The Use of Technology in Islamic Culture
|✅ Paper Type: Free Essay||✅ Subject: Media|
|✅ Wordcount: 5258 words||✅ Published: 23rd Sep 2021|
Technology can be defined as science applied to practical purposes. It is more than hardware and silicon chips. In propelling change and altering our belief systems and culture, technology has joined religion, tradition, and family in the scope of its influence. Its enhancements of human muscle and human mind are self-evident. But technology is also a social amplifier. It stretches the range, volume, and speed of communications. It inflates appetites for consumer goods and creature comforts. It tends to concentrate wealth and power, and to increase the disparity of rich and poor. In the competition for scarce resources, it breeds conflicts.
In social-psychological terms, it alters our perceptions of space. Events anywhere on the globe now have immediate repercussions everywhere, with a portfolio of tragedies that ignite feelings of helplessness. Technology has also skewed our perception of time, nourishing a desire for speed and instant gratification and ignoring long-term impacts.
Nowadays, when the rapidness of development and research is so impressive, it is easy to think about the advantages of modern technology. Nevertheless some people argue that science can destroy mankind. I’m quite agreeing with them, and I believe that modern technology is destroying the values of our Islamic society somehow. Computers, Cellophanes and the World Wide Web are examples of the modern technology; which are used widely nowadays, and they affect our moralities and manners badly, not because they are useless, but because we used to get the negative aspects out of every thing around us. Therefore, the most frequently asked question is: Does technology go the right way and will it save or ruin our Islamic civilization?
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In this project I wish to set out some of the benefits, the drawbacks and an Islamic view of one of those modern technologies which called The Internet, the influence of it on the Islamic world and the internet from an Islamic respective. As starting point for the Muslims contribution in dialogue with other sectors of society, especially other religious groups, concerning the development and use of this amazing technological mechanism. The Internet is being put to many good uses now, with the promise of many more, but much harm also can be done by its improper use. Which it will be, good or harm, is largely a matter of choice-a choice to whose making the Muslim society brings two elements of great importance: its commitment to the dignity of the human person and its long tradition of moral wisdom.
WHAT IS THE INTERNET?
Ten years ago, the Internet was practically unheard of by most people. Today, the Internet is one of the most powerful tools throughout the world. The Internet is a collection of various services and resources. The Internet or the World Wide Web is indeed a wonderful and amazing addition in our lives. The Internet can be known as a kind of global meeting place where people from all parts of the world can come together. It is a service available on the computer, through which everything under the sun is now at the fingertips of anyone who has access to the Internet. A human brain to our eyes appears approximately six inches in size only but inside this little bowl hidden an ocean of ideas and thoughts. Internet is not that little word as is generally understood but actually it is the name of whole computer world’s universe which is carrying with it sea of knowledge and information that deals with each and every topic that exists on the face of the earth. Today Internet is providing everyone peculiar knowledge and information that one needs. There is no department left about which information are not available on the Internet. In Tokyo, the city of Japan, an exhibition of Information Technology was held in which it was announced that any one who would tell a department name about which no information are given on the Internet would be awarded a prize of one million $ US. However, no one could win the prize at the end of the exhibition. Thus nobody could point out the topic.
The internet has allowed our world to become a globally connected network that advances knowledge everyday. A few years ago the internet was changed forever with the creation of Napster. Napster was the first program that allowed internet users to download music and files with a click of the mouse. However, Napster was a company that was said to be profiting from the website, so musicians took a stand and shut Napster down. By that time millions of people had already become used to the idea of free downloads and wanted more.
THE INTERNET AND SOCIAL CONNECTION
The last few years in the society have seen incredible changes technologically and culturally. Life has become increasingly easier as machines designed to improve living standards proliferated. Communications and travel capabilities have advanced dramatically, with long distance phone calls soon to be a thing of the past. Computers have brought so much information home that many students do all their research from the comfort of their desktop.
Socially the changes have been just as great, though perhaps not always for the better. Children have massacred one another on school grounds. The income inequality gap has steadily risen. Overall, people are feeling less connected to one another than ever before.
Many sociologists subscribe to the belief that the internet, in-home computer usage and widespread availability of virtual access, are transforming modern social and economic life. Problematic to these issues, however, is whether the changes have been beneficial or detrimental. The paper shows that some argue that the internet is causing social isolation and forcing a break from genuine social relationships, while others argue that the internet leads better social relationships by freeing people from mundane restraints of geography, isolationism or factors outside normal controls (e.g., illness, schedules). This group argues that the internet allows people to become socially involved on the basis of common interest rather than the vicariousness of convenience.
