Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What’s the Latest Development?

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube: All of these sites played an integral role in the spread of last year’s Arab Spring. Now a recent study confirms that digital technology has penetrated Muslim-majority countries to the point where it is poised to do what technology has always done throughout history: change cultures in fundamental ways. Entrepreneurs are coming up with Islamicized versions of everything from Salamworld (a social networking site similar to Facebook but with added censors) to a sex site that claims to be compliant with sharia law. One researcher notes that young Muslims in particular “are adopting technology to distance themselves from older, traditional practices while also challenging Western models.”

What’s the Big Idea?

The digital revolution is also causing Muslims to discuss – and question – ideas that had long been simply accepted as fact, including, for example, women’s roles in Islamic society. Although there has been some resistance from various clerics, more are proving the old adage “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” by using technology to upload lectures and answer questions online. Of course, anonymous attacks and intolerance exist in this space as it does for the rest of the Internet. However, one blogger from Sudan believes that this is the exception, not the rule, and that “digital media will be to Islam what the printing press was to Christianity—and [could] ultimately lead to a Reformation.”

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