AMITIAE - Thursday 16 January 2014

iman - Islamic prayer time app

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By Graham K. Rogers


The northern half of South-east Asia is mainly Buddhist, while the southern part, which includes Indonesia and Malaysia is mainly Moslem. Followers of Islam have specific rules that govern daily behaviour. One of the requirements is prayer, five times each day, facing Mecca. There is an app for it.

Yesterday I looked at a useful calendar app from a developer who focuses on Malaysia and Singapore. When Apple sent me the bill, there was a hint for other apps that might interest me. One of these was iman - Islamic prayer time app from Adiman Muhammed, a developer who has a number of other apps for the Moslem community in the southern part of South-east Asia.

The app is aimed at the Muslim community, of course, but the iTunes description adds a beautiful comment from the developer, ". . . and Not Yet Muslims: You'll know the perfect time to arrange meetings and other outings with ur fellow muslim friends (sic)." Although Thailand is a Buddhist country, several provinces in the south of the country are predominantly Moslem. There are also communities in other parts of the country, with a fairly large population within Bangkok. Many of my students are also Moslem.

The free app opens with a guide over several screens. For most users it may be useful or even interesting to run through this tutorial. It covers a number of points, including changing screen themes, finding accurate times when not in Singapore or Malaysia; addition of notation types; sharing with Twitter, alignment with Mecca, finding a Masjid (mosque), prayers and related items. This may be accessed again via Settings.

iman - times

Having looked through the opening screens, but not being familiar with the finer details of Islam, I was careful about my approach to the app. There are some specifics I am not clear on, and I will comment on these points below.

The main screen displayed a countdown to the next prayer time and the times of the other prayers throughout the day (Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha). As the default was for Singapore, Malysia and Brunei, I had to reset it for my location. According to those opening screens, this meant accessing Settings.

An icon to the top left of the screen reveals a menu displayed to the left of the panel. The top item is Settings. Within this section the user may also set the app for specific locations throughout Malaysia. I also changed the language to English. Then worked through the other options in the menu:

iman iman iman

  • After turning off the default location, I looked at the second item in the menu which reveals the compass that points to Mecca. I was asked if the app could use my Location. The display changed to show my location (in Thai) as Dao Kanong, which is about a kilometer adrift. The display gave a readout of which direction a devotee should face and the distance from Mecca (6450 kms).

    Apple Maps on the Mac and the iPhone locate me accurately. I restarted the app and the iPhone and tried again. This time the location was correct and displayed in English. This setting also caused the display of the correct time on the main screen to the next prayer.

  • The list showing location of Masjids was displayed as soon as I tapped the icon. In my case, the 30 listed were shown in a part English, part Thai rendition. At the top of the panel was a small map with all the locations marked by green pins. Tapping on the map section enlarged it to full screen, and I could make it bigger by pinching on the display. The app only showed Mosques within the immediate vicinity. When I expanded the map and looked for those I knew existed across the river, they were not shown.

iman iman iman

  • I was not able to check the Tasbih counter properly as I do not know how such utterances are done. The page opened with a default 0 (zero) which I could increase easily by tapping on the screen.

  • The Al-Mathurat Sughra pages display an invocation that is recited morning and evening. Scrolling left (Arabic is written right to left) revealed other such prayers, both in Arabic and Roman characters. There were 54 of these and each panel had a sequential number at the bottom left.

iman iman iman

  • A panel with two time displays shows the current time at the user's location and the time to the next call to prayer. When I was first looking at the app, the next prayer was Fajr - the Dawn prayer. There are five prayers daily and it is these that are listed on the main panel (see above).

  • The final icon (marked "i") displayed a number of rules for the shortening of prayers and when this was permissible. A tab at the top allowed the information to be switched between English and Bahasa Meleyu.

iman_time I was awoken at 05:30 to the sound of a voice calling me to prayer. I had discovered a new feature. I also heard the voice around breakfast time, shortly after 7am, for the second prayer of the day. These prayer calls can be turned off in the Settings section of the app, but each needs to be done individually.

If the warnings are to be left on, the specific call may be adjusted, or a user may simply have an iOS default sound. Most of the 6 calls (plus 2 of the 4 beep types) need upgrading to the Pro version. This is available for $0.99. It is also possible to set a time for the warning. The default is 'On time" but options run from 1 minute to 30 minutes before.

When any of the pages is accessed, the screen remains active, so there may be a drain on the battery if a user forgets. I would like to see this changed to offer an ON/OFF option.

This is a well-made app with some nice touches. The features and options have been well thought-out, although some more development might be needed. There are a couple of errors with the English, but nothing that detracts.

Obviously, the app is aimed at Muslims. Those with Moslem friends or perhaps people who are intent on doing business in such communities might find some of the data available useful.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



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