Digital Islam, Education, And Youth: Changing Landscape Of Indonesian Islam


1. Developing Models of Religious Education to Counter Conservatism and Radicalism

Despite the fact that schools are ideologically neutral in educating students, they can serve as the breeding ground for the spread of radicalism and terrorism. As some studies have revealed, a significant number of teachers in Indonesian schools are identified to be hostile to difference and tolerance. Some of them are even classified as radical in ideology. This fact is worrisome since the position of teachers is critical in spreading the ideology of radicalism and terrorism, not only to their students in schools but also to wider audience at large. It is within this context that schools must be responsible in developing models of religious education whose function is to transform students into tolerant and civic citizenship. This sub-theme is aimed at calling for panels to explore the multitude of explanations on how religious education can develop its models in countering radicalism and terrorism in schools.

2. Digitalization of Islamic Texts

There is no question that primary sources are important for Islamic studies. The long history of Islamic civilization has inherited a huge number of classical texts in various fields, not only Islamic studies but also pure science. The contemporary digital world has changed the way students, scholars, and researchers get access to the variety of sources of material for their academic purposes. To visit libraries is still important, but to have distant access is necessary. Digitizing, converting, and preserving classical Islamic texts are now generally seen as the best way forward for providing access and preserving this cultural heritage. Libraries, universities, charity foundations, and individuals around the world have paid attention to cooperating in digitization projects that focus on unique Islamic manuscript collections as the most efficient way to provide scholars all over the world access to rich materials and to preserve those valuable primary sources that were deteriorating. They put the materials online, with free access. This sub-theme is calling for panels to discuss and share best practices of digitization projects of Islamic texts: what materials to digitize, what methods to apply, what policies to provide open access, and what implications to the scholarly works.

3. Religious Authority and Fatwa in the Digital Age

Various religious, psychological, social, political, and economic issues emerging in the society have triggered necessary responses. People are mostly referring to the Internet as the simplest and most effective way to address their concerns in response to the emerging issues they encounter including on the debate of Islamic fatwa. The availability of materials on fatwa in the Internet provided by non-authoritative persons and institutions has become a serious issue, particularly in shaping youth thoughts and attitudes. The dynamics of the issues of fatwa and the debate among scholars in the current digital era therefore are among the very important topic for the development of a more beneficial academic contribution the society, especially within the Muslim world. This subtheme is calling for panels and inviting scholars and academicians from various sub disciplines within Islamic studies to present their research and share their experiences related to religious authority and fatwa in the current digital era.

4. Islam, Youth and Social Media

Traditionally, Islamic teaching has been transmitted through a face-to-face direct interaction between teachers and students. For some, this mode of transmission has guaranteed the reliability of the teaching transmitted. Meanwhile, this takes a longer period of study and a distanced physical mobility. During the contact in the process the study, teachers also transmit hidden living values. In the digital era, social media, such as Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, and Instagram, have been transformed to be one of main media of the transmission. For youth, being Muslim does not necessarily need a longer time as before and requires them to move far away from the hometown. Social media provides “Islam” instantly in their gadget. However, the content might be more fragmented for the limited space and time to access the information in the social media. Yet, the value has also changed for the less human contact. This subtheme is calling for panels to discuss Islam, youth and social media. Among the questions need to be addressed: how Islam is represented in the social media? What kind of Islam is most preferable for youth in social media? How youth perceive and present Islam in social media? How youth relate themselves to the past and present Islam in Social Media? What are the dynamic and change of being Muslim for youth relying mostly on social media?

5. Islamic Literatures of Millennial Generation

Before the invention of the Internet, people learn new information mostly from oral and print sources. The internet does not only change our ability to access information, but also increases the variety and amount of the information. Islamic literatures are of course not an exception. Many people today, especially the young (millennial) generation, learn Islam from the Internet. The coming of smart phone and social media application to our everyday life has increased our exposure to the internet sources. The internet sources are ready-to-use, instant and equal. The traditional religious authorities, therefore, are challenged by other new-born authorities. Young people today certainly read print literatures, including the Islamic ones, but they find them mostly in the internet for the first time. Thus, the production and dissemination of Islamic knowledge are highly influenced by the use of the internet. This subtheme is calling for panels to discuss Islamic literatures of the millennial generation.

