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PETALING JAYA, Feb 15 — K-pop rapper I.M from Monsta X has landed in hot water with his Muslim fans after wearing a shirt with a sacred Islamic phrase on it.
I.M, whose real name is Im Chang-kyun, donned the controversial piece of clothing in concept photos for his solo debut mini-album Duality.
The Bismillah, an Arabic phrase that translates to “in the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”, can be seen in the lower-left corner in one of the photos.
Tw // Islamphobia.— Fonfon — online classes. (@F0F0B3AR) February 14, 2021
for those who don't know this is the bimilla on his top, it says "bismillahirahmanirahim" which means "In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful." and we say it before reading the Quran. its not an aesthetic, muslims shouldn't even have Allahname https://t.co/W8rWQFw95k pic.twitter.com/isnu5NEEDP
The phrase is considered to be sacred amongst Muslims and is recited in various Islamic rituals such as the daily prayer and the preparation of halal food.
Fans of I.M took to Twitter to express their disappointment and anger at seeing the Love Killa rapper using the Bismillah for fashion purposes.
Attempts to track down the brand behind the shirt have come up empty, leading fans to believe that the shirt was possibly custom-made by Monsta X’s stylists.
Some fans came to I.M’s defence, claiming that he likely wasn’t aware of the significance of the Bismillah and that he would have refused to wear it if he had known.
Others refuted this argument and said ignorance can no longer be an excuse for religious insensitivity, especially since Monsta X has a diverse fandom with supporters from various faiths.
“It’s frowned upon for actual Muslims to wear anything with God’s name on it, let alone non-Muslims.
“This is one of the most important phrases in Islam and should not be used as decor by non-Muslims.
“Yes, Islamic calligraphy is pretty. But that doesn’t mean we can slap it onto anything,” said user @95eyeliner.
i.m is my bias in monsta x, i'm so disappointed.— nad. ∞ (@chancechanseu) February 14, 2021
i just want to tell you that Arabian languange & Islam are two different things!
he's not a kid, both the stylist & changkyun are wrong, it's 2021 they should've searched the meaning of it, my religion is not for aesthetic purposes
I love monsta x but this isnt it. Im so tired of this happening every other week. It's frowned upon for actual MUSLIMS to wear anything with God's name on it, let alone non-Muslims. This is one of the most important phrases in Islam and should not be used as decor by non muslims pic.twitter.com/Has2a9pn63— ᴮᴱHeba⁷ | ⁷هبةᴮᴱ (@95eyeliner) February 15, 2021
Several Monsta X fans are calling on I.M and his label Starship Entertainment to issue an official apology and edit the Islamic phrase out of the rapper’s promotional materials.
Both I.M and his company have yet to speak up on the issue at press time.
This isn’t the first time K-pop idols have sparked controversy over the use of Islamic imagery in their work.
Boyband NCT 127 angered their Muslim fans after an Islamic shrine and text appeared in the backdrop for one of their stage performances in October last year.