Muslims will be able to surf the internet without the fear of accidentally encountering sinful material after a Dutch company launched the world's first Islamic search engine.

The ImHalal service works like any other search facility until potentially illicit words are entered, when it rates the search from one to three on its risk of generating "haram" or forbidden material.

Reza Sardeha, founder of AZS Media Group which runs the search engine, said: "The idea grew up when some friends of mine complained that when they searched on Google or Yahoo once in a while they bumped into sexually explicit content."

About 100,000 separate users have accessed the site since its launch on Wednesday, but this is small fry compared with Mr Sardeha's ultimate ambition — to become the standard homepage for the world's online Muslims, who number at least 100 million.

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