In a time of unprecedented levels of religious antipathy, privacy concerns, bias and online abuse over the internet, a Malaysian startup has come forward with the idea of a halal web experience for the Muslims.
SalamWeb advocates that there is a massive untapped market for a web browser that complies with the Islamic values while equipped to provide features like messaging, browsing and news – filtered through user ratings. Currently aiming to target 10 percent of 1.8 billion global Muslim population, SalamWeb envisions revolutionizing the way people use internet through desktop or mobile browsers. It is designed to deliver a Muslim-friendly web experience which is free from the propagation or broadcast of practices disliked in Islam, for example, gambling, pornography, drinking and socially shared adult content. At present the app has a user base primarily hailing from Malaysia and Indonesia.
Talking about the need of a muslim browser in the age of Google, Hasni Zarina Mohamed Khan, managing director at Salam Web Technologies MY Sdn, explained the vision behind SalamWeb. She said:
“We want to make the internet a better place. We know the internet has the good and the bad, so SalamWeb offers you a tool to create this window that lets you go to the internet to see the good.”
Built around the increasing need of a safety net from the significant anti-religious and un-islamic values, as well as the toxicity and fake news culture prevalent at social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, SalamWeb hopes to capitalize the market.
Relying on a Reddit model of community-vetted content filters, the browser offers flags and warnings that mark web pages as appropriate, neutral or inappropriate. The flags serve to alert the users when they approach the sites with content marked as false or objectionable: containing gambling, alcohol or pornography. In addition, the browser also contains Muslim-specific functions, such as pointing out regional prayer times and provides an indicator for Qibla – the direction Muslims follow while making their namaz. This is in accordance with the promise “to optimize the Islamic way of life”.
Hasni Zarina stated:
“We’re promoting universal values — although SalamWeb is targeted to Muslims, it can be used by anyone. The internet can be a harmful place. It’s obvious that we need an alternative.”