Monday, June 22, 2015

Spotlight: Experiencing 'Tech-Savvy Ramazan' This Year!

By Sameera Samreen in Bhopal
Allah-hu-akbar.. its 3:45am and even though you want to snooze the alarm for another 10 minutes, you know you just have 25 minutes to wake up (both body and mind), brush, go to the kitchen to wolf on your food, take in your dose of caffeine, gulp down some water and brush again – before the day’s fast begins.

In between all this, your phone buzzes and you can’t help smile at the Whatsapp message from your mother reminding you to drink some milk so that you don’t feel thirsty during the day or roll your eyes at some funny food trolls doing rounds this Ramzan, like, “Ramzan mein kon bade? Dahi Wadeyy!!”

Over a billion people around the world are observing fast from dawn to dusk, gathering with families and loved ones – bleary-eyed at seheri and amidst laughs and stories at iftaar. The remaining day is spent reciting Quran, offering namaz religiously and making conscious decisions not to swear or get angry plus a good snaps at leisure time.

And in all fasting, feasting and being pious, technology, just like it has seeped into every other part of our life, is there to help you through these 30 days.

Though the fundamental aspects of the holy month have not changed, technology is playing an increasingly important role in the way Muslims worship – particularly during this month.

Search ‘Ramadan’, ‘Ramzan’ or ‘Muslim’ and you will have a list of applications in across various app stores, all promising to help you by reminding saher, iftar and prayer timings and even telling you the direction of Mecca so that you can pray even on the go.

“Gone are the days when we would refer to cards aka nizam-ul-auqaat given at local mosques for saher, iftaar timings. Since I travel a lot I have downloaded Muslim Pro app that notifies me about prayer timings, the direction of Qilba (Mecca) and also when it is time to break the fast. So, even if I am busy, I have no excuse of forgetting to pray at the right time, “ says Mohd Junaid.

Besides praying, reciting Quran during the holy month is also a must for Muslims.

While a lot of people carry a pocket Quran while commuting, apps like Al Quran make the process much easier. You can read text, its translations and even listen to it.

Many have even resorted to Skype calls to ensure that their children overseas do not forget their roots.

Asiya Fatima has arranged for a moulvi to visit her house five days a week so that he can teach her six-year-old grandson Arabic – via Skype. “My son and his family relocated to California few months ago but my grandson’s Arabic classes continue over Skype,” she says and quips, “Deen ko nahi chord sakte hain na?”

Ramzan is also synonymous with feasting – who can ignore the huge banners outside every cafe and restaurant, screaming ‘Ramzan Mubarak’ and ‘Special Haleem’. Though google gives you the recipe for any dish you want to gorge on at iftaar, there are apps that give you details of restaurants that offer special iftaar spreads too.

Online grocery stores have also made fasting easy for the devout.

Says Ayesha Saher homemaker, “I am glad that I don’t have to make a daily visit to the supermarket to buy fruits and vegetables. One swipe on the phone and they are delivered at my doorstep.

Since I save time and energy, which I use to pray, I don’t mind shelling out few extra bucks.” Ayesha adds that even her Eid shopping will be done online this year.

While most people have decided to forgo or substantially limit their presence on social media, this has not stopped their myriad Whatsapp groups from buzzing and doling out useful, spiritual and sometimes quirky messages.

“While I have made it clear to all my friends that I will be staying away from Whatsapp, I couldn’t help but share a messages that I found informative. Like one about what we should eat and avoid while fasting and few hadiths,” says Tauseef Alam, a B Com student.

Meanwhile animated wallpapers of mosques with Quranic verses, Islamic games and quizzes are also being circulated on social media. But not all think of these as a waste of time or diversion.

“These are like constant reminders that we need to brush up our knowledge of deen. With so much information available at the press of a button, there is little excuse not to follow Ramzan guidelines to the letter,” says Sadia Tajuddin. “Technology is for us to use it the way want to,” she points.

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