Technology is rapidly becoming a valuable tool for Islamic observance and many Muslim faithful have increasingly been turning to smartphone apps to help them fulfill religious obligations. With the holy Islamic month of Ramadan approaching, the utility of such apps in supporting the spiritual and practical elements of the 30-day fast make them an especially useful option for some.
An all-in-one Ramadan toolkit, this popular app not only features a calendar for the holy month, including prayer times, but also the ability to modify prayer times based on different locations for convenience during travel. The Android app also has a feature that sends a reminder about charitable giving, also known as Zakat al-Fitr, an obligation for Muslims during Ramadan.
Islamic tradition holds that Ramadan was when the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad and, as a result, many Muslims use the month as an opportunity to read and recite their holy book. This tradition has made the iQuran app, which offers the full text and audio of the Quran along with an English translation, tremendously popular among many congregants, according to Benyahya. “People use it a lot,” he said. “It’s very much going to be used and exhausted during Ramadan.”
Islamic Finder’s Athan Prayer Timings:
Muslims are obligated to pray five times a day, at pre-set intervals with times that change according to the season. One of the most popular prayer time calculator apps, the Islamic Finder app allows users to track daily prayer times, log their prayers in a personalized prayer book and even offers directions to nearby mosques. The app also has a prayer call alarm feature (with the option of switching to vibrate mode) that can help alert users to the sunset and sunrise which mark the start and end of fasting, respectively.
The popularity of these apps has enabled some Muslims to become even more devout in their religious practice. “If you forgot to pray, you might not be responsible, because you’re human; you forget and you can make it up later,” said James Otun, a 35-year-old American technology aficionado, in an interview with the Guardian. “But not now that you have those apps, that might change things in God’s level.”
Knowing when to pray is one crucial aspect of Islamic prayer. The other is knowing in which direction to pray. Apps like Qibla Compass are dedicated to helping Muslims figure out the direction of Mecca, which Muslims around the world face as they pray. While some can usually calculate the direction by using the compass feature on their smartphones, this app does the calculation automatically based on a user’s location. The app also comes with accessibility support for people with visual impairments.
Ramadan has traditionally been a time of spiritual reflection for Muslims, who give up food and drink during the sunlight hours and avoid vices like gossiping throughout the month. In addition to striving for spiritual purity, the sense of deprivation fostered through fasting is also meant to inspire charitability.
This is why many Muslims use the month as an opportunity for charitable giving and volunteer work. The Ramadan Kareem app by the Muslim Giving Project, is designed to facilitate this important obligation by connecting Muslims to civic organizations and projects that they can donate to or get involved with as a volunteer. The app also provides daily charity inspirations throughout the holy month.
Mina Hindholm Imam Khatib school will take on students aged 18 and up from Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
The northern European region of Scandinavia has officially opened its first Islamic Theology boarding school, known as an Imam Khatib school, in the Danish city of Slagelse.
The school is due to take on students from Denmark, Norway and Sweden and will teach the national curriculum along with Turkish and Islamic lessons in the fields of Qur’an, Hadith and Islamic creed.
Boarding school head Ahmet Deniz told Anadolu Agency said that Mina Hindholm will be Denmark’s first official Islamic school for students aged 18 and up. The school, which is Europe’s second Imam Khatib after the one in Belgium, already has 52 students.
CALIFORNIA – Making history for Islamic education in the US, a Muslim college has received formal academic accreditation last weekend, becoming the first officially recognized Islamic institution of higher learning in the country of seven million Muslim population.
“Today, Zaytuna’s accreditation roots this vision in a reality recognized within American higher education,” Hamza Yusuf, president of the college, said in a statement celebrating the announcement and cited by Thinking Progress on Tuesday, March 11.
The statement also added, “[Accreditation] helps ensure that Zaytuna successfully fulfils the objectives outlined in its curriculum, which grounds its students in both the Islamic and Western scholarly traditions.”
Yusuf’s statement followed the declaration that Zaytuna College, a liberal-arts school based in Berkeley, California, was formally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
The WASC is one of six official academic bodies responsible for the authorizing public and private colleges and universities in the United States.
In its letter granting Zaytuna accreditation, WASC lauded the school for its “rigorous and high-quality learning experience, one that… can be viewed as an exemplar in the liberal arts tradition.”
Zaytuna College, a brainchild of Imam Shakir, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and Professor Hatem Bazian, stems its name from the Arabic word “olive”.
It opened doors to first students in its rented space in a Baptist seminary in Berkeley in August, 2010.
It offers two majors; Arabic language and Islamic law and theology.
Zaytuna College earned its reputation as a great educational institute, being compared to great Catholic colleges, such as Georgetown or Notre Dame.
