The Riyadha Mosque and Islamic Centre has expressed indignation after a Kenyan designer had, according to the mosque’s management, misused the mosque’s portrait. This followed US rapper Jay Z having been spotted leaving a restaurant in California wearing a T-shirt bearing an image of the mosque.
All Africa reports that the T-shirt was designed by Zeddie Lukoye of Blkburd Genes. The company has been attempting to educate people globally about Kenyan history, nature, and current affairs.
The Riyadha Mosque’s management has written a letter to Mr Lukoye demanding that he publicly apologise. The letter states that the congregation was deeply concerned about the portrayal of their mosque in sacrilegious places, from the designer’s social media accounts. The mosques management cited a Facebook post made on February 7 last year where a man is said to have worn the T-Shirt with the mosque’s image, while appearing to be performing in a bar.
All Africa reports that the letter further explains why an ‘endorsement’ by Jay-Z is not an honour for the mosque. It reads, “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.” The letter continues, “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 also advises the designer to take the opportunity to learn about Islamic history and the offence caused to Muslims by his actions. Finally, it adds, “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.”
The Riyadha mosque was founded in the late 19th century in Lamu. According to All Africa, it is the oldest institution of Islamic teaching in the region.
Umm Muhammed Umar