Digital Quran

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The term digital Quran is used to refer to the text of the Qur'an processed or distributed as an electronic text, or more specifically to an electronic device dedicated to displaying the text of the Qur'an and playing digital recordings of Qur'an readings. Such a device has first been marketed in Indonesia beginning in 1993.[1] These devices were capable of audio playback of recorded recitations of the Qur'an with synchronized on-screen Arabic text. It allowed basic navigation of the Quran with the ability for the user to select a specific surah (chapter) and ayah (verse).[2] Translations of the Quran to other languages were also included, sometimes synchronized with the original Arabic recitations. The products were mass-produced in China at an affordable price; however this was achieved at the sacrifice of expenditure on research and development. Subsequent models introduced color screens.[year needed] Since the availability of more powerful mobile devices such as smartphones, focus has shifted on the production of Quranic software for such devices rather than dedicated "digital Quran" devices.[3]

Qur'anic software on CD-Rom has been developed since the early 1990s.[4] Online texts began to be hosted by Islamic websites from the 2000s.[5]

Commenters speculated about how the special barakah or contagion heuristic associated with the Qur'an translates to electronic texts.[6] Other observers noted that this way of thinking is foreign to the devices users, who adopt western digital technology unthinkingly.[7] Myrvold (2010) summarizes the debate on how Qur'anic etexts and the devices holding them should be handled, citing a fatwa issued by the "Ask Imam" website to the effect that ritual purity should only be regarded in connection with such a device during the time Qur'anic text is actually being displayed. [8]

A specific case of a digital Qur'ān is a digital Muṣḥaf: the Qur'ān as a book. The critical challenges to produce a flawless digital Muṣḥaf are 1. correct encoding, 2. correct computer typography and 3. facsimile rendering on all browsers, operating systems and devices.

1. Correct encoding is hampered by constraints imposed by the Unicode Standard. For instance, only recently the extra characters were encoded to represent the so-called open tanwīn. Correct encoding is also hampered by the fact that input methods, i.e., keyboard layouts for Arabic, are based on modern everyday orthography, which differs from Qur'ān orthography in many respects: there are more characters used in the Qur'ān and some characters are different in terms of Unicode, such as yā' with or without dots in final position.

2. Correct computer typography is hampered by mechanisms that are lacking because the industry is not aware of the fact that they are needed. In particular the category of "amphibious characters", characters that can occur as both main letters and as diacritics depending on context, cannot be handled by conventional font layout engines. Last but not least, correct computer typography should reproduce Islamic script as accurately as possible. Unfortunately, Arabic typography has a bias to adapt or reduce itself to constraints of Western technology that was not designed to handle Arabic at all. This circumstance adds an obvious complication to the task of producing a flawless digital Qur'ān.

3. Facsimile rendering on all devices is de facto impossible with conventional computer typography, because it depends on proprietary operating systems, proprietary font layout engines and often inaccurate and incomplete Arabic typefaces.

The first digital Muṣḥaf that takes all these considerations into account is the Omani digital Muṣḥaf:, which is described in this webcast by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Indonesians tune in to digital Koran Reuters; introduced in 1993 by the Korean company; Penman Corporation
  2. ^ [1] Example of Digital Qur'an for Smartphones
  3. ^ Living the Information Society in Asia; Erwin Alampay
  4. ^ (October 1996) "Al-Quran Al-Kareem on CD-ROM software is developed by Mirco Systems International, a company based in Champaign, Illinois, U.S.A. This program is the original Quran on CD software. Micro Systems has been continually improving features and other aspects of the program since 1990, making it the best multimedia tool for learning the Quran today."
  5. ^ had a transliteration of the Arabic text alongside GIF graphics of the text in Arabic script online in 2000. had an electronic text online in 2004. (2007) hosted the Yusuf Ali English translation, adding the Arabic text in 2008. and had the Arabic text online from 2006. followed in 2007 using Adobe Flash to show animations of turning pages.
  6. ^ "there may be a place on a separate portion of a believer's hard drive, apart from other forms of content of a nonreligious nature, for a digital Qur'an" Gary R. Bunt, iMuslims, 2009, p.87
  7. ^ "But this perception is a 'western' one and not that of the Arab reader, to whom modern technology is something strange and foreign, technological containers which can be imported and used without any analysis of their actual content (Example: Digital Koran)." The Almost Complete Lack of the Element of "Futureness" Heise Online
  8. ^ Kristina Myrvold, The Death of Sacred Texts: Ritual Disposal and Renovation of Texts in World Religions, 2010, p. 47, citing a 2008 fatqa at "" phrased "Do You Have to Have Wudu When Handling a Digital Quran?"

External links[edit]