iMuslims: Rewiring the House of Islam

Gary R. Bunt
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    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,iMuslimsencourages diverse understandings of online Islam and of Islam generally.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0587-6
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Note on Transliteration
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Introduction. iMuslims and Cyber-Islamic Environments
    (pp. 1-6)

    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.iMuslimsexplores how these transformations and influences play out in diverse cyber-Islamic environments and how they are responding to shifts in technology and society.


  6. [1] Locating Islam in Cyberspace
    (pp. 7-54)

    There is a sense of specific Islamic identity associated with aspects of cyberspace. These may be intentionally designed Muslim-only zones or generic areas of the Web with an Islamic footprint. One might compare the difference between Muslim content on the social networking site MySpace and the general content on the Islamic equivalent MuslimSpace. Islamic-Tube and IslamicTorrents offer video sharing and distribution modeled on non-Islamic equivalents.¹ Does this sense of separateness influence how people who are not Muslim approach CIES? As with other zones of special interest on the Web, some areas of CIES are clearly more open than others. It...

  7. [2] Accessing Cyber-Islamic Environments
    (pp. 55-76)

    This chapter provides an overview of issues associated with how CIES are accessed. The “digital divide” is a critical issue, as the absence of Internet access has been interpreted as being part of the “problems” of some Muslim societies. This opinion often neglects consideration of the economic, cultural, social,andreligious factors behind that issue, or indeed any appropriate solutions. When approaching the subject, applying a statistical analysis of Muslim usage becomes problematic. Alongside factors that include the absence of telecommunications infrastructures and the relatively high cost of computers, literacy issues and cultural constraints have inhibited growth in ICT, and...

  8. [3] Decoding the Sacred: Islamic Source Code
    (pp. 77-130)

    The source code for CIES relates to the essential beliefs and values articulated in the name of Islam. In order to interpret the factors, which drive the multifaceted dialogues and interactions, it is important to explore the aspects of sacred phenomena associated with Islam and Muslim beliefs as represented online. This element of CIES has a profound impact on forms of networking and collaboration. The Internet may offer a personal and dynamic religious space for iMuslims. They can network, share experiences, and feel a sense of community with others occupying the same virtual space.

    The combination of these elements into...

  9. [4] The Islamic Blogosphere
    (pp. 131-176)

    Blogs have become critical adjuncts to the Islamic knowledge economy. This chapter shows how they draw upon many facets associated with Web 2.0 to open up a dynamic space for iMuslims to participate in online collaboration and forms of information gathering and exchange. The discussion provides an overview of the Islamic blogosphere, showing many of its significant nodes and hubs. This is identified as a key area relating to Islamic and Muslim discourse online, and it also provides a sense of how further developments in Web 2.0 social-networking tools might impact on cyber-Islamic environments.

    Awareness of the significance of blogs...

  10. [5] The Cutting Edge: Militaristic Jihad in Cyberspace
    (pp. 177-242)

    This chapter focuses on the militaristic connotations associated with jihad and their articulation online. The term “jihad” has entered Islamic and other discourse with a set of expectations and assumptions, being synonymous in certain areas of CIES with warfare and associated endeavors. These assumptions are themselves interesting. The image of militaristic jihad attracts controversy and generates excitement among readers in ways that surpass the many more sedate and spiritually oriented areas of the Web that focus on the greater jihad.

    Developers in Silicon Valley have played an involuntary but critical role in propagating jihad—in many ways as significant as the...

  11. [6] Digital Jihadi Battlefields: Iraq and Palestine
    (pp. 243-274)

    The Internet has been applied by diverse jihadi platforms relating to conflicts in Iraq and Palestine. There is some continuity between this chapter and the previous one, perhaps demonstrating the interaction between the global and the local. Considerations relating to whether activities can be defined as Islamic, jihadi, insurgent, terrorist, Iraqi, Palestinian, or Arabic—or some combination of these descriptors—naturally apply, depending on the individual perspective of the observer.

    As with the previous chapter, the term “jihadi” is applied here with caution to incorporate a broad range of perspectives, actions, and discourses. It is not the purpose of this chapter to...

  12. Conclusion. The Transformation of Cyber-Islamic Environments
    (pp. 275-290)

    iMuslimsdemonstrates what happens when two of the dominant elements shaping life in the twenty-first century, Islam and the Internet, combine. Whether the combination of elements results in an explosion or simply gentle ripples is open to debate. The sequencing of such a broad range of variables cannot be generalized, but some basic patterns have emerged within the evolving Islamic Internet.

    The effects are not necessarily one-way, as iMuslim activities have influenced generic forms of Internet activities and acted as a microcosm for the potential of information technology as a transforming medium for networks and societies. The innovative application of...

  13. Glossary of Key Islamic Terms
    (pp. 291-294)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 295-348)
  15. Index
    (pp. 349-358)