Muslims Look Online for Spiritual Guidance

June 9, 2007

Author: Peter Cox

Source: Columbia News Service

A young Muslim from the United States earnestly asks, "I have been wanting to get a tattoo of the crescent moon and star, then found out it is against Islam to get a tattoo. But what if the tattoo is religious?"

"Is it permissible for a Muslim to play in the NHL?" asks another from Canada.

And from South Africa, this question: "Is it permissible for a Muslim to sell cigarettes, tobacco or such related products?"

The answers to these queries, according to Imam Mufti Ebrahim Desai, are, "No," "No" and "It is makrooh," meaning yes, but it is frowned upon. Desai is an imam at a madrasa in Comperdown, South Africa. His answers were not given in a face-to-face meeting outside of his mosque or in his office. Rather, they were offered on his popular Web site, "Ask the Imam."

Increasingly, young Muslims are finding answers to their religious questions online. For inquiries that might not be directly answered by the Quran, Muslims turn to imams for advice, much the way Catholics would turn to a priest. During the past 10 years, dozens of Internet imams have emerged.