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Al-Quran for Playstation Portable (PSP)

Mention Playstation and the image of youngsters engrossed in playing video games is
what come to mind. As such, it seems wildly incongruent to mention the holy book of Al-
Quran together with such a playful device. But that sum up the approach taken by
Institusi Usrah of MMU Cyberjaya, bringing Islamic contents to gadgets that become
youngsters’ constant companion.

The flagship application is al-Quran for Playstation Portable, which is in version 1.4 now.
To further explain about it, interviewing the lead programmer Ikhwan Nazri Mohd Asran
seems a logical choice. He seems to be totally at ease at the café chosen for the interview,
almost homely. He later revealed that he now lead Flavert Media Lab and enjoy working
at mobile offices. So far, he counted 37 mobile office locations.

Development

The idea started in September 2006 when Nazri discovered that he can develop Flash
applications for PSP. A master in Flash development, he proposed to his friends in
Institusi Usrah to take on the Al-Quran for PSP project.

Aided by 10 volunteers, the development of the first version took 5 months to complete.
Among the volunteers are Shahrul Nizam B Mohd Fa’eek, Muhammad Naim B Mukhtar
Shaib Rassul Khamir, Abd Karim Mohd Daud, Ummi Nadia Jaafar, Wan Liyana Naznim
Bt Wan Omar Sukri, Farah Liana Bt Abu Bakar and Nurzalikha Bt Mohd Zaki. The other
two only identified themselves as God’s Servant.

The finished product features Quranic text with English translation and distributed freely
over the internet. It also marked many firsts such as the first Flash application for PSP as
well as the first Islamic application for the platform.

They had been invited by Jamiyah Singapore to showcase al-Quran for PSP at the “One
World Many Cultures” exhibition under Science and Technology category in 2007.
Recently, the application is also showcased at the launching of MSC Malaysia Creative
Innovation Centre and Incubation Centre together with Eidul Adha mobile magazine.

The latest development of the application is the French translation that is contributed by
Lionel Jamal-U-Dine. The Muslim community in France also gives their support by
hosting the application at www.islamdefrance.fr.

Response

To date, al-Quran for PSP garnered a total of 18,000 downloads for the past two years.
The recent French version only gained 640 download but Nazri is confident that many
more downloads is recorded at the French Muslim community website.
The application received favorable comments from Muslim PSP users which had been
waiting for Islamic content for their gadget. An avid fan even did a step-by-step video for
installing the application and posted it online.

However, there are sarcastic remarks from ignorant people such as “Now you can make
bomb guided by your PSP”. It is evident that the bad press on Islam had made them
believe that Islam is the religion of terrorists and consequently al-Quran is a manual on
terrorism.

On the technical side, the application had been praised by Flash experts at a conference in
Singapore. Giorgio and Vassilis cite Al-Quran for PSP as a good example of Flash
application for unconventional devices. Usually, Flash applications are only present in the
form of web applications for personal computers.

Future

The most requested upgrade for the next iteration is Malay translation and audio
recitation. The Malay translation is on track for the next version but there are several
challenges for audio recitation. Firstly is the copyright issue of audio recordings as well
as the memory limitation for Flash applications on the PSP.

Nazri informed that Flash for Playstation 3 has no such limitation and hinted that the
platform might be his next project. But first, he need to buy the gaming console yet he
concerned he might end up playing more than doing the development. To solve it, he
looking forward to further expand his multimedia development company and later on
assign a dedicated staff for the development of Islamic contents.