Gary R. Bunt‘s article, “Surfing the App Souq: Islamic Applications for Mobile Devices” appeared in CyberOrient, Online Journal on the “Virtual Middle East” hosted by the website Digital Islam. I learned about it from Heidi Campbell’s blog. Here is the article’s abstract and conclusion.
This article introduces issues associated with Islamic apps for mobile devices, and surveys some of the products that have emerged into the market. It considers the potential impact of mobile phone interfaces in relation to interpretations of Islam and the use of Islamic resources, given that mobile devices have widened potential audiences for online materials in various forms, especially in areas where other forms of digital access may be more problematic. The article also explores some of the religious and ethical concerns associated with mobile phone use.
The impact of increased and varied phone applications in the name of Islam is transformative, in that it offers wider access to Islamic resources (amongst a competitive marketplace) and digital access continue to increase. As 3G phone technology becomes more widely available, evolves (towards 4G) and is integrated into more phones, then the key providers of apps and other phone compatible services have the potential to be a significant channel of influence and authority. Islamic software products continue to develop at the cutting edge of technological innovation, so as new products for mobile phones enter the marketplace, one can expect developers and content providers to respond with Islamically ‘appropriate’ applications. The modes and communications dynamics of scholars, opinion providers and petitioners (or consumers) are shifting in response to technological developments, while perhaps maintaining the essence of long-held traditions of religious authority and interpretation. Following these trends will be a significant area for observers of Islam in the contemporary world.