After the publication of this story this morning Rihanna issued the following statement to her Instagram:
As someone who listens to Rihanna’s music and admires her, I am in complete awe right now. Rihanna used a song that contains a narration of an Islamic Hadith during her recent fashion show. Many people took to social media to express their discomfort around the track being used as music for her lingerie show.
The track is called “Doom,” and played in the background as models performed in the Savage x Fenty lingerie and walked down the runway. Created by a London-based producer Coucou Chloe, the track remixes audio that features the Hadith in Arabic which talks about the signs of Judgment Day and the end of times.
Hadiths are sacred texts in Islam, which represent the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. It is a major source of guidance for Muslims, and therefore is considered of utmost importance in our lives.
Coucou, the producer of the track previously admitted to remixing audio that turned out to be a hadith explaining signs of the day of the judgment and the end of times for the song. She wrote at the time, “For those who were wondering what were the vocal samples – I didn’t make the vocals on this one as you can easily guess,” providing a YouTube link to the hadith narration.
However, this is the second year it was used. Once, is a mistake, twice is a choice.
As one Twitter user pointed out, it’s “disturbing how Rihanna and her team used a Muslim hijabi girl in their Fenty makeup line, but can’t even take the time to actually educate themselves on her religion! A line that’s supposed to ‘represent’ diversity no less.”
During the BBC Asian Network’s Big Debate with Qasa Alom, a listener explained how she felt the use of the music in the show was disrespectful: ‘“I think looking at the way things are in the world at the moment there is so much ease to use or joke or disrespect people’s beliefs,” she said. “We can’t become people now who feel like religion is not something we have to respect.”
Another person agreed, saying “I don’t think Rihanna or the team understand what they got themselves into. I don’t think they checked to see what they were using. Maybe the song just sounded good to them but it’s not sounding good to others who have faith and believe in these words…they made a fundamental mistake.”
Rihanna is responsible for this even if she didn’t choose the music. She hired her team and must’ve heard the songs beforehand. I hope she apologies and that she is more mindful next time, as she has disrespected the entire Muslim community.
She is using Islam as an aesthetic, and must stop. I am not sure if this was done intentionally as a way to cause deliberate controversy; if so, that is even more disgusting and appalling.
As a Muslim and someone who used to look up to Rihanna, no words can describe how disappointed I am.
The track should be removed from all streaming platforms as utilizing a religious text in song and playing it in a lingerie fashion show is completely out of line. Because this is about Muslims and Prophet Muhammad, no one seems to care and we are told that its not a “big deal.” Now, imagine if this was a verse from the gospel; there would be so much controversy and backlash.
Rihanna and her team not only disrespected Islam, but also someone beloved to all Muslims. They must take responsibility and remove both the song and video.
As for her part, producer Coucou Chloe later issued a statement indicating the track was being removed from circulation. “I want to deeply apologise for the offence caused by the vocal samples used in my song ‘Doom’. The song was created using samples from Baile Funk tracks I found online. At the time, I was not aware that these samples used text from an Islamic Hadith. I take full responsibility for the fact I did not research these words properly and want to thank those of you who have taken the time to explain this to me. We have been in the process of having the song urgently removed from all streaming platforms.”
Maliya Naz is a Kashmiri/Pakistani American poet and human rights advocate. When she is not volunteering or translating Urdu ghazals, you can find her giving talks about all things Islam and spirituality.