Islam and Islamic teaching online.
Islamic religious education
Online education (Research)
|Author:||Soukup, Paul A.|
|Publication:||Name: Communication Research Trends Publisher: Centre for the Study of Communication and Culture Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Sociology and social work Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 Centre for the Study of Communication and Culture ISSN: 0144-4646|
|Issue:||Date: March, 2012 Source Volume: 31 Source Issue: 1|
|Topic:||Event Code: 310 Science & research|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States|
Islam has no less quickly adopted the Internet than other religious
groups; however, specific theological approaches prove more difficult to
locate. This stems, in part, from the structure of Islam: Sunni Islam,
unlike Shi'a Islam, lacks an organized hierarchy of religious
teaching authorities (Sisler, 2011, p. 1138). In the case of Sunni
Islam, this, on the one hand, results in fewer official opinions of the
kind that bind all adherents; on the other, it leads to a greater number
of online sites offering religious advice of varying force and insight.
Followers of Shi'a Islam do have access to a hierarchy of religious
teaching, but fewer of these appear in English. That language barrier
appears across the board and presents another difficulty for the
non-specialist in locating Islamic theological approaches. This brief
review, then, will describe some of the available resources and will
point the interested reader to the work of scholars in this area.
According to Sisler, "There are thousands of sites providing specific 'Islamic' content for Muslim minorities, ranging from traditional outlets, i.e., fatwas and sermons, through audio lectures and podcasts, to social networking sites and the vibrant blogosphere" (2011, p. 1137). At the center of concern for this review lie the fatwas, "legal and religious recommendations issued in response to individual enquiries, and other forms of counsel" (p. 1137). Here, we more likely find several sources of Islamic theological opinion.
A. Islamic uses of the Internet: Authority and identity
Blank (2001) reports that as long ago as 1995 the Bohras (a denomination of Gujarati Ismailis in Western India) created linked e-mail networks to promote spiritual discussions. He quotes Shaikh Mustafa Abdulhussein, "Email has now become a primary method of seeking advice of Syedna [a religious teacher]" (p. 178). Noting that "the Bohras were among the very first Muslim groups to take advantage of the Internet," he provides this description offered by the organizers of the early email lists, quoting them:
"Ijtermaa [the group's name, Arabic for 'gathering'] is a religious mailing list with discussions that focus primarily on deeni [religious] topics. The list includes the presence of bhaisahebs and other knowledgeable people who have a lot of ilm [religious wisdom] and who can help guide discussions and answer any questions that may arise about our religion." (p. 179).
Since the 1990s many other Islamic groups have embraced the Internet as a way to provide information and offer teachings; "even reactionary groups like the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taliba have their own web sites" (p. 179).
Bunt (2003) provides one of the most detailed looks at online Islam, introducing the non-Islamic reader to what he terms "e-jihad, online fatwas, and cyber Islamic environments." In a chapter devoted to Islamic decision making and advice online, Bunt first clarifies how online teachers fit into the larger tradition of Islamic thought.
In Bunt's analysis, the different "Cyber Islamic Environments" will approach interpreting Islamic sources in different ways, but each does draw on the tradition and attempt to apply it to contemporary concerns, particularly on how to live faithful lives in the contemporary world. For Bunt the online experience raises myriad questions about authority for Islam: "What kind of Islamic opinions are sought, and by whom? What are the qualities of an online fatwa? How does it differ from 'conventional' authority and sources?" (p. 132).
In his more detailed analysis of specific Islamic sites originating in Muslim-majority contexts, Bunt reports answers to a variety of questions, some to them referring to the Internet. For example, some ask about the benefits of the Internet in spreading knowledge of Islam (p. 139); others, though, have concerns about the Internet itself: the propriety of men and women "talking" to one another online; contact with one's fiancee or posting photos of her online; or dealing with sites that distort the Qur'an. Others sought religious opinions about Internet content: should a Muslim allow the Internet in his home, given the amount of pornography available on different websites? Another asks whether the owner of an Islamic website should take payments for advertising. Sometimes the questions move from the Internet to face-to-face interaction as in the case where a woman writes to ask what to do about a man who wishes to meet her after an exchange of email (p. 140).
The sites also offer religious opinion on a wide range of topics, particularly about relationships, family, lying to one's parents, addictions, and illness. Because the sites reach people throughout the world, many give religious opinions about how to live in a non-Islamic country, levels of assimilation, and even whether an Islamic center should display the flag of the host country (pp. 144-154).
