Tech giant Google and mega social media platform Twitter are getting on the Ramadan vibes this month. With countless of useful apps one can utilise during the fasting month, it is apparent that technology has become a part of the Ramadan experience for many Muslims.
We’re early into the fasting month, and for some of us, there’s still some getting used to. Waking up at 4 in the morning, having the singular meal that will help us get through the day, prayers, and then for most of us there’s work, where we are likely to feel a little bit sleepy some time during midday — which is why Google would like to help you get organised.
What’s Google doing?
Fuss-free and straightforward, Google’s My Ramadan Companion is a mobile and online tool to help Muslims in the month’s observance.
According to Zain Kamal Masri, Associate Product Marketing Manager (Middle East and North Africa) at Google, “Technology helps more than 200 million Muslims living away from their families connect and share moments with loved ones. People look to Maps to navigate traffic and make it home from work for Iftar (breaking of fast), download Google Play apps to plan their day around the sunset and sunrise, and look up Ramadan opening hours of their favourite local shops and restaurants.”
And comprehensive, all-in-one information is what you can find on Ramadan Companion. Browse through recipes and food inspiration under the ‘Food’ tab, watch some family favourite shows at the ‘Entertainment’ segment, and plan your days using the ‘Planning’ tab, where you can readily view your Google calendar. And you can do all of this while keeping an eye on the clock showing the time to break fast, in any location you are at.
While this tool is more catered towards those living in the Middle East (most of the videos are in Arabic), it’s quite interesting checking out the different food they have on the selection list. From potato cream soup to meatloaf, let’s just say it wouldn’t be wise to check it out on a very empty stomach.
What about Twitter?
This will only be the second time Twitter has done it — yes, we are talking about #hashflags, the ones we had the joy of mucking around with during the World Cup last year. For users observing Ramadan and celebrating Eid to mark the end of the fasting month, tweeting #Ramadan or #Eid in both Arabic and English will see special icons — a crescent moon and Arabic calligraphy respectively — appear next to the tags.
In a blog post, Twitter shared, “More than 1.5 billion Muslims around the world will observe the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar as Ramadan, the month of fasting, and they will also gather on Twitter to share their celebration. In fact, based on our research, people sent more than 74.2m tweets about Ramadan from around the world last year.”
On top of this fun and colourful addition, Twitter is offering quite the helpful service to its Muslim users. During Ramadan, anyone can tweet Arabic news channel al Arabiya (@alarabiya) to find out when iftar or imsak (meal taken before a day of fasting) is in their location. For example:
Muslims around the world have readily embraced the role of technology in helping them become more observant Muslims, from prayer alarms to mobile Qurans — it’s nice to see tech heavyweights like Google and Twitter embracing the holy month of Ramadan as well.