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Muslims on the Path of the Salaf Al-Salih

TitleMuslims on the Path of the Salaf Al-Salih
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsBecker, C
JournalInformation, Communication & Society

The transfer of religious rituals into computer-mediated environments (CMEs) has attracted the attention of scholars in recent years. This article aims to contribute to this field by analysing the ritual dynamics in Dutch and German chat rooms as well as Internet discussion forums popular among Muslims following the Salafiyya. Two questions stand in the centre of the analysis: How are rituals transferred to new CMEs? And what accounts for the varying success of transfer processes? Religious rituals are understood to be successful when they (a) reproduce the core values and norms of a community; (b) involve a significant number of believers; and (c) protect the sacred from the profane. The ritual landscape of a religion undergoes a transformation in the course of the transfer process with mixed results: some rituals like the Muslim conversion ritual migrate successfully while other transfer processes yield ambiguous results, as the discussion of the ritual acts of gender segregation shows. Furthermore, in the case of some rituals like the Muslim prayer, a migration is not even attempted, while, on the other hand, some religious practices can become increasingly ritualized in the new environment and enter the ritual repertoire of a community. This contribution argues that the diverse outcomes of ritual transfer processes are partly the result of the interplay between affordances of CMEs and the exigencies of ritual segments.