Anonymous, 11 Dec 2018
Research on Middle East, Islam and digital media
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Beyond the Traditional-Modern Binary: Faith and Identity in Muslim Women’s Online Matchmaking Profiles

Finding a suitable partner in both diasporic and non-diasporic settings proves increasingly challenging for young Muslims, especially those unable or not wanting to search within their kinship networks. At the same time, religious matchmaking websites are becoming increasingly common especially among Muslim women. As studies of Muslim matchmaking sites tend to focus on the ever-popular topic of the headscarf and its associations in the matchmaking context, a much more comprehensive study of the specificity of the online religious identities and self-representation is required. This paper examines a number of profiles of young Muslim women using online matchmaking sites and discusses broad themes of faith, ethnicity and identity that emerge in the analysis.
CyberOrient

New Media and Social-political Change in Iran

The increasing penetration of new communication technologies into everyday life has attracted a growing interest in the social, economic and political implications of these technologies. Most studies have looked at Western democratic societies and the literature on the developing countries is unfortunately small in comparison. In 2009 Iran witnessed a political upheaval in the aftermath of the presidential election in which the Internet was utilized effectively by the political opposition. News and videos of police brutality and repression were uploaded online, including onto social networking sites, in what was called the ‘Twitter Revolution’. Expectations rose on the capacity of new media to bring about democratic change in Iran. Later developments, however, showed that ‘mouse clicks’ alone do not produce profound political changes. In this article we look at the role of the new media and the social and political functions it took on in the post election period.
CyberOrient

e-Islam: the Spanish Public Virtual Sphere

The increasing presence of Islamic content in cyberspace has made it possible for an ever-expanding Muslim public space to be established. In Spain, institutionalised Islam has found new routes for communication, information and visibilisation with these new technologies. However, as this paper will show, its strategy is based on traditional mass media models of communication, namely the one-way and one-to-many communication models. This leaves room for other types of actors to use strategies based on different communication models: two-way and many-to-many, taking better advantage of the potential in new information and communication technologies to more easily find a niche in Spanish Muslim cyberspace.
CyberOrient

Review: Islam Dot Com: Contemporary Islamic Discourses in Cyberspace

With growing Internet penetration rates and the proliferation of new media outlets in the Muslim world there is a simultaneously growing academic interest in possible social and political changes endorsed by these media. A recent contribution to this rapidly expanding body of research has been provided by Mohammed El-Nawawy and Sahar Khamis. They have co-authored a book called Islam Dot Com: Contemporary Islamic Discourses in Cyberspace, which deals with the virtual Muslim public sphere and the contestation of and deliberation over religious authority and Muslim identity online.
CyberOrient

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.
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