Popular Islamic Software Adds .ORG To Its Name
Community News - Community News
Written by Fatimah Waseem, Muslim Link Staff Writer
Thursday, 14 July 2011 13:37
Alim is going online.
After 25 years of exploring uncharted waters and battling raging seas, the world renown Islamic knowledge software developed in Silver Spring, Maryland will launch its website - www.alim.org
- on August first, kicking off the blessed month of Ramadan.
The website, under construction since late 2009, contains many of its predecessors features including a vast database of authentic Hadith collections, diverse Quran translations, and basic Islamic history.
A dozen reciter options including but not limited to Abdul-Basit, Al-Husary, Ash-Shatree, and Al-Hudhaify underscore how far alim.org has come from the Alim Software CD which had only four reciters. Users can repeat ayat, choose between fast and slow paced recitation and store clipped sections of text in a personalized book called ‘mynotebook.’ The feature, dubbed ‘clipping,’ is similar to keeping newspaper or magazine clippings on file.
In addition to providing authentic Islamic knowledge, alim.org encourages the enrichment and discussion of it. Party influenced by Wikipedia commons, the website is designed as a social network allowing users to create groups, comment on text, and create personal profiles.
This feature sets the website apart from the CD, Alim Foundation Executive Director Nehal Shah said. “In addition to scholars perspectives, people can provide their own reflection, their own perspectives,” said Shah, an active member of the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Alim’s vision set sail over two decades ago, precisely on May 8th, 1986. 18 year old Shahid Shah and best friend Amir Jafri felt “something was missing” in the realm of Islamic knowledge. Recognizing this growing need, the youth founded the ISL Software company which produced the first version of the Alim Software.
After tweaking and upgrading from its draft version “Hafiz,” the Alim CD hit the shelves in 1991, revolutionizing the Islamic software industry. It was the first program to combine the powers of Quranic translations, ahadith, histories, and commentaries - all on one doughnut shaped device.
Despite its cutting edge technology, few savored the the Islamic knowledge pool’s benefits. “Marketing posed a great challenge,” Alim foundation’s current executive director recalled.
However, after a few years of remaining on the market, sales increased. The Alim became a companion for many Muslim families around the nation as over 6,000 copies were sold over a span of 10 years.
The software has been pirated internationally and nationally, making it very difficult to estimate a range of numbers. “It seems that for every one CD package, 100 were sold in Pakistan for just 10 rupees!” Shah jokingly told The Muslim Link.
Pirated copies, however, hit home. Sales plummeted and Alim’s ship was at a stand still. “We were putting much in and not getting much out,” Shah said. Furthermore, given the dominance of the internet and the changing playing field, the Alim foundation reached what seemed to be a sticking point.
“It was about keeping up with the times,” Shah admitted, And it was a challenge to keep up.” This challenge was not exclusive to Alim foundation, he said. He warned that the amount of information on the web is ever expanding and requires an appropriate response from the Muslim community.
“Turn over time is rapidly decreasing. New technologies are no new story. We are falling behind. We must catch up.” the grandfather and engineer told The Muslim Link. He has experienced first-hand this fast-paced technology race in his office.
In late 2009, however, the winds of time pushed the founders to relaunch their vision on the Internet. ISL Software company closed several years ago, replaced by the non-profit Alim Foundation where about ten staff and volunteers would work to relaunch Alim on the web.
Under the guidance of Shah, Alim Foundation staff perused Islamic websites similar to the Alim CD, noting down benefits and drawbacks, ideas and tools to ensure alim.org was an up-to-date search tool for all users. After collecting their search results, website construction began.
However, the goal was far from competition between Islamic knowledge tools, Shah urged his staff. “We should not compete against one another, rather compliment one another,” he told them.
Despite overcoming these challenges, the Alim foundation has much room to grow. Though the foundation has secured its place in the world wide web, its own web needs expanding.
“The serious issue here is resources - resources in technology, in money, and most importantly, in people.” Shah told The Muslim Link.
However, Shah remains optimistic of what the website holds for the future. As the world will soon be graced by Ramadan, it is his hope, the world wide web will be graced by www.alim.org