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Sunday Open Thread: 5 high-tech tools that help my deen plus rally to restore sanity and ‘Halal’oween


Technology is a double edged sword: it can bring you closer to Allah or take you away from Allah, it can be used for haram or halal. Without running after the latest gadgets or wanting just because my neighbor has one, if we kept our needs in mind and use it as tools to help us practice our deen, then it is Allah’s (SWT) blessing otherwise a fitnah. I wanted to share my favorite apps and technologies and how they help me be a better Muslim, InshaAllah.

My Macbook Pro – This was an Eid gift from my husband last year, it was better gift than any piece of jewelry. After getting it I started blogging and have I have found a piece of me that was lost somewhere between the kids and the dishes. May Allah (SWT) grant him Jannah; it’s portability has freed me from sitting at the desktop and I can write anywhere.  It syncs with my phone. My calender is right there so I am better organized, Alhamdulillah.

iTunes– Nasheeds , Quran, lectures. If my kids need to learn the month of Islam nasheed, I download it or when the latest Bayinnah podcast is ready , I can upload it on my iPhone, hook it up to my car stereo and have Sheikh Nouman on surround sound during our long drives in LA traffic.

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iPhone Apps

  • iSubha – this app helps you keep count of your misbaha/tasbeeh. You can set the time and it keeps someone slightly ADD like me, on track.  There is a selection of azkaar and you tap the screen to keep count.  For example, if you know you have goal that you want to read at least 365 azkaar a day or as many as you can in an hour with this you can keep a visual count.


  • iQuran app- Quran and translation at your fingertips anywhere, whether you are in a waiting room at the doctor’s office or between meetings.
  • Asma-ul-Husna 1.0- learning the 100 names of Allah on the go- there are checkpoints so you can check yourself. My kids and I are competing who can learn all 100 first.
  • iPray-gives you salah timings on your phone (we are humans, we forget so if we have the technology to  help us, why not use it). The adhaan reminds you to pray lest shaytan makes you forget.
  • Qiblah compass pro- my husband uses this all the time as he travels a lot for work.

Online school– this has opened a whole new world for me,. I was so scared when I made the decision to home school my eldest daughter.  Their system is keeping me organized with her attendance & grades. Daily and weekly planning is done for me. It has simplified the process and the curriculum is state of the art.  Without the hassle of ordering books,  devising a curriculum, I can spend time actually teaching her.   When I can not explain something to her I use Khan Academy– This brother attended college with my husband; his goal is to provide a world-class education to people anywhere in the world. He posts short, simple videos on mostly math and sciences explained on an electronic blackboard. A great tutoring or homeschooling tool for kids and adults.  There are several online Islamic courses that you can take over the net along with fabulous websites like Halaltube- Lectures, duroos from scholars on my laptop, TV screen, need I say more.

Skype–  I love Skype. My mother sits across the world on her dining table and I sit on mine. She has her morning chai in her hand and I have my cup of evening tea. It is the closest thing to being next to each other. I can be a better daughter inquiring about her health, it makes her happy to see my face.  She shows me her new curtains and I show her the kid’s awards. My niece and my daughter live many continents away. These best friends and milk-sisters have a  book club on skype, they read the same book and then have discussions about them.  The last one they read was Fudgemania. It keeps them close despite the distance.

Using Skype, we broadcast my sister in law’s Nikaah to her grandma in Saudi and her aunt in Karachi simultaneously. Our friends are moving and her kids are super excited about Face Time, Apple’s video conferencing tool on the new iTouch- so they can keep in touch with their friends where ever they move in the world. With distances and relative and friends all over the globe, technologies like these help keep the ties of the womb & kinship, as long as you keep the right niyyah and don’t let it overtake your life.

Are you an Apple or a PC?  There are avid users of both platforms on the Muslim Matters team as you can guess by some of their nicks ie iMuslim, Muslim Apple.  Many of the brothers are PC fans as well as Sister Abez. Microsoft got extra props from most of us because of Bill Gates’ donation record vs. Steve Jobs’.  As for phones, some of us use Androids, HTC Evo or Droids, others would never give up their Blackberrys.

These were my favorites apps and tools, I am sure there are many more. What are your favorite apps or websites, which platforms do you guys use? any new Apple converts? so what’s going on with the blackberry ban in the Gulf states? is it still on?

