Jakarta. Qur'an Indonesia Project, an online platform that allows users to listen to recitals of the Islamic holy book by celebrities, launched its mobile app on Thursday (18/05) at Conclave co-working space in South Jakarta.
The project, first launched in 2015, allows users to download recorded Koranic verses from its website or to stream those recitals through social media platforms, such as SoundCloud. Recordings are available in Arabic, English and Indonesian.
The project has enlisted some 230 high-profile volunteers to lend their voices to the service in a bid to popularize Koranic teachings among Indonesia's modern, and increasingly secular, youth. Some contributors include well-known pop singers Afgan, Raisa and Andien, as well as actors Dian Sastrowardoyo and Adrian Maulana.
Uci Armisi, a religious scholar and leader of the Al-Quran Madani institute, instructed contributors on proper Koranic pronunciation during the recording sessions.
Project initiator Archie Wirija said the recordings have been listened to as many as 1.5 million times by users in over 50 countries.
To boost its online presence, a group of volunteer coders headed by Go-Jek programmer Alamanda Shantika have developed a mobile application for the project available on both iOS and Android platforms.
"Launching the app has been one of our main goals this year. It allows users to browse verses based on the name of contributors or topics of interest," Archie said at the app launch.
Afgan, who has been friends with Archie since university, was one of the project's first contributors, and recited the Koran's opening chapter, Al Fatiha.
"I don't consider myself as a good reciter of the Koran, but what encouraged me to join was the presence of an ustad [religious teacher] to guide me," Afgan said.
"There were many takes because I often felt my reading wasn't adequate, but eventually it turned out well."
Jazz-pop singer Andien also admitted experiencing "stage fright" during her recording sessions.
"I was nervous in front of the microphone because usually I was there to sing, not to read the Koran. Before this, I'd never read Koran using a microphone, not even at school," Andien said.
"I was also amazed at the team's professionalism. They got everything ready from having an ustad to a videographer."
Hamas Syahid, a young hafiz, or Islamic student who has memorized the Koran, is among the project's many volunteers.
"With some public figures lending their voices, hopefully Qur'an Indonesia Project can motivate young people to rediscover their love for the holy book," Hamas said.
Archie added that the project has even been endorsed by Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin.
"Before we developed the app, the minister invited us to meet with him and to show appreciate for our initiative. His testimonial is available on our YouTube page," he said.
Despite widespread enthusiasm, the app is still far from being complete. More than 4,000 out of a total 6,236 Koranic verses have yet to be recorded due to a lack of additional volunteers.
Archie expects the project to finish recordings within the next two years, with added contributions from the public.
"Anyone is welcomed to get involved. We still have 4,000 verses to record and you can sign up by clicking our link on social media," he said.
Registration for volunteers will remain open until June 30. According to Archie, even those who feel their Arabic reading skills are not up to par should not be discouraged from contributing.
"There are no strict criteria for contributors [...] Our principle is 'Koran for all' so there's no need to put restrictions on volunteers," Archie said.