An iPhone app for the modern Muslim

My friend Reza Aslan always has his finger on the pulse of innovation. In 2005, he recognized the importance of … Continued

My friend Reza Aslan always has his finger on the pulse of innovation. In 2005, he recognized the importance of people having an appreciative understanding of the history of Islam and wrote what I think is the most lyrical narrative of the religion I have read in No God but God.

Last year he published a book, How to Win a Cosmic War, on how to not cede the power of symbolism to terrorists.

This year he is involved in launching an interesting new iPhone application called “MeccaLocator“.

As Bill Clinton often says, there is another Middle East – a Middle East you don’t see on TV. That Middle East is a population of tech savvy, increasingly educated young people who are already a part of the modern world and eager to both live their Muslim tradition and contribute to the modern world. (For more on this see Vali Nasr’s new book, Forces of Fortune, on the rise and significance of the Muslim middle class.)

Reza sees technology as a bridge between tradition and modernity, and between east and west. So it came as no surprise to me when I heard he was involved in this new project. MeccaLocator lets you customize a prayer alarm – for 3, 5 or 6 times a day – points you towards Mecca, and adjusts to different time zones. It also provides automated adhans (calls to prayer from the muezzin of the mosque) directly from Mecca.

Seeing as over 75 percent of the population of the Middle East is under 35 – and Arab and Islamic markets are estimated at $2.7 trillion currently – this is not only cutting edge, but incredibly relevant to many of the 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide.

My guess is that MeccaLocator is just the beginning. As people realize that there is a huge audience of Muslims who both cherish their religion and live fully in the modern world, there is going to be a lot more aimed at them. I hope it changes our image of this rising Muslim middle class, and helps a layer of the Muslim world to aspire to be part of it.

About

  • Arif2

    Meccalocator; isn’t that the place where non-muslims are not allowed? are they not allowed there because they are un-holy? un-clean or simply not welcome? Perhaps all of the above.

  • Athena4

    I heard something recently that the adhan ringtones were outlawed in Egypt by radical clerics. Sheesh! Talk about wanting to go back to the Fourteenth Century! As my husband and I constantly joke, “there’s an app for that.”

  • abhab1

    Eboo says:A person fully living in the “modern world” does not need a machine to tell him in which direction to pray and the times of the day to perform that routine. A modern person realizes that Allah is either everywhere and listens to his creation at any time day or night or He is nowhere. Either way the Meccalocator would be of no use to anyone except those who build it.

  • PSolus

    The best way to “live fully in the modern world” is to stop believing in old world myths and superstitions.

  • PSolus

    Let’s just hope that nobody creates an app called iFlyintoBuilding.

  • wash-post1

    I think it is important to keep ideas in context and make the proper comparisons.I am uncomfortable with Egypt’s state control on religion, but banning the adhan ringtones is not necessarily a desire to go back to the 14th Century (not sure why the writer picked that century). Aside from the government imposition of religion, this is probably no different than my church’s school banning kids from having the Lord’s Prayer as a ringtone. It just seems disrespectful.A better way to live in the modern world is to embrace the old traditions and rhythms along with the new. Just because your grandpa doesn’t have an iPod doesn’t mean he can’t pass on wisdom. If living fully in the modern world requires rejection of anything historical or traditional, then perhaps it is not an admirable goal to live fully in the modern world – just a sad, harsh place.As for Genghis Khan, when did he become a role model?Is PSolus the same person that made the comment about Christians creating an app called “iBlowUpFederalBuildings”? Perhaps that person doesn’t understand the distinction between rogue individuals and the entirety of a religion.