Rally to restore sanity tidbits (our own MR was there and will be posting a recap soon):

  • 215,000 attended
  • Comedian Jon Stewart’ Rally to restore sanity sparked some 1,160 mini-rallies in 87 countries around the world ie from Paris to the Mt. Everest base camp, London to Seoul, from St. Paul, MN to Kohsar Market in Islamabad, Pakistan.
  • “The country’s 24-hour politico-pundit-perpetual-panic-conflictinator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder.”
  • He brilliantly attacked the media, especially cable news “the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false” Jon Stewart
  • “If we amplify everything, we hear nothing”

  • “Not being able to distinguish between real racists and tea partiers, or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rich Sanchez is an insult—not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put forth the exhausting effort it takes to hate. Just as the inability to distinguish between terrorists and Muslims makes us less safe, not more.”
  • A blogger shares some funny moments.
  • Yusuf aka Yusuf Islam was announced, he started a musical rendition of his song ” Peace Train” and then was interrupted  by Steve Colbert who didn’t want to get on this “rainbow moonbeam choochoo”  so he rammed him with Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy train. Funny or a dud? His appearance has fueled the only major controversy so far as the extreme Christian sites taut him as “fatwa- supporting singer who advocates death” Poor Bro Cat don’t think he has ever been called an Islamofascist before.
  • “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made an appearance at the Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear today in Washington D.C when hosts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were discussing Muslims in an obvious mockery of the infamous Bill O’Reilly/Whoopi Goldberg/Joy Behar dust-up recently on “The View.”  Colbert had just mentioned that his fear of Muslims–and specifically Osama Bin Laden was indeed, real, when Abdul-Jabbar came onto the stage.”That’s not a fair example,” said Colbert.  “Kareem is cool.  We’re friends.” To which Abdul-Jabbar replied: “Well, we’re acquaintances. A real friend knows that no matter what religious position someone plays we’re all on the same team.”

When many ‘pundits’ exhort Muslim moderates to do more (which peeves me)- What do they want us to do? Have a rally like this in the National Mall in D.C. That many Muslims gathered together in one place can you imagine? We were heckled and protested against at the RIS conference in Long Beach with just 3000 of us. A million of us all at the same place aaahh  the terror!! We would scare them in our Muslim garb- further fuel their stop Islamization of America agenda. They would probably accuse us of trying to take over Capitol Hill and the preemptive ballot measures like the one against Shariah law in the Okhlahoma would multiply. Scary…

That reminds me of ‘Halal’oween– Many of us who live in the West and now even in Muslims countries see Halloween with all its paraphernalia this time of year-what do you do? Do you hand out candy or turn off the lights and pretend you are not home. What about the kids do you let them dress up or get them excused them from the Halloween parade at school/neighborhood?  I have been asking to host an alternative event for the kids at our Islamic center. But this has caused some controversy. Some think this would commemorate a day that we should just ignore, other parents insist we should host something, while others think I am being an extremist because I do not celebrate this ‘secular’ event or am attacking Christian values???? Rejected from the center, we are having Game Night  for Muslim kids at a friend’s house; races, a potluck, board games, Jenga, pray together, Quran quiz, candy – So ‘Halal’oween yes or no or maybe?

photo courtesy: Karen Vaites

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Hena Zuberi is the Editor in Chief of She leads the DC office of the human rights organization, Justice For All, focusing on stopping the genocide of the Rohingya under Burma Task Force, advocacy for the Uighur people with the Save Uighur Campaign and Free Kashmir Action. She was a Staff Reporter at the Muslim Link newspaper which serves the DC Metro. Hena has worked as a television news reporter and producer for CNBC Asia and World Television News. Active in her SoCal community, Hena served as the Youth Director for the Unity Center. Using her experience with Youth, she conducts Growing Up With God workshops. Follow her on Twitter @henazuberi.



  1. Amatullah

    October 31, 2010 at 6:11 AM

    My aunt and her neighbors do a ‘no haloween’ party for the younger kids. Basically they have islamic trivia and give out candies.

    • midatlantic

      October 31, 2010 at 8:39 AM

      Would doing this every year be okay Islamically?

  2. Youssef Chouhoud

    October 31, 2010 at 6:45 AM

    Just found out about a “Torch Bearers” app (named for the popular Al-Maghrib class that studies the lives of Islamic scholars)! It looks really awesome mA.

    Props to the folks at Ihsan Fusion and hat tip to the folks at, where they coincidently did a post on apps just yesterday :P

    • Hena Zuberi

      October 31, 2010 at 11:01 AM

      that’s amazing!! you know the saying about great minds thinking alike :) – this post was inspired by a great ‘virtual’ conversation on the MM google group several weeks ago. Everyone was so ‘passionate’ about their choice of computers :)

      I have to check out “Torch bearers” and QamarDeen sounds really good too especially for tween/teens who are starting to keep track of their Salahs and fasting.