In addition to surveying the kinds of questions arising on sites from Muslim-majority countries, Bunt also provides a look at sites from Muslim-minority contexts. Many deal with the same religious issues, but some receive questions perhaps more typical of the context. Can a parent use spying software to monitor what a 22-year old daughter does online? Is online marriage possible? Can a halal butcher use an electronic device (common in the country) to kill insects? (pp. 168-169). In addition these sites field many questions dealing with attitudes toward Muslims or of Muslims toward their neighbors.
Bunt returned to the theme of online Islam in 2009, updating his earlier work and expanding it to include other cyber-Islamic environments. Key among his discussions for Islamic religious opinion online are his review of Islamic sacred texts and Islamic bloggers. The first addresses many issues of religious practice. Bunt notes, "computers can become a sacred space for Muslims. The presence of the Qur'an online can have an evocative effect on the listener and provide immersion in Islamic religious sources" (p. 81). Some of the sacred activities and opportunities online include practices of witnessing and the Shahada, "the essential proclamation within Islam ... 'There is no god but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God'" (p. 88). He reports "the opinion of Sheikh Ahmad Kutty that 'it is very good to use the Internet in fields like calling people to Islam and even offering them the Shahadah online'" (p. 89). The Sheikh continues by offering some rules to follow in these situations. Other sacred activities include prayer, particularly the teaching of prayer, including illustrated presentations of prayer (p. 91) as well as discussions of the lunar calendar that specifies prayer times and festivals. The sites also offer religious instruction in the key obligations of Islam. Islamic websites also provide instruction and guidance for rites of passage: birth (circumcision, naming, blessing, etc.); relationships (dating, marriage, matchmaking and the use of technology); and death (burial rituals, mourning periods, wills, etc.) (pp. 103-112).
Because Islam touches on all aspects of life, the religious sites move people into the world, answering questions about financial transactions--from online sales to electronic Islamic banking (pp. 124-125). They also address issues of Islamic identity and the defense of Islam.
The second theme that opens a view onto Islamic religious opinion on the Internet deals with the Islamic blogosphere. Bunt notes, "Blogs have become critical adjuncts to the Islamic knowledge economy.... [T]hey 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" (p. 131). As one would expect, the blogs represent "the diversity of religious and political thought" (p. 149) within the various countries and regions of the world that follow Islam. And, as such, they manifest a great variety of themes and opinions. However, the blogs do not claim any teaching authority nor do many "official" blogs exist. In some ways, this part of the Islamic Internet resembles a kind of cafe or gathering spot for religious conversation.
More recently, Sisler (2011) explored the question of Islamic authority and identity online. Examining primarily Sunni online sources, Sisler reports on some of the common topics his fieldwork revealed. These include questions of Islamic law, the interpretation of religious texts, issues of marriage (as for example, marrying a non-Muslim, or the case of a woman who converts to Islam when the spouse does not), issues of divorce, the Hajj, and working in mixed-sex environments (pp. 1154ff). Working primarily among British Muslims, he drew on sources such as FatwaOnline, IslamOnline, the Islamic Shari'a Council (in Birmingham uK, but available online), and the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (again in Britain, but with online representation).
Like Bunt, Sisler focuses on questions of authority. And also like Bunt's work, his reveals something of the Islamic religious content in the online sources. In addition to replying to specific questions, the sources also provide Quranic recitations and sermons by respected scholars, thus offering devotional materials in addition to theological opinion. While Fatwa Online offers collections of theological opinion, IslamOnline provides a searchable database of questions and answers as well as electronic resources for submitting new questions and "live 'fatwa sessions' with various muftis who immediately answer users' questions. The body of muftis and counselors associated with IslamOnline is large and until recently consisted of many different authorities, ranging from al-Azhar graduates to European and North American imams" (p. 1146). The IslamOnline group also created a Second Life site devoted to the Hajj, with "a virtual re-creation of the city of Mecca and a simulation of the Hajj pilgrimage.... The purpose of the simulation was to educate Muslims about how to participate in the Hajj and non-Muslims about this important ritual and the various steps that pilgrims take" (p. 1147). The more specific British sites that Sisler reviewed tend to focus on questions addressing the interaction of Islamic practice and British law; they also take on the role of religious counseling for those who live too far from face-to-face sources.
