LONDON: A British-Pakistani banker and technology entrepreneur has launched a new social media platform called "Labayk," which combines Islamic values and the need for a more "socially impactful and truthful platform" for both Muslims and non-Muslims.
Tanweer Khan, an investment banker in London, says he has developed Labayk — meaning "at your service" — with the ultimate aim of distributing 20 million holy Qurans for free to Muslims in poorer areas of the world.
According to Khan, the new Islamic app provides a safe environment for users to make better connections and offer a more fulfilling online experience — without any influence from gambling, alcohol, casual dating or other haram industries.
For now, users can post status updates, upload photos and videos, create stories, go live, take part in discussions, and broadcast events on Labayk. There is also a free instant messenger capability, as well as voice and video calls without any extra charges.
In an interview with The News, the British-Pakistani said Labayk is about building communities — not followers — and the app is free to download and use.
The app, he added, offers everything one needs from a social media platform, including status updates and private messaging but without harmful and inappropriate content, aggressive advertising or extremist views, such as Islamophobia, racism or hatred towards any religion or community or group.
"Lots of Islamophobic content is on existing social media as, for 'them', it is a numbers' game, so the more users they have, the better," Khan told the newspaper.
"Labayk is about building a community of like-minded people that communicate in a safe environment. It is totally free to download, create an account, and use Labayk.”
The investment banker went on to claim that Labayk is the world's first responsible social network aiming to promote clean and healthy dialogue. He explained that he decided to develop the app after his increasing frustration at the way existing social media networks have become vehicles for abuse, trolling, Islamophobia, intolerance, racism, and bullying.
"Social media platforms are constantly being called out over their response to this, and it's becoming harder and harder to control," he noted.
"However, the culture on most of these networks is driven by profits. I wanted to create a platform where people can connect and effectively communicate with others, with similar values, in a safe and non-threatening environment."
Khan explained that Labayk is not a Muslim-only platform as it is open for everyone and is built on true Islamic values of peace, respect, kindness, truth, and sincerity.
"And this is what I wanted the platform to be. Hatred and aggressive advertising have been replaced with giving, charitable causes, great communication, and safety. And it's free and always will be."
The entrepreneur said Labayk donates money to worthy causes and campaigns and profits go to charities — chosen by users — instead of shareholders.
He added that behind the scenes, he was also working on some additional content such as global prayer times, azaan and dua, or call to prayer and supplication, respectively, Qurans with translations, qibla locator, mosque directories, halal food places and scanners, hadith collection, Hajj and Umrah guides, Islamic courses, and scholarly channels.
"In effect, we are trying to build this as a one-stop-shop for Muslims," he underlined.
Explaining why he planned to donate 20 million Qurans every year, the banker said: "Quran is the most important thing in the world for a Muslim. We were approached by an NGO in Africa asking us if we could help them with the financing of around 1,000 Qurans.
"As we started investigating this, we realised that there probably are around 20 million children every year that start learning the Quran for the first time, who are not able to afford a copy. So, we thought [about] how can we come up with something innovative that can make this something Labayk users can get emotionally involved with.
"Each time the recipient reads the Quran, the Labayk user 'donor' gets sadaqah jariyah [ongoing charity] for free. The Qurans will be donated by Labayk in the name of each individual user.
Khan said he wished to make this an annual and sustainable initiative through his app. "With almost a billion Muslims on social media, it only requires two minutes of a person’s time today to make an impact to a child’s life forever.
"Every sign up will make a huge difference," he said.
You can sign up now to get your unique username and join the new platform at www.labayk.com
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