Anonymous, 22 Oct 2018
Research on Middle East, Islam and digital media
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Surfing the App Souq: Islamic Applications for Mobile Devices

This article introduces issues associated with Islamic apps for mobile devices, and surveys some of the products that have emerged into the market. It considers the potential impact of mobile phone interfaces in relation to interpretations of Islam and the use of Islamic resources, given that mobile devices have widened potential audiences for online materials in various forms, especially in areas where other forms of digital access may be more problematic. The article also explores some of the religious and ethical concerns associated with mobile phone use.
CyberOrient

Socializing on the Internet: Case Study of Internet Use Among University Students in the United Arab Emirates

This paper analyzes socializing on the Internet and attitudes towards the Internet as a medium of social interaction among university students in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It stems from a larger research project conducted at seven different institutions of higher education in the Abu Dhabi Emirate in Autumn 2009 through anonymous questionnaires. A total of 571 students (353 female, 183 male) participated in the survey. In this paper we present only a small portion of the data and focus on (1) the intensity and frequency of Internet use; (2) identity and gender hiding in the virtual environment; (3) meeting internet acquaintances in real life; and (4) attitudes towards the Internet as a medium for social interaction. Responses were cross-analyzed in light of the participants’ gender, age, and subjectively-perceived social status.

The Legality of Intellectual Property Rights under Islamic Law

Intellectual property rights are not regulated by Islamic law and jurisprudence per se. The issue is whether the principles of Islamic law can be constructed in a way to provide support for such protection. This paper assesses the extent to which Islamic law and its sophisticated tools have an impact on the protection of intellectual property. First it presents Sharī’a’s main sources; the Qur’an, the Sunna, Ijma and Qiyas and explains how many principles derived therefrom can accommodate intellectual property protection. The following section examines the dynamics of interpretation of Islamic law over history and explores the impact that Sharī’a has on the enactment of legislation of modern governments. The concluding section briefly considers some tensions between the Western and the Islamic view on intellectual property and the role of economics within Islamic law and society. The arguments presented in this paper reveal that a Sharī’a based system is flexible and adaptable and that this flexibility is to be used in order to face economic reality.

Video Games, Video Clips, and Islam: New Media and the Communication of Values

This chapter analyzes video games and video clips with an Islamic emphasis and the various levels at which they convey ethical and moral values. Both video games and video clips have been neglected and marginalized by the academy, albeit to varying degrees. Given their pervasiveness, especially among Middle Eastern youth, we are in crucial need today of critical understanding of the different ways these media articulate Islam and communicate it to consumers. This chapter in particular discusses the appropriation of games by various private Islamic companies, operating in the broader religious and cultural context of the Islamic revival and piety movement, for educational purposes. Finally, this chapter discusses how Islamic game production and, more generally, the public discourse of the Islamic piety movement are shaping mainstream video game production targeted at Muslim audiences and the marketing strategies of game production companies.

Palestine in Pixels: The Holy Land, Arab-Israeli Conflict, and Reality Construction in Video Games

This article explores the ways in which Palestine is envisioned, and its representation constructed, in contemporary video games. At the same time, capitalizing on Bogost’s notion of “procedurality”, this article discusses the potential and limitations of various game genres for modeling complex historical, social, and political realities. It focuses particularly on the ways in which the Arab-Israeli conflict is mediated and its perception and evaluation subsequently shaped by these games. By doing so, this article analyzes how the (re)constructions of reality as provided by the video games’ graphical, textual, and procedural logic, serve parallel – albeit contradictory – political and ideological interpretations of real-world events. On a more general level, this article aims to further develop the game genres’ critique by focusing on two contrasting, but equally signifi cant and simultaneous, aspects of video games – the persuasive power of procedurality and the inherent limitations thereof.

