Thanks to the wonders of technology, delivered courtesy of Western civilisation, Muslims can now fulfill their religious duties with relative ease. There are all sorts of brilliant gadgets out there, designed to ease the burden of the pious and ensure they face the right direction, perform their ablutions properly, read the right duas (prayers) when entering or leaving the toilet, pronounce the Arabic words correctly, and fulfill their numerous rituals according to prescribed tradition. So here is our selection of ten pieces of kit no self-respecting Muslim should be without.
Muslims should start every act by uttering Bismillah: ‘in the name of God’. This neatly and nicely designed app for smart phones, from app designers Appovation LLC, takes the effort out of reciting these words. Press a button, and your phone will say them for you.
Never miss your prayers again. iPray displays the next prayer time as well as the complete prayers timetable for your current location. It even calls the Adhan, and warns you not be neglectful with Adhan alarms and push notifications – which could be handy in case you are in the company of the kuffar (unbelievers). Settings allow for adjustment to timezones, prayer calculation methods and calendar corrections.
3. Automatic Wudu Washer
This genius of an invention is designed to assist believers in the art of ablution (wudu) which is required before prayers. The state-of-the-art user-friendly technology from Australia fulfils all your wudu needs; and makes wudu ‘a cleaner, convenient and more pleasant experience’. Different parts of the machine, all with helpful indicators and signs, wash your hands, face, and head – and dry them with hygienic blasts of hot air. When you are ready to wash your feet, place them in the right slots (alas, it does not roll up your toupe or shalwar) and they will be washed according to religious dictates. Operating with infra-red sensors, it has in-built nano-technology features that take care of germs and bacteria. It has a few drawbacks such as lacking a device to sort out the nose blowing operation. However, it provides just the right amount of water — the measure is called mudd, the water which is held by two hands cupped together — for every step, and helps in the conservation of this vital natural resource. Do check it out for yourself.
Automatic wudu completed, you are ready for prayer. But there is still the perplexing task of finding the direction to Mecca. Fear not, MeccaLocator from Appovation will tell you which way to face. Alternatively you can get the Pro version (which we presume is meant for professional Muslims) of iPray, which also includes a useful Qibla direction finder. Or you can go low tech, and get a prayer mat with a built-in compass. Unfortunately, none of these devices are of much use when you are travelling on a plane. Religious authorities are not quite sure where to turn on this issue. But in an article in Arab News, widely available on the web, the Saudi-based Islamic scholar and newspaper columnist Adil Salahi advises us to ‘offer it normally, next to the catering area, standing up and prostrating’. Moreover, we need to board ‘the plane before the prayer is due’ and ‘be certain that its time range will have lapsed before we can offer it at our destination’ — time zones notwithstanding. Some problems are just too complex for modern technology to solve.
5. Quran Hakeem and iQuran III/iQuran Lite
During prayer you will have to read some verses from the Qur’an. The helpful Quran Hakeem app from SHL Info Systems provides the experience of reading ‘as if from the Mus’haf’ (codex). You are guaranteed a pleasant reading experience in Arabic with clear script and aesthetically-pleasing layout. But if you want to understand what you are reading, turn to iQur’an, which contains the complete text alongside a selection of multi-language classical translations and six downloadable audio recitations.
6. Fortification of the Muslim
To further strengthen your iman (faith) turn to this obliging free App. It provides readymade duas (prayers) for every occasion, emotion and feeling. For example, when climbing up the stairs you should say, ‘Allah is the Greatest’, when descending you should say, ‘How perfect Allah is’. If you hear a barking of a dog or braying of asses at night: ‘seek refuge in Allah for they see what you do not’. But ‘if you hear the crow of a rooster, ask Allah for his bounty for it has seen an angel’. If you feel amazed say: ‘Allah is the Greatest’. If you have doubts, say: ‘I renounce that which is causing such doubt’. Original Arabic is provided with an English translation so you can say it in Arabic too, just to ensure that God is listening and understands.
7. Highly Superior Istanja machine
Sooner or later there will be a need for istanja — Muslims, are, after all humans. But what is istanja, the uninitiated may ask. The Pakistani website, ‘Haq Char Yaar’ (‘Truth, Four Friends’, who are the four Rightly Guided Caliphs; http://www.kr-hcy.com/index2.shtml) provides a very useful definition: ‘getting rid of un-cleanliness, which one gets when one excretes is called Istanja’. And it offers some useful tips for performing the ritual: ‘after urinating dry the urine with a clean piece of mud or toilet paper and then wash with water’ and ‘after excreting faeces clean the private part with three or five clean mud pieces or toilet paper and then wash’. In these days of high technology, a better alternative than keeping a bucket of clean mud or the lota, the spherical vessel used to store water for ritual cleaning, is to use an istanja machine. There are several on the market. All replace the accursed paper, used and wasted so profusely by decadent westerners, with fresh jets of water providing convenient wide cleaning. Some have deodorizers, remote controls, pulsating seats and even provide a soothing massage. Heaven on earth! Or you can go for low tech option developed, in the days of old, when knights were bold and toilet paper had not been invented, by the canny Ottomans: it consist of a normal commode with a hole for a nozzle. Superior than a bidet, which requires you to stand up, move sideways, and then sit down again, creating an almighty mess; and damn sight better than the ‘Muslim shower’, also known as shattaf or hand-held bidet spray, which tends to refresh the face as well as the posterior, and spreads water all over the place.
8. Islamic Car
Refreshed from face to posterior and full of duas, you are ready to venture out in the world. Why not continue in a state of peace and submission inside the Islamic car? Built by the Malaysian company Proton in collaboration with Iran Khodro, it is the first car of its kind, unlike any other car it ‘acts in line with Muslim values’. It calls the Adhan, has compartments for your copy of the Qur’an and that all-important headscarf, and a compass to indicate the direction of the Qibla, no matter where else you might be going. It will be in showrooms throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia and Africa by the end of 2012, priced between $8,700 and $12,000.
Equip your Islamic car with Zabihah, a useful free app from Halalfire Media LLC. It utilises a massive online database of halal stuff and provides listings and reviews of halal restaurants, markets and mosques near your current location. It has listings from around the world, making it useful for travellers. You will never be too far from halal burgers and chicken.
10. The Hajj and Umra package
The fifth pillar of Islam, the pilgrimage to Mecca, began as a once-in-a-life-time journey full of hardship, danger and sublime experience. Not anymore. Thanks to the hajj and umra holiday packages, available widely throughout the world and throughout the year, you can go on hajj every year, and for a quick umra, the lesser pilgrimage, anytime you chose. Better than a holiday in the Bahamas; just as relaxing and rewarding but with more shopping opportunities. A divine bargain!
Apps to come:
The i-Phone imam
Prayers need to be led by the most pious in a group. But if you can’t decide who is closest to God, why not get the all new i-Phone imam app. Settings will include the ‘Islamic-ometer’, in which a fingerprint scan will reveal, using the latest biophysical technology, which among you is privileged to be the leader. If that could be tricky, for example if you’re in a group of friends, why not try the ‘digital-imam’ setting. At the appropriate time just form a prayer-line, place the i-phone in front and press the green button marked ‘lead’. The device will then lead the prayers. Version1 will be equipped with Sunni and Shia modes. Other traditions will be catered for in subsequent releases. Please note that an imam-enabled i-Phone is inappropriate for members of the Ahmadi, Ismaili and Druze communities and should be kept well beyond the reach of children and women.