Ethical Website Creation is a way to create websites that take into account all the rights of the user and actively protects them, through the choice of technology or method of implementation.
Existing consumer or data protection laws can provide a framework for this. Ethical considerations should go beyond this, however. Islamic teachings offer an extended framework here, which Muslim developers in particular should not neglect. Since I am not an Islamic scholar, I cannot make any statements about the scope of these teachings and their spiritual relevance in this professional field.
But based on the nature of our religion, which influences every aspect of our personal and professional lives, I would venture the vague assumption that these ethical principles should also be applied to web development. And if I’m right about that, then neglecting this issue and doing it incorrectly could result in cumulative penalties for each user whose rights have been violated. But if my interpretation and application is too strict or simply not true, then I lose nothing by making an extra effort. الله أعلم (Allah knows best)
Either way, the more humane path would be preferable to a sloppy and irresponsible website implementation. At least one is on the safer side in terms of secular law.
The reconstruction of the Kaaba in Mecca
There was an interesting event in the seerah of the prophet ﷺ, in a time where he was 35 years old, before prophethood came to him. It was the renovation, or rather a complete reconstruction of the Kaabah in Mecca. The Kaaba had not been maintained for centuries, so it started to fall apart. The Kaaba was considered to be sacred before Islam, even though there were idols and idol worshippers in that time. The walls of the Kaaba were also severely damaged due to a flood that occured before due to heavy rains. So the Meccans considered reconstructing it by tearing it down and rebuilding it. You can hear more details about this in Shaykh Abdul Nasir’s podcast, starting at minute 27.
While they were starting to remove the stones, something interesting happened.
- When they tried to remove a stone it literally flew back to its place. They understood this as a sign from Allah, that the Kaaba had to be reconstructed more carefully. They couldn’t just tear it all down all at once and rebuild it. They had to reconstruct it one piece at a time, one wall after another, respectfully, while keeping the Kaaba intact.
- The second interpretation of this incident was, that this was a sign from Allah, that only pure can be put into this reconstruction. Only pure income earned with pure labour could be used for the Kaaba. The Arabs at that time were involved in a lot of haram business activities. They stole a lot, were involved in usuary (ribaa, interest), alcohol, gambling and prostitution. Basically a huge stream of their money came from bad places. So they had to make sure, they put pure wealth in the reconstruction of the house of Allah, azza wa jall. The idol worshippers had a great sense of that. They knew, they had to invest only pure income into the reconstruction of the Kaaba.
Now think, if the mushrikoon had that ethics and morals and the awareness of what type of wealth had to be put into the Bayt-Ullah, how careful we as the ummah of the prophet ﷺ, now having the complete deen, should be about the type of wealth, that we put into the house of Allah and by extension into any project where we hope for barakah?
The ‘halal’ meat
Today we buy meat with a ‘halal’ badge on the packaging. Which means it was slaughtered in a proper way while Allah’s name was mentioned on it. And the meat doesn’t contain any pork, as some non-halal meat are also mixed with pork.
But is that enough for the meat to be considered pure?
Some scholars take the view that there is more to it than that. The animal must have spent its life in a manner appropriate to its species. It must have been fed well, given always enough to eat and drink. It should be medically well taken care of. It should not have been living cramped in cages. The rights of the animal should have been preserved. And then, when it is led to slaughter, it should not experience fear, such as witnessing the slaughter of its peers. Animals understand very well what is going on, especially when a situation becomes existential. And they will also complain about wrong treatment by humans at the day of judgement.
There are not really much animal farmers that meet the full scope of this definition of pure. One I know of in Germany is Josef’s Bio. His meat costs almost twice as much as in the supermarket or at your butcher’s next door. The question is, are we willing to pay the price for this kind of pure meat rather than buying just some cheap meat with a ‘halal’ label from the next supermarket?
The production chain of goods
We regularly buy clothes, electronic gadgets, furniture etc. Most of these things are halal in and of themselves. But how pure can a computer or smartphone, that we use to get our daily work done with, be, when 40 years old women and little children had to work in a mine for a pittance to obtain the raw materials for its chipsets?
When we buy our clothes produced in Asian sweat shops where workers are fobbed off with a pittance, where for profit reasons the simplest safety measures are skimped on, so that they are exposed to any fire outbreak without protection, for example … how pure does it make that $200 shoes with a brand logo on it?
I am well aware of the fiqh rulings, that at a certain point we as a customer are not responsible for what happens in the supply chain. That we are only responsible for as much as we can directly influence.
But still … is it all pure then?
What I want to get at
All intermediate economic steps in the production of a good or the provision of a service are relevant. And in all intermediate steps, morals and ethics should be meticulously observed.
So that this does not remain with well-sounding theory, different articles will be published in the context of ethical website creation. I will examine, where unfair practices in web development exist, where the rights of the visitor or customer may be violated and what is at all possible at this time to improve our practices.
The first article in this series is How to Build a Newsletter Service that Complies with Islamic Principles and European GDPR Law.
Other articles in the queue may be:
- Choosing the right Website Analytic Tools
- How to Deal with Third-Party Modules
- Protect the Secrets and Personal Matters of your Users
… and other topics that will come to me in the course of time and my own projects.
This topic is for both the advanced web developer, as well as the beginner. With this series of articles, both should be able to step up their game. To think beyond the material gains. As for Muslim developers, I believe this is a necessary step to make an ibadah out of their work.
And for Muslim business owners who are commissioning the creation of their business website, this series can help to raise awareness of what to look for in their website.
Articles in this series:
- Don’t Fake Testimonials
- How to Build a Newsletter Service that Complies with Islamic Principles and European GDPR Law
- Don’t Use A Fake Persona in Online Business
- Don’t stick your nose into things that are none of your business
- Upholding Professional Integrity: Challenges in Islamic Work Ethics Across Industries
Do you want your existing website to be checked against ethical principles or have one developed?
Visit https://mslmdvlpmnt.com/ethical-website-creation/ for free quick tests and commercial in-dept analyses!
A more detailed article about Ethical Website Creation, especially in web development, can now be found at [ mslm dvlpmnt ]: What is ethically correct website development?