His examination of the various online Islamic sites leads Sisler to a larger thesis about Islamic life:
In other words the wide availability of online religious sources has gradually changed the practice of Islam from a face-to-face community-based religious practice to a personal devotion, with individuals choosing which preachers to follow rather than simply going to the neighborhood mosque.
Both Bunt and Sisler acknowledge conflict among Islamic scholars and teachers online. Given the lack of any hierarchical decision-making or teaching authority in Sunni Islam and given the doctrinal disagreements between Sunni and Shi'a Islam, this really comes as no surprise. A number of others have explored and reported on these online differences in religious teaching and authority. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI, 2010) reports a "schism" on the IslamOnline site, a dispute examined in more details by Abdel-Fadil (2011). Mariani (2006) argues that such rivalries find state and perhaps business sponsorship, since most of the large Islamic online sites have external funding and represent particular strands of Islamic teaching.
B. Diasporic Muslim communities
As Sisler argues, online religion, whether in the form of religious counseling, religious information, or religious activities, plays a role in community formation, particularly for migrants and people living outside of Islamic countries. Summeren (2007) examines how young Muslims (for the most part from Morocco) living in the Netherlands try to construct a religious identity through the use of online resources. Loosely following the uses and gratifications model of communication media employment, she studied a discussion forum popular with a group of young Moroccans in order to understand how it functioned to provide an experience of Islam. Her analysis followed Kemper's (1996) definitions of experiencing Islam, namely through the recurrence of six dimensions of religious experience--the ritual, ideological, consequential, experiential, intellectual, and social.
Mishra and Semaan (2010) found that South Asian Muslims in the united States also turned to online sources to satisfy religious needs. using in-depth interviews, they found that members of this group "used the Internet to listen to religious lectures, look up information about prayer times, holidays, halal food, rules regarding the recitation of the Qur'an, and correct pronunciation of Arabic words" (p. 87). The relative anonymity of the Internet also allowed them to seek out religious advice on more personal questions. In this instance online religious counseling substituted for face-to-face interaction with a local teacher.
Sharify-Funk (2009) approaches the religious issues of diasporic Islamic communities indirectly, through an examination of a 2003-2005 conflict between two Muslim organizations in Canada. In this instance the websites interacted with mainstream media, which offered news coverage of the dispute. "Sparked by profoundly divergent convictions about gender norms and fueled by contradictory blueprints for 'being Muslim in Canada,' this incendiary conflict ... [focused] especially, but not exclusively, on the 2003-2005 debate over Shari'ah-based alternative dispute resolution in Ontario" (p. 73). In this instance, Sharify-Funk argues, the religious identity created by online counseling interacted with external social forces.
A number of scholars have studied specific religious ethical issues arising for Muslims living outside of countries governed by Islamic laws and customs. Caeiro (2004) reports on the intersection of shari'a, bank interest, and home purchase in the West. Kort (2005) investigates how online Islam deals with domestic violence.
C. New media opportunities
The rapid acceleration of ways to access the Internet poses challenges to Islam online. Bunt (2010) examines smart phone applications, particularly those developed in countries with high mobile phone penetration. He notes, "As with the early growth of Islamic websites, there is now a vying for influence to promote Islamic apps and other programs to the mobile computing and mobile phone markets, which may have the result of expanding influence on matters of religion" (2010, [paragraph]4). Such mobile phone use poses questions for Islamic ethics. For example, "In Egypt, al-Azhar Sheikh Ali Gomaa presented a fatwa or religious opinion against the use of Qur'anic recitation recordings as 'phone tones,' suggesting that they were disrespectful to the Divine Revelation" ([paragraph]10). Bunt reports other issues:
Still others offered opinions about having texts of the Qur'an on a mobile device, expressing concerns that the sacred texts might be taken into impure places such as bathrooms. These concerns grow in importance as more and more vendors offer apps for the Qur'an on mobile devices, including both text and audio recitations.
A different kind of Islamic religious practice exists only in cyberspace. Affify (2010) discusses in greater detail the "virtual hajj" that Sisler mentions. "On Hajj Island [a part of Second Life], residents virtually perform all the rituals of hajj in a 3D recreation of the actual hajj sites, guided by Islamic scholars who explain the rituals and answer the residents' questions.... 'We started by building a Ramadan tent to introduce Islam to the residents, then we realized that Second Life is a great tool for practical training because of its interactivity. The trainee doesn't only listen, he does everything by himself,'" said [Mohamed] Yehia. ([paragraph]5-7). The designers of the site wanted to give people instruction and practical tips about this key Islamic pilgrimage. Fairly soon after its unveiling, some sought a religious ruling as to whether such virtual pilgrimages could substitute for the actual one; at least one online teacher responded in the negative (Kutty, 2009).
