iMuslims: Rewiring the House of Islam

iMuslims: Rewiring the House of Islam

iMuslims: Rewiring the House of Islam

iMuslims: Rewiring the House of Islam

Synopsis

Exploring the increasing impact of the Internet on Muslims around the world, this book sheds new light on the nature of contemporary Islamic discourse, identity, and community.

The Internet has profoundly shaped how both Muslims and non-Muslims perceive Islam and how Islamic societies and networks are evolving and shifting in the twenty-first century, says Gary Bunt. While Islamic society has deep historical patterns of global exchange, the Internet has transformed how many Muslims practice the duties and rituals of Islam. A place of religious instruction may exist solely in the virtual world, for example, or a community may gather only online. Drawing on more than a decade of online research, Bunt shows how social-networking sites, blogs, and other "cyber-Islamic environments" have exposed Muslims to new influences outside the traditional spheres of Islamic knowledge and authority. Furthermore, the Internet has dramatically influenced forms of Islamic activism and radicalization, including jihad-oriented campaigns by networks such as al-Qaeda.

By surveying the broad spectrum of approaches used to present dimensions of Islamic social, spiritual, and political life on the Internet, iMuslims encourages diverse understandings of online Islam and of Islam generally.

Excerpt

Introduction
iMuslims and Cyber-Islamic Environments

The Internet has a profound contemporary impact on how Muslims perceive Islam and how Islamic societies and networks are evolving and shifting in the twenty-first century. While these electronic interfaces appear new and innovative in terms of how the media is applied, much of their content has a basis in classical Islamic concepts. These link into traditional Muslim networks with a historical resonance that can be traced back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad. iMuslims explores how these transformations and influences play out in diverse cyber-Islamic environments and how they are responding to shifts in technology and society.

My use of the umbrella term “cyber-Islamic environment” (CIE) acknowledges diversity among and within different zones in cyberspace that represent varied Muslim worldviews within the House of Islam, all of which present a reference point of identity with a conceptualization of Islam. The source encoding of such environments follows specific protocols of identity with particular Islamic reference points, including essential beliefs shared by the majority of Muslims. The encoding is refined and in some cases hacked to engineer manifestations of Muslim understandings that adapt to networks, contexts, histories, and contemporary issues. Islamic diversity encompasses many areas, ranging from elements in the headlines to those outside the realm of the media. Not all aspects of Islam are fully represented online, especially those from Muslim cultural-religious contexts with low levels of Internet connectivity, as well as traditionally quietist elements.

Specific forms of online or digital Islam, distinct from offline or analogue Islam, have developed. A place of religious instruction may only exist in a virtual context. A network or community may only gather online. Their name may not have a real-world equivalent. This is not just a phenomenon linked to so-called jihadi militaristic factions. It is one that is located in other areas of belief, such as elements of Shi'ism where, for . . .

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