As an electronic monograph with an invented interface, this book’s form is connected to its argument. I recommend that readers begin with the introduction, which explains my understandings of Islam and time as a human construct amenable to multiple forms of analysis. The book’s contents describe the significance of interpretive variability, while its design performs the effects of taking this position on time. Anticipating readers’ active participation in the interpreting process, the book’s chapters can be approached in three ways:
- The most straightforward option, closest to the experience of reading a physical book, is to navigate from the textual table of contents. This option is always available via the three-line menu icon in the top right corner. Once you are in a chapter, a pop-up box activated by the “Overview” button under the main header in every section provides the chapter’s framing narrative. At the bottom right of the screen, titles for sections included in each chapter appear in the sequence prescribed in the textual table of contents.
- Readers can also get to sections via the visual table of contents in which sections are laid out in a form akin to constellations. Here, clicking a chapter number (bottom right) highlights a path showing how sections in a chapter are linked. A chapter’s prescribed sequence can be locked on screen, after which hovering over the rest of the visual map identifies sections from other chapters in the vicinity of those lit up already that bear topical resonance. The relevant parts of the constellations map appear at the end of each section, inviting the reader to either continue reading a chapter or skip to a different part of the book based on topical proximity. The visual mapping of sections is a secondary, embedded table of contents that reorganizes the book using the digital format’s enhanced indexicality. It exemplifies the book’s major argument that stories change meanings when recontextualized.
- The third option, likely useful after a reader has become familiar with the book’s contents, is to read the sections by navigating at will by either hovering over icons in the visual table of contents or selecting from the textual one.