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Tech colors the Ramadan experience
July 12, 2015, 2:12 pm

Ask the older generation what sharing means to them and they will probably tell you about zakat, or eating with loved ones during Iftar and Suhour. But lob the same word at the younger generation and their first response will likely be about tweets and Facebook posts.

Technology and social media are not just changing how we work, play and live, but also impacting how we observe religious occasions such as Ramadan, and the ways companies market everything from eating to shopping. Often seamless, but sometimes jarring, this blend of old and new comes to the fore during Ramadan.

Available data shows that the volume of tweets dropped sharply after sunset and rebounded shortly post-Iftar across the Muslim world. This is attributed to people eating with their families, adding that several countries also saw tweets peak around sunrise, near the time for Suhour and Fajr prayers.

Technology is also impacting the Ramadan shopping experience as new payment methods gain traction. Ramadan sees a marked increase in retail sales and a large number of transactions are now being processed online.

But perhaps the greatest impact of technology during the holy month is concentrated in the smartphone. Muslims all over the world are increasingly using them in innovative ways to help fulfil their religious duties. The iOS and Android app stores are brimming with Ramadan-related apps.

The most popular of the lot seems to be the one by PXL Apps, downloaded over half a million times. It claims to be the best way to know Imsak and Iftar times and can be used in more than 251 countries. It auto detects your location and adjusts the time. You can also set up notifications and reminders for prayers.

For charity activities, there is no dearth of options — for instance, Android Space’s Zakat Calculator helps you calculate zakat in the right way. Meanwhile, Ramadan Wallpapers for Android brings you the most beautiful images of Ramadan, and Ramadan Beautiful LWP animates your phone background with live wallpaper.

Meanwhile, Recipes for Ramadan site claims you will not run out of ideas for Iftar and Suhour with its collection of soups, traditional cakes and juices.

There are apps for the young too. For example, Ziad in Ramadan aspires to teach children about the Holy Month with fun and educational cartoons, while Ramadan Songs claims to have the best ringtones and music. Other popular iOS and Android apps include Ramadan Pro, Ramadan Calendar, Islam Smart, iIslam and iPray.

Even TVs are changing the way families absorb holy teachings. For instance, during Ramadan, Samsung is promoting the MP3 Quran app for its smart TVs, which has the Quran in both text and audio formats, allowing you and your family to read it together or get a better understanding through explanation. It also features multiple languages, continuous play and online radio.

As technology advances in the years ahead, so will its effect on Ramadan. Perhaps holographic displays, virtual reality headgear and 8K TVs will play a prominent role in how future generations observe the Holy Month.

The internet and technology will continue to bring people closer and break down geographical boundaries. All of which indicates that the message of Ramadan will not change, no matter where technology takes us.

Source: Gulf News

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