Rihanna, we deserve more than an Insta story as an apology for your appropriation of the hadith
Rihanna could have made her apology to the Muslim community far more personal than an Instagram story that deletes after 24 hours
Savage X Fenty just dropped their latest fashion show on Amazon Prime and in amongst all the hype surrounding the artistic quality of the show, it really seems as though it has slipped under the radar that Rihanna appropriated the sacred Islamic text the hadith in a remix during her lingerie fashion show. I am shocked and disappointed in Rihanna who was my personal hero for so many reasons.
Rihanna has been such a pioneer for women around the world because of her charitable efforts, particularly at the beginning of lockdown when she donated £1.67 million towards supporting LA Domestic Violence victims. She is also such an inspiration to so many people because of her work ethic and the successes of her music career and Savage X Fenty and Fenty Beauty.
The most disappointing thing about Rihanna’s mistake is that in so many other ways she champions inclusion, yet the inclusion of the hadith was an enormous cultural oversight. When Fenty Beauty first launched, the diversity in skin tones of the foundation was the first thing on the market like it. It was huge that Rihanna was taking such big steps in the makeup industry. The same can be said for her massively inclusive underwear range which literally spans all shapes and sizes – also making it revolutionary in comparison to other lingerie brands of the time. On every other count, Rihanna’s behaviour points towards inclusion and celebrating diversity, which is what makes her error so disheartening. How did not a single member of the Savage X Fenty team flag that this may be deeply offensive to the Muslim community?
Superstar status does not give amnesty to use sacred text and for us all to be okay with it.
The song ‘Doom’ was produced by French artist Coucou Chloe who was born in France, a country frequently making blunder after blunder when it comes to respecting the Muslim faith. The song in itself has a controversial nature as it is very unclear as to whether it is a form of mockery of Islam or a form of praise of the hadith. The name of the song in itself, ‘Doom’, feels so disrespectful of such a sacred text, and leans far more towards Coucou Chloe’s interpretation being a mockery of our faith. Whilst I do not believe that Rihanna herself understood the implications of using the song, surely Coucou Chloe had some awareness of that implication and surely someone on the extensive Savage X Fenty team could have noticed it would be an issue. So, Rihanna’s naivety to even include the song before you take in the connotations of it being used in a lingerie fashion show are problematic, to say the least.
Other Muslim students have said that this behaviour from Rihanna considering her passion towards inclusivity completely overlooks the importance of their faith, one said: “I believe she is making a mockery of it, it’s like saying, you believe in education and then you start burning books.”. Another huge Rihanna fan who is also Muslim said: “She should’ve thought twice before using that song for one, and yes it’s irresponsible for her to use it.”
Whilst many people have applauded her for the diversity of models in the show and other attempts at cultural inclusion, her apology read as follows:
Honestly, I expected better from Rihanna, I think we all did. Time and time again she has defied the odds to bring us inclusive and diverse content but this was a huge shortfalling. Although this was hurtful to my community and a huge shortcoming for Rihanna, I think that everyone makes mistakes and should be given a second chance. However, as Rihanna said herself, ‘moving forward we will make sure nothing like this ever happens again.’