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British muslims caught amidst fogs—a discourse analysis of religious advice and authority

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • U. Maravia
  • Z. Bekzhanova
  • M. Ali
  • R. Alibri
Article number140
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>22/02/2021
Issue number2
Number of pages22
Pages (from-to)1-22
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper discusses the symbolic capital found within Islamic documents that were circulated in the UK during the COVID-19 outbreak. Specifically, the work explores “fatwas” and “other” similar documents as well as “guidance” documents (referred to as FOGs) that were circulated in March–April 2020 on the internet and social media platforms for British Muslim consumption. We confine our materials to FOGs produced only in English. Our study takes its cue from the notion that the existence of a variety of documents created a sense of foggy ambiguity for British Muslims in matters of religious practise. From a linguistic angle, the study seeks to identify (a) the underlying reasons behind the titling of the documents; and (b) the construction of discourses in the documents. Our corpus-assisted critical discourse analysis (CA-CDA) found noticeable patterns that hold symbolic capital in the fatwa register. We also found that producers of “other” documents imitate the fatwa register in an attempt to strengthen their documents’ symbolic capital. Accordingly, fatwas act as the most authoritative documents in religious matters and are written by senior religious representatives of the Muslim community, whereas guidance documents were found to be most authoritative in health matters. The findings raise questions regarding the manner in which religious instruction may be disseminated in emergency situations. Based on this study, a call for the standardisation and unification of these diverse and sometimes contradicting religious publications may be worth considering. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.