Religious leaders across practically every belief structure and faith can expound on the woes of trying to reach new generations of believers as the societies we live in change at rapid-fire pace. For decades younger generations have complained that their parents’ religions are outdated, don’t “get it,” or are just obsolete. But one new digital magazine has launched with the specific intention of not only reaching younger believers, but in correcting a tidal wave of extremism that the leaders fear is taking over their faith.
Haqiqah, or “The Truth,” launched recently through the efforts of website ImamsOnline, aims to educate younger generations of Muslims about the dangers of fanaticism that pervade religious sectors around the world. This effort is specifically focused on combating the extremely tech- and social media-savvy group ISIS, or Islamic State, as well as other similarly intentioned extremist groups.
In an interview with the BBC, Qari Asim, senior editor at imamsonline.com, said, “Someone has to reclaim that territory from ISIS, and that can only be imams: religious leaders who guide and nourish their community. But now that we live in a digital mobile world, some young people are not coming to the mosque so we must reach out to them – and this is the Muslims’ contribution to combat radicalisation on the net.”
This digital effort is the latest in a long-awaited realization from publishers and content creators that the old standbys are no longer effective. Current studies and survey reports have shown that millennials are simply not interacting with print periodicals in the way they once did; if there is no digital edition or online interaction, how are readers to be affected? This is an especially important question that the editors at Haqiqah have worked to address considering “more than 100,000 pieces of information, tweets, and Facebook posts coming out of Syria and Iraq every day,” and that the number of pro-Islamic State Twitter accounts is anticipated to be close to 70,000.
The editors of the digital magazine and the supporters of the ImamOnline website obviously hope this effort will be effective, and if comparable growth numbers for other publications that have made the leap to digital hold true in this case, it should be. The goal of not only spreading a more genuine message of Islam but also reaching out to younger believers through relevant social interaction is one that mobile connectivity can help foster.