Leaders of a mosque in Kenya, have expressed their displeasure over a T-shirt worn by musician Jay-Z which depicts their holy building
The T-shirt was designed by Zeddie Lukoye of Blkburd Genes, a local company to educate people around the world on history, nature, and current affairs.
However, in a letter dated April 3, 2021, the Secretary-General of Riyadha Mosque management, Abubakar Badawy said Lukoye must publicly apologise to them and the religious body.
The letter added that the congregation was concerned about the portrayal of their mosque in what they referred to as sacrilegious joints as portrayed on the designer’s social media accounts.
Citing a Facebook post made on February 7 last year, the management said a man wore the T-Shirt with the mosque’s image to perform in a bar.
For this and other reasons “We don’t consider this an honour, nor a privilege, for the historical mosque and its Founder Habib Swaleh for its imagery to be portrayed in such a way. Bars and clubs are an affront to the spiritual respect and dignity of the mosque, its founder, to the congregation, and the general Muslim community within and outside Lamu.”
“We therefore politely request you to show respect for the mosque by removing our Mosque’s portrait on the shirt, to show us that you really do respect the people of Lamu and the Mosque.”
The letter said the designer could use other landmark features in Lamu to promote the county instead of the mosque.
“We encourage you to keep promoting Lamu. However, kindly in future please consider the cultural relevance of what you choose to portray on your shirts, to make sure you are not appropriating a minority community’s culture and practices to promote something that is contrary to their beliefs.”
Coast Interfaith Council of Clerics (CICC) chairman Mohamed Abdulkadir said it was illogical for Lukoye to associate a religious symbol like that of Riyadha Mosque with worldly things.
“He should understand that what he did was wrong not only for Riyadha Mosque but Islam in general. You cannot associate a religious minaret with worldly things. You print a T-Shirt with a logo that might end up in clubs and bars. Let him apologize.”
The Riyadha Mosque in Lamu is the longest continuously functioning, and one of the most influential, Islamic teaching institutions in the Swahili world. It was founded in the late 19th century and has since provided both basic Islamic education to children and higher learning to advanced students.