This is a dissertation to study the growing phenomenon of communicating Islamic knowledge on the Internet. More specifically, the dissertation aims at unraveling the spectacle of Islamic representation. Five Islamic websites are highlighted and their content, activities and performance are analyzed and evaluated. In addition, the management practices of these websites are also considered. This will comprise administrative applications, including sources of funding (zakat) and financial performance. This will provide a discourse for the appraisal of Islamic websites operating in an eastern context. The study also allows for the development of a comprehensive framework by which to compare and contrast the teachings of Islam through traditional means, and the application of the Internet as a new and advanced method of Muslim scholarship. In effect, this is a study that aims at researching the teachings of a traditional religion as communicated through a contemporary media source. The advent of the World Wide Web and the rapid spread of the Internet have led to the explosion of online media sources. Especially among youth, the reliance on the Internet as a medium of communication and a source of information has reached unprecedented levels and proportions. The Internet has become an indispensable tool for updates on politics, the economy, weather, sports and a host of other events and activities. Bunt (2000) pointed out that “from scholars to casual browsers, millions of people, Muslims and non-Muslims now use the Internet as a primary source of information” Electronic communication, most notably the Internet, has revolutionized Communication technologies. The Internet has clearly changed our way of life and has expanded our horizons beyond means that would have been incomprehensible just ten years ago. In addition, whereas traditional media – such as radio, television, newspapers and magazines – requires considerable capital outlay, the Internet has quite simply revolutionized the way we regard media. Anyone with a computer and Internet connectivity is in a position to upload and disseminate material to a worldwide audience. Objectives
The purpose of this research is to critically examine a number of websites with an Islamic context and to analyze the way their activities are conducted. The main objective of the paper is to develop a framework for the understanding of the operations of selected Islamic websites. Imperative to the development of this framework is the researcher’s intention to deconstruct, Said’s (1997) notion of how the West covers Islam and to update this theory for Internet purposes in order to present a clearer view of Islam vis-à-vis western media. In effect an analysis is to be conducted on five Islamic websites on the Internet: IslamiCity.com, dawateislami.net, altafsir.com, and quran.al-islam.com. Furthermore this research seeks to analyze the management practices of these websites or of the organizations that operate and maintain these Islamic websites. In doing so, the researcher aims at answering questions relating to why these communication media exist and what is the overriding purpose of their very existence. The first website to be studied is IslamiCity.com. IslamiCity website was launched in 1995. It provides a non-sectarian, comprehensive and holistic view of Islam and Muslims to a global audience. The IslamiCity.com website is operated by Human Assistance and Development International, a non-profit organization interested in socio-economic, scientific and educational development based in Culver City, California. The second website is Dawat-e-Islami was founded in 1981 at Babul Medina Karachi, Pakistan, by [Muhammad Ilyas Attar Qadri. He established a form of preaching focused on the practice of "The Faraaiz" meaning the obligatory statutes, "The Waajibaat" meaning the incumbent duties, 'The Sunnan' meaning the Sunnahs, 'The Mustahabbat' meaning the approved or...
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