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Hyper-fundamentalism? Mediating Islam from the halal website to the Islamic talk show

TitleHyper-fundamentalism? Mediating Islam from the halal website to the Islamic talk show
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsEchchaibi, N
JournalJournal of Arab and Muslim Media Research
KeywordsIslam, satellite television, new media, Islamic authority, consumer culture, Amr Khaled

Islam is going through a fundamental diffusion of religious knowledge and authority. Media technologies like the Web and satellite television are facilitating the emergence of a new breadth of Islam in the public sphere in Muslim societies and amongst Muslims in diaspora. Deeply influenced by the global and local dynamics of consumer culture, the proponents of this new Islam are more media-savvy and less dogmatic on how Islam should be mediated than their conservative counterparts. Unlike in the politically engaged Islam, the architects of this new trend are younger Muslims with more business skills than religious knowledge. From websites advertising the latest fashions in Islamic dress and others offering halal versions to non-Islamic foods such as the Italian Salami, the German Sausage or McDonald's burger to television shows encouraging Muslims to use their religion as a success formula for spiritual self-fulfillment and material achievement, the new economic liberalism of Islam is certainly modern in its mediation, but is its substance as liberal as the form?
This paper examines how the new religious media are constructing the image of the modern Muslim and what kind of religious identities and subjectivities emerge as a result of a purely material consumption that is religiously committed. My analysis is based on a textual analysis of a popular Islamic television show on Iqra', a 24-hour Saudi religious channel that prides itself in being the first Islamic entertainment