Being a Muslim school with a quasi-”great books” curriculum, it was compared to Harvard College, circa 1850 — but instead of the Bible, Greek and Latin, and Plato, it’s the Qur’an, Arabic and Plato.
The college administrators said they hope their success leads to greater acceptance of their style of Islamic education and Muslims at large.
“[Accreditation] gives our community its first accredited academic address in the United States,” Yusuf said.
“And we hope, God willing, that there will be more such Muslim colleges and universities to come.”
The United States is home to a Muslim minority of between six to eight million.
A 2013 survey found that American Muslims are the most moderate around the world.
It also showed that US Muslims generally express strong commitment to their faith and tend not to see an inherent conflict between being devout and living in a modern society.
OTTAWA — The Islamic centre in Saskatoon is experiencing growing pains.
Friday services have been split into two, so local streets aren’t clogged with traffic. City officials and nearby residents are working with the centre to answer questions such as: where to put more parking?
“We have been experiencing this kind of steady increase for a while,” said Amin Elshorbagy, president of the Canadian Islamic Congress and a Saskatoon resident.
“We can see this in terms of the need to expand our infrastructure. Most of our Islamic centres are becoming very crowded.”
Statistics released Wednesday confirm what can already be seen: more mosques with busier prayer services and the increasing prevalence of women dressed in hijabs and niqabs in all walks of life. Islam is the fastest-growing religious group in the country.
Across Canada, the Muslim population is growing at a rate exceeding other religions, according to Statistics Canada. It is even growing faster than the number of Canadians who identify themselves as having no religion, though just barely, according to the National Household Survey released Wednesday.
The Muslim population exceeded the one-million mark in 2011, according to the survey, almost doubling its population for the second-consecutive decade. Muslims now represent 3.2 per cent of the country’s total population, up from the two per cent recorded in 2001.
The majority of growth in the Muslim population is the result of immigration, as it is with Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists, with the largest share coming from Pakistan over the past five years, according to Statistics Canada. Muslims are also the youngest religious group in the country with a median age of about 28 years old.
“The phenomenon of the younger age for groups such as Muslims and Hindus is a reflection of the immigration trends,” said Tina Chui, chief of immigration and ethnocultural statistics at Statistics Canada. “People tend to migrate when they’re younger.”
The growth of the Muslim population is part of a larger trend: minority religious groups becoming a larger slice of the Canadian cultural mosaic, although Christian religions still dominate with almost 70 per cent of the population. That raises questions of accommodation and integration of a religion that experts say is often unfairly viewed through a lens of fear.
“Polling has shown that Canadian Muslims are proud to be Canadian, more so than the average Canadian,” said Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations. “Canadian Muslims very much want to integrate and be part and parcel of the society.”
One-on-one, non-Muslims can have favourable views of their Islamic colleagues, but that feeling doesn’t always extend to the wider Muslim population, said Pamela Dickey Young, a professor of religion and culture at Queen’s University.
“It isn’t like Canadian Muslims have not tried to educate the Canadian populace … but for some reason there’s still that edge with it that some Canadians have problems getting over,” Dickey Young said.
The survey results should be taken with caution. Experts say the voluntary nature of the National Household Survey, which replaced the mandatory long-form census, leaves some gaps in the data from groups that tend not to respond to such surveys, such as new immigrants.
Experts believe the data provide a fairly good, broad picture of Canada, but data on smaller groups may provide less reliable information.
“People keep blocking us into one cohesive mass and we’re not that at all,” said said Alia Hogben, executive director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women.
“We need to sit down as Muslims — not as a community because there isn’t one community — and decide what we want to be accommodated and what we want to give up.”
That internal debate in the Muslim community gets sidetracked because of the backdrop of violence done in the name of religion, which Canadian Muslims regularly and quickly condemn.
“It is an additional pressure and a big one on the Muslim community,” Elshorbagy said.
“We need to be extra nice just because we’re Muslims. We need to go beyond certain limits, which is very unfortunate for people like me,” he said. “Sometimes the media will call something Islamic terrorism — once you call it Islamic, you’ve brought me into the picture even though I haven’t done something wrong.”
The Muslim population of England and Wales is growing faster than the overall population, with a higher proportion of children and a lower ratio of elderly people, according to an analysis of official data.
One in three Muslims is under 15, compared with fewer than one in five overall. There are also fewer elderly Muslims, with 4% aged over 65, compared with 16% of the overall population.
In 2011, 2.71 million Muslims lived in England and Wales, compared with 1.55 million in 2001. There were also 77,000 Muslims in Scotland and 3,800 in Northern Ireland.
