Holy Tweets: Exploring the Sharing of the Quran on Twitter

Norah Abokhodair , Abdelrahim Elmadany, Walid Magdy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While social media offer users a platform for self-expression, identity exploration, and community management, among other functions, they also offer space for religious practice and expression. In this paper, we explore social media spaces as they subtend new forms of religious experiences and rituals. We present a mixed-method study to understand the practice of sharing Quran verses on Arabic Twitter in their cultural context by combining a quantitative analysis of the most shared Quran verses, the topics covered by these verses, and the modalities of sharing, with a qualitative study of users' goals. This analysis of a set of 2.6 million tweets containing Quran verses demonstrates that online religious expression in the form of sharing Quran verses both extends offline religious life and supports new forms of religious expression including goals such as doing good deeds, giving charity, holding memorials, and showing solidarity. By analysing the responses on a survey, we found that our Arab Muslim respondents conceptualize social media platforms as everlasting, at least beyond their lifetimes, where they consider them to be effective for certain religious practices, such as reciting Quran, supplication (dua), and ceaseless charity. Our quantitative analysis of the most shared verses of the Quran underlines this commitment to religious expression as an act of worship, highlighting topics such as the hereafter, God's mercy, and sharia law. We note that verses on topics such as jihad are shared much less often, contradicting some media representation of Muslim social media use and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Article number159
Number of pages32
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Volume4
Issue numberCSCW2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2020
EventThe 23rd ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing - Online conference
Duration: 17 Oct 202021 Oct 2020
Conference number: 23
https://cscw.acm.org/2020/

Keywords

  • Social media
  • Techno-spirituality
  • Religious expression
  • Islam
  • The Quran
  • Twitter

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