If people were to use the Internet primarily for entertainment and information, the Internet’s social effects might resemble those of television. However, research has shown that interpersonal communication is the dominant use of the Internet at home. That people use the Internet mainly for interpersonal communication, however, does not imply that their social interactions and relationships on the Internet are the same as their traditional social interactions and relationships, or that their social uses of the Internet will have effects comparable to traditional social means of communication
ADVANTAGES OF THE INTERNET
In fact, the advantages are out weigh the disadvantages. The most common thing the Internet is used for is research. Children and students are among the top people who use the Internet for research. Today, it is almost required that students use the Internet for research. Thirty percent of teachers give assignments requiring research from the Internet. In the classroom, sixty-six percent of teachers use the Internet to teach. The Internet has become one of the biggest sources for research. Almost everyday, research on medical issues becomes easier to locate. Web sites have become available for people to research diseases and talk to doctors online at sites.
Another popular thing to do on the Internet is to check out the news. Almost all local news can be obtained through the Internet. Using the Internet to get the weather allows people to view weather all over the world. Live radar all over the country and local forecasts are just to name a few of the things that may be obtained for weather information on the Internet.
Shopping online has also become a huge success and is considered a great advantage of the Internet. No matter what people are shopping for, it can be found on the Internet. People do not even have to leave their homes. A few companies have collected millions of dollars using the Internet for selling. Clothing is probably one of the most bought items online. Almost every major clothing store has its on Web site. Just one click of the mouse on the items they want to purchase and the items are delivered to their front door.
DISADVANTAGES OF THE INTERNET
Despite all of these advantages of the Internet, there are numerous disadvantages. Many fear the Internet because of its disadvantages. They claim to not use the Internet because they are afraid of the possible consequences or are simply not interested. People who have yet connected to the Internet claim they are not missing anything. Today technological society must realize, it is up to them to protect themselves on the Internet
Children using the Internet have become a big concern. When children are online, they can easily be lured into something dangerous. When children talk to others online, they do not realize they could actually be talking to a harmful person. There are a number of tools available today that may help keep the Internet environment safer for children. Some companies, such as America Online, try to monitor everything that is said and done on their online service; however, because thousands of chat rooms are available, it is simply impossible for everything to be monitored. In other words, children want to explore things; however, there are people on the Internet that are just too believable. Most parents do not realize the dangers involved when their children log onto the Internet. Prophet Mohammad SAW Said: ÙƒÙ„ÙƒÙ… Ø±ØØ¹ Ùˆ ÙƒÙ„ÙƒÙ… Ù…Ø³Ø¦ÙˆÙ„ Ø¹Ù† Ø±Ø¹ÙŠØªÙ‡) (, thus parents should be aware of what their children are doing or seeing .. It is the duty of parents to raise their children upon the teachings of Islam by using all possible good means. In fact, the Internet can help parents in this regard if it is used correctly. However, parents should guide their children to the ways of using it in a positive way and protect them against misusing this service.
The prominent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Muhammad Iqbal Nadvi, Imam of Calgary Mosque, Alberta, Canada, and Former Professor at King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, States: “There are many ways of protecting both children and ourselves from the haram (unlawful) as follows:
- By creating a barrier between us and sins.
- By providing alternatives to take us away from the haram.
Parents need to establish firm and healthy channels of communication with their children and explain to them the Islamic position concerning these issues and how to deal with them. The best way to achieve this is to be a good role model for their children, for if they see their parents as a good example, they will learn the good from them as well.
Parents are supposed to introduce alternatives to them. There are many good Islamic websites that they can visit and learn from. They can be given tasks to do on each website, and then can receive prizes for that.
Most importantly we must teach our kids how to choose the right friends, who are aware of Islamic teachings and can protect them from learning about haram..
One of the Islamic rules is the consideration of the other rights. The accessibility and freedom of copyrighting is also one of the disadvantages of the Internet. E.g. Musicians are one of those who are worried because of that. They are upset because the Internet provides their music online at no charge to customers. File-sharing services, such as Napster, provide copyrighted songs to all Internet users. The main concern is – the music is free! Musicians feel they are not getting paid for their work. Because of Napster, it is almost impossible to close down all file-sharing services; there are too many of them to count. Legal cases have developed across the country with copyright owners declaring that their music is being plagiarized by people on the Internet.
