Concept: Random Number Generator (RNG)

Ever been really excited about something, and then your friend says:

“Isn’t that haram?”

Yeah it can be a real downer. I was telling my friend about our new found love for Monopoly and the epic games that had been taking place downtown Toronto, when he quoted a pretty solid hadith about the use of dice. It goes like this:

“He who plays with dice will be deemed as a person thrusting his hands in pig’s blood.” (Reported by Muslim on the authority of Buraydah)

http://www.islamonline.net/english/In_Depth/Religious/SportsinIslam/PlayingSports/Articles/05.shtml#ixzz0dGo4plqV

Yeah, I know all you super chilled out, Islam is love, peace and goodwill people are going “How extreeeeme! Dude, this is not what our deen is about!” However, the least we can do is to read the hadith a couple of times, let it sink in and get some scholarly opinions about it. OR, we can just go invent a Random Number Generator (RNG). This is one of the best things about the Shariah, it forces you to be creative and think outside the box. The RNC will not just be a bareboned LED Digital Clock (like some of you NON-creative people would have come with), it will actually be embedded in the middle of the boardgame (as shown in the picture). All you have to do is tap the interface and it will come up with a random number for you – Genius eh!

Anyone wishing to contribute to the development of this product, comment below with improvements and additions. It’s going to make millions!

Happy rolling, umm… tapping!

Review: iHijab

Ever since Apple released their “app store” (an online store for downloading additional software for the iPhone and iPod Touch) there have been a number of ‘gag’ applications. These applications are designed solely for amusement with minimal or no functional value. They are often created to fool others about the iPhone’s functionality. Some of these applications show the device as a fake x-ray machine, others imitate common household items such as virtual bubble wrap. Apps like these cater to the thousands of customers who love going to others and saying “hey, look what my phone can do.” I never paid much attention to these trivial applications, at least not until I came upon iHijab.

I personally find the mobile software space to be fascinating, especially the iPhone’s app store. There are new innovative Islamically centered applications released on the app store every day that can considerably improve Muslim lifestyles. Sophisticated applications like iQuran and iHadith may be the best and most effective ways to read our religious texts digitally. iPray is the easiest way to check prayer times and find the direction of qibla, it even uses the iPhone’s GPS and compass capabilities to customize timings and direction specifically for where you are.  Zabihah Halal uses GPS to display nearby masjids, halal groceries and halal restaurants with reviews and ratings from thousands of users. It’s a very exciting time in the mobile industry and the best applications are yet to come. To make sure I’m always up to date, I always browse through the iPhone app store to see what’s new.

When I came upon iHijab while browsing for new applications I was immediately intrigued and installed it to check it out. The application allows you to choose different styles of hijab that you can place on top of pictures from your photo library. You can zoom and move around the picture you choose so that the person’s face fits the hijab, it’s not perfect but it’s pretty close to faking the look of a hijab. The creators of the application, Fishbone Consultancy, describe the app on their website as follows:

*** Surprise everybody with these photos. ***

This identity filter for your iPhone enables you to change your friends’ clothes to a hijab or burkha within seconds.
•    Easy to use Hijab Photo Frames
•    Change your friends’ identity within seconds
•    Automatically Twitter Hijab Pictures
•    Automatically put pictures on Facebook
•    Automatically email Hijab Pictures
•    Choose between 14 identities
•    High resolution

Take pictures of your friends wearing a Hijab or Burkha. It works very easy: just open iHijab and choose a picture frame. The Hijab will be displayed as a layer over the iPhone’s camera so you will see the results directly!

The High-Resolution pictures can be emailed, twittered, placed on your facebook wall or saved into your iPhone photo library, all with one click!

The hijab selection screen, shown to the right, shows the different types of hijabs you can choose. This is where I started to become suspicious, I had no mixed feelings about the application up until I saw this screen. As you can see, some of the photos have ridiculous facial expressions and odd backdrops. Is this making fun of Muslims? I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt but I couldn’t get over some of the thumbnails for hijab selection. Take for example, the one with the White House in the background on the far left in the second row. What is the purpose of this picture? It shows the man in the hijab clearly mocking the camera while in front of the White House of the United States. Is this implying that Muslims criticize the U.S. government? And what about the hijab selection in the top right where the man is under a camel?

Okay Tareq, slow down. I realized I might have been over reacting and I looked for others opinion. I brought the application to my Mother, explained it to her, how to use it and asked her what she thought. “This is so stupid” she said. I asked “Why? Do you find it offensive?”. She replied “Yes, it’s just stupid”. “I asked what if it were an application showing cowboy hats? There are many people around the world that wear them as a part of their culture.” She still felt uncomfortable about the application but couldn’t specifically say why.

