Blockout 2024: Why blocking celebrities is good for faith

Mass block celebrities for silence on Gaza

Unveiling the moral decay behind celebrity silence on the genocide in Gaza and why the blockout movement can be considered a jihad.

A significant protest movement is unfolding online, a digital revolution aimed at protesting Israel’s genocide in Gaza by targeting some of the world’s biggest celebrities who have been silent, indifferent, or even supportive of the violence.

A movement driven by Gen Zs on TikTok, now known as Blockout 2024, has gained considerable traction and seeks to hold celebrities with platforms and influence accountable for their silence on the genocide in Palestine.

Users did not hold back on who is to blame. They called out several of the world’s biggest names deemed complicit, from Kim Kardashian to Justin Bieber, and even Arab and Muslim influencers and celebrities who are perceived as being silent or insensitive to the genocide of their own people.

By unfollowing and blocking these accounts, participants are disrupting the income streams of these celebrities, potentially reducing their ad revenues by decreasing engagement, diminishing their influence, and affecting algorithms that determine ad placement.

The impact of the movement has been significant, with many celebrities losing a substantial number of followers, sending a clear message that silence on injustice will not be tolerated.

This mass exodus demonstrates the power of collective action and the effectiveness of using social media as a tool for activism. More importantly, it allows us as Muslims to reflect on the dangers of celebrity culture.

The Harm of Celebrity Worship in Islam

Let’s be honest: while idolizing celebrities (Nauzubillah min Dzalik) contradicts our values as Muslims, many still do. What Blockout has shown is how massive the celebrity and influencer industry is, with the goal to distract Muslims from religious obligations and Islamic values.

Islam places a strong emphasis on worshipping only Allah and avoiding any form of idolatry. When people excessively follow the lives of celebrities (and have them occupy our social media feeds), admiring and emulating them, it can border on idol worship. This form of admiration may lead to prioritizing the lifestyle, opinions, and actions of these figures over Islamic teachings.

In Islam, there is a strong emphasis on humility and modesty, and the concept of celebrity worship or blindly following individuals, especially those who do not uphold Islamic values or principles, is discouraged.

Celebrity culture thrives on the construction and promotion of a carefully curated image, portraying them as special and elevated individuals. This image is projected to society seeking something larger than itself, placing celebrities at the forefront.

Such devotion often leads to feelings of isolation and emptiness, warning against forgetting Allah and, in turn, forgetting oneself. Allah (SWT) said in the Quran:

وَلَا تَكُونُوا۟ كَٱلَّذِينَ نَسُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ فَأَنسَىٰهُمْ أَنفُسَهُمْ ۚ أُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْفَـٰسِقُونَ

“And do not be like those who forgot Allah, so He made them forget themselves. It is they who are ˹truly˺ rebellious.” [Surah Al-Hashr: 19]

The Qur’an teaches that we naturally know God exists and are drawn to the truth, but society can sometimes cloud this understanding, so it’s important to reconnect with our true nature. The focus is on following the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) rather than idolizing individuals who may not be exemplary in their conduct or beliefs.

Gaza Genocide Unmasks Moral and Ethical Failures in Celebrity Culture

What the genocide in Gaza has shown us is how excessive celebrity culture reflects on the moral and ethical decline we’re seeing in the world right now. It is evident in the lack of principled standpoints, as many celebrities choose to side with evil or remain silent in the face of atrocities until they are called out or threatened with a global backlash campaign such as this.

Influenced by superficial and self-serving values, failing to speak out against oppression and injustice results in silence or complicity. This not only perpetuates the suffering of the oppressed but also reflects the deeper ethical decay fostered by the culture of celebrity worship, especially in this day and age.

Could the ‘Digitine’ Be Considered a Form of Jihad?

At a time when our brothers and sisters in Palestine are enduring genocide for seven months to date (plus 76 years of ongoing catastrophe), every effort done with the intention to shine a light on this issue and ultimately fight for freedom and justice for the oppressed are efforts of struggle, of jihad.

Call it by any name you want — Blockout, the ‘digitine’ or digital guillotine — yet another term we’re seeing used when mentioning the movement, symbolizing the swift and decisive action taken by netizens to cut ties with celebrities who fail to use their platform for positive change. These are efforts to remove oneself from influences that can only distance us from Allah (SWT).

If blocking tone-deaf celebrities is a form of jihad, then we need to be actively pushing for it. We need to get back to following the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) rather than idolizing individuals who may not be exemplary in their conduct or beliefs. May we always be among those guided, striving to attain nearness to Allah and His Prophet, and seek role models who exemplify good character, knowledge, and piety to help counteract the negative impacts of celebrity culture.