Another major disadvantage of the Internet is privacy. Electronic messages sent over the Internet can be easily snooped and tracked, revealing who is talking to whom and what they are talking about. People should become aware that the collection, selling, or sharing of the information they provide online increases the chances that their information will fall into the wrong hands. Consequently, they will become a victim of identity theft, one of the worst privacy violations with potentially devastating financial consequences. When giving personal information on the Internet, people should make sure the Web site is protected with a recognizable security symbol. On the other hand, this does not mean they are fully protected because anyone may obtain user information.
Today, not only are humans getting viruses, but computers are also. Computers are mainly getting these viruses from the Internet; yet, viruses may also be transmitted through floppy disks. However, people should mainly be concerned about receiving viruses from the Internet. Some of these dangerous viruses destroy the computer entire hard drive, meaning that the user can no longer access the computer. Virus protection is highly recommended.
THE INFLUENCE OF THE INTERNET ON THE ISALMIC WORLD
Although there has been a tremendous amount of discussion in the popular press about how the Internet is changing all facets of Islamic social life, research on the impact of the Internet is only beginning to emerge. A review of the studies reported in this issue suggests that the Internet may have had less impact on many aspects of social life than is frequently supposed. In many cases, the Internet seems to have created a new way of doing old things, rather than being a technology that changes the manner in which people live their lives. As a consequence, the policy implications of increasing Internet use may be less than is often believed.
(The Internet and Youth Subculture in Kuwait)
Young people in Kuwait constitute both the highest concentration of Internet users (estimated to be approximately 63% of all Internet users in Kuwait) and the largest sector of Kuwaiti society. Moreover, as argued in this article, young people’s Internet practices are likely to stimulate the most significant changes in Kuwaiti society. This article scrutinizes a handful of descriptions by young Kuwaiti of the importance and implication of the Internet in their lives.
Survey Research on Kuwaiti Youths and the Internet, 1996-2001
This was the first professional conference to consider the development and impact of the Internet in Kuwait, and the Islamic World in general, ever held in the Gulf. The papers presented that independently came to the same conclusions:
- “Kuwaiti youths seem to be the most deeply effected by the transformations in communicative practices enabled by the Internet. They focused on the ways in which the Internet was detrimental to face-to-face social ties between peers and among family members. They argued that customarily, young (and old) Kuwaiti men had gathered in the late afternoon and evenings to drink tea and eat sweets together. Women had done the same. With the introduction of the Internet, young people argue that they find it more enjoyable to surf the net in the evenings instead of participating in traditional social rituals. A recent regional survey found that 55% of Internet use takes place between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m., the hours when tea and home visits, or visits to the diwaniyya (male social clubs) are most likely to occur”.
- “young people are unlikely to use the Internet along with other family members (just over 10% did), which means that family ties are potentially jeopardized by Internet use. Instead, youths share their ideas and positive energies in cyberspace with people they don’t know personally. While such interactions foster a positive sense of being one with the world. Only 7.8% of the students surveyed by Mazeedi and Ismail were taught to use the Internet by a family member. Thus the authors conclude that ‘families don’t set the rules of standards on how to use the Internet ethically and academically’. Moreover, since students often use the Internet to meet with the opposite sex (more than 30% admitted to this as a regular practice) Islamic sanctions against interactions with the opposite sex outside of relatives and marriage are transgressed”.
- “Throughout my fieldwork, I met people who had fallen in love, or attempted to, via the Internet. One person I interviewed explained that her brother and sister-in-law had fallen in love via the computer. They met in a chatroom. Over time they developed a regular cyber-relationship. One day, several months into the relationship, they decided to meet in person. When they went to pay for their Internet subscriptions at the Ministry of Communication building, they decided to wait for each other near the entrance. It was love at first sight and they decided ultimately to marry. There were some problems, however, because he was Shi’i and she was Sunni, and her parents refused to bless the engagement. Ultimately love won out, and their wedding cake was shaped like a computer, a symbol of the amazing tool that brought them together, enabling the transgression of sectarian lines which divide Kuwaitis and interrupting the ritual of arranged or semi-arranged marriages”.
- “73.4% of students who use the Internet felt that it was being used in socially abusive and ethically unreliable ways. Similarly, 61.1% of those surveyed felt that “the morals and behavior of the students have been affected negatively by the Internet”.
- “Students continue to misuse the Internet. Many of them “sneak into Internet cafes to freely browse through sites linked with immoral activities without check”.
- “Cyber-relations could in fact help young men and women in Kuwait to understand the other gender in a way that might improve communication between the sexes in marriage and the family. Moreover, the Internet might give young people more sovereignty over the choice of a spouse. Often family members choose a spouse for their child based upon standards related to what might improve or protect the social status of the family as a whole”.
