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High Tech Engages People of Faith

Published: 17/11/2012 01:18:17 PM GMT
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CAIRO - When Jasmine Kashkoush goes outside her house, the US Muslim neuroscience student at the University of Pittsburgh turns up to technology to cope up with the changing time of her five daily prayers. It's really help (more)

CAIRO - When Jasmine Kashkoush goes outside her house, the US Muslim neuroscience student at the University of Pittsburgh turns up to technology to cope up with the changing time of her five daily prayers.

"It's really helpful, as it makes sure I don't neglect my prayers," Kashkoush, 19, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Saturday, November 17.

"With smartphones these days, there's apps for everything."

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Kashkoush, who grew up as a Muslim in Allentown, was not alone.

The smart phone application used to define five prayer times was used by millions of Muslims worldwide as well as iQuran app which makes the entire Muslim holy book accessible on their phone.

Not only Muslims.

Cell phone companies were introducing new applications to serve Muslims, Christians and Jews.

For example, hundreds of iPhone apps allow worshippers to upload Bible quotes, Torah-chanting practice and Buddhist prayer wheels.

Ryan Kreager, Notre Dame doctoral candidate, developed the "Confession App" with two friends -- together they make up an app development company called Little i Apps.

The app, he says, is meant to remind Catholics of their rite of visiting a priest to unburden themselves, not to replace it.

"If you're emotionally hooked to a device ... why not be hooked spiritually, as well?" asks Kreager.

Pastors were also streaming their sermons online; rabbis using websites to track their students' progress and Muslims turning to electronic compasses and GPS technology to define Kaaba direction.

Even the Dalai Lama maintains an active Twitter feed.

"It's the world we live in now," says the Rev. Dr. Ronald Cole-Turner, a professor of theology and ethics at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in East Liberty.

Technology

Trying to catch up with the changing atmosphere, many seminaries and divinity schools added virtual-classroom instruction and other tech courses while training the next generation of aspiring ministers.

"There are those who think that with technology we may have lost some one-on-one connectivity," Cole-Turner, whose position at the seminary focuses on developments in science and technology, said.

"But we're doing the working of the church ... and what God calls us to do, whether it's face-to-face or online."

In some cases, technology has helped actually create places of worship.

Joshua and Nicole Bilsky say they weren't able to find a church that met their spiritual needs.

So, in January, the West Mifflin couple took to social-media sites to build their own worship hall, with no money or other backing.

They used Facebook and Twitter to publicize and sign up members, and Craigslist to find a minister and band members.

The first service, in September, drew about 150 people to the church, which meets in Wilson Christian Academy on Clairton Road.

At the church, the lyrics to hymns, controlled by a laptop, are flashed on the walls.

It's also common for cellphones to pop up when the Rev. Thomas Ondrea quotes scripture.

"People walk in the door with cellphones that have more power than home computers did about five or 10 years ago," says Joshua Bilsky, 32, an information-technology manager.

"People are simply more comfortable with technology now. And in churches, we need to find a way to leverage that feeling positively."

Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net




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