Steven Ferdman, Getty Images
Rihanna is apologizing to the Muslim community after receiving backlash for using a song that samples a sacred Islamic hadith at her second Savage X Fenty show. During the show, the 2016 song "Doom"—which includes the sample and is recorded by non-Muslim artist Coucou Chloe—played while models wearing the brand's lingerie performed. Rihanna shared an apology over her Instagram Story on Tuesday, which was also posted on the Savage X Fenty Instagram account.
A hadith is a record of the traditions or sayings of the prophet Muhammad and viewers quickly expressed criticism for the use of it in the lingerie show, writing on Twitter that it was "absolutely disrespectful" and was another example of artists and fashion brands "using Islam as an aesthetic."
"I'd like to thank the Muslim community for pointing out a huge oversight that was unintentionally offensive in our Savage X Fenty show," Rihanna wrote.
"I would more importantly like to apologize to you for this honest, yet careless mistake. We understand that we have hurt many of our Muslim brothers and sisters, and i'm incredibly disheartened by this!"
She continued, "I do not play with any kind of disrespect toward God or any religion and therefore the use of the song in our project was completely irresponsible! Moving forward we will make sure nothing like this ever happens again. Thank you for your forgiveness and understanding, Rih."
A post shared by SAVAGE X FENTY BY RIHANNA (@savagexfenty) on Oct 6, 2020 at 11:27am PDT
Coucou Chloe, the artist behind the song, also issued an apology via Twitter.
"I want to deeply apologize for the offense caused by the vocal samples used in my song 'DOOM,'" she wrote. "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."
Chloe continued in the thread, writing, "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." She added that the song is currently in the process of being removed from all streaming platforms.
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. 2/2
— COUCOU CHLOE (@coucou_chloe) October 5, 2020
However, with or without the apologies, many members of the Muslim community are left hurt by this incident, and their critiques deserve to be heard.
okay the fact that rihanna’s show was supposed to be a keystone for “inclusion” while she completely alienated the Muslim community by disrespecting a Hadith recitation is the perfect showcase of how fashion brands & the media have never considered us as a part of their audience
— myesha thee stallion (@myeshachou) October 5, 2020
Rihanna is messed up for using a song with a Hadith in it to play at her LINGERIE show. What is up with artists using Islam as an aesthetic?? Have some respect.
— n (@nelirv_) October 4, 2020
like I LOVE IT when y’all appreciate islam and use Arabic words but I am not okay with it being appropriated and belittled for things like this. The last thing y’all should be doing is remixing versus of the quran for your music like wtf it’s absolutely disrespectful
— . (@reversecocunut) October 4, 2020
Another Twitter user shared an important reminder that, "Unless you’re muslim, no one can tell us lot what and how to feel about the rihanna situation. Even if she didn’t pick the song, every smart person listens to it beforehand. So get educated, islam is not an 'aesthetic' it’s a religion."
Unless you’re muslim, no one can tell us lot what and how to feel about the rihanna situation. Even if she didn’t pick the song, every smart person listens to it beforehand. So get educated, islam is not an “aesthetic” it’s a religion. This isn’t the first time. pic.twitter.com/l3mBr1tarE
— Zahra (@zahrasg_) October 5, 2020
Twitter user Zahra also added that "this isn't the first time," sharing screenshots of news articles about a time in which Rihanna, wearing a hijab, was asked to leave a famous Abu Dhabi mosque complex after posing outside the building for an unauthorized photoshoot.
With Halloween just around the corner, let this news serve as an important reminder that a culture is not a costume—and to listen respectfully if you ever get called on cultural appropriation.