The Death of the Da’i: The Autonomization of Religious Messages within Cyberspace
In some cases, religious messages have more authority than its authors. In the Islamic propagation (dakwah) terms, the truth of dakwah messages within cyberspace do not depend on the preacher (da’i), but on the object of dakwah (mad’u). To mention this phenomenon, adopting Roland Barthes’ term on “The Death of the Author” in his Image-Music-Text, I propose the term “The Death of the Da’i”. The phenomenon of actualizing dakwah using Internet or nowadays has given a new paradigm of the successfulness of dakwah. Da’i is no longer the main factor for dakwah messages to be completely accepted by mad’u. It is because the da’i’s identity within cyberspace does not necessarily enclose the message of dakwah. Ali bin Abi Thalib’s popular argument “see what has been said NOT to see who has said” confirms the autonomic truth of the messages. Consequently, dakwah successfulness depends on mad’u itself as the “consumers” of the message. In the communication science, this new paradigm supported by scholars, such as Thayer, Ravault, Hall, and Bakti with their “active-recipient theory”. The theory says that the influence of mass media is not as great as it is imagined, the receivers are active and, even, give contradict responses –as explained by “boomerang effects theory.” Using “cyber ethnographic” approach, data in this research is gained from in-depth cyberspace interviews and web based surveys. The cyberspace in-depth interview has been conducted with netters located at Yahoo Messenger’s Islam Chat room (YahooMessenger/Yahoo Chat/categories: Religion and Belief/Islam Chat), by considering “good participant” criteria proposed by Spradley. Web based survey is conducted by using Google Document to 39 mailing lists and 415 peoples in Facebook’s friend lists. The result of this research shows that people in cyberscape concern about the messages more than the authors. The data illustrates 57% of the respondents see that the messages are more important than the authors themselves. On the other hand, 11% of them view the importance of the authors more than the messages. Meanwhile, 27% view both messages and authors are equally important. This result strongly proves that, within cyberspace, da’i has died.
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