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Why Muslims Should Be Concerned By the Metaverse

Let us imagine two scenarios.

One of a hero riding a red dragon, soaring over a volcano with his sword held high, ready to strike down the monster that has been dwelling within that volcano for thousands of years. Accomplishing this would mean that this hero has saved the world, and it fills him with great joy. But this isn’t enough. He needs more of this thrill. He wants more.

The second is of a woman on a 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.

How can these two scenarios possibly be related? For that, we need to look at the third and final one.

A baby, lying in its crib, constantly crying for its mother. 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.

But what about Dad? Surely, the protector of the family can’t bear to hear his child cry uncontrollably. Unfortunately, Dad too, is busy. Busy saving a fake world from a fake monster.

The nanny decided not to come today, because she too is busy living out her wildest fantasies, all from the comfort of her home. One can only imagine the horror these parents will discover when they finally decide to return to reality.

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A rational person would come to the conclusion that what I just described were two parents addicted to drugs, who during a pretty bad trip, neglected their child. And that person would be right. Only, replace the word ‘drugs’ with Mark Zuckerberg’s upcoming ‘Metaverse’. Forbes provides the following description of it:

A boundless, 3D digital world accessed as easily as the internet, where we do things like hang out in a park, play a game, see a concert or suffer through a work conference.

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.

Augmented reality (AR) adds digital elements to a live view often by using the camera on a smartphone, while virtual reality (VR) provides a completely immersive experience that subtracts the outside world. The scenarios I described above obviously aren’t the immediate outcome of this new mash of AR and VR, but it is difficult not to see it as the ultimate outcome.

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.

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It isn’t too far-fetched to think that it would be enough to make a mother forget her child. And if you don’t believe me, here is an excerpt from an article on the Guardian more than ELEVEN years ago:

South Korean police have arrested a couple for starving their three-month-old daughter to death while they devoted hours to playing a computer game that involved raising a virtual character of a young girl.

More than a decade of continually improving technology later, this grim reality seems closer than ever. Ironically enough, the term ‘Metaverse’ is inspired from a 1992 novel by Neal Stephenson called Snow Crash, depicting a modern-day dystopia with similar technology.
The end-goal of Metaverse will achieve the ultimate dream of modernism. In fact, the concept itself embodies liberalism and modernism.

How? It paints the first two scenarios for the users, a world where they can do whatever they want and be whoever they want, all from the confines of their house, while hiding the grim backdrop: The third scenario.

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When we become too detached from reality and immersed in this 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. 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)

“O believers! Stand firm for justice as witnesses for Allah even if it is against yourselves, your parents, or close relatives. Be they rich or poor, Allah is best to ensure their interests. So do not let your desires cause you to deviate ˹from justice˺. If you distort the testimony or refuse to give it, then ˹know that˺ Allah is certainly All-Aware of what you do.” (4:135)

And this is just the tip of the problems Metaverse presents to the Muslim Ummah and all of society as a whole. May Allah protect us from such Fitnah and give us the ability to distinguish right from wrong. The belief of modernism is that the wheels of humanity must always progress. Always keep increasing our velocity, without regard for the vector. But what if that vector leads us over the cliff?

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