On Tuesday, singer and business mogul Rihanna issued an apology for using a track that sampled the recitation of an Islamic hadith in her Savage X Fenty Vol. 2 fashion show. This came after Muslim made a series of posts on Instagram calling both her and the song’s artist out for the extreme oversight and lack of sensitivity.
The show, which premiered on Amazon Prime last week on October 2nd, was met with critical acclaim and praise for its inclusivity and incredible visuals. The hour long special included models, influencers, and celebrities of all genders, races, and body types. However, once reports began to circulate making people aware of the song’s usage during artist Rico Nasty’s scene, many Muslim fans took to social media to express their outrage. Rihanna responded shortly after with a post on her Instagram story, as well as a feed post on the Savage X Fenty account.
Below is the apology Rihanna posted on her main account:
I’d like to thank the Muslim community for pointing out a huge oversight that was unintentionally offensive in our savage x fenty show. 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! 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.
Although this isn’t the first time Rihanna has tried it with Islam, she’s overall been a champion for diversity in both the fashion and beauty industries. Not to mention, she helped Halima Aden score one of her first modeling gigs in 2017, launching her career as a hijabi supermodel. Many fans were quick to forgive the singer thanks to her swift response and willingness to take accountability.
The hadith used in the track details Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) explanation of the signs of the day of judgement and the end of times. The song, ’Doom’ by Coucou Chloe, has since been removed from all streaming platforms following a separate apology from the London-based producer. She claimed to be unaware of the meaning of the sample she used – although the title of her track ‘doom’ seems too aligned with the end of times narrative of the hadith to truly have been a coincidence. And in any case, when using material from a foreign language or culture, surely it’s the artist’s responsibility to check how appropriate the appropriation is?