BH Discuss: Does CL’s “MTBD” disrespect the Qur’an and Muslim K-pop fans?

A huge row erupted recently on social media after the release of the performance music video of CL’s ‘MTBD’ from 2NE1’s new album. It erupted after fans began to notice that the samples used in the song may in fact be a recording of a boy reciting the Qur’an. This upset a massive number of Muslim K-pop fans as Islam teaches that the Qur’an is the sacred word of God. You can compare the two clips in this video:


There were (and still are) calls for YG to pull the song and album from release and re-release them without the offending sample. Many Muslim fans have dealt with this in an appropriate way but there has also been a large number of death threats and abuse directed towards CL personally because of the incident.

What do you think of the whole incident? Do you think the song should be pulled from release? Should YG make an apology or release a statement? Are people overreacting or is this a reasonable response to a serious offence?

Here are some factors to consider:

  • CL is listed as neither the producer nor composer of this song – Teddy Park wrote and produced the music whereas CL co-wrote the lyrics. It’s likely that CL may not have been involved in the creation of the song until after the instrumental had already been recorded.
  • Several countries with large Muslim populations such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Dubai and Turkey are becoming important international markets for K-pop. In fact, 2NE1 already have a tour date scheduled for Malaysia.
  • Less than 0.001% of the Korean population are Muslim (in 2007 the figure was around 35,000 people) and so a degree of lack of awareness of the religion might be understandable.
  • Although this is debated, some Muslim scholars believe that music goes against the teachings of Islam. Obviously Muslim K-pop fans would not believe and/or follow this teaching but it could make this use of the Qur’an seem more disrespectful.
  • Death threats are never acceptable and should always be condemned. The outpouring of aggressive and threatening abuse is not ok.
  • Having said that, many, many Muslim fans are going about protesting this song in a very reasonable and even-handed way. One petition has over 8000 signatures while another has over 2000 signatures so far.

Related Links


BH Discuss: Is cultural appropriation a problem in K-pop?

Culture Wars: Can “Cool Japan” compete with the Korean Wave?


Remove the use of words from the Qur’an in the background music of CL’s solo song ‘MTBD’, and apologise to the Muslims that were hurt by this act of disrespect towards Islam. –

CL’s “MTBD” deemed offensive to Muslims, but reaction more disturbing than action – Asian Junkie

Life is Very Hard for Korean Muslims – The Korea Times

Islamic music – Permissibility of music – Wikipedia

Dear proclaimed self-righteous offended souls here are me two cents over CL’s Solo. –

The following two tabs change content below.
  • dustdevilliz

    Also a factor: YG producers know the source of that audio sample, should have cleared it for copyright reasons before releasing it, and should be able to give a definitive answer about what it actually is.

    • Lizzie (beyondhallyu)

      Yeah that’s definitely a good point. Thanks for the comment!

      The very least they should do is clarify as far as I can see.

  • Alaa Mustafa

    I agree with dustdevilliz !!

    • herro of islam

      me too i think we shold kill the people who disagree with us because they hate islam obvosly

      • Skittles

        First of all that is ignorent.. I’m Muslim and I hate the fact that you want to undermind my religion this way. To say that we should kill the people who do not agree with us is obviously going against the teachings of Islam. Islam being derived from the word Peace..Please Muslims if you are angry don’t justify your anger through my religion. Say your Angry don’t use my religion to back your violent way.

  • Orion

    The reason I sometimes hate religion (religion, not faith) is because it is too often used as an excuse to do all kinds of things with “justification” to yourself and virtually no reflecting on whether or not it is morally wrong. No matter what your individual God/s tells/tell you, you live on this world now and you have to respect everyone else in it.

    If they did something disrespectful, call them out on it (the right people), educate them on it. Tell them they are horrible to use your faith that way and that they should consider other people’s religions and cultures. That is all within reason.