- “While some Kuwaiti students are critical of the ways in which the Internet enables them to violate the norms they are raised to hold, others are taking full advantage of the Internet as a vehicle for challenging Kuwaiti society’s increasingly conservative view of proper public interaction between the sexes. Students increasingly find cyberspace an attractive place in which to experiment with unfamiliar or endangered forms of social interaction. To a degree, students’ cyber-relations reveal that the Internet supports “decentralization, individual empowerment, resilience and self-sufficiency”. practices which coincide with the design principles of the technology. The fact that many Kuwaiti youths remain critical of such practices illustrates how Muslim values help to filter and buffer the meanings and implications of such experiences. Local cultural and social frameworks both shape what is revolutionary about the use of a new tool, and in addition, influence the pace of change”.
A research project about the effects of the Internet on the social Arab world
Dr. Albrecht Hofheinz put the cyber world into the context of social behavior in order to identify more clearly whether any possible effects of “virtual” changes are becoming apparent in the real world.
As for if people are dealing with religious and political questions, and how do transnational and local publics connect and interact with one another? He commented
“In the 1990s, Internet enthusiasts had a vision: all you need is a modem, a PC, and an Internet connection to have the world at your fingertips. This gave rise to the hypothesis that the entire structure of the way in which public opinions are formed would be transformed by significantly facilitating access to publication opportunities for a large number of people. It was felt that public debates would spread around the world, thereby bringing about a radical change in the formation of opinions in Arab-Islamic countries.
The theory was that the emancipator effect of this development would be twofold: larger sections of society would become more involved in the formation of opinions and this, in turn, would result in greater participation in decision-making processes. In other words, the Internet would spread democracy.
The aim of his research project was to test the theory that more people would get involved in the opinion formation process and would have more to contribute to this process as a result of the Internet. Implicitly, this would pose a threat to the hegemony of traditional hierarchies and authorities in terms of shaping opinions:
The theory was that it would soon become second nature to Internet users to form their own opinions and not simply to refer to a single authoritative source and blindly follow the opinions presented there. The fact that users would themselves be able to comment on material published by others and discuss solutions in a non-hierarchical manner would result in the development of a social dynamism that would inherently help accelerate the democratization of decision-making processes. That was the theory on which this research project was based”.
About the developed of the use of the Internet in Arab countries he claimed
“We can’t generalize. The state reaction to the Internet phenomenon differs from country to country in the Arab world. None of these countries now completely rejects the Internet. However, some treat the occurrence more restrictively than others. The first countries to open up to the Internet in the early days were traditional, liberal economic, pro-Western states like Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain”.
As for the free access to the Internet in the Arabic world he commented
“A comparison of the countries in the Arab world reveals that some allow completely free access to the Internet while others channel all Internet traffic through a filter. This central filter allows them to block access to specific sites. But anyone with technical know-how can get around these filters. This sort of filter censorship can be found in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Syria.
The Saudis, for example, only opened up public access to the Internet in 1999 after a long delay: they waited until the technical requirements for total filtering were fulfilled. Beforehand, the debate had centered on how Saudi society could be protected against damaging influences through the Internet”.
Dr. Hofheinz commented on the way that Arab countries are dealing with the Internet
“Many Muslim thinkers and scholars were very careful and feared that the Internet could lead to an infiltration and wearing down of Muslim social and moral standards. In this context, discussions with Islamic overtones took place. These same discussions had other overtones elsewhere: in Asia, for example, but also in Europe and anywhere people think that the Internet might lead to a homogenization of the cultures.
In concrete terms, this means that western or American cultural values and ideas are disseminated under the existing balance of power. This discussion has not become any less powerful to this day. On the other hand, Islamic groups were some of the first to make use of the Internet”.
At the end Dr. Hofheinz talked about his theory
My initial theory has not proven well-founded in the short term. But that doesn’t mean that all opportunities have been wasted. I would say instead that the initial theory was naive in its radicalism. It was quite simply naive to expect the introduction of the Internet to unleash a political tidal wave. One has to examine what socialization process are being promoted on the Internet.
The trend is clear: the Internet reinforces the role and the self-confidence of the subject. Even the chatting of young people should not be underestimated. It is easier to talk openly in chat rooms about things that are usually only talked about among friends.
I still believe that this will lead to a change in political culture: not necessarily a radical change and not only as a result of the Internet, but the Internet is undoubtedly an important factor.
THE INFLUENCE OF THE INTERNET FROM AN ISLAMIC PRESPECTIVE
Many researches and scholars consider the internet as the real reason for the flourishing of the so called “Islamic Virtual Ummah”, what do you think?