Derrickson (2008) presents a more detailed look at Islam in Second Life. In addition to the virtual hajj island, the virtual worlds of Second Life present Islam in a number of ways, both religious and cultural, such as areas featuring Islamic architecture. She reports that, as of her writing, programmers had created eight mosques in Second Life ([paragraph]20). These offer religious spaces for reflection and prayer. As such, they take on an identity through their use. "Barbara Metcalf notes that shared practice creates authenticated space and that practice is fundamentally linked to sacred words in the sense that everyday practice as well as ritual in Islam is word sanctioned. This is a reflection of the uniqueness and importance of Islamic texts, including the hadith and sunnah, those collected sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad, and most notably the Qur'an" ([paragraph]17). An added benefit of the Second Life environment comes from the ability to engage in Islamic rituals, at least virtually through one's avatar. The other, more typical Islamic sites noted by other authors, restrict themselves to text and perhaps audio.
Chat rooms open another possibility for religious activity. In addition to places for discussion, people from various religious traditions have attempted to turn the chat room into a ritual place. Becker (2011) studied Dutch and German Islamic chat rooms, paying particular attention to whether people could transfer religious rituals there. She concludes that religious rituals succeed "when they (a) reproduce the core values and norms of a community; (b) involve a significant number of believers; and (c) protect the sacred from the profane.... [S]ome rituals like the Muslim conversion ritual migrate successfully while other transfer processes yield ambiguous results, as the discussion of the ritual acts of gender segregation shows. Furthermore, in the case of some rituals like the Muslim prayer, a migration is not even attempted" (p. 1181).
Scholz, Selge, Stille, and Zimmermann (2008) turn to podcasts as yet another new media approach to online Islam. Their initial study examines how speakers and listeners construct religious authority.
Several studies examine an often overlooked part of Internet religious resources and indirect practices: gaming. Sisler (2006, 2008) introduces the representation of Islamic life in games. Campbell (2010) suggests that gaming provides an alternative storytelling within Islamic discussion.
Because of the study of online religious teaching in general remains fairly new (as is the phenomenon itself), few scholars have completely embraced it. The same applies to those investigating online Islamic religious teaching and practice. However, those scholars who have set to out explore it have provide some online resources. The Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association and the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague have joined forces to publish CyberOrient, the Online Journal of the Virtual Middle East (ISSN 1804-3194), a peer-reviewed journal edited by Daniel Martin Varisco and Vit Sisler (http://www.cyberorient.net/).
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), an independent, non-partisan organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., "explores the Middle East through the region's media (both print and television), websites, religious sermons and school books. MEMRI bridges the language gap which exists between the West and the Middle East, providing timely translations of Arabic, Farsi, urdu, Pashtu, Dari, Hindi, and Turkish media, as well as original analysis of political, ideological, intellectual, social, cultural, and religious trends in the Middle East" (MEMRI, 2012).
Professor Heidi Campbell and her colleagues have inaugurated the Network for New Media, Religion, and Digital Culture Studies. Among its many offerings they provide an online bibliography, including works on online Islam. They also present an index of scholars working in the area and a toolbox of research tools. The site is located at http://digitalreligion.tamu.edu.
Finally, Goran Larsson, "a professor of religious studies at the Department of Literature, History of Ideas and Religion at the university of Gothenburg, Sweden ... specializing in Islam and Muslims in Europe, ... Islamic theology, Quranic studies, and issues related to religion and the media" (Larsson, 2012) has prepared an extensive bibliography on Islam and the Internet for the Oxford Bibliographies series on online resources (Larsson, 2011).
Abdel-Fadil, M. (2011). The Islam online-crisis: A battle of wasatiyya vs salafi ideologies? CyberOrient, 5(1). Retrieved February 17, 2012 from http://www.cyberorient.net/article.do?articleId=6239.
