Hashtag Islam

How Cyber Islamic Environments are Transforming Religious Authority

Gary R. Bunt, Hashtag Islam: How Cyber Islamic Environments are Transforming Religious Authority, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2018. New Delhi: Pentagon Press, 2018.

Gary R. Bunt is a twenty-year pioneer in the study of cyber-Islamic environments (CIEs). In this new book, he explores the diverse and surprising ways digital technology is shaping how Muslims across vast territories relate to religious authorities in fulfilling spiritual, mystical, and legalistic agendas. From social networks to websites, essential elements of religious practices and authority now have representation online. Muslims, embracing the immediacy and general accessibility of the internet, are increasingly turning to cyberspace for advice and answers to important religious questions. Online environments often challenge traditional models of authority, however. One result is the rise of digitally literate religious scholars and authorities whose influence and impact go beyond traditional boundaries of imams, mullahs, and shaikhs.

Bunt shows how online rhetoric and social media are being used to articulate religious faith by many different kinds of Muslim organizations and individuals, from Muslim comedians and women's rights advocates to jihad-oriented groups, such as the "Islamic State" and al-Qaeda, which now clearly rely on strategic digital media policies to augment and justify their authority and draw recruits. This book makes clear that understanding CIEs is crucial for the holistic interpretation of authority in contemporary Islam.

Editorial Reviews

"For contemporary Islam, the internet has become an empowering tool for religious teaching, mobilization, and networking. Hashtag Islam provides a clear and well-written focus on the impact of cyber-technologies on issues of faith and authority, offering insights into the ways in which the internet has become integrated into the dissemination of Islamic knowledge within global and local contexts. A key contribution that will attract students from an array of disciplines, including Islamic studies, Middle Eastern studies, and political science."—Vahideh Golzard, University of Leeds

"Hashtag Islam--the newest work by one of the pioneers in reporting on Islam in cyberspace--reflects an incredible range of materials, views, and counterviews. It provides a valuable corrective to the tendency to focus on the negative and political uses of the internet and social media by jihadists without due consideration of the more everyday uses by all kinds of Muslims."—
Daniel Varisco, Qatar University

Reviews and Comments

“ … the sociological underpinnings of this work make for a touchstone for further investigation.” James Wetherbee, Library Journal, 'Spirituality and Religion', August 2018

“If you're interested in how Islamic identity is changing across the world as social media grows, pre-order @garybunt's excellent new volume.”
Hussein Kesvani @HKesvani, 23 July 2018

"...by investigating how Muslim communities are utilizing (and being transformed by) the ongoing worldwide digital revolution, this work proves to be an important addition to literature on contemporary Islam."
Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Gary R. Bunt is professor of Islamic Studies at University of Wales, Trinity Saint David. His most recent book is iMuslims.

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