The world's first air travel prayer time calculator has been launched to help Muslims know their prayer times along the flight path of their journey.
The Air Travel Prayer Time Calculator, was launched this month by Singapore-based Crescentrating, a firm that gives halal ratings to hotels and other travel-related establishments.
The online tool takes data such as prayer times in the country of origin, the destination city and in countries on the flight path and uses an algorithm to plot exact prayer hours during a flight.
Current programs only allow Muslims to find their prayer hours according to their position on land and the absence of any tools that can be used to calculate during a flight has confused many travelers. Scholars usually recommended determining prayers either based on point of departure or point of arrival, though others preferred looking at the position of the Sun while in the air.
âI knew there was lot of frustration among the travelers on this issue, but nobody had really attempted to solve it,â Crescentrating chief executive Fazal Bahardeen said in an interview.
Before embarking on a trip, a Muslim traveler can now go to the online calculator on the Crescentrating Web site and input his or her departure airport, time of flight and destination. The calculator then comes up with the prayer times set either in the local time of the airport of origin, the destination city or the country that the aircraft is flying over, which the traveler can then e-mail to themselves to access later.
His team also plans to develop a mobile app that will point the faithful in the direction of the Islamic holy city of Mecca, which Muslims must face when they pray, based on the flight path, Fazal said.
Muslim travelers have welcomed the tool.
"It is good for long-haul traveling," said Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank vice president Shiraz Sideek, who travels up to a dozen times a year.
"When you cross different times zones in an airplane, you have a problem of timing when to pray," he said from Abu Dhabi. "The application sounds like a very unique thing and very useful."
Indonesian airline industry executive Sabry Salahudeen agreed that there is a potentially big market for the new tool.
"I've been in the airline -industry for the past 20 plus years ... To my knowledge I do not think anyone has come up with anything like this," said Salahudeen, who is vice president for airport operations and aircraft procurement at Pacific Royale Airways, a soon-to-be-launched premium airline in Indonesia.
As more Muslims travel around the world, services catering to their needs are expanding, industry players say.
In 2010, Muslim travelers spent US$100 billion, or about 10 percent of total global travel expenditure, Fazal said.
This is projected to increase to between 14 percent and 15 percent of the global total by 2020.
The World Tourism Organization last year estimated that an additional 2 million Arabs will travel overseas over the next 20 years, raising their region's total of outbound tourists to 37 million.
Martin Abbugao, "Airborne prayer problem solved for tech-savvy Muslims" Taipei Times April 8, 2012
"First air travel prayer time calculator launched" Arabian Business April 6, 2012
Reproduced with permission from Islam Today