Interpreting Islam through the Internet: making sense of hijab
- First Online:
Hijab, the practice of modesty or "covering," is one of the most visible and controversial aspects of Islam in the twenty-first century, partly because the Qur'an offers so little guidance on proper dress. This forces Muslims to engage in ijtihad (interpretation), which historically has resulted in vast differences in dress around the world. By transcending some of the boundaries of space, time and the body, the Internet has emerged as a place where Muslims from diverse backgrounds can meet to debate ideas and flesh them out through shared experiences. After discussing hijab in the Qur'an and other traditional sources, this article explores the use of cyberspace as a multi-media platform for learning about and debating what constitutes appropriate Islamic dress. The last section focuses on a case study of the multi-user "hijablog" hosted by thecanadianmuslim.ca, which represents one of the largest in-print discussions on hijab ever recorded in the English language. On this blog and other forums like it, ijtihad has become a critical tool for debate on matters such as hijab, which are important but sparsely discussed in the Qur'an.