Reimagining the Ummahl Information technology and the changing boundaries of political Islam
This chapter discusses the role of information technology in the Islamic context and examines how the proliferation of information technology (IT) is likely to affect the ways in which the political community is imagined in Islam. Will global networks and computermediated communication (CMC) enable Muslims to approximate more closely to the ummah, the traditional model of the Islamic world community? Much of the recent literature in sociology and cultural studies suggests that the spread of IT and CMC will lead to the emergence of new forms of community (Jones 1995), but attention is rarely given to the question of how traditional notions of community are mediated and refigured through sustained contact with new technologies of communication. The complex processes commonly referred to under the rubric of globalization can serve to reify these changes, making them potentially available to much larger, and often geographically widespread, audiences. This chapter will explore some of these issues and attempt to assess the extent to which IT could provide the catalyst for a reformation of Muslim discourse. In short, we shall be inquiring as to the future of Islam in the context of globalized information technologies.