Digital Ramadan: How to Protect Your Privacy

Ramadan apps privacy

As a result of the Corona measures in most countries, Ramadan will mainly take place online, just like last year. To facilitate this people will use many apps and programs to meet digitally or be reminded of prayer times. An example of such an app is Muslim Pro. How do you protect your privacy when you’re using apps like this and what should you be paying attention to?

We analyzed the privacy policies of 50 different Ramadan and prayer apps to see what they do to protect your privacy. For example, how do they store your personal data? Do they share your data with others? And how transparent are they about their data collection? Finally, we’ll take a closer look at three apps that take relatively good care of your privacy.

Privacy Policies: A Closer Look

Looking at all the privacy documents, something immediately stands out: 7 of the 50 examined apps don’t even have a privacy policy. In addition, many of the documents are based on a very standard template or example privacy policy. Some of the policies are very limited and only consist of a couple of sentences.

On average, a privacy policy for a Ramadan app contains 1166 words, which is about two pages of text. We previously investigated the length of the privacy statements for other types of apps, such as social media, dating, and gaming apps. In this research, the privacy policies of the apps on average consisted of 5,695 words. Ramadan apps thus describe their privacy conditions with 79,5% fewer words than the apps in the other research.

The table below provides an overview of the apps studied and the word count of their privacy policies. In addition, it also shows you whether the app has any ads. These ads are often managed by a third party and in some cases you will be asked to give permission to gain access to your browsing data in order to offer personalized ads.

Later in this article, we’ll dive into some specific aspects of these privacy policies. For instance, the type of permissions the apps need to function.

Name app Word count privacy policy Number of downloads Latest update Contains ads
Muslim Pro 1757 50.000.000 26 March 2021 Yes
Muslim Assistant : Azan Time, Qibla, Prayer, Quran 3630 10.000.000 26 March 2021 Yes
Muslim Pocket – Ramadan 2021 783 5.000.000 18 March 2021 Yes
Prayer Times: Qibla and Azan 1574 5.000.000 8 May 2020 Yes
Miqat: Prayer Times, Qiblah, and Hilal Visibility No privacy policy 5.000.000 30 July 2019 Unclear
Qibla Compass – Ramadan 2021, Prayer Times, Quran 1162 5.000.000 26 March 2021 Yes
Qibla Finder, Prayer Times, Quran, Azan, Tasbeeh 647 5.000.000 15 March 2021 Yes
Prayer Times: Salah Time & Qibla Direction 790 5.000.000 17 March 2021 Yes
Prayer Times Pro: Qibla Finder, Athan, Muslim Pray 789 5.000.000 22 January 2021 Yes
Athan Pro 2236 1.000.000 7 December 2020 Yes
MBC Ramadan 6698 1.000.000 11 January 2021 Yes
1Muslim 2429 1.000.000 6 February Unclear
Prayer Times, Qibla Finder, Quran, Azan, Tasbeeh 784 1.000.000 13 January 2021 Yes
Prayer Times: Azan, Quran, Qibla Compass 1165 1.000.000 24 February 2021 Yes
iPray 81 500.000 3 January 2021 No
Ramadan Calendar 2021: Quick Time Schedule 773 500.000 12 March 2021 Yes
Qibla Compass & Prayer Times 1566 500.000 5 January 2021 Yes
Prayer Times, Qibla Finder, Ramadan 2021 Calendar 791 500.000 1 March 2021 Yes
Muslim App – Adan Prayer times, Qibla, Holy Quran 766 500.000 25 March 2021 Yes
Ramadan Times 786 100.000 15 June 2016 Yes
Ramadan Calendar 2021: Prayer Times, Azan & Dua 2050 100.000 29 March 2020 Yes
Ramadan Times 2021 Ramadan Calendar Sehri o Iftar 647 100.000 27 April 2020 Unclear
Ramadan 2021 – Prayer times, Qibla, Quran, Adkar 771 100.000 15 October 2020 Yes
Muslim Prayer Timings – Azan Pro, Quran, Ramadan 816 100.000 15 March 2021 Yes
Islamic Diary: Prayer Times, Ramadan, Qibla, Quran 1265 100.000 12 May 2020 Yes
Islamic World – Prayer Times, Qibla & Ramadan 2021 634 100.000 27 March 2021 Yes
Muslim: Prayer Times, Qibla Compass, Azan & Quran No privacy policy 100.000 27 March 2021 Yes
Muslim Expert – Prayer times, Qibla finder, Quran No privacy policy 100.000 27 March 2021 Yes
Muslim App: Prayer Time, Qibla Finder, Quran Audio 764 100.000 17 March 2021 Yes
Muslim Prayer Times: Ramadan Calendar 2021, Qibla 1102 100.000 10 March 2021 Yes
Islam Pro: Quran, Muslim Prayer times, Qibla, Dua 2170 100.000 5 April 2019 Yes
Muslim+ Prayer Times, Quran, Qibla, Dua, Tasbih 472 100.000 24 March 2021 Yes
Muslim Daily: Athan, Namaz, Qibla, Hijri, Dhikr 373 100.000 28 March 2020 Yes
Prayer times, Quran and azan & Qibla-Vmuslim Pro 1078 100.000 26 November 2020 Yes
Ramadan 2021 143 50.000 8 March 2021 Yes
Ramadan Times 2021: Azan & Qibla Compass 623 10.000 15 March 2021 Yes
Muslim Ally – Ramadan 2020, Prayer Times, Tasbih 1201 10.000 4 May 2020 Unclear
Ramadan Calendar 2021 with Prayer Times and Duas 351 10.000 25 April 2020 Yes
Muslim Guide – Ramadan 2020, Prayer Times & Qibla No privacy policy 10.000 23 April 2020 Yes
Ramadan Calendar 2021 – Prayer Time & Islamic App 781 10.000 25 March 2021 Yes
Ezan Pro – Prayer Times, Qibla No privacy policy 10.000 12 March 2021 Yes
Islamic Prayer Times:Azaan,Quran & Qibla Direction No privacy policy 10.000 7 December 2020 Unclear
Muslim Prayer Times: Qibla Finder, Quran, Compass 212 10.000 23 April 2019 Yes
Quran Majeed 786 Unknown 4 March 2021 Unclear
Ramadan Challenge 787 Unknown 2019 Unclear
Let’s Ramadan 1072 Unknown 28 April 2020 Yes
Prayer Times: Pro Athan. Qibl‪a‬ 1285 Unknown 1 October 2020 Yes
Salati – Prayer Times & Qibla‪h No privacy policy Unknown 26 June 2018 Unclear
Salat Azan Muslim Prayer Time‪s 1081 Unknown 26 March 2021 Yes
Muezzin – Salat, Qibla, Qura‪n‬ 455 Unknown 7 March 2021 Yes

