In countries where call to prayer is not heard from a nearby mosque, keeping a track of prayer time often becomes a challenge. This is even truer as one gets further north or south from equator since the time change between seasons is sharper. On top of that, travel today is fast enough for one to be able to travel from North America to Europe to Asia within a day. Finding the time of the prayer becomes a challenge.
To solve this problem, meet Athan software by Islamic Finder – software that keeps track of all prayer times on a given location and plays Athan when time of a prayer begins. The Basic version is free and can be installed from Athan Software's download page. Once installed, it does not need an internet connection, and keeps calculating and displaying prayer times on the computer. You could download the Pro version for $29.90 in order to support the software and to get additional features. Feature comparison is listed on the download page. Interface of the software is very simple: everything is on one page:
The interface has three columns and a bar on the left hand side. The left bar shows the date (both Gregorian and Hijri) and ads in the free version. There are three columns: The left shows prayer times for the current day; the middle one lets you select Athan to play, start and stop it and adjust volume; and the right one allows the selection of the location and juristic method. You can adjust location and the juristic method (if you would like to) and click ‘Compact Screen’ link on the left column to get right of the right column – a useful feature that simplifies the display.
Prayer times of the current day update daily automatically without using Internet. Closing the window still keeps Athan software running in the background so that when the time of a prayer starts, it automatically pops up and starts the Athan. The real utility of this software lies in being able to select a different location, which updates the prayer times right away!
Another useful feature is that, by default, the software is configured to start when the computer starts. A nicety is recitation of bismillah at startup. If you plan to buy the Athan Pro version for $29.90, you get additional Athan recitations, Quran recitation, date converter and ad free interface among other smaller features. While you can buy the Pro version to support the organization for their project, the basic version is sufficient for most people’s need.
I’ve been in multiple discussions regarding direction of Kaaba with people with multiple opinions emerging on the issue. I offered prayers in the wrong direction for a while after I moved to the US until I read Khalid Shaukat’s article on Qibla direction from North America. Finding it through compasses or other means had always been a bit of a challenge. However, with Internet available, there is a nifty tool that I was introduced to by a friend that solves this problem for US, Canada and Europe at least.
The tool — called Qibla Locator — is a merger of multiple technologies: online maps, satellite imagery, and trigonometrical calculations of Qibla direction. The tool comes at the right time when it is possible to utilize all these technologies more feasibly than ever before.
To use this tool, go to QiblaLocator.com website, and type in the address of the place from which you are finding the direction. For instance: “1 Microsoft Way, 98052”. It will display the location using Google maps. Click on the ‘satellite’ or ‘hybrid’ tab at the top of the map to get the street view of the location. Then zoom in so that a building is clearly recognizable. Voila! Now you know the direction in relation to the place or building around/in which you are praying. You can use it while traveling so long as you have internet access which is available complimentary in most hotels these days. And the direction is going to be quite accurate too.