In so far as “virtual” today has become ‘virtually identical’ to cyberspace, this is certainly correct. Further, there is no doubt that the Internet has contributed greatly to a new growth of ‘pan-Islamic’ feelings among many of its Muslim users. This phenomenon should, however, not be regarded in isolation from its social and historical context.
Muslim activists on the Internet have been drawn first and foremost, in the beginnings, in the 1990s, from among these circles, and they have found in the Internet an ideal medium to share reflections on their beliefs, identity, practicies, policies, social life, moral ways, etc. In other words, to think of themselves as a community in new ways that were more self-reflected, and less bound by tradition, than tended to be the case ‘back home’. And this new community is often referred to, or thought of as, a “virtual ummah”.
In how far do you think what happens on the Internet has any effect on ‘real’ life? Especially in the context of the murder of Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands: the murderer apparently used texts from the extremist websites in the letter he left on the body of his victim.
The Internet is thus less revolutionary than it is often made to appear. Rather, it is the latest incarnation in a long development of media that have helped Muslims (among other people) to imagine their belonging.
The Internet is a medium; media, consumed, are part of people’s socialization and can influence their thoughts and acts. To say so much is trivial – but it has to be said since some people still question the effect of the net on ‘real’ life.
Exactly how, and to what extent, media influence people’s thoughts and acts is, however, a very different question. After 40 years of research into the effects of television, there is no unanimity among researches about the nature and quality of these effects.
And the debate continues on how exactly to measure such effects. Comparatively speaking, Internet research is still in its infancy, but the problems are essentially the same.
People are influenced in their thoughts and acts by a great variety of factors, and to posit some simple linear connections between material posted on the net, or people’s online activities, and their acts in ‘real life’, is too simplistic.
All that can be said with some certainty is that the Internet is likely to play an increasingly important role in people’s socialization, and that therefore the way material, thought, ideas, social relations etc are presented on the net is going to exert a growing influence on “real life”.
With regard to Islam, for example, this means that increasingly, only material easily accessible on the net will be considered by the majority of Muslim Internet users in the construction of what Islam ‘means’, and how one should live properly as a Muslim.
Do you think that the Internet’s effect of reducing and simplifying complicated and rich cultural and religious traditions will eventually lead to a loss of Islamic knowledge and traditional authority? And do you think this is necessarily a dangerous or undesirable development?
Primarily it is an unavoidable development that should not be lamented so much as is taken as a challenge.
And secondly, the simplification of the scholastic canon that is speeded by the Internet (but which in itself is a development that started much earlier, in the 18th century C.E.) is but one side of a larger development which at heart is dialectical. One the one side, the complicated scholastic tradition is reduced to relatively simple ‘truths’ – but on the other hand, these ‘truths’ get reappropriated by many more people than ever before, and in the process of this appropriation new ways of thinking are engendered, which in turn will lead to a new culture, or rather, new rich cultures, and new traditions, over time.
In your opinion, to what extent is Islam represented on the internet? And in compared to other religions?
With regard to the first part of the question, it is noticeable that the representation of Islam on the Internet started ‘from the periphery’ so to speak- from the US- (and European) based on Diaspora.
For long, their voices on the Internet were much more prominent than voices from the established centers of Islamic learning in the Muslim heartlands, and that has “sent the note”, to an extent.
What are the most popular Islamic websites on the net? It is not al-Azhar, or the Zaytuna or Deoband.
Rather, it is sites like Islam Online, Amr Khaled, Islamweb, al-islam.com, Isalm Today
Sites that operate from ‘the sides’ of the old establishment, if you will (and I include Islamweb from Qatar and al-Islam.com from Sakhr among the ‘sides’ here).
So, the representation of Islam on the Internet clearly has changed from what it was before. And one may also argue that for seasoned users – those who know how to find things – the plurality of voices has dramatically increased.
If one knows how to find, one can find pretty much anything on the net today, including pretty much any of the many representations of Islam.
In conclusion, today society is in the middle of a technological boom. People can either choose to take advantage of this era, or simply let it pass them by. The Internet is a very powerful tool. It has many advantages; however, people need to be extremely aware of the disadvantages as well.
People on the Internet participate in a unique electronic culture. Like all other cultures, the Internet culture has its own norms, standards and expectations for members of the electronic community. A number of resources exist to help people who are new to the Internet learning about its electronic culture. These resources usually address one of two topics: ethics or etiquette.
Internet etiquette, which is often called netiquette, is similar to and often overlaps with ethical issues; however, netiquette is less a strict code of conduct and more an understanding of what constitutes good manners and electronic community expectation.
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