The Muslim Council of Britain’s (MCB) study of data from the 2011 census found that Muslims are still a small minority of the overall population – one in 20.
Half the Muslims in England and Wales were born there and almost three-quarters (73%) identify themselves as British. Two-thirds of Muslims are ethnically Asian and 8% are white.
Responding to the report, the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said: “I believe that every person, whatever their background and circumstances, should have an equal chance to thrive. “What’s not in doubt is that British Muslims can be proud of the contribution they make to our country.”
The figures show that Muslims make up 20% or more of the electorate in 26 constituencies and live in all local authority areas in England and Wales. “There has been a spreading-out effect and this has accelerated in the past 10 years,” said Sundas Ali, a sociologist at Oxford University.
Eight per cent of all school-age children (five to 15) are from Muslim households. Some schools have a high proportion of Muslim pupils, such as those in Washwood Heath in Birmingham, where 86% of school-age children are Muslim.
The proportion of Muslim adults with degree level and above qualifications is similar to the general population, at 24% compared with 27%. In the last census, there were 329,694 Muslim full-time students, of which 43% were women.
Despite high numbers of Muslim women in full-time education, the findings show that within the 16 to 74 age band, 18% of Muslim women are “looking after home and family”, compared with 6% in the overall population.
James Nazroo, a professor of sociology at Manchester University, said: “I think there are a large number of myths around the ethnic minority and religious minority populations in the UK and so it’s important that these myths have light shone on them.”
He added: “This is where the policy engagement can happen and we can work on the basis of good information rather than the basis of myths and look at inequalities that sections of our society face.”
The settlements with large number of Muslims are Bradford, Luton, Blackburn, Birmingham, London and Dewsbury. There are also high numbers in High Wycombe, Slough, Leicester, Derby, Manchester, Liverpool and the mill towns of Northern England.
The local authorities with a Muslim population greater than 10 percent in 2001 were:
London Borough of Tower Hamlets 36.4% 71,389
London Borough of Newham 24.3% 59,293
Blackburn with Darwen 19.4% 26,674
City of Bradford 16.1% 75,188
London Borough of Waltham Forest 15.1% 32,902
Luton 14.6% 26,963
Birmingham 14.3% 139,771
High Wycombe 14.1%, 9,708
London Borough of Hackney 13.8% 27,908
London Borough of Enfield 13.5% 37,388
Pendle 13.4% 11,988
Slough 13.4% 15,897
London Borough of Brent 12.3% 32,290
London Borough of Redbridge 11.9% 28,487
City of Westminster 11.8% 21,346
London Borough of Camden 11.6% 22,906
London Borough of Haringey 11.3% 24,371
Metropolitan Borough of Oldham 11.1% 24,039
Leicester 11.0% 30,885
London Borough of Ealing 10.3% 31,033
Kirklees 10.1% 39,312
Most large cities have one area that is a majority Muslim even if the rest of the city has a fairly small Muslims population; for example, Harehills in Leeds.
In addition, it is possible to find small areas that are almost entirely Muslim: for example, Savile Town in Dewsbury. http://www.quranfocus.com
The CAIR-TX, DFW Chapter was formed in 1998 and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-deductible, grassroots advocacy and civil rights organization. The national headquarters for CAIR is in Washington, D.C. and there are nearly 30 affiliated CAIR chapters across America. CAIR was first established to promote an accurate image of Islam and Muslims in America and has evolved into the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S.
VISION AND MISSION
CAIR’s vision is to be a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding.
CAIR’s mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CAIR supports free enterprise, freedom of religion and freedom of expression.
CAIR is committed to protecting the civil rights of all Americans, regardless of faith.
CAIR supports domestic policies that promote civil rights, diversity and freedom of religion.
CAIR opposes domestic policies that limit civil rights, permit racial, ethnic or religious profiling, infringe on due process, or that prevent Muslims and others from participating fully in American civic life.
CAIR is a natural ally of groups, religious or secular, that advocate justice and human rights in America and around the world.
CAIR supports foreign policies that help create free and equitable trade, encourage human rights and promote representative government based on socio-economic justice.
CAIR believes the active practice of Islam strengthens the social and religious fabric of our nation.
CAIR condemns all acts of violence against civilians by any individual, group or state.
CAIR advocates dialogue between faith communities both in America and worldwide.
CAIR supports equal and complementary rights and responsibilities for men and women.
Our main focus is to defend the legal and constitutional rights of American Muslims in every aspect of life but especially in the workplace, schools, federal agencies and within local government. We regularly participate in civic and interfaith dialogues with organizations dedicated to preserving America’s legacy of social justice.