At the end of 2020, it was revealed that the US military purchased location data from a network of apps and related companies. Muslim Pro and Muslim Mingle were among the apps in this network. As a result of this incident, the security of these apps was suddenly called into question by the Muslim community and some called on people to remove the app.

Our recent analysis also shows that many Ramadan apps share data with third parties, for example for advertising purposes. With the Cambridge Analytica scandal, we saw what can happen when data is exchanged with third parties. The 2020 turmoil surrounding Muslim Pro shows how important it is for an app to consider user privacy, especially when it is related to your religious background.

Lots of Ramadan Apps Are Created in Asia

Many of the Ramadan apps we studied were created by Asian developers. In total, 26 of the 50 apps we examined were created in Asian countries. Especially in India (10 apps) and Pakistan (8 apps), there seem to be a lot of developers working on these types of apps.

Nine of the apps were created by European developers. Of these, four are Turkish, two French, one from the United Kingdom, one from Russia, and one from Ukraine. For 10 apps we could not identify the country of origin of the developers.

The wide variety of locations means that different laws and regulations apply. Not every country is as strict when it comes to handling personal data.

Encryption Security for Five Apps

Only a few of the privacy policies actually provided clear information about the security, legislation, and data processing of the app. For example, for 19 of the apps, it is completely unknown how they handle data security. Another 20 apps state in their privacy policies that they cannot guarantee the security of the app, with phrases such as ‘remember that no method of transmission over the internet, or method of electronic storage is 100% secure and reliable, and we cannot guarantee its absolute security.’

Only 5 apps emphasized the use of encryption to secure the data. These were:

  • Qibla Compass – Ramadan 2021, Prayer Times, Quran
  • Prayer Times: Azan, Quran, Qibla Compass
  • Ramadan Times
  • Quran Majeed
  • Prayer times: Pro Athan. Qibla

Only 1 in 10 Apps Explicitly Adheres to GDPR

It is often unclear what legislation applies to the apps. Only 5 out of 50 developers state in their privacy policy that their app adheres to the GDPR, the European privacy laws.

  • Muslim Pro
  • Qibla Compass – Ramadan 2020, Prayer Times, Quran
  • 1Muslim – Prayer times, Azan, Qibla
  • Prayer Times: Azan, Quran, Qibla Compass
  • Islam Pro: Quran, Muslim Prayer times, Qibla, Dua

When using the “Athan Pro” app, UK law applies. Muslim Assistant: Azan Time, Qibla, Prayer, Quran” states in their privacy policy that their content comes from Turkish ministries.

