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Book Chapter

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Department 1

Religious Studies


This chapter describes and analyzes three digital sites that offer guided meditations curated by and for Muslims: Sakeenah, Sabr, and Halaqah. My analysis offers thick descriptions of these mobile apps, which first appeared in the online “meditation marketplace” in 2020 and 2021, and identifies resonant themes and questions that I believe are fruitful for the study of religion in digital landscapes and for mapping the shifting contours of lived Islam. Today’s industry of online meditation and mindfulness products is highly profitable, as meditation—and, more broadly, “mindfulness”—has in recent decades been embraced and normalized in contemporary, cosmopolitan life as a key part of health and wellness. The guided mindfulness and meditation practices found on the most popular mainstream apps, however, tend to be assemblages of meditation styles modeled upon Buddhist mindfulness and yogic somatic practices, despite the frequent absence of clear markers of these religious foundations. In contrast, the Muslim-created apps I discuss here, while mirroring similar styles of meditation to those in the mainstream meditation marketplace, offer guided meditation practices imbued with the cultural, theological, and epistemological frames of Islamic piety. This, I suggest, is a noteworthy development in both the meditation marketplace and contemporary Muslim piety. These apps demonstrate Muslim efforts at carving out distinctly Muslim spaces, not just within the digital meditation marketplace but also apart from the already well-established genre of Muslim religious apps. In my view, these new developments warrant close examination as a distinct genre in the growing academic study of religion in cyberspace. [excerpt]


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