I then brought it to my sister, I showed her the application and let her use it. In minutes there was a picture of me in a hijab and giggles all around. She loved it! She didn’t find the application offensive and took it as a joke, she saw no considerable attempts at real mockery.

What started to really intrigue me was not the application itself but rather how people viewed the symbol of the hijab. The application description said nothing about Muslims or Islam, was it really targeting us at all? Is the hijab not much more than a piece of clothing but a sign of modesty and respect? This application could simply be a look into a world that is unknown to many people, it could be seen equivalent as an application that dresses one in a Japanese kimono or an Inuit snow jacket. Would that be offensive? Then again, the hijab is also a very prominent symbol to represent Islam. It is used in marketing to symbolize and stereotype Muslims as much as long black beards and salwars are.

I wanted to see more views on the application so I started looking at customer reviews and ratings on the app store. The average rating was 2.5 stars of 5 star with most ratings being 1 star. Here are some of the reviews:

horrible app – Crs1unnot
“not only is this tasteless and racist, but it’s NOT FUNNY. it’s not about being politically correct, it’s about not being an a-hole.
I hope this app is swiftly removed”

A bit racial but fun – Hadi Saeed
This application is a bit racial in a way but it doesn’t matter that much since it is only an app.

Great up!!! – y4j
Really fun!

BIG CHEESE – NORWICH917
A LAFF RIOT ..!!!!

Again, mixed thoughts. I was still confused and I didn’t know whether I found this application offensive or not. I guess there is nothing wrong with the idea but the selection screen really bothered me. I left the application on my to-do list to review for ProductMuslim and decided I should give it some more thought. The next time I opened the app store I noticed there was an update for it. The description of the update was: “new hijab overview screen”. I installed it and the only change was the selection screen now with attractive women with normal smiling facial expressions. Now why did they do this? It was the only change in the update so they must have considered it significant enough to alter.

The selection screen has changed, shouldn’t my mind now be at ease? I still don’t know. As I mentioned, evaluating my view on this application has more to do with the hijab than the app itself. I realized I’m trying to understand what the symbol means to me. Is it offensive because I’m being defensive? Would I raise this question if it was a religious symbol from something other than islam?

What do you think? Do you find this application offensive? If so, why? Ask others around you, I think you’ll be surprised to hear so many mixed reviews.

Looking forward to hearing what you all think!

Automatic Wudu Washer

An automatic wudu washer? Seriously?

As ridiculous as it may sound, the product has some merit. I’ll be honest, the first time I watched the video I was very doubtful and simply labeled it as a ‘stupid gimmick’. Then I came to realize that their target demographic, Muslim majority countries, may need such a machine more than they think. Why? Well it enforces a simple lesson taught by our Prophet  (peace and blessings be upon him):

Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to perform ghusl (ritual bathing) with a sa` (around 4 mudds) of water, and he used to make wudu’with one mudd of water” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Note: A mudd is that amount of water which is held by the two hands cupped together.

As the video claims, the device actually conserves water usage. Now it doesn’t state whether the amount used is a mudd or not but I’m sure it could be configured to act as such.

Imagine if this was installed across all washrooms within a Muslim majority country, no doubt, there would be significant amounts of water saved. Clean water is a precious resource and as it becomes more valuable each day, with wide adoption, using this machine could be a significant mechanism used to save money. So it’s both economical and helps others follow the Prophet’s sunnah!? What’s not to like?? The fact that it’s not needed.

I’ve personally always tried keeping things simple. Our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used one mudd to make wudu with out the need for such a fancy contraption, can’t we learn to do the same? The sad fact is that many people won’t learn. I’m sure, just like I’ve seen, you’ve all witnessed the massacre of public washrooms by other Muslims. There is water all over the sink, puddles on the floor, and sometimes water even dripping from the ceiling (which to this day I still can’t rationally understand). The machine would help many people who are irresponsible when making wudu but that to me doesn’t justify its purchase, I’d rather teach others the importance of conservation rather than enforce it in just one situation.

Am being too hard? Perhaps since it seems expensive it doesn’t seem worth it, would it seem viable if it were affordable for the average consumer? Maybe I don’t like it because it’s a change to something that I’ve done for so many years? I’d love to hear what you think, what would (if anything) motivate you to purchase a wudu washer? Post your comments below!

Why do Muslims make great entrepreneurs?

Assalamo3laykum:

If you are reading this post, you have either been forwarded this link by me or by a friend who considers you a noteworthy Muslim Entrepreneur, consider yourself special mashAllah!Muslim Entrepreneurship

Ever since I got involved with the entrepreneurial community in North America I have been carrying a baggage around with me. By baggage I don’t mean anything negative, it’s just something that has been on my mind and I haven’t been able to put it on paper. Now is the time to act! Just like Robert Mueller, muslim brother that offers reviews of band saw.

