27 Jan Worship in the Digital Age
By Makena Schoene
Blog & Social Media Coordinator, Student Editor, The Drake Community Press
Technology is often seen as a distraction, keeping people from fully interacting and engaging with the world around them. But is it possible that technology can be used to further connect people to their faith and religious culture? The photo featured above taken by Bob Blanchard, the resident photographer for DCP’s latest book, A Spectrum of Faith, captures a moment that is becoming more commonplace in today’s face of religion.
For some members of Masjid An Noor, a mosque in Des Moines, Iowa, their daily prayers are supplemented by the use of their smartphones. Digital versions of the Qu’ran are being used to follow along with the message being shared or the prayers being chanted. Technology has shed its cloak of hindrance to become a tool to bring people closer to their faith.
When speaking with Professor Timothy Knepper, the director of The Comparison Project in Des Moines, he commented that this use of technology is growing in popularity among many in the Islamic faith. While on a trip to Turkey, Knepper encountered what is known as an auto-dhikr. Dhikr is a Muslim practice of remembering Allah by repeating the Shahadah, or the names of Allah. The Shahadah is a profession of faith translated along the lines of “There is no God but God and Muhammed is His Prophet”. With the auto-dhikr, an LED counter keeps track of how many times you repeat the Shahadah with just the click of a button. At the end of the day, people can then tally up how often they recited the prayers, and feel that much more connected to God through their constant remembrance.
As technology becomes increasingly integrated into more facets of our everyday life, members of many religious cultures are finding new ways to work with technology rather than fight against it. A Methodist church may use Facebook as a way to connect with their parishioners and reach those who cannot always make it to the service. A Buddhist temple may encourage the use of phones in order for members to follow along or continue their prayers on their own time. Technology can be utilized as a connection, refocused towards welcoming a new generation of faith and those who practice it.
Photos provided by Bob Blanchard