An increasing number of technological innovations are helping Muslims to meet the requirements of their religion, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan. The evolving mobile applications for believers include: alarms that prompt prayer times, countdowns that run until ‘iftar’ (the fast break) and digital compasses that show the right direction to Mecca.
Ramadan is the Islamic holy month when Muslims remember when the will of Allah was revealed to Muhammad. According to tradition, Allah gave the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad from heaven, who then went to Hira mountain to meditate and fast.
In remembrance of this, during the holy month believers are not allowed to eat from sunrise to sunset. They also should not drink, smoke or have sex and should restrain from having a bath, listening to music or becoming angry or aggressive. Ramadan is obligatory for all; it is one of the five pillars of the Islamic religion, besides belief, worship, pilgrimage and charity.
One of the most popular mobile applications is “Ramadan Times” a countdown to iftar, the evening meal that breaks the day-time fast. This ‘breakfast meal’ is the highlight of the day for many hungry fasters who come together with their families after sunset. The application is available from the appstore for the iPhone and iPad, where it is advertised for its amazing punctuality of the time of sunrise and sunset.
Google is also trying to combine traditional religious values with 21th century technology by creating a YouTube channel where believers can follow live the prayers from the Islamic city of Mecca.
In addition, Muslims can also participate in virtual Google+ Hangouts at the time of iftar, where famous chefs cook live, others share recipe ideas and doctors give tips on healthy eating.
Several Ramadan-based applications are the fruits of a Nokia and Microsoft collaboration, which can be downloaded from the Windows Phone Store. Examples include, ‘Ramadan Kareem’, which offers users the times of prayers and ‘Qur’an Mojawed’ which provides the entire Qur’an in Arabic calligraphy.
Points for prayers
“Muslim Pro” is considered to be one of the best mobile applications out there. In addition to prayer times and a Mecca compass it offers a range of special features, such as maps of local Halal restaurants and mosques, a calendar showing the Islamic holy dates, and a list of the 99 names of Allah and the Prophet Mohammed.
Another application called “Tracker Ramadan” is recommended to new or inexperienced Muslims who need guidance about what to do during Ramadan. It differs from other applications because each user can set their own goals and then indicate if the goal has been achieved. The targets could be related to prayer, fasting, charitable work or reading the Qur’an, with each achievement the user earns points.
Another popular application among Muslims is “Muslim Prayer Times”, which will alert you to the times of prayer, shows the phases of the moon, and allows the user to play ‘azan’, the sound of a muezzin calling to prayer.
Blackberry also has applications for Muslims which are not strictly related to Ramadan. “Islam 101” is one example, which describes the basic principles and beliefs of Islam, another is “Pilgrimage”, which leads the user through the phases of the “Hajj”, an obligatory Mecca pilgrimage for Muslims. The application contains an interactive map showing the various stages of pilgrimage and the user can also find emergency phone numbers to use during Hajj.