6. Islam, Marketing and Consumption

Currently, Muslim communities all over the world have become one of the important potential markets for various products and services. Meanwhile, there has also been a trend of growing business and industry that cater specific needs of Muslims, such as halal cosmetics, halal tourism, Muslim fashions, etc. On one side, Indonesia is even considered as one of the centers for Muslim fashions business that penetrate the Southeast Asian and The Middle East markets and customers. On the other side, the rapid advancement of information technologies has also provided the chances for Muslim businessman/women to engage in various online businesses.  The [Muslim] millennial generation go further by creating the “start up” products/applications that facilitate the market and customers in digital interactions, and wider consumptions beyond the limit of regions. This subtheme is calling for panels to explore the Islamic perspectives on market and consumption, as well as the opportunities and challenges as the result of the growing potentials market that target Muslim communities and bring about the Islamic tenet to their marketing values that also highlights the effects of the digital era to the issue of marketing and consumption.

7. Cultural Adoption through Online Practices

In the digital age, the interaction and encounter of several different cultures are simply unavoidable. Especially through social media, such an encounter has allowed the process of dialogue that leads to cultural tensions and conflicts as well as cultural borrowings. This phenomenon can explain why cultural expressions in public sphere tend to be multi-vocal, and not monolithic. A particular identity can no longer be claimed to belong to any particular culture. In case of cultural borrowings, the so-called “cultural hybridity” as a result of inter-cultural marriage can emerge in the public sphere. This sub-theme is calling for panels to discuss and cultural adoption through online practices and to share the debate by scholars in the related fields. They are designed to investigating more deeply the multi-vocality of cultural expression and adoption in the public sphere through online practices.

8. Echoes of Radicalism and Populism in Online Media

Radicalism in the cyberspace is still being considered as one of the most interesting topics for research, especially in Indonesia. On Google search engine, for example, Islamic themes tend to appear at most in materials being presented by websites that have fundamentalism, textual and even radical features. The echoes of radicalism in cyberspace website content is still a major concern. In the digital era today, people tend to choose instant ways to find answers to the problems of religious life that they encounter in their everyday life. This subtheme is calling for panels to discuss Islamic radical website movements, and of course, seeing the rival religious website movements as well as the efforts of the progressive moderate groups in countering it. The panels are also to share significant recommendations for academic works and Muslim Society in responding to Muslims’ problems and concerns. Interdisciplinary papers from various backgrounds are welcome.

9. Hijrah, Representation and Identity

Hijrah normatively refers to the historical event of the Prophet’s migration from Makkah to Madinah. The event is celebrated as the beginning of Muslim calendar, Hijriyah. For some, the term of Hijrah has been substantiated as a transformation to a better life and situation. However, recently, the term of Hijrah has been materialized by physical appearances, clothes, the way of speaking, religious affiliation etc. Hijrah has transformed to be a lifestyle which marks ones’ identity. Henceforth, it brings about the construction of various social movements which are mostly initiated by and targeted to Muslim youth. For some, the invitation movement to Hijrah takes various ideas of Islamism as a criticism against “un-Islamic” life. Meanwhile, those in the movement have also appropriated themselves to the real context of life which leads them to the so called post-Islamism. Eventually, hijrah in recent year is a politics of representation and identity, especially for youth. How could we understand these phenomena in the context of Indonesia now and alter? Whether these phenomena are unique or globalized? This subtheme is calling for panels to discuss such kind of questions related to Hijrah, representation and identity.

10. Islam, Cinema and Youth Music

Along with the latest trend of having Islam as identity among youth, spheres in which youth expresses their existence are being more Islamized. Among the main spheres are music and cinema. In past, both are regarded mainly as entertainment. Now they are treated as tools of showing Islamic identity in a public sphere. It was only Rhoma Irama’s films and music in the 80’s which were in the dakwah (Islamic preaching) genre with vast audiences regardless of their age. Today, youth produce and consume many more similar films in varying genres. Meanwhile, music which is prohibited from some orthodox views has been appropriated for youth by producing an alternative genre of music, such as nasyid, by rejecting non-Islamic music tools, but human voices. Recently, some are rising as young stars among the youth or even older generation by remaking the existing genre of music in Islam, such shalawat (praising the Prophet). We could name the Shabyan among the stars who performs shalawat in a trendy and youth friendly style, from clothes, tone, clips, and media without showing its rejection towards any other kinds of music and its tools. This subtheme is calling for panels to discuss cinema and music within Islam and Muslim youth that are becoming public rooms of their reception toward contemporary life as well as their religio-secular identity. Both are the expression of identity contestation for youth of being Muslim in contemporary time.