‘Most of the content sources and information in the app is referenced from the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey, the Presidency of Religious Affairs. Where, Presidency of the Republic of Turkey, Presidency of Religious Affairs doesn’t have any liability, responsibility or connection with the Muslim Assistant App.’

How is Data Processed

With most of these Ramadan apps, it remains a mystery how your data is processed. No fewer than 37 of the 50 apps do not provide information about the retention period of your data.

3 apps state that they keep your data as long as needed. These apps are ‘Muslim App – Adan Prayer times, Qibla, Holy Quran’, ‘Islam Pro: Quran, Muslim Prayer times, Qibla, Dua’ and ‘1Muslim – Prayer times, Azan, Qibla’. MBC Ramadan saves your data for 10 years and a few other apps save it for 1 or 2 years.

5 apps state they do not retain any of your data:

  • Athan Pro
  • iPray
  • Muslim Daily: Athan, Namaz, Qibla, Hijiri, Dhikr
  • Ramadan Calendar 2021 with Prayer Times and Duas
  • Muslim Prayer Times: Qibla Finder, Quran, Compass

App Permissions for Ramadan Apps

Most of the Ramadan apps we looked at require access to your files and other smartphone applications in order to function optimally. Below you’ll find an overview of the requested (and sometimes even required) permissions, including location data, data about your internet connection, access to your camera, access to your microphone, and access to your files. In addition, some apps even ask for permission to view your browsing data for advertising purposes.

When interpreting the data below, keep in mind that a red cross, in this case, is actually a good thing for your privacy. The fact that a Ramadan app does not require access to this data is better for the level of privacy provided.

Name app Location Internet connection Camera Microphone Files
Muslim Pro
Muslim Assistant : Azan Time, Qibla, Prayer, Quran
Muslim Pocket – Ramadan 2021
Prayer Times: Qibla and Azan
Miqat: Prayer Times, Qiblah, and Hilal Visibility
Qibla Compass – Ramadan 2021, Prayer Times, Quran
Qibla Finder, Prayer Times, Quran, Azan, Tasbeeh
Prayer Times: Salah Time & Qibla Direction
Prayer Times Pro: Qibla Finder, Athan, Muslim Pray
Athan Pro
MBC Ramadan
1Muslim
Prayer Times, Qibla Finder, Quran, Azan, Tasbeeh
Prayer Times: Azan, Quran, Qibla Compass
iPray
Ramadan calendar 2021: Quick Time Schedule
Qibla Compass & Prayer Times
Prayer Times, Qibla Finder, Ramadan 2021 Calendar
Muslim App – Adan Prayer times, Qibla, Holy Quran
Ramadan Times
Ramadan Calendar 2021: Prayer Times, Azan & Dua
Ramadan Times 2021 Ramadan Calendar Sehri o Iftar
Ramadan 2021 – Prayer times, Qibla, Quran, Adkar
Muslim Prayer Timings – Azan Pro, Quran, Ramadan
Islamic Diary: Prayer Times, Ramadan, Qibla, Quran
Islamic World – Prayer Times, Qibla & Ramadan 2021
Muslim: Prayer Times, Qibla Compass, Azan & Quran
Muslim Expert – Prayer times, Qibla finder, Quran
Muslim App: Prayer Time, Qibla Finder, Quran Audio
Muslim Prayer Times: Ramadan Calendar 2021, Qibla
Islam Pro: Quran, Muslim Prayer times, Qibla, Dua
Muslim+ Prayer Times, Quran, Qibla, Dua, Tasbih
Muslim Daily: Athan, Namaz, Qibla, Hijri, Dhikr
Prayer times, Quran and azan & Qibla-Vmuslim Pro
Ramadan 2021
Ramadan Times 2021: Azan & Qibla Compass
Muslim Ally – Ramadan 2020, Prayer Times, Tasbih
Ramadan Calendar 2021 with Prayer Times and Duas
Muslim Guide – Ramadan 2020, Prayer Times & Qibla
Ramadan Calendar 2021 – Prayer Time & Islamic App
Ezan Pro – Dutch Prayer Times, Qibla
Islamic Prayer Times:Azaan,Quran & Qibla Direction
Muslim Prayer Times: Qibla Finder, Quran, Compass
Quran Majeed
Ramadan Challenge Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
Let’s Ramadan Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
Prayer Times: Pro Athan. Qibl‪a‬ Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
Salati – Prayer Times & Qibla‪h Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
Salat Azan Muslim Prayer Time‪s
Muezzin – Salat, Qibla, Qura‪n‬

Do the Apps Share Data with Third Parties

Some of the apps studied include information in their privacy policy about sharing data with third parties and whether or not this is done for advertising purposes. Below you can find an overview of this information. The explanation is a concise interpretation of what the privacy policy says about sharing data with third parties.

