Muslim? There’s an app for that: APYA’s Bayat explains offerings available in app stores that cater to Islamic audience

There seems to be a smartphone app for everything these days — social media, weather forecasts and even an app that shows the exact direction of Mecca. And that’s just one of the many apps that are made specifically for Muslims.

Jawad Bayat, one of the four coordinators of the Abrahamic Program for Young Adults, was asked for recommendations on which apps he finds most useful. The APYA program is an initiative of Chautauqua Institution’s Department of Religion that aims to engage the community with interfaith dialogue and cooperation. Bayat is currently studying in the Islamic Chaplaincy Program at Hartford Seminary.

Zabihah is Bayat’s most-used app, which he uses to find local halal restaurants — meaning that the food is permissible by Islamic law — and mosques. Users can search for venues by distance or by rating and can write their own reviews.

Two other apps that Bayat frequently uses are alQuran, which is an electronic version of the Quran, and Islamic Compass.

“Muslims all around the world pray in the direction of Mecca, where the Kaaba is,” he said. ”The first thing you do when you go to a new place you haven’t been to is figure out the direction of Mecca.”

Many of the apps that Bayat has on his smartphone give him “spiritual nourishment,” he said. Some are Islamic in nature, such as an app that provides quotes by the Sufi mystic Rumi, while others are not, such as one that provides quotes by the Dalai Lama.

During Ramadan, Bayat frequently used iDuas Ramadhan, which contains a collection of supplications and salutations to be recited each day during the month.

“This app …  draws from a long tradition of what many Muslims have done over the years,” he said. “And what they’ve done is made [prayer] electronic, so we don’t have to carry around big books throughout the mosque; you can use your iPad or your iPhone.”

When asked if some of his apps would be frowned upon in Muslim communities, Bayat responded, “I don’t know. There are just so many Muslims. They might say, ‘Don’t use [the Quran app] while you’re in the bathroom.’ It’s probably bad etiquette.”

Innovation is often looked down upon in Islam, Bayat explained. The imam, the person who directs Islamic prayer and delivers a sermon, is generally expected to lead the congregation in the exact way the Prophet Muhammad did 1,400 years ago.

“But there are others that are OK with innovation,” he said. “As long it doesn’t damage the [religion’s] core principles.”