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Where Dreams Become A Reality: Welcome To the “METAVERSE”

By Maulana Khalid Dhorat

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A dream is a subconscious involuntary movie, the context and content of which you have little or no control over. Sometimes, you may be a spectator of what’s happening around you, and even see what’s being done to you, around you or about you. At times, you may be the chief actor in your own movie, either climbing Mount Everest or stalking a lion in the Kruger National Park. Irrespective of whether you are an active participant or a spectator in your own dreams, you are never the director because the realm of dreams is another realm. It’s another world, a world which is infested chiefly with the devils, and occasionally by angels. This is exactly why dream interpretation is such an intense science.

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In a movie, nothing is real, but the emotions are. If a baboon is chasing you, you will perspire and your heartbeat will go up, and if you are enjoying a Ferrero chocolate milkshake, you will enjoy the taste. You normally wake up from a dream with either a smile on your face, or a lemon in your mouth – depending on what you’ve just witnessed. So, some people would never want to wake from their enjoyable fantasy dreams, whilst some jump up in a panic and wish they would’ve never fallen off to sleep.

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The other aspect of the movie is that there’s no consequence for one’s actions at all therein. You can kill a person and not be charged for it, and someone can kill you, but you will not die in reality. You can perform your Salaah in Masjidul Haraam directly facing the Ka’bah in Makkah, and not be rewarded for it, or you can fornicate with your secret lover at the Sheraton Hotel, and she’ll never fall pregnant, nor report you to the Laudium Sun’s Punchaat Column… You can get away with anything and everything.

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What if dreams become a reality, where you can control your dream whilst being awake, and never ever face any consequences? Many would want this fake reality to envelope them, but believe me, it’s nothing but a nightmare about which many Muslims are already alarmed and apprehensive of. Welcome to the Metaverse, also known as XR “Extended Reality”. Virtual Reality is already history.

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Meta is a latin word meaning “beyond.” It can be loosely translated as “beyond the universe,” implying that this fake reality will be beyond and supposedly “better” than our present finite universal reality – a concept reeking of arrogance, superiority and pride. These are all the qualities of chief satan – Iblees. Perhaps, just perhaps, this new universe will be nothing but the playground of the devils known as Sijjeen – or the lowest of the low realms where the condemned will find themselves to be confined forever.

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Recently, Facebook changed its name to “Meta” in order to align the company with its ambitions to build the “metaverse.” At the moment, Microsoft and Nvidia are also working on their own versions. The metaverse is not yet a launched, but it has already been extensively developed and tested, and could be the next evolution of the internet. According the founders, the idea is this “extended reality” – the combination of augmented, virtual and mixed reality – will become a key medium for social and business engagement in the future.

What is the metaverse?

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Many technologists predict that the internet will eventually evolve into the metaverse, which will come to represent the next major computing platform. If the concept is fully actualized, it is expected to be as transformative and destructive to society as the mobile phone.

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The internet today is often the main entry point for millions to access information and services, communicate and socialize with each other, sell goods, and entertain themselves. The metaverse is predicted to replicate this value proposition, with the main difference being that distinction between being offline and online will be much harder to delineate. Many experts believe that this new “extended reality” (the combination of augmented, virtual and mixed reality), with its 3D virtual environments will become accessible and interactive in real time. Ultimately, this will become the transformative medium for social, political, leisurely, and business engagement.

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Until now, XR technologies have mostly been limited to a subset of video games and niche enterprise applications. However, as games increasingly become platforms for social experiences, the likelihood increases that their characteristics – discoverable and continuous virtual worlds, mediums for open and creative expression, and conduits for foreign ideologies, adrenalin pumping action, education – can and will be applied to other contexts. It’s a crossover from everything real and authentic to everything virtual and fake – a new parallel fantasy universe.

Digital assets and real-world economic activity

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The metaverse is also expected to have a strong connection with the real-world economy – and eventually become an extension of it. In other words, the metaverse must have the ability for companies and individuals to participate in economic activity in the same way they do today with real tangible goods. Simply put, this means being able to build, trade and invest in virtual products, goods and services that can’t be touched, smelled, tasted or smelled, but has a value attached to it, equal or greater than the real lifelike genuine counterpart.

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We now learn of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) as the foundation for value creation. A NFT is a claim of ownership for a unique, non-interchangeable digital asset that is stored on a blockchain. If NFTs become a commonly adopted tool for trading such goods, they could help accelerate the use of XR ecosystems as platforms to combine elements of the digital economy with their offline lives. One way to think of this process is how the internet has encouraged businesses to digitize their operations, so that consumers could order and pay for their products and services from any location. This legitimized the idea that retail and digital need not be separate, paving the way for a whole host of future possibilities which may or may not materialize.

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According to investor, Matthew Ball, the metaverse will “synchronise real-time with virtual time, and will be populated by content and experiences by both individuals and businesses as per their needs”. You would be able to construct your dream reality, without being in a state of sleep, and be able to customize it according to your needs and desires. This idea is very appealing, which is why many of the world’s leading technology companies are investing in its development – it’s the supreme or ultimate virtual experience that will transform human behavior forever.

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Let us imagine a young couple with a child. The wife needs a second honeymoon – not with her husband, but with the richest, most muscular, charismatic, and handsome man in the world. He is treating her to dinner in the most expensive hotel with the priciest food available. To her, this paradise could go on forever. But it isn’t enough. She needs more of this extravagance. She wants more. Her baby, lying in its crib, is constantly crying for her. The baby’s cries echo through the house, bouncing off of every wall. It makes its way through heaps of clothes lying around, unwashed dishes, fungus encrusted food in the fridge, and a clogged toilet. All of it left unchecked. Just like this baby. Finally, its sound reaches Mom. But there is no response. Why? Because Mom is in another world, on a honeymoon with a stranger.

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After getting the masses used to staying indoors for two years via imposed lockdowns, we are primed and ready for the next phase of the internet – a collision between the physical and digital worlds. We know full well of the immense levels of indifference to surroundings and loved ones shown by drug addicts. Then imagine a world where this technology continues to improve, until it reaches a matrix-like state, where users are unable to distinguish their own subjective realities from the objective one. It isn’t too far-fetched to think that it would be enough to make a mother forget her child.

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When we become too detached from reality and immersed in this devilish space, will the real world’s problems be solved all of a sudden? Will widespread disease and starvation stop? Will Israel just stop bombing Palestine? The answer is no, but we will forget about these problems whilst it continues to rape the world. This is what modernism aims to do. To capitalize on human forgetfulness and desire to escape harsh truths, and it aims to provide the best in escapism. To hide the truth while we indulge in denial created by our desires. Should we as Muslims accept the rejection of truth?

Aren’t we, instead, ordered to uphold it by Allah? “O believers! Be mindful of Allah, and say what is right.” (33:70)

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