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Digitalizing Islamic lectures: Islamic apps and religious engagement in contemporary Indonesia

Abstract

Contemporary mobile phone technology has brought millions of apps into the pockets of users, including a wide variety oriented towards religious concerns. Such apps appear to be creating new forms of religious engagement, a process that is particularly visible within Indonesia. This paper will examine the so-called ‘Aa Gym’ app, one of the Islamic apps launched by the Indonesian popular preacher, Abdullah Gymnastiar, an early adopter of mobile technology for religious purposes. The paper argues that the Aa Gym app illustrates how the mediatization of religion inherent in mobile technologies is reshaping the way that Indonesians engage with Islamic teachings. First, ‘Aa Gym’ app has created new forms of religious engagement through an extension of religious interaction and communication in a media landscape. Second, ‘Aa Gym’ app has described that media has become a new site for the discovery of religious meanings as a result of the spread of religious authority. Thirdly, ‘Aa Gym’ app is a kind of embodiment of accommodation of media logic performed by the religious figure in order to remain accessible to the public which is increasingly media-saturated.

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Notes

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    All interviews were conducted in Bahasa Indonesia which is also the first language of the author.

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Correspondence to Moch Fakhruroji.

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Fakhruroji, M. Digitalizing Islamic lectures: Islamic apps and religious engagement in contemporary Indonesia. Cont Islam 13, 201–215 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11562-018-0427-9

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Keywords

  • Islamic apps
  • Islamic lecture
  • Digital religion
  • Mediatization
  • Religious engagement