Anastasia Karklina: “Halalgoogling” and the Censorship of Ahmadiyya Islam

Source: islamicommentary.org | by ANASTASIA KARKLINA for ISLAMiCommentary  

“O ye who believe! Be strict in observing justice, and be witnesses for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or against parents and kindred. Whether he be rich or poor, Allah is more regardful of them both than you are. Therefore follow not low desires so that you may be able to act equitably. And if you conceal the truth or evade it, then remember that Allah is well aware of what you do.”  – The Holy Qur’an (4:136)

As I casually scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed one morning, I stumbled across an Al Jazeera English post linking to an article  on a “Muslim-friendly alternative” to Web searching that filters haram content.

Intrigued, I clicked and read on:  functions much like Google or Bing, but with a built-in “advanced special filtering system” that blocks content deemed haram or forbidden in Islam.

According to its web site Halalgoogling aims to be the number one search engine in the Muslim community: “Everyone has the right to enjoy the possibilities that the internet offers, to learn or to use it for work, to share the fruits of scientific achievements, different literature, technical information, to trade products or offer different services etc. However, we have the right to preserve our faith, our moral and the interest of our brothers and sister worldwide. We are here to ensure that such content is not contrary to the principles of Islamic religion.”

Halalgoogling (not to be confused with Halal Google) is a relatively new project and

can be easily accessed by any Internet user at www.halalgoogling.com. It is still difficult to estimate how widespread the use of this “sin-free” search engine is, though its Facebook page has gathered over eleven thousand followers, and besides Al Jazeera, has attracted coverage in various other media outlets with international reach, such as The Huffington Post, and the International Business Times among others.

Its “special filtering system” excludes forbidden sites as well as haram content from search results “such as pornography, nudity, gay, lesbian, bisexual, gambling, anti-Islamic content or anything else that is haram according to the Islamic law.”

The creators appear to be open to hearing from the Muslim community about content that might have escaped the haram filter, and they also offer a disclaimer explaining that despite best efforts to make the service as secure as possible, “we apologize any unintentional mistake that we might have made or could make in the future.”

Perhaps the creators are acknowledging that fail-safe censorship is not possible in the Muslim community, which like other faith communities, is instrinsically diverse. Naturally, Muslims have different preferences in approaching faith matters; while some will find the project beneficial, others will find it unnecessary. As a Muslim woman, I find this project in its current state absolutely unacceptable.

For example, according to Halalgoogling, the followers of Ahmadiyya Islam — a group of living Muslims — is, in fact, haram.

Mahmood Mosque at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community headquarters in Kababir, Haifa, Israel. photo by Anastasia Karklina

The Ahmadiyya are a historically oppressed Islamic reformist movement, which traces its roots to India in 1889 where it was founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (considered to be the promised Messiah and the Mahdi by the followers of the sect).

They believe that their spiritual leader was sent by God as… continue reading at islamicommentary.org

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