Addressing the Digital Divide among Muslim Communities in Bandung

Dayana Parvanova (Austrian Academy of Sciences)

Abstract

Bandung today is home of countless communities that work as umbrellas for the city’s rising numbers of young, educated, tech-savvy urbanites. With the unfolding of “market Islam” and modern Islamic thinking new expressions of religiosity and self-fashioning became popular among Muslim communities. Next to a growing market of Islamic products, social media increasingly accommodate young Muslims’ yearning to profess their faith in more deliberate ways. While creatively navigating different apps for different purposes, community members also identify the need to engage with their offline realities – including perceived social and economic inequalities. This paper explores the activities of two Muslim communities in Bandung – Pejuang Subuh and Great Muslimah – that seek to address socio-economic disadvantages and technical challenges that result in digital divides within their own circles and beyond. As their members come from different socio-economic, age, and class backgrounds, these Muslim communities strive to expand their means to address and relate to existing as well as potential followers. By organizing regular small group meetings, offline study groups, but also public charity events and teaching sessions, supporting schools, local mosques, and orphanages, they attempt to bridge existing gaps between online and offline socialities. Next to their “outbound” activities that promote social solidarities beyond the communities’ boundaries, this paper also looks into internal processes of learning and “self-upgrade” based on the equal and affective participation in what members define as sharing the zeal of piety. Through collective Islamic practices, such as prayer, fasting, reciting the Qur’an, and the affective participation in communal projects, such as the rebuilding of local mosques, or teaching activities for kids during the holy month of Ramadhan, community members experience an affective sense of belonging that goes beyond technical promises and limitations.