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View of Islam Review

by John Edward Philips


View of Islam: A Multimedia Tour by Future Publishers (CD-ROM for Windows) 472 Megabytes, graphics, maps. In Arabic & English. Beirut: Future Publishers, 1995.

The multimedia computer revolution may affect the way information is disseminated more than the printing revolution did. Not only are letters and words being reproduced more rapidly and distributed more easily and widely, but they can now be linked in a nonlinear way. Sights and sounds can accompany them in a manner never before thought possible. Teaching, learning and research will never again be the same. Islamic studies and the Muslim world have not been at the forefront of this revolution, but that is no reason for them to be left out. Information about Islam, whether from a scholarly perspective or in the service of apologetics, should take advantage of the new media available. Future Publishers in Lebanon and California have made an interesting start in this direction, but this early effort also shows just how far the Islamic multimedia revolution has to go.

This disk contains approximately 472 megabytes of information, graphics, film clips, etc. It contains sections on beliefs, history, traditions, art, the Qur'an, and the population of the Muslim world. A list of over a dozen sources is provided for those curious about documentation or merely interested in studying further.

This "tour" is especially generous with art and graphics. It is not "shovelware" mindlessly dumping as many programs as possible into a CD-ROM. Nor is it a massive collection of documents which can be used to search text under MS-DOS. Rather it is a fascinating blend of background music, animation, documentary films, and narration in English and Arabic. Those looking for a succinct introduction to Islamic studies will find it interesting as well as informative.

Unfortunately this collection is also likely to disappoint both those who specialize in Islamic studies and those who have already become used to such multimedia bestsellers as Cinemania or Encarta.

There is no hypertext. Clicking on highlighted text does not jump to a related topic, in fact it does nothing at all. There is little documentation, and users must figure out the structure of the CD-ROM on their own. The "help" section is virtually useless, and the user may take much time to figure out the more idiosyncratic controls. The films are on infinite loops, repeating forever until manually stopped.

Some information is questionable, but that may be expected in treating such a controversial topic as Islam. What is more surprising is the way the information sometimes contradicts itself. Mozambique was included in a list of majority Muslim countries in the atlas. The detailed section on Mozambique stated that it was only 10% Muslim. One wonders whether the editors read the data they entered into their own CD-ROM.

View of Islam reminded me of an old software buyer's rule of thumb: any X.0 release is badly in need of fumigation. This CD-ROM should have been a beta test version. Wait for the 2.x release.


(C) Middle East Studies Association of North America, reprinted from the MESA Bulletin volume 30 number 1 (July 1996)  pp. 125-6 by permission.  Any other reproduction or use of material herein is prohibited without prior written permission from the Middle East Studies Association of North America. The mention of names of products without indication of Trademark or Registered Trademark status in no way implies that these products are not so protected by law.

© Algorithmica Japonica Copyright Notice: Copyright of material rests with the individual author. Articles may be reprinted by other user groups if the author and original publication are credited. Any other reproduction or use of material herein is prohibited without prior written permission from TPC. The mention of names of products without indication of Trademark or Registered Trademark status in no way implies that these products are not so protected by law.

Algorithmica Japonica

October, 1996

The Newsletter of the Tokyo PC Users Group

Submissions : Editor


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