Aminah Hussain has lots of apps on her phone, but there’s one she turns to time and time again during Ramadan, Islam’s holy month.
It has a built-in Quran, holy days calendar, halal food finder, and a Qibla locator, which points the way to Mecca.
“I use the Quran app every day during prayers,” said Hussain, 21, of Evans, after a prayer service Friday at the Islamic Society of Augusta. “It makes it a lot easier for me. It’s made me a better person. I’m reading the Quran more often.”
New apps, such as MuslimPro, which Hussain favors, and digital Qurans and prayer time reminders such as iPray, are helping Muslims more faithfully observe Ramadan.
The Muslim holy month began the evening of July 8 and ends the evening of Aug. 7.
“Our prayers are linked to the movement of the sun. We have to have charts for the sun movement,” explained Aladien Fadel, a member-at-large of the Islamic Center committee.
Many Muslims, he said, grew up with a chart of prayer times taped to the refrigerator door. The charts haven’t entirely disappeared but are being supplemented by higher-tech apps and Web sites.
“We moved from bulletin boards to e-mails to Web sites to Facebook,” Fadel said.
It wasn’t long before that technology went mobile.
“Everybody here has a phone with applications for prayer times,” Fadel said. “It’s really not even limited to young people.”
The new apps are especially helpful to students.
Hussain is a senior at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta. She knew which direction to face when she prayed at home in Augusta. When she went away to school, though, she had to find it for herself. It wasn’t the only dilemma, either.
“When do I break my fast? I was by myself. I had to grow up,” she said.
The apps also help build community. Many have built-in social media capabilities, said Ayesha Ahmad, 20, Evans.
“My freshman year, the last five days of Ramadan fell during the beginning of my freshman year,” said Ahmad, a junior at Georgia Tech. The Facebook app on her phone helped her find where other Muslims were praying and breaking their fast.
Omar Liou, 25, of Martinez, says he’s one of the few to prefer his desktop computer over the mobile technology.
“I have a dumb phone,” he said with a laugh. “I just go on the Internet. I downloaded software, a prayer reminder chart. It makes a sound and reminds you five, 10, 30 minutes before it’s time to pray.”
Phones are welcomed during prayer services because so many people use them to follow along in the Quran, said Imam Mohamad Jamal Daoudi.
“My first request,” he said, “is that everybody turns their phones to vibrate.”