    • Daughter of Adam (AS)

      October 31, 2010 at 4:38 PM

      hah, saw that too! does everyone on here check all the same websites haha? Abu Ee’sa’s blog and facebook.. wisam sharieff’s twitter.. ihsaanfusion..

  3. Ify Okoye

    October 31, 2010 at 9:46 AM

    I no longer go by Muslim Apple, but you can be forgiven for not knowing :)

    Mac products are a plus, I just started using Skype this summer for work but I prefer Google Voice and Google phone calls, awesome software and free calls in the U.S. or Canada, cheap rates around the world, the ability to call individual phones or have the call forwarded to your phone, pretty sweet.

    I would have loved to attend the rally yesterday but it’s all good, alhamdulillah, got to chill (literally) in snowy Ottawa with Amatullah and some amazing sisters.

    • Hena Zuberi

      October 31, 2010 at 11:06 AM

      It was cute while you had it :)

  4. ahlam

    October 31, 2010 at 10:01 AM

    Not a big fan of this time of the year,had an egg thrown at our door yesterday-thanks to some invisible-nowhere-to-be-seen-characters. I guess they were pretending to be Casper.

    I don’t think you can ”attack” Christian values (as some said) if you don’t like it because there are Christians who believe its pure ‘evil’ -like a girl I know who said shes Pentecostal Christian and they are not allowed to join in as that would be an endorsement of it. I thought that was similar to how we act in Islam-like in not celebrating Christmas etc.

    • Ify Okoye

      October 31, 2010 at 10:06 AM

      I know some of my Christian friends and co-workers that neither celebrate Halloween nor Christmas nor Valentine’s Day and so on for the similar reasons to Muslims.

      • Hena Zuberi

        October 31, 2010 at 11:12 AM

        That’s what I thought – when we come in late to school because we weren’t participating in the school parade there are three other Christian families in the school office signing their kids in late for the same reason.

      • Yus from the Nati

        October 31, 2010 at 12:06 PM

        Same here. I discussed this with some of my classmates last year. They were from a family of practicing Christians (the one’s I know are from the south e.g. Carolinas) that never practiced Halloween, and did a different party for the kids instead.

        • Jeremiah

          November 1, 2010 at 8:02 AM

          We just ignored halloween when I was a kid. My parents never allowed us to participate.

    • anonymous

      October 31, 2010 at 4:34 PM

      This is a great video by Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick about Halloween and its origin.

  5. Shiraz

    October 31, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    Today we’re having a open house for Ilm Tree Academy in Calgary and Sh. Kamal mentioned that they would have candy for the kids since its Halloween.

    And I’ve noticed that kids dont really tick or treat anymore. Back in the day kids would be out past 9 and you would run out of your candy. Now 1 pack of candy will do. People prob scared to let their kids out.

    PS. Check out his videos, Amongst the Few.

  6. Sabour Al-Kandari

    October 31, 2010 at 10:56 AM

    It might be a better idea to just ignore the whole thing but have a lot more fun activities throughout the year and really make a spectacle out of Eid. Of course, it should be clearly explained why we don’t do what everyone else does and what’s wrong with it on a level they can understand. One of the easiest ways to connect with the youth is to have really cool slightly older role models that the kids will look up to. It’s called the cool big brother/sister effect, and it works wonders from the day they’re born to well into their adult life.

    A lot of these holidays really have an insane amount of paganism/shirk associate with ’em, so even something alternative around the masjid might give it a degree of legitimacy and enable a level of psychological attachment to non-Muslim practices.

    Even though it’s a bit more challenging, it’s a lot more fruitful to give kids a stronger sense of independence and identity because they will have to learn sooner or later how to deviate away from the crowd and challenge the status quo, and they need to be really comfortable and happy with that while maintaining a healthy level of self-esteem.

  7. saba

    October 31, 2010 at 12:06 PM

    Check out key2paradise app by ihsaan fusion…..its awesome & free!
    Good article as always mashallah!

  8. Mustafa

    October 31, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    Its great to have tools that bring us closer to Allah and help us develop ourselves. I also love the iphone apps that cater to Muslims especially the iPray and iQuran apps. There are also many apps that help me become more productive. Even my children are using the iPad and its apps to learn arabic, math, alphabets, etc to develop their minds. Best of all most of these apps can be found for free. So I am a heavy apple user now and won’t go back to PC anytime soon. Apple is way ahead of the game. Much thanks to the people behind the Islamic apps. May Allah reward them.

