Dutch company AZS media group ltd on 1 September 2009 has launched ‘Imhalal’ : the first even search engine for Muslims “after seven months of intensive development!” This is my experience of the search engine on 6 September 2009 [time about 6 pm IST].
The official word on the search engine
This is what the about page of the website says about the search engine. The English errors are their own I am only reproducing it.
The last few years Muslims have become very active on the Internet. The lack of tools for Muslims to be able to continue their online activities responsibly has inspired ImHalal.com to enter the search engine market. Our goals is to become the homepage in all Muslim households. Our main product will always be Search but we got ambitious plans to expand our product line by adding Islamic widgets in the near future.
The Home page
The pic on the left is a snapshot of the home page of the website. There are options to search images and news and there is an option to save notes on the bottom right of the page. The tagline is ‘I search Halal, I am Halal!’ The background image is some Islamic architecture and you have four options for background images [one of them is a grocery shop which has large sacks]. I found no ads on the site and there is a prominent link to make ‘make the site your home page.’ Also there is a conspicuous feedback link on the left on the home page. I found some technical issues too with the site such as this big error! Update: Read more about the search engine on the I m Halal blog including details on their Haram Rating system. Until 8 September 2009, the I m Halal blog says it has already got 2,70,000 unique visitors!
You can choose your default language from 18 language options [Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Spanish, German, French, Russian, Indonesian, Chinese included; Urdu or Hindi is not there].
I searched “Vikas JNU” [which is me of course] and the first page had very relevant results with snapshot of websites. Search for keywords like ‘India, America’ had relevant results on the first page including Wikipedia links and the official government sites. The site appeared a bit slow in fetching results. I did not do any exhaustive search analysis.
Search for ‘haram’ words
Now the most interesting aspects you are waiting for in all probability! I search for the keyword ‘sex’ and this is what I get 😮
I still click on the ‘click me’ option and the results are porn links. Even Google has Wikipedia sex page on first natural search result page! By the way, you will not get any search results for haram level 3; haram level 1 or 2 is fine and you will get results after you click the advisory link!
Reza Sardeha, the website’s founder says they have blocked all sexually explicit content and are in constant touch with the imams to consider what might be considered haram therefore be blocked! The founder writes that the site is still under active development and the first month will be dedicated to fine tuning the filters and ‘I m Halal search tool bar’ for Firefox and IE along with an email system [eg. vikas[at] imhalal.com] is also underway.
They website has this written below the search box:
“A person who goes in search of knowledge, he is in the path of God and he remains so till he returns.”
|Keyword searched||Haram Level as on 6 pm IST, 6 September 2009|
|vagina, penis||level 2|
|sex education||level 2|
|pussy cats||level 2|
|Hindi sex words [can’t write here]||Throws normal results!|
Public feedback on the website ‘I m halal’
The website I m halal has full fledged community powered support hosted on get satisfaction [you can visit the page and report a problem, submit your question or submit praise or share an idea].
Here are some extracts from the feedback on their community site:
|Praise||Question||Report a problem|
My opinion: I m Halal is Interesting and funny
I am in favour of secularisation and this attempt to introduce religion in internet and curb free knowledge may not work. People [not necessarily Muslims] will visit the site of course for testing it once and for fun as well! Haram levels, ahem! Hope Google is not getting nightmares!
Google and many other companies [but not WordPress] have genuflected before the Chinese government and submitted to their gagging rules. I will not be surprised if Google offers a Halal version of its own LOL! 😉
The website has a lot of issues presently and it will take many months before it works satisfactory [wasn’t seven months of intensive development enough?]. Anybody [Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Sikh] who has tasted Google, Yahoo or Bing will be disappointed by it, needless to say. But it is not bad for some fun and time pass. Who knows with passage of time, it may become a priority search engine for the Muslims!
I hope I am Halal will bring introduce more and more Muslims to the world of internet and literacy albeit with a pinch handful of orthodoxy! Hope no religious Muslim will bump into explicit sexual content now! Also read this Jeruselum Post report. 🙂
Addendum 9 Sep 2009: Read Journalist writer from Karachi Tazeen Javed’s blog post on the Dawn blog dated July 2009 wherein she had suggested about a Halal browser in satirical piece on the lines of the Jewish search engine Koogle. Some people are guessing if the company stole the idea from Tazeen Javed’s article! She herself is wondering and there are strong reasons for this I would say.