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Halal online

July 04, 2009

Tazeen Javed imagines the future of Islamic web browsing.

The Jews have beaten the more pious Muslims to it again. A new 'kosher' search engine called Koogle has been launched for orthodox Jews living in Israel, which will allow them to surf cyberspace without ever encountering unbecoming images or faith wavering text and keep the dangers of subversion and temptation at bay.  Koogle will follow the religious standards set by the rabbis and is aimed at helping orthodox Jews stay on the stipulated path.

Apparently a jibe at Google, Koogle will filter out forbidden material and provide its consumers kosher bits and pieces from the net. This provides an impetus to our more religious-minded Muslim brothers to come up with a halal search engine or perhaps something even better: a halal browser.  The halal browser could scan the web and act all big brotherly for the benefit of its devout and virtuous users.

Ideally, the halal browser will check out the halal quotient of the content in cyberspace. The browser could also label web content according to different levels of halalness. The varying degrees of halalness could range from barely halal to standard halal and extra or strictly halal and everything in between.

The barely halal version will only let the user know that there is dangerous content ahead and warn that if you want to keep your faith intact, browse no further. The standard halal version will not only warn you about dangerous content ahead, but will also distort the appearance of the browser and scream ‘haram haram!’ Anyone with even a remnant of faith will cease browsing non-halal content and will revert to halal content. The reward for clicking along the righteous path - Ovais Qadri naats in the background.

Meanwhile, the strictly halal version will not warn you about anything; instead, it will just obstruct the material deemed inappropriate by the maulanas. For instance, if you are on Facebook or blogging to your heart’s desire and you see adverts with a semi-nude woman with a lollipop (the ultimate test of your faith) asking you to buy this or that, fear no more. The new and improved halal browser, equipped with halal firewall, will take care of it for you. You can look forward to a situation in which only totally halal adverts for items such as halal chicken, halal chips, halal banking and Umrah tours pop on your browser.

If you are an online shopper and have indulged in shopping taboo items in the past, the new and improved halal browser will even curb your enthusiasm for all things forbidden and halt your purchase before you set up your Paypal account.

The only problem is that we do not have this halal browser right now. For a religious minded businessman, it is the best opportunity since halal foods and Shariah-compliant banking to make some solid dough. If Junaid Jamshed is done with modeling for a commercial in the guise of public service message, which, let's be honest, is really a fatwa in favour of a commercial product, he can now invest to develop the first-ever Shariah compliant halal browser.

Of course, if you were already using the halal browser, this blog would have been blocked at the get-go.

Tazeen Javed has lived most of her life in Karachi; so far no one has asked her to leave. She has worked as a journalist, teacher, salesperson, activist, tour guide, election observer, fruit vendor, copy writer and television producer in the past. She has wizened up since then and now only works for a living. She blogs at http://tazeen-tazeen.blogspot.com and can be contacted at tazeen@alumni.manchester.ac.uk.