  • PSolus

    “I am uncomfortable with Egypt’s state control on religion, but banning the adhan ringtones is not necessarily a desire to go back to the 14th Century (not sure why the writer picked that century). Aside from the government imposition of religion, this is probably no different than my church’s school banning kids from having the Lord’s Prayer as a ringtone.”Perhaps you don’t understand the distinction between a school controlling what happens within its walls, and the government controlling what people do in their everyday lives.”A better way to live in the modern world is to embrace the old traditions and rhythms along with the new.”Even if the “old traditions and rhythms” include ignorant superstations that harm people and make their lives miserable?”Just because your grandpa doesn’t have an iPod doesn’t mean he can’t pass on wisdom.”That’s a bit of a non sequitur, but. OK…”If living fully in the modern world requires rejection of anything historical or traditional, then perhaps it is not an admirable goal to live fully in the modern world – just a sad, harsh place.”Not if the things “historical or traditional” were ignorant superstations that harmed people and made their lives miserable.”As for Genghis Khan, when did he become a role model?”You got me there.”Is PSolus the same person that made the comment about Christians creating an app called “iBlowUpFederalBuildings”?”No, you’re thinking of someone else. But, I do understand that person’s point.”Perhaps that person doesn’t understand the distinction between rogue individuals and the entirety of a religion.”I do understand that when certain individuals are hailed as heroes and martyrs by a large percentage of a religion because of what they did, they are not necessarily rogue individuals.

  • [email protected]

    There have been aps for this for a while. iPray for example. There is also iQuran, iDuaa, DailyHadith, Guidance, etc.

  • AKafir

    “As for Genghis Khan, when did he become a role model?”Genghis Khan was not a “good” human by current standards, but he and his offsprings ruled China, India, and most of the middle east for the longest time. To rise from a slave to be the founder of some of the greatest empires required some brains and ability to know humans. He did not want to pick a fight with the musims. He had sent a diplomatic mission to the Shah (ruler of Persia) but as destiny would have it, a corrupt uncle of the Shah was the governor of the region bordering Genghiz’s empire killed the emissaries and kept all the gifts sent by Genghiz Khan. Genghiz wanted an apology and the governor punished. The Shah in his hubris utterly dismissed the Khan’s demands. This ultimately led to the Shah being hounded and killed by his own people and the Calipha being trampled to death under the hoofs of the Mongols horses. That he could see the absurdity of Islam’s claim about mecca and reject Islam as a credible religion because of it is a testimony to his intelligence. Although he was not a Buddhist himself, he gave protection to the Buddhists and many of the buddhist monastries in Nepal are from his and his son’s time. He also gave protection to the christian traders.

  • AKafir

    The mongol Gengihz Khan rejected Islam because of the requirement that Islam imposes to pray facing Mecca. He stated that Islam cannot be true since God would not possibly insist that his house in one particular place on earth. Amazing that the Khan could grasp the absurdity of the meccalocator 1200 years ago, while Eboo and Reza Aslan cannot see it in the 21st century!!

  • maq1

    Thanks Eboo for another interesting post. Keep up the interesting articles and the important work of interfaith outreach.

  • harshpandya

    For Muslims every thing is revolved around their religion. Too much religion and we see the results every day like in numerous intolerant Islamic republics and daily news of plots and masscres (54 children and women blown up in Iraq today, 26 arrests in Egypt, Saudis and Yemenis killing each other, Somalia, Pakistan….).

  • SUMB44

    Do you think Osama gets updates on the state of global warming and climate change on his iPhone in Pakighanistan? And to think, people complain of AT&T’s 3G coverage!

  • rajrajya

    Any modern technology should be used to keep Muslims’ children to keep them as far away from Islam as possible for their own safety and others’ safety.

  • Indian51

    Islam and modern world is oxymoron. During a recent speech in the US, former Pakistan President Musharaf said, Islam is the most backward, illiterate, primitive and violent religion in the world.

Read More Articles

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

noplaceonearth
An Untold Story of Bondage to Freedom: Passover 1943

How a foxhole that led to a 77-mile cave system saved the lives of 38 Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust.

shutterstock_148333673
Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

shutterstock_53190298
Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

shutterstock_185995553
How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

HIFR
Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

shutterstock_186364295
This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

SONY DSC
Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.