Fasting may be Muslim a tradition that’s 1,400 years old, but this Ramadan, many Muslims are employing 21st-century technology to help them gain spiritual enlightenment. That’s thanks to a bevy of new apps and other digital tools designed to help the modern Muslim fulfill his or her daily fasting and prayer obligations.
My Ramadan Companion
Tech giant Google is, by far, the biggest player in the Ramadan game. Earlier this month, Google launched My Ramadan Companion, a landing page designed to help Muslims “get the most out of Ramadan.” The home page offers customized information and tips, such as the exact time of sunset in their area so Muslims know exactly when to break the fast and health tips to stay fit during 30 days of fasting.
“Technology helps more than 200 million Muslims living away from their families connect and share moments with loved ones. People look to Maps to navigate traffic and make it home from work for Iftar, download Google Play apps to plan their day around sunset and sunrise, and look up Ramadan opening hours of their favorite local shops and restaurants,” wrote Zain Kamal Masri, an associate product marketing manager at Google. “With My Ramadan Companion, we hope we can help you take care of the little things so you can focus on the big things.”
A new app for both Android and iOS called Ramadan Legacy goes even deeper. Launched this month by a tech startup in the UK, Ramadan Legacy is an interactive app that asks users to set goals for the month (create your own or choose from suggested ones, like “break a bad habit” or “host an iftar for your neighbors”) and offers tools to manage daily worship activities such as reading the Quran and saying prayers. Users can also keep track of their Ramadan achievements and look back on them later.
“We wanted to build a way in which Muslims could remember the best part of themselves and remain positive about their faith, allowing them to continue the blessings of Ramadan throughout the time,” the founders said in a statement.
This app lets users set up audio alerts for prayer times so that users never miss one of the five daily prayers -- a goal many Muslims set during the month of Ramadan to renew their spirituality. And for Muslims on the go, it even offers a “qibla” compass, which points which way the Ka’aba in Mecca is from your location -- the direction Muslims face when praying. Not at home and unsure where you want to break your fast? An interactive map shows the closest halal food restaurants near you, along with the nearest mosques.
One of the hardest parts of Ramadan for many is getting up in time for Suhoor, the pre-dawn meal that Muslims must consume before fasting for the day. It is eaten before Fajr, the first prayer of the day, and many devout Muslims also use the early morning hours before Fajr to say extra optional prayers during Ramadan. Because the Suhoor period shifts a little bit each day, Muslim Alarm saves you the hassle of having to adjust your alarm each day -- automatically setting the correct alarm for your area.