook

CAIRO — Devout Muslims and secularists are using the world”s second largest social networking website Facebook to debate the role of Islam in their societies, reported the Los Angeles Times on Friday, September 19.

“Secularism is refused by all means,” Mohamed Amer, an Egyptian, writes in a comment on a Facebook page.


Amer said most Muslims aspire to see Islam play a bigger role in their societies.


“In fact, it goes against the will of the Egyptian, the Arab and Muslim peoples who crave Islamic rule,” he writes.


“National interests rest in the adherence to Islam and faith.”


Amr Ali, an Egyptian dental student, has founded a Facebook group to confront efforts to promote secularism in Muslim societies.


“I”m very surprised at all the secular Facebook groups out there,” he said.


“Secular and atheist groups are posting on my group, accusing Islam of promoting terrorism,” said Ali, whose group “We the Muslim Youth Can Change This World” has attracted nearly 22,000 members.


“I”m concerned. They are young people and they are lost, following misleading slogans. Some of them are totally against religion and all the prophets.”


Facebook has grown to more than 70 million users worldwide to be the second social networking website after MySpace.


Founded in 2004, Facebook”s membership was initially restricted to students of the Harvard University.


It was later expanded to other universities in the United States and later to any student with a university email address from all over the world.


Moral War


But Waleed Korayem, an Egyptian university student, believes secularism is the best solution.


“Secularism is the best way. It is the basis for democracy,” said Korayem, a business major.


Egypt is not moving toward Islam. It”s moving toward delusion. Basing your ideology on religion is a myth and this myth ended in the Dark Ages.”


Korayem opines that devout Muslims and secularists are engaged in a “moral war” on Facebook.


“This is not just a technical war, but a moral one. Facebook is reflecting what”s happening in Muslim society.”


“I”m engaged in dialogue between Islamists and secularists. But there”s too much tension. No one wants to revise his opinions. It”s turned into a screaming war.”


After a debate with Ali on Facebook, Korayem got the conviction that such debates could help build a common ground between both devout Muslims and secularists.


“(Young Muslims are) resorting to this virtual world because we have no space in the actual world,” he said.


Clearing Stereotypes


Devout Muslims are also using Facebook to clear stereotypes and misconceptions about Islam.


“We can change perceptions about Islam,” Ali said.


“I now have a relationship with an American guy on Facebook. He first contacted me by calling me a terrorist. “Do you belong to Al Qaeda?”


“But I”ve explained the nature of Islam, using Qur”anic verses to correct his misperceptions. Now he and I discuss Islam and Buddhism online,” he said.


Ali is also using his Facebook group to spread the message of Islam.


“I”m also helping a British woman who wants to convert to Islam,” he said.


“She messaged me through my group. I”ve helped to find the nearest mosque in England. It has all become my mission.”


Ali”s Facebook page is a mix of English and Arabic, reaching out to educated Muslims in the Middle East and Westerners beyond.


The page”s inviting message is conveyed by an English-speaking narrator whose voice grows urgent over music that sounds like hip-hop tamed by New Age.


“We the youth can change this world; we have Islam, we have the creativity and we have the energy,” it reads.


“If we do not work for Islam, Allah would replace us with a generation that loves him more than us, fears him more than us, and who will bring back Islam into this world.”