In a shocking turn of events, an Egyptian influencer, Amir Mounir has been arrested for promoting “proxy pilgrimage” services.
The influencer, Amir Mounir, who has a substantial following of 2.1 million on Instagram, was detained after a lawyer filed a complaint against him for committing various crimes, including receiving money without a licence from the Ministry of Endowments.
This incident has raised serious concerns about the exploitation of religious practices and the role of influencers in promoting such services.
Amir Mounir, who identifies himself as a pharmacist, mind builder, trainer, and Islamic preacher, had apparently endorsed a mobile phone app called Umrah Albadal (Umrah by proxy), which claimed to offer users the opportunity to perform the lesser pilgrimage to Makkah through proxy. The app, launched in 2019 and downloaded over 10,000 times, has garnered negative reviews, with many accusing it of being a scam.
According to reports, the app allowed users to pay 4,000 Egyptian pounds (approximately $130) to perform Umrah by proxy. Mounir further enticed his followers by offering additional discounts through his promo codes. However, it is essential to note that such practices are not recognized or sanctioned by the religious authorities in Egypt.
This incident highlights the potentially harmful consequences of individuals exploiting religious sentiments for personal gain. The act of performing Umrah is an important religious ritual for Muslims, and it should not be commercialised or reduced to a profit-seeking venture.
Religious authorities around the world, including those in Egypt, have stringent regulations and licensing requirements in place to ensure that Islamic preaching and related activities are conducted in a responsible and authorised manner. By promoting these proxy pilgrimage services without the necessary licences, Mounir has violated these regulations, which ultimately led to his arrest.
The arrest of the influencer serves as a stark reminder that social media influencers must exercise caution and responsibility when promoting products, services, or ideas, particularly when it comes to matters of faith and religion. With their massive following and influence, influencers have the power to shape opinions and impact the public’s perception. Therefore, it is crucial for them to ensure that the information they disseminate is accurate, ethical, and within the legal bounds.
Additionally, this incident highlights the need for stricter measures to prevent the proliferation of unlicensed religious activities and services. Authorities must take proactive steps to identify and eliminate platforms or individuals offering unauthorised religious services that can potentially exploit vulnerable individuals and damage the sanctity of religious rituals.
While scholars have deemed it permissible to perform Hajj or Umrah on behalf of someone else, particularly in cases where the individual is unable to undertake the pilgrimage themselves due to reasons such as terminal illness, old age, or death, Egypt’s Al-Azhar Fatwa Global Centre has recently issued a religious ruling against the commercialization of proxy Umrah.
According to their statement, “The widespread disapproval and condemnation of such novel concepts demonstrate the public’s awareness and their rejection of transforming rituals and worship into mere occupations or professions devoid of spirituality or reverence.”
This incident serves as a wake-up call for both influencers and the public alike. While influencers should exercise more responsibility and integrity in their online activities, the public also needs to remain vigilant and discerning when it comes to the information they consume, especially concerning matters as sensitive and sacred as religious practices.