Project Synopsis

The goal of the Islam Comment project is to create a world-class online forum devoted to discussion and debate of current events, trends, and developments salient to contemporary Islamic societies. The site is being developed by an award-winning design team, and its advisory board includes scholars, intellectuals, religious figures, and experts from various international organizations, universities, newspapers, and governments. 

Although there is an abundance of information about Islam available on the Internet, much of it is replete with inaccuracy and bias, while informed commentary is often inaccessible to the ordinary person, either because it is pitched at a scholarly audience, or because it is difficult to find in a sea of simplistic polemic. For the average intelligent and person who is searching for thoughtful, informed, non-specialist answers to questions relating to Islam in modern societies, world history, and current events, there is a disappointing dearth of material on the web. 

Islam Comment will seek to fill this void. The two outstanding features of this project which will set it apart from the majority of existing websites about Islam, will be (1) the extensive options for user interactivity, and (2) the wide range of viewpoints expressed by Muslim commentators from all the major Islamic sects in addition to non-Muslim experts on Islam. From the perspective of the visitor to the site, this will translate into the opportunity to suggest a topic of discussion, read responses to that topic by experts from diverse theological and educational backgrounds, and then discuss those responses with other visitors to the site on a moderated comment page. Such a rich interactive experience for the discussion of issues relevant to the Islamic world is simply unavailable anywhere else on the web.  

Site Format

The site will be comprised of two sections. Section one will be a daily news-feed featuring coverage of current events, op-ed pieces, and relevant scholarship, posted by the Islam Comment editorial panel. All postings on this page will have moderated discussion sections in which any user will be able to post comments, similar to the format found on most blogs.  

Section two will be a discussion forum that will feature a new topic or theme once every two weeks. The topics will be mailed out to an extensive list of Islam Comment “authors” who will represent the diverse range of backgrounds and areas of expertise mentioned above. The authors who write on a given topic will submit a short opinion piece (ca. 1000 words) which will be posted on the website. All of the opinion pieces will, in turn, have discussion sections, much like the format used on the popular Syrian affairs-related website Creative Syria.  

For example, on any given week, a site visitor will be able to hear a panel of five experts weigh in on a certain question. The panel might include a conservative Sunni shaykh, an Isma`ili imam, a Shi`i feminist journalist, a Western professor of Islamic studies, and an NGO worker based in a Muslim-majority country. The question might focus on the rise of webcams and instant messaging among youths in modern Muslim societies; or the significance of a recent scholarly work on Islamic history; or different interpretations of marital rights in different Muslim countries, etc. The list of questions will be generated by the site visitors themselves, and the composition of the panels will change according to the interests of our pool of authors.