Ramadan technology: How Islamic apps are helping UAE residents mark the holy month

An AI chatbot helping to guide Muslims and an app that tracks prayers are some tech solutions for Ramadan

Clemson, SC - September 8: Sharif Hassan, 25, uses his iPhone to determine the direction of Mecca before performing the taraweeh, or "rest prayer" in the evening during Ramadan in his hotel room. Getty Images
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A new wave of technology is reshaping how Ramadan is observed, with UAE residents increasingly using mobile apps dedicated to helping Muslims during the holy month.

At a time of fasting and deep spiritual reflection, the free-to-use apps offer a contemporary approach so Muslims’ Islamic duties thrive in this digital age.

Here, The National takes an in-depth look at the technology.

Tracking prayers

British-Pakistani resident Uzma Harun, 24, said she uses the Pillars application, which helps her track her mandatory five daily and voluntary prayers.

We, being Muslims, use these apps frequently to be aware about prayer timings and to read and recite the Quran
Dr Javairia Hassan

The app has more than 100,000 downloads on Google Play and a 4.5 star rating. On the App Store, it has a 4.8 rating.

“They also have a handy feature to help me keep track of the days I’ve missed fasting because of menstruation and then remind me that I have X number of days to make up,” she said.

“They have a little tick box that I can click on every time I’ve made it up.”

Ms Harun, who is studying to be a lawyer, said she used the Quran Majeed app last year which had verses from the holy book that Muslims can recite throughout the day.

It also has an alarm that rings when it is time for prayer.

“I don’t have it this year because of phone storage. Instead, I use a website which shows me the Arabic and an easier tafsir (interpretation of the verses in the Quran) I need. It’s called Quran.com,” she said.

An app that Ms Harun had hoped to find this year was a Quran journaling aid that would help her to note down lessons from certain verses and takeaway points.

Dhikr (remembrance of God)

Pakistani resident Dr Javairia Hassan, 33, said she uses apps such as Islam360, Muslim Pro and Athan to help her in observing Ramadan.

“We, being Muslims, use these apps frequently to be aware about prayer timings and to read and recite the Quran,” she said.

Islam360 is a popular app that offers a variety of features, including learning the Quran, a prayer tracker, tasbeeh (a rosary) tracker for dikhr (reciting prayers).

The app has more than 10 million downloads on Google Play, with a 4.5-star rating and a 4.8 rating on the App Store.

AI chatbot to guide Muslims

Muslim Pro has similar features but it includes an AI-powered chatbot, called AiDeen, that helps users get real-time information about Islam.

The chatbot answers questions based on the Quran and authentic Hadiths (reports of the words or actions of the Prophet Mohammed).

It has a guide to Hajj and Umrah, which are religious pilgrimages to Makkah that Muslims go on.

The app also features a calculator for Zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam that requires Muslims above a certain financial threshold to donate 2.5 per cent of their wealth.

Zakat, an Arabic word that means to purify or to cleanse, can be given at home or abroad and is used for charitable acts.

Muslim Pro has more than 100 million downloads on Google Play, with a 4.1 rating. It is also available on the App Store.

Updated: March 18, 2024, 1:49 PM