Google is helping Muslims navigate the holy month of Ramadan in a number of unique ways.
The California-based tech titan has unveiled new applications and products related to Ramadan intended to help practitioners of the Islamic faith during the most sacred month of the calendar.
The company has recently rolled out an interactive calligraphy application called Qalam to help create 3-D Ramadan messages and cards as well as an augmented reality tool called the Qibla Finder to help Muslims find Mecca’s direction for prayer.
Millions of Muslims will observe Ramadan from May 15 until June 14, 2018 around the world
According to Najeeb Jarrar, Google’s head of brand and consumer marketing at its Middle Eastern offices: ‘During Ramadan there’s a spike in the information required for prayer times, card making, how to give to charity and how and when to fast.’
Jarrar also stressed the importance of delivering timely, accurate results in Arabic, especially related to topics such as travel, health and food.
Food has emerged as an especially popular topic in recent years, with many users searching for recipes for Suhoor and Iftar, the predawn and post-sunset meals consumed by Muslims during fasting. Notably, food topic searches tend to vary by country and by year.
In Egypt, the most popular trending dish in 2015 was shakshouka, a meal made of tomatoes, chili peppers, onions and poached eggs. The following year, the top dishes searched for were knafa with mangoes and pastrami with egg sandwiches.
In Saudi Arabia, the most searched for foods were Nutella and Qatayef with cheese in both 2016 and 2017.
In the United Arab Emirates, food recipes for cheese filo pastry rolls and cheese with zaatar manaeesh were the top trending searches for 2015. Just a year later, the top search was actually for spinach fatayer.
Due to the differing searches between disparate countries and regions, Google tailored its search results differently for each one.
Google has done far more than just tailor search results for specific countries for Ramadan. The company has also helped Muslims send Ramadan greetings and find Mecca’s direction for prayer.
The company’s Qibla Finder has made great strides over the years and has helped to point Muslims in the direction of Mecca for praying.
Additionally, its new Qalam application has made it simple and accessible to create and share Ramadan greeting cards with friends and family members. The company worked extensively with calligraphists, including Soraya Syed, one of Pakistan’s first female calligraphers, and artists from around the world to craft over 35 artworks which seamlessly blend art, calligraphy and virtual reality.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the holiest month of the year in Islam. Muslims observe the sacred month to commemorate that Allah gave the initial chapters of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad in 610 AD, according to Islamic beliefs.
Ramadan is observed during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, a lunar calendar based on moon cycles. Observances start the day after the crescent moon has been visibly sighted, marking the start of a new month.
During the holy month, Muslims abstain from pleasures and also fast and pray frequently. Fasting takes place from sunrise until sunset while Muslims also refrain from smoking, sexual relations, cursing and fighting, save for self-defense. Families often gather for celebratory dinners during this time too.
When is Ramadan 2018?
Ramadan 2018 will be observed from Tuesday, May 15 until Thursday, June 14.