Name app Might share data with third parties Concise explanation
Muslim Pro With this app, data can be shared for personalized advertising and content, as well as for the pursuit of the company’s interests. Partners can also collect data for their own purposes.
Muslim Assistant: Azan Time, Qibla, Prayer, Quran This app can share data with advertisers. Everything you put in the app becomes the property of Muslim Assistant and they can distribute it to others without owing you anything.
Muslim Pocket – Ramadan 2021 The app cooperates with third parties who can collect your data.
Prayer Times: Qibla and Azan The app can share data for advertisements by platforms like AdSense and AdMob
Miqat: Prayer Times, Qiblah, and Hilal Visibility Unknown Unknown
Qibla Compass – Ramadan 2021, Prayer Times, Quran This app shares data, among other things, for advertising purposes and uses third-party libraries to monetize “app data audiences”.
Qibla Finder, Prayer Times, Quran, Azan, Tasbeeh This app shares data with advertisers for advertising purposes.
Prayer Times: Salah Time & Qibla Direction This app shares data with others to create personalized ads.
Prayer Times Pro: Qibla Finder, Athan, Muslim Pray This app shares data with others to create personalized ads.
Athan Pro This app shares data with sub-suppliers but indicates that the sub-suppliers must adhere to the terms of the Athan Pro privacy policy. This includes safe storage of your personal data.
MBC Ramadan MBC Ramadan indicates that they can share data with third parties, who in turn could use this data in ways that MBC Ramadan does not.
1Muslim This app may share data with external technical service providers, email providers, hosting providers, IT companies and communication agencies. Users can request a list of the parties that their data is shared with.
Prayer Times, Qibla Finder, Quran, Azan, Tasbeeh This app indicates that third parties have access to your personal data. This in order for the third parties to perform tasks they were assigned by the app. However, these third parties are obliged not to use or expose your data for other purposes.
Prayer Times: Azan, Quran, Qibla Compass  This app shares data, among other things, for advertising purposes and uses third-party libraries to monetize “app data audiences”.
iPray The app only shares data with others in order to ensure the functioning of the app.
Ramadan calendar 2021: Quick Time Schedule This app shares data for advertising purposes as well as for other assigned tasks. The app indicates that the third parties may not share or use the data for purposes other than those specified by the app.
Qibla Compass & Prayer Times This app shares data to enable personalized advertising. The app does indicate that you can update your data sharing permissions with third parties in the app.
Prayer Times, Qibla Finder, Ramadan 2021 Calendar This app shares data for advertising purposes as well as for other assigned tasks. The app indicates that the third parties may not share or use the data for purposes other than those specified by the app.
Muslim App – Adan Prayer times, Qibla, Holy Quran This app shares data to show personalized advertisements or to organize usage statistics.
Ramadan Times Unknown  Unknown
Ramadan Calendar 2021: Prayer Times, Azan & Dua This app shares data for advertising purposes. They also indicate that, depending on your device and operating system, you might be able to adjust your preferences.
Ramadan Times 2021 Ramadan Calendar Sehri o Iftar This app shares data for advertising purposes. The app indicates that third parties have access to (part of) your data.
Ramadan 2021 – Prayer times, Qibla, Quran, Adkar This app shares data for advertising purposes. The app indicates that third parties have access to (part of) your data.
Muslim Prayer Timings – Azan Pro, Quran, Ramadan This app shares data for advertising purposes. The app indicates that third parties have access to (part of) your data.
Islamic Diary: Prayer Times, Ramadan, Qibla, Quran This app shares data for advertising purposes as well as for other assigned tasks. The app indicates that they only share data if the third parties treat your data confidentially.
Islamic World – Prayer Times, Qibla & Ramadan 2021 This app shares data, among other things, for advertising purposes.
Muslim: Prayer Times, Qibla Compass, Azan & Quran  Unknown  Unknown
Muslim Expert – Prayer times, Qibla finder, Quran  Unknown  Unknown
Muslim App: Prayer Time, Qibla Finder, Quran Audio This app shares data for advertising purposes as well as for other assigned tasks. The app indicates that the third parties may not share or use the data for purposes other than specified by the app.
Muslim Prayer Times: Ramadan Calendar 2021, Qibla This app shares data for advertising purposes.
Islam Pro: Quran, Muslim Prayer times, Qibla, Dua This app may share data with external technical service providers, email providers, hosting providers, IT companies and communication agencies.
Muslim+ Prayer Times, Quran, Qibla, Dua, Tasbih This app shares data with advertisers, among other things. Data, such as statistics, can also be used to provide additional services to third parties. The app indicates that none of these services contain sensitive/personally identifiable information if not authorized by the user.
Muslim Daily: Athan, Namaz, Qibla, Hijri, Dhikr This app indicates that they use third party services that may collect data to identify you as a user.
Prayer times, Quran and azan & Qibla-Vmuslim Pro This app does not specify data sharing in their privacy policy.
Ramadan 2021  Unknown  Unknown
Ramadan Times 2021: Azan & Qibla Compass This app indicates that it shares data with others for advertising purposes and location data.
Muslim Ally – Ramadan 2020, Prayer Times, Tasbih This app shares data for usage statistics.
Ramadan Calendar 2021 with Prayer Times and Duas This app shares data for advertising purposes
Muslim Guide – Ramadan 2020, Prayer Times & Qibla  Unknown  Unknown
Ramadan Calendar 2021 – Prayer Time & Islamic App This app shares data, among other things, for advertising purposes.
Ezan Pro – Dutch Prayer Times, Qibla  Unknown  Unknown
Islamic Prayer Times:Azaan,Quran & Qibla Direction  Unknown  Unknown
Muslim Prayer Times: Qibla Finder, Quran, Compass / This app indicates in their privacy policy that it does not share data with third parties. The Google Play store does state that the app offers advertisements.
Quran Majeed This app indicates not to use or share data with third parties, for any purpose. However, in the event of a payment, the app must check your credit card details.
Ramadan Challenge This app shares data for specific assigned tasks and Google Play Services. The app also indicates that the third parties may not share or use the data for purposes other than those specified by the app.
Let’s Ramadan This app shares data for example, through social media cookies.
Prayer Times: Pro Athan. Qibl‪a‬ This app shares data for advertising purposes. They also indicate that third parties can use anonymized data such as, among other things, which websites you visit, your telephone number and your location.
Salati – Prayer Times & Qibla‪h  Unknown  Unknown
Salat Azan Muslim Prayer Time‪s This app shares data for usage statistics.
Muezzin – Salat, Qibla, Qura‪n‬ This app shares data for advertising purposes and at least works with Google’s AdMob.

