Smartphone apps help keep the faith on Ramadan

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The Independent Tech

Smartphone software is helping Muslims keep the faith during the month-long rite of fasting and prayer known as Ramadan.

Wednesday marked the start of Ramadan, a period during which Muslims are to increase the number of times they pray daily and refrain from eating, drinking or sex from dawn until dusk.

In an age when smartphone programs are all the rage, there are "apps" designed to keep the devout in tune with prayer schedules and holy verses written in the Quran.

"Essentials of Ramadan" software that equips smartphones with "an in-depth resume of the essential rules and laws... of fasting" is among a host of smartphone apps offered online at Al-Khawarizmi.com.

The Essentials program was "designed to provide the reader with explanation for both spiritual and physical significance and uniqueness of this remarkable act of worship," the website promised.

Al-Khawarizmi also had an app for prayers specific to each day of Ramadan.

"This application comes in handy in Ramadan so Muslims do not forget and can conveniently recite the duas timely wherever they are," said a message describing the software.

Nokia's online Ovi shop featured an array of Ramadan apps, including a "Prayer Times" program to cue users when to pray.

An "iPray" program does the same for Muslims that prefer iPhone or iPad devices by Apple.

Applications such as iPray Lite and Qibla Compass use satellite positioning capabilities of smartphones to help worshippers make sure they are facing Mecca during prayers as required by their religion.

A free iQuran program at Apple's online iTunes store was among the apps that let people take the Muslim holy book with them on smartphones.

"May God bless whoever put this app together," a person identified as Ali Meksiki commented in a chat forum on the iQuran Web page.

"Also, for non-Muslims it is a great way to find out about Islam, Muslims, and our book The Quran."

There are also smartphone applications that help people find nearby mosques to connect with fellow worshippers in the real world. While some apps are free, most range in price from one dollar to three dollars for a download.

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