Thursday, June 16, 2011

Facebook Appeases Muslims

Recently it has come to many people's attention that Facebook has stopped growing in Canada. This story about Facebook's fall in numbers was repeated throughout the Western world.

As a result, Facebook has refined its growth strategy to target Muslims in the developing world. Following detailed customer analysis, Facebook has made the following changes to its interface.


It felt that the original Event attendance with its three buttons was completely blasphemous to Muslims.

After all, when you click "I'm attending", how do you know you will attend an event, in the future? Only Allah knows the future, and therefore, the button was changed.

Marital Info:

This was targeted more towards the wealthier Arab market in the Gulf. In the original interface, Facebook allowed for the following setup.

This has now been changed to recognize the reality that upto 0.1% of the Arab men have more than 1 wife.


Poking has been controversial ever since the feature was launched. According to Sheikh A'anta Majnun, "poking led to touching which led to dancing which led to haraam yaani boking is haraam". However, the feature could not be disabled for the Muslim world as it was discovered that many Muslim men liked to be 'poked' by non-related women. Therefore Facebook arrived at a compromise and allowed men to poke a women's "waali" (guardian) back if he was so inclined.

The feature was disabled for Muslim women, as their 'poking' responsibilities were delegated to their "waali". On a related note, most women have not yet 'friended' their "waali" (this is yet to be solved: one solution recommended delegating all 'friending' requests themselves to the "waali" but that is being debated).


Photographs and tagging friends has long been Facebook's unique features, and this was tweaked slightly for the Muslim users of Facebook. An app titled "Muttawafy" automatically scans and ensures that pictures conform to strict guidelines followed by Muslim women.

As an aside, for some reason this feature, while it was introduced a while back with default setting "on", was found to be disabled by most desi men.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Moving Out of Parents' Homes After Marriage

This applies more to people from Eastern cultures, but ...

When do you think a married couple should move out of their parents' homes?

The culture in the West is that kids move out of their parents' place when they go to university, and stay on their own from then on. With the increasing trend of later marriages, when the kids marry, they have their own place (either their own or rented) and this is where they stay post-marriage.

The trend in the East is of joint families (or extended families). The kids may go MUST GO away to university, but post-completion they stay with their parents as they work. If it's the son, when he gets a wife, the girl moves into her in-laws' place. The grand parents, the kids and the grand kids all stay at the same residence.

Which approach do you think is better? In both of these practices I find a lot of good.

1. Independence

In Canada, I see kids growing up with summer jobs (such as mall stores, or even yard work, or at the beach) earning their own money, and thus developing an independent streak develop early. In life, they are better able to think on their feet, have street smarts, think like an adult, and take on their own responsibilities a lot earlier (just not on Saturday nights).

In our Eastern culture, kids are NEVER independent. And this rule applies especially if you are the son - you are always a momma's boy. I have seen even grown men with their own properties call on their dad to fix every little thing in their place as they have no idea how to do it. Life is 'leaving it to parents' while you enjoy.

2. Family Values

In the Western culture (and especially North American culture), parents don't play much of a role in one's life post-adulthood. Sure, they are always there (especially during Christmas) or you visit them regularly (hopefully) but you are your own man (or woman, or er, both). People usually settle down once they reach thirty (with a string of boyfriends/girlfriends since then). Yes, I am generalizing a bit. But post-30, once they find "the one", they inform their parents, hold a wedding, and then again continue their own lives.

In our Eastern culture, a family is very important to us. Even if our parents don't choose our spouses, it is important that the new addition to the family "fit in" with everyone - so consequently people give a lot of thought about their families when choosing a spouse, and our parents have a lot of say in what we do (where we stay, our jobs, our marital life etc.). There is a bond of family that is stronger in many Asian cultures than in the West.

So again, when do you think a married couple should move out of their parents' homes?

I think ideally, a new couple should have their own place. It give them privacy and a space to grow on their own as a couple (free from other influences). If you are Muslim, it seems religiously, it is also the right of every wife to have a home of her own according to the standards of her own social group. In many instances it is encouraged for the new couple to be given privacy and be left alone. This of course doesn't happen when you have a joint family system where the morning after your marital night you are expected to get up and help make breakfast for 20 people.

On the other hand, from experience, I can say a new wife living with her in-laws helps get her and her new family closer. It helps develop strong ties between her and her husband's siblings, and respect and love towards his parents. Moreover, not everyone can afford to have their own place right away.

I think therefore, giving some time, if you have to live with your parents, you should put a time limit of two years, and strive to get your own place in the meanwhile.

And when you do, it should be close enough so you can still visit them often, and take care of their needs, because as a child one has obligations towards the parents, especially if they are old and vulnerable.

And your Lord has decreed that you worship none save Him, and that you be kind to (your) parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say, "My Lord! Bestow on them your Mercy even as they cherished me in (my) childhood." - (Quran, 17:23-24)