Fatwas on the Internet: Islamic Jurisprudence in the Age of Social Media.

Short thesis

The global access to knowledge and information enables Muslims all over the world to browse different interpretations of Islamic Law, discuss and share knowledge and opinions and ask religious scholars for advice via social media. This talk will explain how social media contributes to the diversity and further development of Islamic jurisprudence and how this influences Muslim communities. If you want to know more about Fatwas issued and discussed on the internet – don't miss this talk!


Originally, when it came to the interpretation of Qur'an and Sharia Law, Muslims had to follow the opinions of their local scholars in their communities and their interpretations of the holy scripture. If they were lucky, they had access to books or audio tapes with sermons and alternative interpretations from scholars from somewhere else. With the Internet there came a sudden access to different interpretations of Islamic Law from all over the world and the possibility to exchange ideas with each and everybody. This means that liberal or controversial ideas on Islamic Law can spread just as widely as the extremist thoughts and interpretations of the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant (ISIL).

With modern circumstances there arise new questions for Islamic lawmaking: Is it ok to read passages from the Qur'an on your smartphone while being on the toilet? Is it permissible if Muslim women upload pictures of themselves without a face veil on social media? And how to tell a legitimate Fatwa from an internet hoax? All these questions are intensely discussed on the internet.

Religious Muslim scholars sometimes have an immense influence because of their millions of followers on social media and are approached for advice or specific rulings on Twitter or Facebook, where they also issue their answering statements – the Fatwas. At the same time, scholars can be subjected to shitstorms and ridiculed when a lot of people find their opinions to be absurd. There were even cases where the public (in form of the people on social media) rejected certain fatwas and forced scholars to take back their religious rulings.

This talk aims to explain how the internet and social media contribute to and shape the diversity and further development of Islamic jurisprudence and how this influences Muslim communities all over the world. We will also look at some of the most interesting or funny cases from different countries that were recently discussed on social media.