11. Reinterpreting Jihad Doctrine for Youth

Some Qur’anic verses, hadiths and Islamic legal texts on jihad have been misused by some Muslims in the contemporary period for legalizing their violent and even terrorist actions. This misuse results from their improper understanding of the texts. This phenomenon has occurred in the meantime among young generation. This fact should be responded to and anticipated not only in an academic way, but also in a pragmatic one. On this basis, this subtheme is calling for panels inviting all researchers, lecturers, social agents, and students to write an article on the debate being mentioned. The panels may discuss how the religious texts should be understood and interpreted in such a way, so that they are not considered as sources of violence and terrorism. Various methods and approaches might be applied to this project. It is also important to think of the way you present your writing for young generation.

12. Health Practices in the Digital Age

Over the last decade, there has been innovative practices in global health with aiming to showcase innovative, accessible and sustainable practices in order to facilitate access and health equity. Mental health disorders, for example, have become an area of concern for maintaining a “productive” population, as attention has shifted to endemics which slowly diminish the capacity to live a long and productive life and that the care of society depends upon disciplinary technologies that aim to educate and manage people about health and self-care. Studies show that people who mentally ill deemed as a burden on the state are commonly objects of governmentality. They explore the intersection between institutional discourse, narratives of personal experience, and media forms. It contributes to the burgeoning field of Digital Discourse Studies to provide improved tools for sociolinguistic and discourse-analytic research in new media contexts by combining governmentality theory, multimodality studies, and CDA methodologies that serve new media environments. This is an example of how to develop  integrated and multisectoral approaches due to the complexity of global health. Within the digital era, it is essential to elaborate the impact of the digital revolution in health practices such as diagnoses, interventions, and services. This subtheme is calling for panels, especially from academicians and health practicioners, to present their research as well as their experiencies in applying affordable social media in the health care issues.

13. New Trends in Halal Industry

Current collective awareness of Halal industry has been arisen which is not merely on foods and beverages aspects but also on economics, the pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, personal care products, toiletries,  tourism  and others. The dynamic of a ‘halal’ term may lead to a claim of ‘Islamization’ or natural and systematic human concerns of being healthy and equity. A number of study shows that the availability of halal label or certificate is not sufficient for Muslims to consume or use with respect to Islamic law, but also encourages manufacturers to meet the halal standards. In relation to halal cosmetics and personal care products, the important procedures and clinical aspects should strictly be considered such as halal ingredients and use of permissible substances which must be manufactured, stored, packaged and delivered in line with Sharia requirements. Recently, there has been different mode of information transmission dealing with halal product such as social media in which it is very effective and costly limited and time-consumed.  This subtheme is calling for panels to identify factors contributing to the increasing numbers of community, particularly Muslims in using halal products. They may also examine how social media is used effectively in promoting and accessing halal products including the challenges as well as the opportunities.

14. Sacred Texts and Theology in the Digital Age

The technological achievements have changed almost all aspects of live. Not only have they changed the way human beings live, but also they have transformed the way they think, believe, and behave. On the one hand, they might benefit much from the technological improvement, and on the other hand, they are challenged to a greater extent. These opportunities and challenges can also be experienced by those who are concerned with sacred texts and theology. On this basis, this subtheme is calling for panels by inviting scholars, researchers, and students to write articles related to these experiences and expectations discussing sacred texts and theology in the digital era.

