بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
I spend a lot of time thinking about alternative ways to present Islamic scholarly texts and facilitate their application. FiqhApp is a place where I try out some of my ideas. So far my examples focus on dynamic presentation and decision-making tools.
Digital versions of Islamic texts tend to mimic static printed pages even though texts are multilayered and hypertextual. A single page often includes several content streams. For example, a single page of includes a primary text, its commentary, and comments on the commentary. Pages get cluttered, and it is not always easy to focus on just one stream of material on the page. Even when the different streams are clearly delineated on the page, linking a single page’s streams together is a non-trivial task. Each of those streams will often refer to other pages and books. These links are even harder to make, especially since the exact reference point is not always clear.
A digital version should facilitate focusing a single stream of material. It should also facilitate following links between the various streams on a given page, to other places in the book, and to other books. If a reader is interested in the basic text, why distract them with the commentary and meta-commentary? If the meta-commentary refers links to a passage in the commentary, why force the reader to locate the passage? Instead, why not allow the reader to show and hide the commentary and meta-commentary as needed, and create the hypertextual links between the streams for him? The Wird of Imam al-Nawawi, the Supplication Upon Completing the Quran, and The Fiqh behind Istihadah Helper demonstrate some of these possibilities.
The fiqh for some issues is simple enough that the proper ruling can be determined just by answering a series of simple questions, yet still complex enough that it is not reasonable to expect non-specialists to learn all the details. Some of these issues are common and frequent. Requiring non-specialists to ask a specialist each time places an unnecessary burden on both parties – especially when the issue is private or requires a timely answer. Why not provide non-specialists with a decision-making tool that walks them through the questions so they can arrive at the proper ruling? The Istihadah Helper demonstrates this possibility.
In sha Allah more examples will be coming. And success is only from Allah.
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