The net Imam effect: digital contestations of #Islam and religious authority

Bunt, Gary R. (2022) The net Imam effect: digital contestations of #Islam and religious authority. In: Cyber Muslims : mapping Islamic digital media in the internet age. Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 19-33. ISBN 9781350233737

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This chapter explores the contestation on issues of representation and religious authority in cyber Islamic environments. In an era where authority networks transcend geographical boundaries, and when digital proficiency can be more important than religious status, there has been an evolution in the dynamics of Islamic authority and leadership. Today, digital technology is reshaping how Muslims across vast territories relate to religious authorities in fulfilling spiritual, mystical, and legalistic agendas. Millennials and “digital natives” may respond more to aspects of online authority than “analog” equivalents, impacting everyday concepts of religious knowledge and identity, and also raising concerns regarding radicalization. Online environments often challenge traditional models of authority; “traditional” in this context refers to the purview of imams, mullahs, and shaykhs located in the historically rooted “analog” locations of religious authority such as madrassahs or mosques.[1] The term is ambiguous, as it can also refer to those adhering to diverse notions of expertise associated with Islamic sources relating to the Prophet Muhammad, his followers, and/or the descendants of projected authority, scholarship, and interpretation. This does not preclude gatekeepers in these contexts articulating notions of religious 20authority online, with a blurring between analog and digital authority. One result is the impact of digitally literate religious scholars, authorities, and “influencers,” whose impact goes beyond these demarcated boundaries of established spiritual exemplars and legal experts.[2] This chapter examines how diverse religious perspectives contest for audiences, reflecting on multimedia approaches from a variety of players in the spectrum of Muslim zones of cyberspace. It questions the impact of social media pronouncements and explores how religious institutional organizations and their corresponding digital platforms respond to contemporary concerns in the light of continually shifting religious and media contexts. I also demonstrate how the global Covid-19 crises focused attention on the ways in which Islamic digital interfaces could be utilized within Muslim communities and by religious institutions to negotiate questions of spirituality, interpretation, and ritual propriety within the rapidly changing pandemic context.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Divisions: Institutes and Academies > Institute of Education and Humanities > Academic Discipline: Humanities and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Lesley Cresswell
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2023 10:24
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2023 10:24

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