Understanding how a religion appears or transmutes is one of the ultimate challenges in history. MIDA project’s hypothesis is that we are witnessing a radical change in Islam. Indeed, the MIDA project rests on the premise that digitisation and technological innovation are having a tremendous influence on Islam that deserves to be studied from a variety of perspectives: on modes of expression and communication of religious messages and traditions, and on modes of engagement with society.
THE ACADEMIC FIELD >
The rapid changes that are already occurring are generating a sense of loss of control and instability among the general public, politicians, journalists, academics, and, not least, among Muslims themselves. Consequently, they have shaken up Islam as a field of academic study and have impacted on the ways Islam is to be studied in the future. Last but not least, Islam is no longer a regional phenomenon; it is a European and even a global one.
BRAND ‘ISLAM’ >
The sudden rise of hitherto relatively marginal theological and ideological trends and movements, the rapid transformation of Islam in the public sphere, and the emergence of Islam as a brand through the rapid dissemination of public images and imaginaries, contribute to the ‘super visibility’ of Islam. The high impact of many current Islam-related events, should be considered as an effect of digitisation in the context of globalisation.
DIGITISATION AND PAST TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS >
Digitisation and the concurrent innovations of the past few decades belong to the list of such fundamental technological transformations in human history as the invention of paper, printing technology, steam power, electricity and telecommunication, which constituted major upheavals.
NECESSITY FOR NEW SKILLS AND APPROACHES >
The specificity of the current revolution calls for a re-evaluation of past situations and reflection on future prospects. The rapid spread of modern digital media and new technologies of production and dissemination prompts researchers and social actors, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, to make sense of and of and understand these developments. Engagement with these changes requires specific skills and approaches. Although the digitisation of Islam has been addressed for quite some time by scholars of various disciplinary backgrounds, research agendas are still fragmented and ad hoc.
FIVE INTERLOCKING FOCUSES >
The overall aim of the project is to draw a complex picture of the ceaselessly repeated invention of new traditions, as a new means of expressing the sense of belonging to Islam (identity, community, political, social and religious practices, beliefs and representations), including the question of individual (male and female) or collective identities (WP1), the birth of new languages with the emergence of new media (WP2), the appropriation, transmission and invention of new objects and arts, with the corresponding representations (WP3), the question of authority and knowledge, contested as it is nowadays (WP4), in a world where mobility and mobilisation are possible in an unprecedented way (WP5). This will contribute new knowledge on the mechanisms underpinning the social and political transformation of societies, in the Muslim commonwealth and in the world, which will be used for the political and social benefit of the EU. It will raise public awareness of human sciences and their uses by institutions.
This project has received the European union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement N°813547.