“Cyber Ummah:” The Internet and Muslim Communities

  • Sahar Khamis
Living reference work entry


This chapter unpacks the complexity of the concept of “cyber ummah” and its numerous religious, social, and cultural implications on modern Muslim communities. It starts by defining the concept of “ummah,” in general, and the notion of “cyber ummah,” in particular. In doing so, it tackles the contemporary currents which gave birth to the concept of “cyber ummah” or “virtual ummah,” as it manifests itself in cyberspace today in the form of a “transnational” and “digital” Muslim community, within the international, global sphere (El Nawawy and Khamis 2009). It then moves on to shed light on the numerous implications of the multifaceted, dynamic, and complex notion of the “cyber ummah” on modern Muslim communities in three distinctive, yet overlapping and intertwined, realms, namely: the religious, social, and cultural spheres. In discussing the religious realm, the chapter tackles important issues, such as the mechanisms of redefining religious authority and religious expertise in the age of the Internet. In discussing the social realm, it sheds light on the potential of new modes of communication, in terms of redefining social relationships, as well as contributing to a number of gender-related issues, such as the rise of the phenomenon of “Islamic feminism.” In the cultural realm, the chapter touches upon the significant growth in the number of Muslims living in the diaspora, and how the Internet plays a number of crucial roles, in terms of redefining their relationships with both their homelands, on one hand, as well as their new societies, on the other hand, simultaneously. Finally, the chapter concludes by summing up some of the most significant opportunities and challenges, which the introduction of the Internet poses in Muslim societies today, and how they can contribute to re-envisioning the complex notion of the “cyber ummah.”


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of CommunicationUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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