Hashtag Islam: How Cyber- Islamic Environments Are Transforming Religious Authority

Gary Bunt. Univ. of North Carolina, $24.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4696-4316-8
In this incisive investigation, Bunt (iMuslims) situates ISIS’s use of social media within a broader context of “Cyber Islamic Environments” and highlights how social media is reshaping Islam worldwide. When Jihadi John, a British citizen who defected to ISIS and carried out beheadings on camera, went viral in 2014 and 2015, Bunt writes, there was a furor of media activity surrounding the technological prowess of the Islamic State and its ability to spread terror around the world via tweets, YouTube videos, and online chat rooms. Homing in on this point of transition, Bunt adroitly illustrates how approaches to religious authority, interpretation, power, and communication have changed over the last two decades. These broader observations are constructed through in-depth studies of al-Qaeda’s burgeoning “e-jihad” movement, online Muslim dating networks, celebrity ayatollahs on Twitter, and “snapwas”—fatwas, or religious rulings, delivered via SnapChat. Broad in scope, Bunt’s survey moves at a fast pace and covers a lot of ground as it introduces the reader to the vast variety of digital expressions within global Islam. For this reason, it lacks some nuance, context, and critical analysis. Nevertheless, 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. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/27/2018
Release date: 10/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 232 pages - 978-1-4696-4315-1
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