Eight months ago, Anas Abou Allaban was attending Muslim Hacks, an event in California where participants share technology and solutions to build products for people practicing Islam.
One hack in particular intrigued Allaban, a student of electrical and computer engineering at Northeastern at the time: A speech recognition tool that helps Muslims recite their daily prayers.
Doing this the right way involves abiding by a set of rules known as tajweed, which governs the pronunciation of words within the Quran, the sacred book of Islam. These rules are typically taught by specialized instructors, but, as Allaban explains, qualified instructors can be hard to find in non-Arab countries, or are fully booked.
Allaban thought the idea had legs, so he teamed up with the engineer from Twitter and the Stanford doctoral student who had devised it. To see what the market might be, they posted a promotional video on Facebook.
Turns out, it’s a tool many Muslims have been looking for. The video garnered 600,000 views and 700 shares.
“Our primary purpose is allowing Muslims to read and recite the Quran correctly without the need of reaching out to an instructor, so we’re automating that process,” says Allaban, who graduated from Northeastern in May.
Tarteel.io works through a database of verse recitations they’ve collected from both professional reciters and ordinary Muslims. Allaban says they have collected over 70,000 total verses, 6,000 of which are unique verses. Through this database, Tarteel.io follows users as they recite their prayers and offers corrections for any pronunciation errors.
“You pull up your phone, hit the record button, and you start reciting whatever verse you want,” Allaban says. “The program will automatically identify what verse you’re reading and then it’ll identify if you’ve made any mistakes.”
Together with his partners, Abdellatif Abdelfattah, the Twitter engineer, and Abubakar Abid, the Stanford doctoral student, Allaban says they’re hopeful MassChallenge can solidify their business model and help them grow on a “global scale.”
“We’re connecting with mentors and making sure that we set a proper business model in place,” Allaban says. “We’re understanding how to reach out to investors and how to have a product development cycle that is focused on the best practices. We hope they can help us make Tarteel.io the app for Muslims’ daily practice of their faith.”
With more than 1.7 billion Muslims around the world, and 3.45 million in the United States alone, according to the Pew Research Center, Allaban says he believes in the application’s potential to help even a small percentage of Muslims.
“If you even support one percent of that population, that’s an amazing product,” Allaban says.