    But I would like to caution my brothers and sisters of some dangers of technology. Technology is truly a double edged sword. Social ills are spreading like wild fire due to the internet. Pornography is a huge illness within Muslim Countries and the west. Its destroying the very fabric of society. Children are exposed to “everything” from an early age on the net. For example looking through indecent picture on Google Images. Women barely dressed. Obviously Google’s standards for content is very different from Muslim standards. So although we may be very cautious in consuming haraam food, we must also be cautious about consuming haraam with our eyes. We must protect our children and safeguard ourselves.

    There are many search engines now being introduced by Muslims for Muslims. The one I am using now is, . It also has rss feeds coming in from and other great blogs.

    Also as an alternative to Facebook, there is, for a great social experience. An amazing place to network with Muslims from around the globe. You can signin easily using your existing gmail, facebook, hotmail, twiiter or yahoo accounts. Its quite advanced and already has over 50,000 users Mashallah.

    Let us protect ourselves from Fitna and support Muslim initiatives. Keep halaal with your food, income, expenses (riba), what you watch, listen, touch, events, dress,etc.

  9. Murem

    October 31, 2010 at 3:00 PM

    Another useful technology, especially if you like Skype. You can record your Skype calls (one voice, two/interview, 3 or more/conference calls) using Evoca. See There’s a free trial (no credit card required). Check out the How To videos on our YouTube channel:!

  10. n

    October 31, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    This article was really cool. :-)

    regarding the comment on hallooween in muslim countries, Alhamdulillah in egypt where i live, i dont have to deal with halloween at all. Maybe in some people’s homes or in specific schools that are non muslim, they have these types of things but where i live and the area i move around in, iin my social circle, its non existant alhamduilllah.

  11. Suomi

    October 31, 2010 at 5:46 PM

    I don’t understand why one would boycott Halloween, especially if you are American or living in the USA. It is a fun tradition that has no religious meaning (anymore), it is a time for kids (and adults) to dress up, trick or treat, and have fun. In the Gulf (and Muslim) countries of the Middle East, they have a similar tradition called ‘Gerge’an’ where kids also dress up and trick or treat.

    Halloween and Thanksgiving are American traditions that are supposed to bring people together to help build an American identity. They are non-religious events and a way to integrate everyone in the American patchwork of cultures. Why does one have to look at everything as an attack on one’s religion. Islam says that you have to adapt (and even embrace) the local environment you live in, with its flavors, traditions, customs, people, etc. Islam is a religion that has adapted to its local environment every single time while still retaining the main pillars. We need to chill out and smell the roses, not everything and everyone is out to get us. The more confident one is with his/her faith, the more at peace one will feel with him/herself and his/her environment.

    • ahlam

      November 10, 2010 at 12:31 PM

      That Gerg’ean is quite similar to what happens in Eid where kids knock on doors for ‘Eid money’, but they don’t dress up as ghosts or in silly costumes,just nice clothes. Also they don’t do tricks, they just ask for sweets or money like in Eid.

      This silly ”tradition” is not even worthy to be capable of attacking our religion,but wherever we live we have to sift through any influences from our environment before we accept it into our lives and later allow it to become part of our identity.In this case,halloween has its history of paganism and as Muslims honouring the Oness of our Allah we would’nt want to involve ourselves in *anything* that rejects that. That,Includes Christmas which is also part of American tradition and has become a less of religious one.

  12. Suomi

    October 31, 2010 at 5:50 PM

    Oh and, for those who say that Halloween has some paganism or pagan elements in it, where do you think the Hajj tradition comes from? Religion is what one makes of it and it’s all in your good intentions (niyya). Without good intentions, worship and actions are useless.

    • Sabour Al-Kandari

      October 31, 2010 at 10:23 PM

      The Hajj rituals are legislated by Allah and date back to Ibrahim alayhi salam. Halloween is completely different in that it stems directly from their unIslamic beliefs. It’s a bit of a logical backflip to conclude that because pagans were doing some things, that makes it a pagan tradition. Pagans also drink water, that doesn’t make water-drinking pagan.

      You should be careful where you get your Islamic information from.

  13. Hidaya

    October 31, 2010 at 9:32 PM

    No mention of recent packages being found thanks to Yemen. SubhanAllah I was so scared, imagine if we or our loved ones were traveling in that plane. How terrifying would that be ? I pray that Allah swt knocks some sense (Hidaya) in these people’s head. They need to stop this terror and its ENOUGH , Let us live in PEACE!

