New Media, New Players: The Use of Social Media with Religious Contents among Muslim Scholars in West Sumatra, Indonesia

Iswandi Syahputra

Abstract


This article explains how Muslim scholars in West Sumatra utilized social media as one of the new media containing religious contents. The relationship between Muslim scholars, religious teachings, and their followers undergoes constant changes. The era of new media introduced participative, open, interactive characteristics encouraging development of virtual communities, and interconnectedness, consequently positioning Muslim scholars as new determining players in the relationship. There are two main patterns they employ in posting religious contents on social media. Firstly, it is a pattern characterized by the systematic use of religious texts originating from the Holy Koran and Hadith or ulamas’ opinions contained in various classical Islamic manuscripts. Secondly, it is conducted by using reflective sentences containing universal values. Both patterns have different social implications, and due to the aforementioned new media characteristics, these West Sumatra Muslim scholars who actively post religious contents on social media had come to experience cyber-stalking. Despite being harassed and threatened, they continued posting religious contents as they consider social media to have numerous positive values beneficial to spreading good values and religious teachings to the wider community. The research findings show that social media as a form of new media has led to the emergence of new players entirely unlike previous traditional media. The research data were collected through in-depth interviews with three Muslim scholars of West Sumatra who are active on social media.


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