The Islam-Online Crisis: A Battle of Wasatiyya vs. Salafi Ideologies?

Author(s) Mona Abdel-Fadil
Contact Mona Abdel-Fadil, University of Oslo, Postboks 1010 Blindern, 0315 Oslo, Norway. E-mail:
Issue CyberOrient, Vol. 5, Iss. 1, 2011, pp. 4-36
Published May 10, 2011
Type Article
Abstract Islam Online has been one of the most prominent and stable Islamic websites since it was founded in 1997. However, in March 2010 Islam Online suffered a major crisis, which has come to be known as 'the IOL-Crisis'. This is a suitable case for exploring whether multiple layers of authority are at play in online religious communities(Campbell 2007). At the time of the crisis, I was conducting fieldwork with the social team of IOL-Arabic. This article provides rich ethnographic detail about the time before, during, and after the crisis – as experienced by the social team. I outline how the social team made sense of the crisis through producing crisis-narratives that draw on Islam Online's institutional narrative. Moreover, I illustrate how narratives about the crisis gradually shift to alternate explanations, in tact with new developments of the crisis. I conclude with reflections on what types of authority were drawn on during the IOL-Crisis.
Keywords Islam, social aspects, websites, dawah, conflict, authority