Sara S. & Wali Ahmad
American rapper Kanye West was met with backlash from the Muslim community afer naming two of his latest shoes with Adidas after the archangels in Islam.
Adidas unveiled the edition earlier last week: the Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Israfil and Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Asriel, unleashing a series of negative reactions from Muslims worldwide.
YEEZY BOOST 350 V2 ISRAFIL. AVAILABLE AUGUST 22 IN ASIA PACIFIC, EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA AT https://t.co/SNOmpVaWg8, ON THE ADIDAS APP IN SELECT COUNTRIES, AND IN SELECT ADIDAS STORES. pic.twitter.com/TqUvKf2ion
— adidas Originals (@adidasoriginals) August 17, 2020
Israfil and Asriel (commonly spelled Azrael or Israel) are two of the four archangels of Islam. Israfil is usually depicted with a trumpet that will be played to mark the end of the world, and Asriel – the Angel of Death – is charged with the duty of carrying the souls of deceased individuals. Both are significantly respected in the Islamic faith.
Yeezy shoes, which are the most recognized urban shoe collection, also contributed largely to West’s billionaire status, as stated by Forbes this year in April.
— Forbes (@Forbes) April 25, 2020
Nonetheless, several took to social media to display their objection asserting the rapper was “making a mockery of Islam” and that something should be done about it.
— A.znaaa (@aznamohsin) August 24, 2020
— Tariqul Islam Jewel (@TariqulJewel) August 22, 2020
Out of all the names Kanye West | Adidas decided to use such a high rank angel name in our religion Islam “Israfil” https://t.co/yMMfhNcaAn
— Abdukadir Ugas (@AbdulkadirUgas) August 22, 2020
Even after more than 10 days since the initial announcement, Muslims stay firm on their decision to have these names changed. The criticism of the rapper on account of disrespecting the religion led to the launch of a petition to channel advocates of the cause in the right direction. Among other things, the petition demands an immediate renaming of these trainers or to cease their production altogether.
“This is highly offensive to the Muslim community. Having the names of angels, which we revere highly, on a shoe which is used to walk on the street is a huge form of disrespect in all Muslim communities. We demand that Adidas cease all production of this shoe immediately, issue a sincere apology to the Muslim community and consult with a representative of the Muslim community to bridge this learning curve so this doesn’t happen again in the future. We are a big demographic of sales and to turn a blind eye to the insensitivity of our pain is a poor business decision,” it states.
People signing the petition also encourage others to boycott the brand until adequate measures are taken by both Adidas and West. However, Yeezy Boost Israfil is still selling out while the Asriel version is set to be released the following month.
This controversy strikes the rapper amid his run for the White House challenging President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden. And he already faced around five states ruling him ineligible for the ballot, somewhat weakening his campaign.
The year 2020 served to be quite eventful for West and may take a turn for the worse. Seeing how the global Muslim community is coming together in light of these findings, he along with Adidas will have to do something about it pretty soon.
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To avoid similar inconveniences in the future, West along with other celebrities should avoid dragging religious figures and essential cultural aspects in their art. These acts of cultural appropriation can displease a lot of people even when no offense is intended. Regardless of the purpose behind naming these shoes after two archangels, Muslims ended up being deeply offended. And despite everything, both West and Adidas are consistent with their silence on the matter.