15. Youth, Religion and Cyber Psychology

Youth in a number of countries made up a significant number of the digital users relied heavily on the digital data or information for various objectives and practices. In some instances, the millennials are also exposed to the knowledge on religion, not from actors (religious figures/leaders), but from the cyber media instead. Meanwhile, the intensive exposure to the internet and cyber, apparently also left some psychological issues. The studies of the effects of cyber and internet usage on psychological phenomena known as “cyber psychology”, usually explores the human mind and behavior and its relation to the effects of information technology advancement, virtual reality and social media. This could also look at the future trend of information technology usage and its connection to the mental illness. This subtheme is calling for panels to explore the issues of online identity, online relationships, personality types in cyberspace, addiction to computers and internet, regressive behavior in cyberspace among youth and its connection to the production of religious knowledge and spirituality aspects or practices. The topic could be addressed from the field of psychology, sociology, information technology as well as its intersection with Islamic studies, media studies, and computer sciences accordingly.

16. Interreligious Encounter in Digital Media

With smart phone, globalization is in our fingers. Everything in the world is interconnected. As human beings we feel more similar to one another, but at the same time we are more intensely exposed to differences. In the cyberspace someone can find much more differences than that of his/her everyday social realities. Religious differences are certainly not an exception. The encounter of differences within one religion or between one religion and other religions, therefore, is much more open. This situation may lead to a paradox: one may become more tolerant or intolerant. The social media application often leads people to group themselves based on certain interests, including religious ones. The tolerant or intolerant attitudes are developed through the groups in the social media. Therefore, the digital media highly influenced the modes of inter-religious relations today. This subtheme is calling for panels to discuss interreligious encounter in digital media and provide the debates within the mentioned issue.

17. Hoax, Politic and Power in the Digital Media

Social media has become the society’s favorite choice to seek or share any kind of information. In seconds, people can have an influence on any reader’s mindset. The hecticness of the information on social media can even cause the readers to be unable to filter all the content. For political matters, people can find a considerable amount of news that contain hoax as a shape of black campaign on the opponent or vice versa as a form of keeping a good image on of the society’s eyes. In addition, not little do interpret religious verses in order to support their political choices. This subtheme is calling for panels to discuss about how people use all kind of ways to make sure their choices are campaigned as well as possible, including spreading hoax on social media and how this matter affects upon the success and failure to achieve power.

18. Islamic Education in the disruption era

The Industrial Revolution 4.0 has resulted in unprecedented changes in the landscape of Islamic education. Those changes are so erratic in pattern that they can bring into devastating effects to any established regularity. Due to this reason, many scholars call this age as the Disruption Era where speed and agility have become the new spells in responding the coming of this era. In the context of Islamic education, the response given by educators can cover two issues altogether: process and content. In terms of process, Islamic education has to respond properly to how technology is employed effectively to maximize its benefits to students. In terms of content, Islamic education must address how it can deliver the normative content that is in line with the demand of this era without at the same time putting aside the identity of being “true Muslim”. This subtheme is calling for panels to discuss the dynamic of Islamic education in this disruption era in various different perspectives.

19. The Dynamics of Philosophy in the Post-truth Era

The élan vital of philosophy is the search for truth. Philosophers talk about what the truth is and how they can come to the truth. Some said that something is true if it is rational and based on facts/empirical evidence. Some other also said that something is true if it is useful for human life. Religious people said that something is true if it is in line with religious values. However, there are people who think that the truth is subjective rather objective. For them, there is no real truth but versions of truth. This idea becomes more apparent today due to people’s exposure to massive and highly fragmented information through the internet. More and more people call something true simply because they wish it. False information or the so called ‘hoax’ spreads through the social media. The more people share it and comment on it, it may gradually be perceived to be true. This subtheme is calling for panels to discuss the dynamic of philosophy in the post-truth era by asking questions such as how does philosophy, including Islamic philosophy, respond to this challenge.

20. Islamic philanthropy, volunteerism and activism

The digital trend is now considered as a life style within the society, especially among the young, also in the big cities or the urban. As time goes by, the digital technology continues to grow and develop, that is proven from the wide-spread platforms online covering about financial services (Financial technology/Fintech). Thanks to fintech, social funding became easier than ever before even from miles away and as for donators it is as easy as ordering fast-food. The progress made by fintech empowers and supports charities, which in the present have access to state-of -the-art funding tools for volunteer engagement, database management and community outreach. This subtheme is calling for panels to discuss and share best practices of fintech use within philanthropy, what method to apply, its challenges and chances, and what implication it has towards the rise of philanthropy among the society.

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