There are definitive commands, injunctions, principles and philosophies in the Quran and the Sunnah that make Muslims great entrepreneurs – the proof is all around us. With your help I want to start a discussion through which we can answer this question by using solid evidences from the Quran and Sunnah, linking them to current-day business best practices. Right now you’re probably thinking “What the heck is he talking about?” So let’s look at an example.

It is narrated in Saheeh Muslim:

“There are seven categories of people whom God will shelter under His shade on the Day when there will be no shade except His.  [One is] the just leader.”

It goes without saying that leadership an essential part of entrepreneurship and that entrepreneurs are required to be leaders at some point in their careers. I find that knowledge about the hadith above, supplemented by a firm belief in Allah (subhanuhu wata3la) can single-handedly make a Muslim entrepreneur act with justice when leading ventures and projects. Thus, a sense of “Justice in Leadership” makes Muslims great entrepreneurs and we have seen the proof of this in the hadith.

In a more organized fashion:

Quality: Justice in Leadership

Verse/Hadith: “There are seven categories of people whom God will shelter under His shade on the Day when there will be no shade except His.  [One is] the just leader.”

Interpretation: Leadership is an essential part of entrepreurship and justice is an essential part of great leadership. Muslims make great entrepreneurs because they have a strong sense of justice and accountability within them whether they are in public or private.

I hope you will all contribute at least 1 comment each to this discussion so that we can compile an extensive list of relevant qualities and related Verses or Ahadith, that show why Muslims make great entrepreneurs. These can all be compiled into an inspirational presentation which can be shown to Muslim communities all over the world.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Children’s Decorative Hijabs

What’s black, yellow, incredibly adorable and Muslim? A child in a bee themed children’s decorative hijab!

Recently, a group named Niqabiz contacted ProductMuslim about a hijab collection designed for children. Niqabiz seems to be a small personal business and currently does not have a web store available, however, some of their collection can be seen at http://niqabiz.blogspot.com and they receive orders via email at niqabiz@gmail.com.

I couldn’t help but post about this product. Each design looks well thought out with careful attention to detail. Even external parts of the hijab, such as the antenna and wings shown in the bee themed decorative hijab above, are well incorporated with the overall design. I can imagine any child looking adorable in one of these, if the above wasn’t enough to convince you then I present to you Ms. LadyBug Hijab and Miss Queen Hijab:

I think I’ve proven my point regarding the ‘cuteness’ factor of these decorative hijabs.

The question I pose now is if they’re appropriate? Unfortunately, in this world of misunderstanding, there are many, many misconceptions about the hijab. Muslims know that children of this age do not need to wear a head cover but most others do not. Heck, many non-Muslims still think our sisters shower with their hijabs on. Is this sort of image for children harmful towards others understanding the role of the hijab in Islam? Or is it a trivial issue of misunderstanding that could help start useful dialogue and discussion among people?

These decorative hijabs could also act as a great way for children to practice wearing a head cover at a young age. I’m not sure if girls ever practice wearing the hijab before wearing it full time but my thinking is that everyone needs to start somewhere, why not do so in a fun way?

Since I’m not a woman nor have any children of my own, I thought it would be best to ask others what they thought of the product? Would you dress your loved one in a children’s decorative hijab? Why or why not?

I was personally surprised hearing some of the responses from the iHijab article and so I’m excited to hear what everyone thinks of these.

Looking forward to everyone’s thoughts!

Review: Ramadan Lawn Signs

I love when people come up with new and creative ways to fundraise and give dawah.

I had the pleasure of meeting Brother Qadeer Abdul this year at MuslimFest 2010 where he showed me his Ramadan lawn sign fundraising campaign. He is selling $10 Ramadan signs that are designed to be placed on lawns and other grassy areas. All proceeds from the signs go directly to his local masjid.

It’s a simple idea with a simple message; “Happy Ramadan – Charity, Humanity, Peace”.  What a great way to share the cornerstones of Ramadan with neighbhours. The physical design of the product is even simpler than its message. The sign is made using a thin sheet of plastic that is held up with a metal rod, very similar to those used for political campaigns.

Dawah and fundraising in a simple yet effective form. I love it! The only suggestion for improvement I have is for future signs to include the link to a website rather than an email address. The website could allow people to purchase the signs online or could be one that provides dawah related resources.

I happily bought one for myself and I look forward to putting it on my lawn for Ramadan. If you would like to order your own Ramadan lawn sign, please contact Qadeer Abdul at islamicsigns@gmail.com.

Would you consider purchasing one? What do you think of this product, is it effective? Does the design affect your decision? Any improvements you can suggest?

More photos of the Ramadan lawn sign from MuslimFest 2010 below, click to see full size: