(RNS) The hajj can be a grueling journey, full of physical and mental demands. With 3 million pilgrims packed into Mecca, it’s easy for things to go wrong.
But there’s an app for that.
“Our goal is to help Muslims focus on the spiritual aspects of hajj by relieving some of the pressure of the process and logistical challenges that cause so many issues,” said Ali Dabaja, founder and CEO of the United Arab Emirates-based company that recently released the HajjSalam app into an already crowded hajj apps market.
The HajjSalam app recognizes real time and location and is able to prompt pilgrims with the prayers and rituals they are supposed to perform at any given moment. There’s even a counter for the “tawaf,” a ritual where pilgrims are supposed to circumambulate the Kaaba — the holy sanctuary Muslims believe was built by Abraham and his son Ishmael — seven times.
People making the Muslim pilgrimage, which falls Oct. 13-18, can get lost along a circuit of rituals that covers several miles. Or they may forget to say prayers for loved ones, undermining the spiritual credit they can earn on the trip.
A variety of apps now aim to help them.
Released last year by Mobily, a Saudi Arabian mobile phone company, the Hajj AR App has a camera that guides pilgrims to where they need to be. Other apps include mapping technology, and a hajj journal that can integrate with social media platforms so pilgrims can tweet or post Facebook updates.
There are at least 15-20 free hajj apps, and several others that cost $1 or $2.