Athan: Prayer Times, Qibla & Quran for Muslims Worldwide
Technology | consulting | design
Muslims around the world lacked access to accurate prayer times, Islamic content & a platform that united them, and allowed discussions & information exchange.
We created a mobile app that allows Muslims to track and log their prayers, learn Quran, brush up their Islamic knowledge & become better Muslims.
Athan was featured at the Google App Summit. Our efforts help more than 1.6 million people (per month), globally, become better Muslims.
seizing the opportunity
Becoming better Muslims through Technology
Athan App is part of IslamicFInder or ‘IF’ (1996), a website for authentic Islamic information. In 2012, VentureDive acquired IF. Since the website was performing spectacularly, we decided to build an app to make it more accessible for the audience. This was the time when users were shifting from desktop to mobile platforms.
Global Muslim communities, especially those established in the non-Muslim majority areas, face a big dilemma: they can’t hear the call to prayer (Athan), and hence, end up missing their prayers (Salahs). This is true for those in Muslim-majority areas as well – since people are busy in their daily work, sometimes the sound of Athan doesn’t reach them. Furthermore, Muslims residing in areas where more people were non-Muslim, also needed help with finding mosques near them, learning about the correct Qibla direction or accessing the Islamic calendar. So the idea behind Athan, essentially, was to make the lives of these Muslims easier.
In addition, owing to busy schedules, people often couldn’t find the time to read the Quran and learn Duas or Adkars. Islam is not just about offering the five daily prayers – it’s about becoming better Muslims by developing a close connection with God. Duas, Adkars and the Quran provide a route to that.
An essential part of becoming a better Muslim is self-improvement through a healthy routine and lifestyle. Amidst our monotonous schedules, people forget to take care of ourselves. Waking up early for prayers will help them regulate their lifestyle to become healthier and more active. Athan was a way for us to make that happen by providing accurate prayer time information for over 5 million locations worldwide.
CREATING THE SOLUTION
Building Athan from Scratch
2013 – 2016
The MVP of the Athan app was launched in 2013, containing the most basic features at the time, such as prayer times, qibla direction, and the Islamic calendar. Fast forward to 2016, we decided to revamp the app, from UI/UX design to feature augmentation. The idea was to make it more user-centric and roll out Athan 4.0. In this new version, we:
- Reduced the app size significantly (by 70%).
- Synced all of the user data on the cloud and between the app & the website.
- Built Android (Java) and iOS (Swift) native technologies.
- Began testing on notifications (frequency & timings) to optimize the app for the highest engagement.
In the following year, we launched a multitude of new features based on requests and responses from existing users, e.g. Quran and Duas. The user engagement sky-rocketed when these two went live. We integrated firebase analytics in the app in 2017 to have clearer insights into the Islamic events and what’s improving our current features so as to gain the maximum impact from our Daily & Monthly active users. e.g. adding translations of the Quran.
We further added some event-oriented features e.g. Ramadan (Ramadan book to log your fasts, deed of the day to help Muslims gain most Sawab during Ramadan, etc.), Hajj (live Hajj streaming), Eid, etc. In 2017, we also launched the app in different languages as well. We started off with 2 languages: English and Arabic. Now, we have added 7 more languages, including, Finnish, Indonesian, Spanish, Malay, and Urdu.
A very unique feature that was missing from apps similar to Athan was ‘prayer book’. This feature allows users to keep a track of their prayers – they can log their prayers as they pray – it gave them the motivation to pray five times a day.
Moving into 2018, we launched our Community or ‘Global Feed’ feature. Using this, any Athan user can post on the community, exchange knowledge, get together for virtual events, or find any Islamic gatherings & congregations in their locales. Muslims can create Jamaats and invite people; similarly, users can search for any jamaat gatherings in their areas to join.
Our team worked endlessly to make Athan GDPR compliant as well.
Since the Community was designed with the idea of one big Muslim Community across the globe, we wanted to localize the area to enable Muslims in one area to gather and conduct community events like Milaads, Majalis, etc. Just to test the user response, we launched this in New York. Since NY is an area where the majority of the population is non-Muslim, it is quite difficult to find Halal food there. To cater to this issue, we partnered with local restaurants to inform our community about the nearest Halal food place in their area.
CELEBRATING THE SUCCESS
The road to becoming the leader in Islamic Apps
The journey from the beginning to becoming one of the highest engaged apps in the industry has not been an easy one. Through this rollercoaster, we managed to:
- Create a Prayer Book
With 1.6 million global users tracking & logging their prayers, Athan was the first of its kind to offer such a unique feature.
- Build a Community
We brought Muslims together through global & local communities, uniting them for knowledge sharing, leading jamaats, etc.
- Provide Authentic Content
Being a source of sensitive information, each piece of content we put out there had to be thoroughly backed up with extensive research lest its incorrect or tweaked.
- Reduce the App Size
Through content compression, offline content access and optimizing downloads, architecture & graphics, we ensured minimal load on the app, so it is lighter on our users’ phones as well.
Going forth, we envision to grow our Community feature and use it to connect people, wherever they are. Not only the App would gain more traction, but done right, it can attract new users, as well as engage existing ones. Our data experts foresee the increase in users by 4 times once the Community feature matures.
downloads on Play Store and App Store
monthly active users
Highest number of downloads in Ramadan 2019
Rating on Play Store and App Store
This data is from March 2020