  14. Hidaya

    October 31, 2010 at 9:36 PM

    Oh btw, I watched Rally from my home and I thought they send out a positive message for Islam by incorporating Yusuf Islam and the basketball player. I personally liked the tone of rally and I think I spotted 43 Hijabi sisters in the crowd =D

  15. Outstanding Muslimah

    November 1, 2010 at 2:34 AM

    I have a Nokia e63. Its pretty cool. I used to be in a love-hate relationship with it after seeing my friend’s iPhone but it not so bad anymore! Had to get over since I am locked into a contract for another year.

    I have a qwerty keyboard, the phone allows me to use Wlan, i have my prayer times, my dhikr counter, a fast browser powered by Opera Mobile, a youtube application (that lets me stop a video and resume whenever, useful for lectures), an office application and my most favourite one… Notes.

    I love my notes so much because for some reason, I tend to write articles at the strangest times as soon as ideas come to me, whether it be while I am commuting or at times when I just can’t get to sleep because of a great idea for an article ( 3am in the morning once; i wrote up a draft for an awesome article :p ). When I am done, I do of course send it to my laptop so that it can polished.

    On my laptop, my favourite program would be Microsoft oneNote. Its my personal diary pretty much where I write up all my goals, my progress on each one, random ideas, my vision board etc. Love it!

    And then theres Google Calendar! I set up my calendar each week on it and then check it on my phone.

    These are the main things I play around with, I am always looking forward to new technologies. Alhamdulilah. Don’t know where I will be without all this!

  16. suhail

    November 1, 2010 at 9:26 AM

    Actually there are many Andriod phones that have the same apps like the Quran, Adhan, Qibla etc. I just do not like iPhone because i dislike that idiot Steve jobs for his arrogance quite a bit. I just hate that guy too much to get into iAnything.

    I think the new WP7 phones will also have similar kinds of apps. If not i will try to work on it and get it on WP7 phone.

  17. BintKhalil

    November 1, 2010 at 4:56 PM

    Assalamu alaikum

    I don’t want to go off on a tangent, but I just can’t keep myself from bringing this up, of all the Islamic courses MM can endorse, you had to pick one that Faraz Rabbani teaches (I refer to the link you have in the article)?


    November 2, 2010 at 4:10 AM


    We have created a few apps that should be of benefit insha’Allah:

  19. Hassan

    November 2, 2010 at 9:34 AM

    Today is election day (Tuesday November 2nd). I know so many muslim brothers/families that are eligible but not voting. I do not think they have right to complain later.

    • Hena Zuberi

      November 2, 2010 at 10:39 AM

      True: Get out and vote please-
      Check out CAIR’s voting guide

    • Mansoor Ansari

      November 2, 2010 at 10:56 AM

      And if the person u vote for does not help the Muslims, can we then hold u responsible?

      • Amad

        November 2, 2010 at 1:15 PM

        If you don’t want to vote, that’s fine.

        A vote doesn’t mean someone will fall in line for you. A vote is simply an expression of who you think will do a better job. And we cannot be held responsible for the actions of a person who is not under our control. Do what you think is right. Simple as that.

      • Hassan

        November 2, 2010 at 1:15 PM

        No, as people are going to vote with best knowledge and information they have, they can not know and predict future.

        • Mansoor Ansari

          November 2, 2010 at 2:22 PM

          Br. Hassan & Br. Amad I agree…

          I intentional posted a outrageous comment in response to this statement – “I do not think they have right to complain later.”

          Regardless of whether one votes or not, has the ‘right’ to complain when they feel they have been wronged!

  20. Hena Zuberi

    November 2, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    Look at this event by Imam Suhaib- Nightmare on Ilm Street held over the weekend

  21. Ahmed A

    November 3, 2010 at 3:20 PM


    Any recommendations on Online homeschooling curriculum? Looking for something good which wont break the bank.


    • Hena Zuberi

      November 3, 2010 at 3:29 PM

      Which country are you in? If in the US- try k12 it is absolutely FREE, If you enroll as a public school student through one of the virtual charter schools.

      • Ahmed A

        November 4, 2010 at 10:39 AM


        Unfortunately, i am in Canada and K12 is quite costly.

  22. sana

    December 24, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    cool article! here’s a list suggesting more Islamic Apple Apps that might be helpful to know about too:

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