Affify, H. (2010) On Islam offers Muslims, non-Muslims chance to go on "virtual hajj." Daily News Egypt. [Online] Retrieved February 16, 2012 from http://www.thedailynewsegypt.com/religion/on-islamoffers-muslims-non- muslims-chance-to-go-on-virtual-hajj-dp2.html
Becker, C. (2011). Muslims on the path of the salaf alsalih: Ritual dynamics in chat rooms and discussion forums. Information, Communication, & Society, 14, 1181-1203.
Blank, J. (2001). Mullahs on the mainframe: Islam and modernity among the Daudi Bohras. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.
Bunt, G. R. (2003). Islam in the digital age: E-jihad, online fatwas, and cyber Islamic environments. London: Pluto Press.
Bunt, G. R. (2009). iMuslims: Rewiring the house of Islam. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.
Bunt, G. R. (2010). Surfing the app souq: Islamic applications for mobile devices. CyberOrient, 4 (1). [Online]. Retrieved February 16, 2012 from http://www. cyberorient.net/article.do?articleId=3817.
Campbell, H. (2010). Islamogaming: Digital dignity via alternative storytelling. In C. Detweiler (Ed.), Halos and avatars: Playing (video) games with God (pp. 63-74). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press
Caeiro, A. (2004). The social construction of shari'a: Bank interest, home purchase, and Islamic norms in the West. Die Welt des Islams, 44(3), 351-375.
Cyberorient (2012). Online journal of the virtual middle east. Retrieved February 17, 2012 from http://www.cyberorient.net/.
Derrickson, K. (2008). Second Life and the sacred: Islamic space in a virtual world. In V. Sisler (Ed.), Digital Islam. Retrieved February 16, 2012 from http://www.digitalislam.eu/article.do?articleId=1877
Kemper, F. (1996). Religiositeit, etniciteit en welbevinden bij mannen van de eerste generatie Marokkaanse moslimmigranten. Nijmegen: Ku Nijmegen.
Kort, A. (2005). Dar al-cyber Islam: Women, domestic violence, and the Islamic reformation on the World Wide Web. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 25(3), 363-383.
Kutty, A. (2009). Hajj in second life: Substitute for real Hajj? OnIslam. Retrieved February 16, 2012 from http://www.onislam.net/english/ask-the scholar/hajj/177962.html
Larsson, G. (2011). Islam and the Internet. Oxford bibliographies. Retrieved February 17, 2012 from http://www.oxfordbibliographiesonline.com/view/ document/obo-9780195390155/obo-97801953901550 116.xml?rskey=W7ZvhK&result=47&q=
Larsson, G. (2012). Biosketch. Retrieved February 17, 2012 from http://www.lincs.gu.se/members/goran_larsson/ Mariani, E. (2006). The role of states and markets in the production of Islamic knowledge on-line: The examples of Yusuf al-Qaradawl and Amru Khaled. In G. Larsson (Ed.), Religious communities on the Internet (pp. 131-149). uppsala: Swedish Science Press.
MEMRI: The Middle East Media Research Institute (2010). The Islam-online schism. Special Dispatch No. 2941, [Online] Retrieved February 17, 2012 from http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4143.htm
MEMRI (2012). About us. Retrieved February 17, 2012 from http://www.memri.org/content/en/about.htm.
Mishra, S., & Semaan, G. (2010). Islam in cyberspace: South Asian Muslims in America log in. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 54(1), 87-101.
Network for New Media, Religion, and Digital Culture Studies. (2012). Welcome. Retrieved February 18, 2012 from http://digitalreligion.tamu.edu/.
Scholz, J, Selge, T., Stille, M., & Zimmermann, J. (2008). Listening communities? Some remarks on the construction of religious authority in Islamic podcasts. Welt des Islams, 48, 457-509.
Sharify-Funk, M. (2009). Representing Canadian Muslims: Media, Muslim advocacy organizations, and gender in the Ontario shari'ah debate. Global Media Journal: Canadian Edition, 2(2), 73-89.
Sisler, V. (2006). Representation and self-representation: Arabs and Muslims in digital games. In M. Santorineos & N. Dimitriadi (Eds.), Gaming realities: A challenge for digital culture (pp. 85-92). Athens: Fournos. Retrieved February 19, 2012 from http://www.digitalislam.eu/article.do?articleId=1423.
Sisler, V. (2008). Digital Arabs: Representation in video games. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 11(2), 203-220.
