Busta Rhymes Offends Arabs, Then Muslims

I wrote about Busta Rhymes’ newest song “Arab Money” over at Racialicious a few weeks ago. My major qualm: the song’s offensive portrayal of Arabs.

Since addressing criticisms that the song is offensive to Arabs, Busta Rhymes has released a remix featuring Akon, Lil Wayne, Diddy, Swizz Beatz, and T-Pain, except the remix promises to cause him just as much trouble as the first version, only this time with Muslims.

In the remix of “Arab Money,” one of the guest stars (frankly, I can’t tell who with the voice box) recites the beginning of Al-Fatiha, a verse in the Qur’an, which is part of Muslim daily prayers:

Bismillāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm (In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful)

Al ḥamdu lillāhi rabbi l-‘ālamīn (All Praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Worlds)

This has many Muslims (Arab or not) upset: Muslims are varied in their opinions on whether music is halal (permissible), but much more unified when it comes to mixing the sacred (Qur’an) with the common (music).

Busta & Akon both identify as Muslim, so I’m assuming they’d understand that many in their communities would find remixing a part of the Qur’an into a hip hop song objectionable. It seems as if they’ve remixed the songs to quiet some of the Arab objection to the original, only to now offend Muslims.

Whether the inclusion of the verse was intended to court Muslims or just make the song sound more “authentically” Arab is irrelevant: either way, it seems like an epic fail. Or is it? Perhaps all the buzz sells Busta more albums. But in the end, he won’t be getting any Arab money: I doubt that any predominately Muslim country (especially on the Arabian peninsula) would allow this song in concert.