Much has been written about I’mHalal, a Muslim search engine that’s designed to filter through the internet clutter and provide a ‘Muslim’ internet browsing experience. More information can be found on their website.
To cut through the clutter ourselves and get a closer look, we went straight to the CEO and founder, Reza Sadeha.
TNW: Do you have any ‘Muftis’ or ‘Imams’ as part of your staff to help with the filtering process?! I have gone through your blog and through previous interviews, but I was wondering who, in particular, provided the views of what’s halal and what is haram?!
RS: The first step we have taken before we started developing our filtering system was setting up an meeting with an Imam. We explained him what concept we wanted to develop and we asked him for his advice and what we should filter to make it a truly clean search engine. His advice was great and the best thing he told us was that we should block certain websites promoting false information about Islam for example.
The last few weeks we have been busy bees by crawling a huge amount of websites and we have set up a list of websites that we need to add to our filter because they have been confirmed to be spreading false information about Islam.
At I’mHalal we’re actually pretty open to any suggestions, advice and feedback. We dedicated the first month of the launch to listen to what the Muslim community had to say about certain things we filter and which not. When the majority of our users thinks we’re filtering a certain subject too much or too less we will fine tune our filters.
TNW: What compelled you to launch imhalal.com, and how do you see would it differ from a simple search engine like google with a higher setting on the SafeSearch Filtering?
RS: We had picked up that many Muslims avoided the internet because they we’re afraid that they or their children would bump into explicit content, which is a shame because it’s important everyone is able to collect information and get him or herself informed about certain subjects. Since search engines are the starting point of everyones journey of collecting information we started working out the idea of developing an search engine.
First of all we don’t believe Google safe search is returning “clean” and safe enough results. We think we can develop a better filter since alternative search engines like Google don’t focus mainly on their filtering systems. Second of all, our filters filter according to the standards of Islam.
TNW: Can you give us an idea of what the most common search terms on your website are?!
RS: Starting from next week we will show a tag cloud including the top 10 most searched terms per day/week. Currently we are not tracking the searches yet.
TNW: What do you see as your revenue model? If you will depend on advertising, will you restrict your advertising to what you believe falls within the Muslim internet users are a very hard to reach target group.
RS: We want to set up an advertising platform like Googles Adwords where only Islamic approved advertising campaigns can be set up. With our advertising platform, Governments and Companies that had a hard time reaching their Muslim target group can finally set up appropriate and effective advertising campaigns.
TNW: Have you approached any regional investors/ venture capital funds? What has your experience been like?
RS: We haven’t actively been looking for an investor yet but we have already been approached by a venture capital that was interested in taking shares in I’mHalal at a later stage when we had revenues. All I can hint about this Venture is their one of the investors in Twitter ;).
TNW: On a grander scheme, do you see your market segmentation and focus on the Muslim market as an impediment to grow?
RS: More and more Muslims are becoming active on the internet and we believe that there is a lack of tools for us to explore the net in a clean environment. Obviously the more Muslims become active online the bigger I’mHalal will become. The current version of I’mHalal which is online right now is really the first and basic version. Besides developing a search engine designed for Muslims we also aim to deliver the best search solution with the best functionalities.
Reza also mentioned that they will be introducing some changes to the layout over the next few weeks, so be on the look out for that.
We’re going to be putting the website to a test ourselves. Check back next week!
Note: parts of the interview have been edited for easier readability.