Sisler, V. (2011). Cyber counsellors: Online fatwas, arbitration tribunals, and the construction of Muslim identity in the UK. Information, Communication, & Society, 14, 1136-1159.
Summeren, C. van. (2007). Religion online: The shaping of multidimensional interpretations of muslimhood on Maroc.nl. Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research, 32, 273-295.
Anas, O. (2009). Mediated Islam: Media religion interface in the Middle East. In Hamrin International Media Conference. Jonkoping, Sweden: Hamrin International Media Conference. Retrieved February 19, 2012 from http://jnu.academia.edu/documents/0043/7626/Mediat ed_Islam_Paper.pdf.
Anderson, J. (1999). The Internet and Islam's new interpreters. In D. F. Eickelman & J. W. Anderson (Eds.), New media in the Muslim world: The emerging public sphere (pp. 41-55). Bloomington: University of Indiana Press.
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Anderson, J. W. (2003). The Internet and Islam's new interpreters. In D. Eickelman & J. W. Anderson (Eds.), New media in the Muslim world: The emerging public sphere (2nd ed., pp. 45-61). Bloomington: Indiana university Press.
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Bunt, G. (2004). 'Rip. Burn. Pray': Islamic expression online. In L. L. Dawson & D. E. Cowan (Eds.), Religion online: Finding faith on the Internet (pp. 123-134). New York & London: Routledge.
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Caeiro, A. (2010). The power of European fatwas: The minority fiqh project and the making of an Islamic counterpublic. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 42, 435-449.
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Lawrence, B. F. (2002). Allah on-line: The practice of global Islam in the information age. In S. M. Hoover & L. S. Clark (Eds.), Practicing religion in the age of media (pp. 237-253). New York: Columbia university Press.
Piela, A. (2010). Challenging stereotypes: Muslim women's photographic self-representations on the Internet. Heidelberg Journal of Religions on the Internet, 4(1), Retrieved February 20, 2012 from http://archiv.ub.uniheidelberg.de/volltextserver/frontdoor.php?source_op us=11299
Sisler, V. (2009). Video games, video clips, and Islam: New media and the communication of values. In J. Pink (Ed.), Muslim societies in the age of mass consumption (pp. 241-270). Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Sisler, V. (2009). Palestine in pixels: The Holy Land, Arab-Israeli conflict, and reality construction in video games. Middle East journal of culture and communication, 2(2), 275-292.
Sisler, V. (2009). European courts' authority contested? The case of marriage and divorce fatwas on-line. Masaryk University Journal of Law and Technology, 1(3), 51-78.
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Paul A. Soukup, S.J.
Extensive literature exists on what could be described as the "mechanics" of decision-making processes within Islam. Discussion on the nature of authority and decision-making processes dates back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad (570-632), and this informed the development of subsequent Muslim communities. Islamic written sources range from the Qur'an to vast collections of hadith and sunna (sayings and actions of Muhammad), sources based on oral transmission which were subsequently assembled, analyzed, and systematized within various written collections. The lines can blur between definitions of these concepts, with different stresses being placed on the normative practices of the Prophet, his Companions, and their successors. Biographies of the Prophet Muhammad and histories of Islam also informed the development of decision-making. Substantial works attributed to different Schools of Islamic law, philosophy, and other individual and collective Muslim scholarship from a variety of Muslim perspectives, also adds to the corpus of knowledge. These works (or selections from them) have in turn informed the training of various Muslim authorities throughout the generations, and in contemporary contexts their influence is felt in sermons, academic discourse, dialogue, and diverse media--ranging from print sources through to the Internet. (pp. 126-127).
[T]he underlying logic behind Islamic cyber counseling, which is driven by individual petitions and enquiries, emphasizes the role of self, the privatization of faith, and the increasing insistence on religion as a system of values and ethics. It also demonstrates that the popularity of Internet preachers and muftis converges with the broader transformation of contemporary religiosity, which similarly emphasizes the role of the individual.... Easily accessible and searchable databases of fatwas provide ... pre-set knowledge and codes of behavior the individual can choose from. (p. 1138)
In Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh had sought to ban camera-enabled phones on the grounds of their potential for immoral use. In India, representatives of the Deoband Darul Uloom Darul Ifta noted the issue of the intrusion of phones into the mosque: "One can have worldly or religious talks only as much as necessary by mobile phone in a state of Etikaf (secluding oneself in mosque with the intention of worship)." ([paragraph]13)
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