This study uses diffusion of innovations theory to examine the influence of Muslim religious scholars on internet diffusion in Saudi Arabia. It applies content analysis to the fatwa, the religious edicts that Muslim religious scholars issue, to explore fatwa decisions relating to the internet since its launch in Saudi Arabia in 1999. There are 34 fatwa in total, 11 with approving decisions, 11 with disapproving ones, and 12 with conditionally approving decisions. Those who issue approving fatwa argue that it helps to spread the word of Allah and that if Muslims do not exploit the opportunities provided by the internet, then non-Muslims and non-believers will use it for evil. To explain their disapproving fatwa, other scholars argue that the internet corrupts people. The study discusses the impact of religion and religious scholars on the dissemination of communication technologies in Saudi society. It also predicts a pattern of opinions that scholars may be expected to adopt on the introduction of any new communication technology that is culturally controversial.
Al-Kandari, A. (2011) ‘Predicting the clash of civilizations: the use and impact of religious media in Kuwait’, Journal of Media and Religion, 10, pp.206–23.
Al-Kandari, A. and Gaither, T. (2011) ‘Arabs, the West and public relations: a critical/cultural study of Arab cultural values’, Public Relations Review, 37, 3, pp.266–73.
Al-Kandari, A. and Hasanen, M. (2012) ‘The impact of the internet on political attitudes in Kuwait and Egypt’, Telematics and Informatics, 29, pp.245–53.
Al-Lehaibi, M. (2001) Faculty Adoption of Internet Technology in Saudi Arabian Universities, Doctoral dissertation, Florida State University.
Al-Najran, T. (1998) Internet Adoption and Use by Kuwait University Students: New Medium, Same Old Gratifications, Doctoral dissertation, The Ohio State University.
Al-Obaidi, J. and Covington, W. (2010) Broadcast, Internet and TV Media in the Arab World and Small Nations, Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston NY.
Al-Shohaib, K., Al-Kandari, A. and Abdulrahim, M. (2009) ‘Internet adoption by Saudi public relations professionals’, Journal of Management, 13, 1, pp.21–36.
Almaney, A. and Alwan, A. (1982) Communicating with the Arabs, Waveland Press, Prospect Heights IL.
Azam, A., Qiang, E., Abdullah, M. and Abbas, S. (2011) ‘Impact of 5-D of religiosity on diffusion rate of innovation’, International Journal of Business and Social Science, 2, 17, pp.177–85, available from http://ijbssnet.com/journals/Vol_2_No_17/24.pdf [accessed May 2013].
Azzam, H. (2002) The Arab World: Facing the Challenge of the New Millennium, I.B. Tauris, London.
Barakat, H. (1993) The Arab World: Society, Culture, and State, University of California Press, Berkeley CA.
Boyd, D. (1999) Broadcasting in Arab World, Iowa State University Press, Ames IA.
Bunt, G. (2003) Islam in the Digital Age: E-Jihad, Online Fatwas and Cyber Islamic Environments, Pluto Press, London.
Central Intelligence Agency (2012) Factbook, available from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/ [accessed June 2013].
Chaves, M. (1996) ‘Ordaining women: the diffusion of an organizational innovation’, American Journal of Sociology, 101, 4, pp.840–73.
Echchaibi, N. (2008) ‘Hyper-Islamism? Mediating Islam from the Halal website to the Islamic talk show’, Journal of Arab and Muslim Media Research, 1, 3, pp.199–214.
Eveland, J.D. (1986) ‘Diffusion, technology transfer, and implementation thinking and talking about change’, Science Communication, 8, 2, pp.303–22.
Haider, M. and Kreps, G. (2004) ‘Forty years of diffusion of innovations: utility and value in public health’, Journal of Health Communication, 9, pp.3–11.
Human Rights Watch (2012) World Report, available from http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012 [accessed May 2013].
Internet World Stats (2012) Saudi Arabia: Internet Usage, Broadband and Telecommunications Reports, available from http://www.internetworldstats.com/me/sa.htm [accessed May 2013].
Islamway.net. (2013) Available from http://Islamway.net [accessed August 2013].
Kraidy, M. (2006) ‘Hypermedia and governance in Saudi Arabia’, First Monday, available from http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/1610/1525 [accessed December 2013].
LaRose, R. and Eastin, M. (2004) ‘A social cognitive theory of internet uses and gratifications: toward a new model of media attendance’, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 48, 3, pp.358–77.
Meyer, G. (2004) ‘Diffusion methodology: time to innovate?‘, Journal of Health Communication, 9, pp.59–69.
Nydell, M. (2005) Understanding Arabs: A Guide for Modern Times, Intercultural Press, Boston MA.
Ormrod, R. K. (1990) ‘Local context and innovation diffusion in a well-connected world’, Economic Geography, 66, 2, pp.109–22.
Patai, R. (2007) The Arab Mind, Red Brick Press, Sonoma CA.
Peres, R., Muller, E. and Mahajan, V. (2010) ‘Innovation diffusion and new product growth models: a critical review and research directions’, International Journal of Research in Marketing, 27, pp.91–106.
Rogers, E. (2003) Diffusion of Innovations, Free Press, New York NY.
Samovar, L., Porter, R., McDaniel, E. and Roy, C. (2013) Communication between Cultures, Cengage Learning, Boston MA.
Schanzer, J. and Miller, S. (2012) Facebook Fatwa: Saudi Clerics, Wahhabi Islam, and Social Media, FDD Press, Washington DC.
Sharif, A. A. and Al-Kandari, A. A. (2010) ‘The use of online bulletin boards by females in the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries’, Telematics and Informatics, 27, 1, pp.42–50.
Sommers, D. G. and Napier, T. L. (1993) ‘Comparison of Amish and non-Amish farmers: a diffusion/farm-structure perspective’, Rural Sociology, 58, 1, pp.130–45.
Watts, D. and Dodds, P. (2007) ‘Influentials, networks, and public opinion formation’, Journal of Consumer Research, 34, pp.441–58.
Wejnert, B. (2002) ‘Integrating models of diffusion of innovations: a conceptual framework’, Annual Review of Sociology, 28, pp.297–326.