How would one apply the Shariah to social media? A top Egyptian cleric has recently put out a fatwa, or legal decree, that takes on one of the many issues that users generally face on social media. The Arab Republic's Grand Mufti has declared that the buying and selling of fake 'likes' on Facebook are prohibited under Islam.
No, Islamic holy texts do not have verses predicting problems with the social media giant. But they do clearly make cheating and deception haram (prohibited). And that is the rationale that Egypt's Grand Mufti Shawki Allam used to declare fake 'likes' haram.
As Grand Mufti, it is Allam's job to interpret Islamic law and issue legal opinions. His fatwas are not binding, but they are generally considered roadmaps for the application of Shariah by other legally empowered institutions in the country, like the courts.
Allam is seen as a liberal cleric. He is Sufi and is the first Grand Mufti to be elected to the post.
He issued his fatwa against the buying and selling of fake 'likes' on Facebook on Facebook. One translation of a lengthy post on his page said, "If likes are fake, or electronically generated, and do not resemble real individuals, then that would be considered impermissible given that it's a form of fraud."
He then quoted a hadith in which Prophet Muhammed is said to have said, "He who cheats is not of us". He however made it clear that running ads to expand the audience, which could contribute to a rise in 'likes' is not haram, since the likes will come from real people. He further added that if fake 'likes' increase on a page without the knowledge of the owner of the page, it would not haram on the part of the owner. But the fatwa declared it haram f the owner had known of the manipulation.
This is not the first time Allam has issued a fatwa on matters relating to technology or the internet. He had recently issued a fatwa that declared bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies are not an 'acceptable interface of exchange.