European Courts’ Authority Contested? The Case of Marriage and Divorce Fatwas On-line

This article explores Islamic websites providing normative content for European Muslim minorities. It focuses on four distinct Sunni websites and analyzes their fatwas, i.e. legal and religious recommendations issued in matters related to family law. Drawing from a broader research of more than 450 fatwas, this article presents the various ways, in which Muslim authorities associated with these sites deal with the conflicting areas between Islamic law and European legal systems. Essentially, it argues that the Internet and information and communication technology create new public spheres where different, and oftentimes conflicting, concepts of coexistence between Islam and the State are negotiated. Moreover this article demonstrates how these concepts are later incorporated into existing legal frameworks through the institutions of arbitration and marriage contracts. At the same time it explores the underlying rationale behind the fatwa-issuing websites, which emphasize the role of the individual and promote voluntarily adherence to Islamic law. On a more general level, this article aims to provide case studies on how technology redefines the politics of religious authority.

The Politics of Virtual Fatwa Counseling in the 21st Century

A multitude of fatwa services sprung up on the Internet during the last few years and has grown since. One finds askimam.org, islamicity.com, islamonline.net, and islamqa.com among them. Yet it is not only these private Muslim jurisconsults who maintain websites, but also government-affiliated muftis and agencies have increasingly established an online presence. At the same time the private online muftis are not a monolithic group themselves. Therefore this paper sheds some light on the different actors and their competition. Who are they? And, more importantly still, which norms do they set? This paper argues that there is a competition between these fatwa services for the conclusive authority of Islamic legal interpretations and their creators over the minds of Muslims situated in non-Muslim political discourse spheres. Within the context of the norm-setting processes these online fatwas have the potential to influence and shape Muslims’ opinions especially in predominantly non-Muslim societies. So how do the norms presented relate to existing norms there? Examples of where the Muslim authorities position themselves when it comes to contested or topical issues like migration and integration into the states of Western Europe will be provided. The research is initially based on a quantitative content analysis regarding these questions. Nonetheless it shall be supported by a theoretical framework including the notion of Peter Mandaville’s (2001) “modes of translocality”.

“Gaining Knowledge”: Salafi Activism in German and Dutch Online Forums

Recent years have witnessed an expansion of Salafi activism into computer-mediated environments like online discussion forums. Forum activities are part of the activists' endeavor to access the religious sources (Quran and Sunnah) and, through these sources, the lives of the prophet Muhammad and the first generations of Muslims. The prophet and the first generations embody the perfect model of a (Muslim) life which Salafi activists strive to emulate. This article analyses the knowledge practices of Salafi activists in Dutch and German discussion forums revolving around the religious sources. Knowledge practices are understood as meaning-making activities that tell people how to behave and how to “be in the world”. Four aspects are central to Salafi knowledge practices in Dutch and German forums: (1) Fragmentation and re-alignment form the basic ways of dealing with digitized corpus of Islamic knowledge and (2) open the way for Salafi activists to engage in “Islamic argumentation” in the course of which they “excavate” behavioral rules in form of a “script” from Quran and Sunnah. (3) These practices are set within the cognitive collaboration of forum members and part of a broader decentralizing tendency within Islam. (4) And finally, narratives and sensual environments circulating in forums help activists to overcome contradictions and ambiguities while trying to put the script, which tells them what to do in which situation, into practice.

Making the Internet Kosher: Orthodox (Haredi) Jews and their approach to the World Wide Web

This article surveys the approach of Orthodox Judaism – especially the Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) Judaism – to the Internet. In the introduction we compare the approach of the Abrahamic religions to the Internet. Then we focus on the Haredi community (especially in the contemporary State of Israel) and their specific approach to the Internet. This article argues that the use of the Internet, although officially banned by many Haredi Rabbis, is in fact tolerated on a pragmatic basis. We also survey which kind of “protection against secular threads” the Haredim use (filtering software, Holy Shabbat protection). In the last part of this article the role of the Internet in Israeli religious politics, and by its uses by fundamentalist and radical Jewish groups, is surveyed.

Video Games in the Arab World and beyond - Interview with Vit Sisler

Video games are at the core of a renewed focus of interest and have given birth to what are now known as game studies. Games have to be considered as a fully legitimate field of study for both anthropologists and political scientists, as they are shaping worldviews, social networks and identities and they engage phenomenona of cultural domination/ resistance. They eventually crystallise new forms of collective mobilisation and action and have to be considered as cultural artefacts. Vit Sisler, a researcher in game studies, tells us more about the religious and other challenges that games are posing in the Middle East and Muslim world.
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