Just so you do not stray from the straight and narrow path, ImHalal.com serves you a haram alert if you key in ‘Satanic Verses’ or ‘porn’ or… Try!
ImHalal.com, possibly the world’s first Islamic search engine, is not a Google or Yahoo wannabe. It’s a search engine with a sense of right and wrong. We typed in a few predictably risque terms like porn, pig and penis and got a ‘haram’ warning. A sample warning reads like this. Porn: ‘Oops! Your search inquiry has a Haram level of 3 out of 3! I would like to advise you to change your search terms and try again.’ An interview with CEO and founder Reza Sardeha:
Q Why an Islamic search engine?
A Our friends and families often accidentally bumped into explicit content using search engines like Google. That’s what our search engine prevents. We want to create a safe environment for Muslims to surf the web.
Q Your homepage says, ‘I search halal, I am halal.’ What does this mean?
A ‘Halal’ means acceptable according to Islamic law. Actions and food can be flagged as halal. ‘Haram’ is the opposite of halal. It’s everything that is forbidden for a Muslim. We have flagged violence, discrimination and sexually explicit subjects as haram.
QBut despite the warning, I can choose to search on. So what purpose does it serve?
A We don’t want to be dictatorial or to censor.
Q‘Sex’ returned a haram level of 3. How can a natural act be haram of the highest order?
A There were more people who felt it should not be a level 3 star; they should be able to search for things like ‘sexual education’. So we have made sex a level 2 star. [Sex now returns a haram level of 2 out of 3].
QInterestingly, Satanic Verses got no warning. I thought it was a banned book.
A Our filter had missed that, but we have updated it.
QHave you developed a specific type of technology to filter out un-Islamic search results?
A We use a two-layered system. First, the search engine analyses the content fetched by ImHalal.com and all websites that contain explicit material are filtered out. Some websites are still fetched and that’s where the secondary, more aggressive and progressive filter kicks in. That is when you see the haram level.
Who is funding this? At the moment, I fund everything.