Considerations Muslim Software and App Developers

Ibrahim Abu Sammy
Published in
5 min readAug 13, 2018


It’s important if we are going to implement any kind of use of internet technology as Muslims, that we consider the effect that this is going to have on community.

It’s a beautiful thing to visit Muslim countries where tight-knit community still exists. Coming from a fragmented family in the US, I never had this, so I really appreciate the value of it. One can’t help but notice that while these people are doing the things that keeps their family tight, they are not necessarily staring at their phones like so many in the more industrialized societies.

For Muslim entrepreneurs who are developing apps, I think it is essential to consider what kind of community we are building. We should also be aware that we cannot necessarily count on the internet to always be there for us. Major conflicts could lead to the cutting of the trans-oceanic fiber optic cables, for example.

What I mean is that when people start connecting with community online, it means that they are necessarily connecting less with their physical community at their location. Go to any masjid around the world and you can hear countless horror stories about the bad influence of the internet on youth.

Of course, in places like the US or Western Europe, people are already fairly isolated from each other, so the internet can help to connect with like minded individuals and can help with social connection. At the same time, it is unraveling communities that are already close in other places.

While there are no shortage of naysayers that would denounce the internet as the work of shaitan, as with many modern innovations, no matter how unsustainable and unjust their origin, we are obligated to use them for the maximal possible benefit for the Muslim ummah and humanity at large. To neglect to do so would be contrary to the spirit of Islam, which enjoins that we do everything in our power to fulfill our responsibilities- and among our responsibilities is to relieve the needs of our brothers and sisters in faith and bring happiness to our community.

Me Too” Muslim Apps

Really, don’t go in there.

There is a trend in app development to doggedly follow the mushrikin in creating “x for Muslims.” This trend bothers me, first because the clones of AirBnB or whatever for Muslims are invariably poor quality, but also because they are examples of society moving in a direction that we as Muslims must remember we should not want to go.

We should not want to turn looking for a husband or wife into a process akin to online shopping, where we accept or reject potential partners based solely on their appearance, as in apps like Tinder. Even if we can make money doing it.

Everything in Islam has deep purposes- gender segregation is a cure to the sexual harassment that plagues places like the US, but it is also a means of deepening ties with family members- instead of having friends of the opposite sex, you end up connecting more with aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and siblings. While these relatives can be infuriating at time, the energy we invest into these relationships is not lost, because friends come and go, but family remains.

In particular with the structure of social media apps, but also with ecommerce, we should be concerned with what kind of community we are creating, and what kind of opportunities we are presenting to people- this goes for monetized ads online as well.

What Kind of Community are we Building?

Noble Savages

For example, if an app encourages social networking, who is it suggesting people connect to? What types of relationships is it fostering? Is it encouraging connection with family, or connection with people outside the family circle?

I believe firmly that apps developed by Muslims should not be copies of apps developed by mushrikin. There are numerous hadith that emphasize NOT imitating practices of other religious groups- for example, the first generations of Muslims used to go out of their way to pray wearing shoes from time to time, in order to avoid being too similar to Jews.

This is not because there is anything wrong with praying without shoes on, it simply emphasizes the importance of having a distinct identity. The stronger our sense of shared identity, the more supportive we will be towards each other, because there will be a tangible understanding that what is good for one of us is good for all of us.

This is ultimately the best thing we can do for the mushrikin also, because this religion is the truth, and it is a great blessing, as anyone who has been honored to be able to practice it knows. The best form of invitation we can make to this religion is not just justness and fairness towards the kuffar, but also compassion and kindness amongst ourselves. If others see a strong, unified, healthy, compassionate and loving community of Muslims, it will make them want to be around us. If they see the beauty and compassion of our community, it will make them want to be part of our community.

The converse is true as well. If we neglect our religion, behave selfishly, and fight amongst ourselves, joining the community will not seem a very attractive prospect.

Questions to Keep in Mind

Trees are components of forests

I would call on all Muslim software developers to strive to look to the sahaba for inspiration when designing apps- how can the principles that the best generation to walk the earth lived by be embodied in software? Also, how can we distinguish ourselves from the prevailing trends in the industry and forge our own path? How can we support the growth of both analogue AND digital community? And how can we ensure that we, as a community, are not too dependent on the internet, and will not be totally devastated if, for one reason or another, we at some point lose our access to the internet?

These are difficult questions, but I believe it is well worth trying to keep these issues in mind during the development process. The information revolution is putting a lot of power in our hands, and we have to take care to use it for good.