As you can see in the table above, almost 40 of the 50 apps share data with third parties. This is mainly done for advertising purposes. Moreover, some of the apps seem to use the exact same privacy policy. This makes you question whether or not these documents are up-to-date and correct. For nine of the apps it remains unknown whether they share data with third parties or not because they do not have a privacy policy. Only one app, Quran Majeed, explicitly states that is does not share data with third parties.

Sharing data with third parties doesn’t mean the same thing for all these apps. Some apps explicitly state that they only share data with third parties to ensure the operation of the app (iPray). Other apps indicate that they do share data with third parties, but that these parties must handle the data with confidentiality. Still other apps indicate that they share data with third parties and that you should check their partner’s privacy policy to find out how they will handle your data. However, they do not indicate who their partners are or where you can find their privacy policy.

Some notable privacy policies are those of “Muslim Pro” and “Muslim Assistant: Azan Time, Qibla, Prayer, Quran”. Muslim Pro states that they may use your information for their own interests and that partners may also use your information as they please. Muslim Assistant: Azan Time, Qibla, Prayer, Quran even indicates that they become the owner of the data posted by you and that they can use it without owing you anything.

Final Verdict

As you can see, there are major differences between the Ramadan apps in how they handle your data. For that reason, it is important to investigate when you want to start using one of these apps. While the apps can be useful to be reminded of prayer times, poorly protected personal data can have unpleasant consequences. Always choose a safe app and be careful with the data that you share.

Based on the results of our research, the following apps take relatively good care of your privacy:

  • Quran Majeed: uses encryption and doesn’t share data with third parties. Does contain ads. The app is free.
  • iPray: Does not contain ads and does not save any information but does ask for access to your location. The app is not free.
  • 1Muslim: Follows GDPR privacy rules and does not show ads, does ask for access to your location and files, and might share data with third parties. This app is free.

Attend Digital Prayer with Video Calling Apps

If you want to attend digital prayer but still protect your privacy you can check out our article on the privacy of different video calling apps. We tested these video calling apps to see what they do to protect your privacy during video calls.

Research method

To assess how the apps score on privacy, the privacy policies of 50 different Ramadan and prayer apps were analyzed. In addition, we retrieved information about the apps (number of downloads, permissions and in-app purchases) from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

Author
Cybersecurity analyst
Author
Tech journalist