Another one of the CAIR-TX, DFW Chapter’s focus is to engage with the media to help improve and implement a more accurate image of Islam and Muslims in America. We also offer diverse training presentations, workshops and seminars to empower and motivate the American Muslim community to participate effectively in political, social and civic activism.
CAIR will continue to serve as a leader in the DFW Muslim community, by striving to improve relations between people of all races, religions and cultures.
New York will become the nation’s first major metropolis to close its public schools in observance of the two most sacred Muslim holy days, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday.
Several municipalities across the country — including in Massachusetts, Michigan and New Jersey — have moved in recent years to include the holy days, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, in their school calendars. But New York City, with its 1.1 millionschoolchildren, dwarfs the others in its size and symbolism.
For Muslim activists, who have spent years trying to raise their political profile, the mayor’s announcement was taken as a significant victory, and an indication that they had matured as a constituency with tangible influence on public policy.
“When these holidays are recognized, it’s a sign that Muslims have a role in the political and social fabric of America,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy group.
At least six school districts nationally, including Cambridge, Mass.; Dearborn, Mich.; Burlington, Vt.; and Paterson and South Brunswick, N.J., have granted days off for the major Muslim holidays. Many more districts recognize the holidays in other ways, such as noting them on the school calendar or granting excused absences for observant students.
In New York, a group of Muslims has spent nine years pressing for inclusion on the city’s school calendar, which already recognizes several Jewish and Christian holidays. Muslims make up about 10 percent of the student body in the city’s public schools, according to a 2008 study by Columbia University.
Mr. de Blasio had no objections: He pledged as a candidate in 2013 to close schools on the two Muslim holy days. On Wednesday, the mayor said that the changes would take effect in the coming academic year.
Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim, or Abraham, to sacrifice his son to God. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of fasting for Ramadan, which is signaled by the sighting of the crescent moon.
The exact timing of the holy days changes year to year because they are based on a lunar calendar. In the coming school year, classes will start a day earlier in September to account for Eid al-Adha, which falls on Sept. 24, a Thursday; in 2016, Eid al-Fitr falls during the summer.
In interviews on Wednesday, Muslim students and parents reacted with delight. Ilham Atmani, who was born in Morocco and lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, said she had been frustrated having to take her four children out of classes. “I know that Muslims are a minority, but we have to be recognized,” she said.
Helal Chowdhury, 15, a sophomore at Brooklyn Technical High School, said that every year he had to choose between celebrating the holidays with his family and going to school so he would not fall behind. Helal, who wants to be a doctor, said he had had a perfect attendance record for the past several years and that school always seemed to win.
“This is a big step forward,” Helal said. “We’ve been waiting a long time for this.”
Speaking at a school gymnasium in Bay Ridge on Wednesday, Mr. de Blasio, flanked by jubilant Muslim activists and city officials, was asked if he was concerned about a right-wing backlash to his decision.
“People who will criticize it, I think, should go back and look at the Constitution of the United States,” Mr. de Blasio said. “We are a nation that was built to be multifaith, multicultural.”
Mr. de Blasio often ends his news conferences by reciting a version of the day’s announcement in Spanish. As he prepared to do so on Wednesday, the mayor paused. “I will now talk about the Eid holidays in Spanish,” he said. “Only in New York, brothers and sisters.”
The opening of the Holy Quran Park in Dubai is in sight, and final touches are being given to the park. Paving of the roads and parking construction is currently ongoing, the Dubai Municipality has announced.
“The General Maintenance Department is currently preparing for the construction of the pavement and parking at the Holy Quran Park in Al Khawaneej,” the concerned department said.
Holy Quran Park, Dubai
The 64-hectare park is expected to be completed and opened for public in September this year.
The new attraction is intended to educate the public about the Holy Quran and its miracles, and will showcase all plants mentioned in the Holy Quran and available in the UAE.
Fig, pomegranate, olive, corn, leek, garlic, onion, lentil, barley, wheat, ginger, pumpkin, watermelon, tamarind, seder, vineyards, bananas, cucumbers and basil are some of the species that will be planted in the theme park.
A view of Holy Quran Park in Al Khawaneej, UAE
Of the 54 species mentioned in the Holy Quran, 35 will be showcased inside the park while the remaining 15 species will be grown in green houses and 20 outside.
The park will also have a tunnel which will exhibit the miracles described in the Holy Quran in the form of images and audio material, in addition to tracks for running, cycling and sand walking, an Umrah corner, outside theatre, fountains, desert garden, palm oasis and a lake.
After completing the paving of 8,000 square meters and the provision of 200 parking spaces, the area will be cleaned and prepared for opening.
The total cost of the project is estimated at around Dh27 million.