Sunday, June 14, 2009

Gary R. Bunt

From a Q & A with Gary R. Bunt, author of iMuslims: Rewiring the House of Islam:

Q: Who in the Muslim world has resisted the Internet and who has embraced it, and why?

A: Again, this can be a contextual issue, and one has to consider which specific application of the Internet is being considered. Scholars might say that what is permitted (halal) in everyday life is halal online, and that what is forbidden in everyday life (haram) is haram online, and of course there are recognized points in between these two poles. Many Muslims will say that if the Internet encourages religiosity and facilitates participation in political, cultural and/or religious aspects of Islamic life, then it has to be a good thing. Understanding of the Internet has become more refined, and -- as in many other contexts -- fear of the Internet has been replaced by pragmatism. Similarly, as with other aspects of human life, there are areas of the Internet that are seen as a challenge to traditional Islamic values (however they are defined) or have required interpretation to determine their appropriateness and validity.

Good examples of platforms and individuals who have embraced the Internet include Muslim political platforms and special interest groups, and also some religious authorities and scholars, including those from non-traditional backgrounds seeking to present alternative perspectives on Islam. This latter category, reliant in the pre-digital period on the printing press and the fax machine, has benefited immensely from the immediacy and interaction of the Internet as a cost-effective and dynamic space that is difficult for authorities to censor. A great deal of technological innovation is occurring in the name of Islam, in order to maximize the perceived benefits of the medium. [read on]
Read more about iMuslims: Rewiring the House of Islam.

--Marshal Zeringue