Counselling Muslim Selves on Islamic Websites: Walking a Tightrope Between Secular and Religious Counselling Ideals?

in Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture
Open Access

This article focuses on the interactive counselling service Problems and Answers (PS), an Arabic language and Islamic online counselling service, which draws on global therapeutic counselling trends. For over a decade, PS was run and hosted by www.IslamOnline.net (IOL). Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this article aims to provide a layered, contextualized understanding of online Islamic counselling, through addressing the ‘invisible’, ‘behind the screens’ aspects of PS counselling and the meaning making activities that inform the online output. In particular, I examine: 1. The multiple ways in which ‘religion’ shapes the PS counsellors' counselling output, and 2. The extent to which secular and religious counselling ideals clash, in PS counselling. Drawing on a mixed methods approach, I demonstrate instances in which offline data nuance and generate new understandings of online data. The findings demonstrate the multivocality and variations in the PS counsellors' perspectives on both religion and counselling psychology, and shed light on possible tensions between professed ideals and actual online practices.

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