The State of Ibadism Online

By Amanda Propst
Submitted to Session P4339 (Ibadi Archives: Thinking with Spaces from Manuscript Libraries to Digital Repositories, 2016 Annual Meeting
Rel Stds/Theo
All Middle East; Arabian Peninsula;
All Time Periods; Islamic Studies; Minorities; Technology;
The digitization of archives is usually approached from the starting point of the physical archives, looking toward the end user experience. Libraries give figures for how much of their collections they have digitized, yet assessing the extent of digitization in a given archive or library tells only part of the story. Beyond the perspective of the archivist—who is concerned with the progress so far made in digitizing a given collection—is the interest of the user investigating Ibadism online, a user who may be an Arabic-speaking student or English-speaking scholar, and many in between. As such, a review of the online experience for this user is desirable. This paper first contextualizes Ibadi studies in the larger movement towards mass digitization of libraries and then investigates on a more general level the state of Ibadism online, from the perspectives of the researcher and student. Rather than a catalog of what sources have been digitized, this paper surveys the Ibadi materials currently available online filtered by their ease of use and discovery.

I break the field of Ibadi studies online into two main groups: digitized Ibadi sources, such as those by classical authors and modern scholars, from both official outlets and informal sharing sites, and religiously-oriented sites where Ibadi Muslims communicate outside of traditional platforms of publication. Throughout, I focus on the availability of materials online to a user interested in classical and contemporary Ibadism in order to approach the questions of how Ibadism is presented on the internet and where further development is warranted from the perspective of the online user.