Sunday, July 05, 2009

Of Kosher and Halal web browsing

On Saturdays - sorry no searchings or postings if you are on Koogle - the new Kosher search engine:

The search engine links to Israeli news and shopping sites but the results are filtered to exclude items deemed unsuitable.

"This is a kosher alternative for ultra-Orthodox Jews so that they may surf the Internet,” Yossi Altman told Reuters, Jerusalem.

“The site was developed in part at the encouragement of rabbis who sought a solution to the needs of ultra-Orthodox Jews to browse the Web particularly for vital services,” he added.

Nothing can be posted on Saturdays, the Jewish Sabbath, as Jews are banned from all types of work and business activity. If Koogle users attempt to search for an item or post a message on the Sabbath, it crashes and won’t let you.

Read the full story here. Some of you liberal minding folks may be balking at the idea. However, I can see its benefits. Koogle has already prompted this wonderful satire by Tazeen Javed on the Dawn Blog on the notion of Halal browsing:

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.

Ha! Good stuff. Read the full blog entry here. On a related topic, here is an article about Tweeting religions:

Religious groups from Episcopalians to Orthodox Jews have signed up for Twitter, Facebook and other social media networks with the same gusto that celebrities and politicians have, and for some of the same reasons — to gain a global platform and to appeal to young people.

Still, many clerics admit to an uneasiness about the merger of worship and electronic chatter.

In online debates and private discussions, leaders of all faiths have been weighing pros and cons and diagramming the boundaries of acceptable interactions: Should the congregation have a Facebook page, or should it be the imam’s or priest’s? Should there be limited access? Censoring? Is it appropriate for a clergy member to “friend” a minor?
And what can you say when the 82 year old Pope signs up for Facebook? Oh I really feel left out by technology. I need to think about all this. Is there a place on the internet where I can spend time alone - wandering in a virtual desert?


Anonymous said...
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Atif Khan said...

Extremely innovative idea by some religious fundamentalist. :)

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