    But sending death threats isn’t very religious and caring of you now, is it? It is also not very smart, considering you’re sending them to the wrong person. Criticism is fine. Even aggressive “The hell did you do!” criticism is fine. Ill-advised, but understandable and it can still be done without heavy bashing. But bullying, abuse and threatening an act with things that are not in accordance to the weight of that act, no. Just no. And other fans who share the anger, but did not react that way (balanced religious people) should call such idiots out on their bull.

    Threaten not to buy the music. That is within your rights. Threaten to boycott the music, since you find it not worth liking. Anything that goes beyond said music and professional life and into private territory makes you mentally disturbed.

    As for the use of the audio track, it just goes to show that if a country values exports, the ones making and marketing them need to know their sh*t. If you want to sell to dark skinned people, lay off the blackface. If you value all the Muslim fans, don’t pull these kinds of stunts that can lead to insulting an entire religion. You can’t both have the hallyu spread and adoration pour in without even sparing a thought to the fans’ different cultures and important characteristics.

    I don’t expect that a country still not very used to other cultures will suddenly turn aware any more than I expect a mainly homophobic country will suddenly start waving the rainbow flag, but entertainment which is aimed at people abroad as well has to consider those cultures. It’s bad business if it doesn’t, since respect for audiences is not something such big industries genuinely have anyway. Bad business call and they should clear it up and get the hell they deserve for it, but death threats isn’t it.

    • Sherry

      i don’t think the death threats have anything to do with it being a religious matter. Actually, i am pretty sure that most of the people making such threats aren’t even muslim but are just trolls or anti fans of CL/2NE1. No matter which minority/fan/whoever it is that feels offended by something their will always be people who go over the line. Their are the reasonable people who take their time to explain, and then there are the trolls who do nasty things like make death threats. them being muslim or religious has NOTHING to do with anything. And honestly, since when has anything ever changed with just being “nice” and simply saying “i’m not buying your music”. I mean look at people STILL appropriating black culture to this day. They need to get a wake up call to stop. Although i DO NOT think them sending threats is the right answer in ANY way. But, i think the main reason people go this far is to get noticed and although the tactic is awful, it works.

      • Orion

        Bad people will be bad regardless of religion, but those who are such people always use that religion as an excuse to be that way, I find. Which is disrespectful to all the balanced people in it. I do believe that if that “excuse” was lacking, they would find another one, but from what I have seen of this world, it is too often the go-to one by such people. And yes, that part of religion which is comprised of bigots using something holy as their excuse, I do hate.

        As I said, I hate the things organized religion does to people, I do not hate the faith or the people who think and act without being blinded and operating as if that faith entitles them to anything and everything. As I said in my text, the sane people within that religion should call them out on their horrible way of handling this.

        As for the tactic, it working does not make it right. And the more it works, the more people will do it. But feeding that kind of behavior is bad. Whether you are a company, a fellow fan or someone else. I am sure many of those people are trolls, yes, but I also know some take their religion too seriously to the point they can do harm in its name. It’s a personal realization of mine. I am sorry if that is offending, but I can’t change the way I view the world with what I have seen of it.

        As you say and as I agree with, being religious does not make one a bad person or an idiot. So those who do act that way (mind you, from Christians to Muslim to any religion) need to stop using it as an excuse to be wicked or as a shield, be it their true reason or not.

        • Sherry

          I haven’t seen anyone using them being muslim as an excuse to make these death threats though? I just see people justifying their anger by how offended they feel due to how sacred the quar’an is to muslims. But maybe that’s because all the muslims i know have taken their time to educate and explain to people the situation rather than send nasty messaged to cl. Also, i never said it was right of them to do those things, i clearly stated i don’t agree with that kind of tactic.

          I understand what you are saying about people using religion as an excuse to their wrong doings, and i personally dislike people who do that too. But, those people are not following their religion properly, and this is especially true for a religion like islam. There are people who take a religion and twist it in order to excuse their wrong behaviour, but we shouldn’t generalize a whole religion based on those type of people.
          this holds true for anyone and anything, not only religious people twist things up to account for their behaviour. People use science and history and use it to account for other bad behaviours as well, such as sexism and racism, so certainly we can see that this isn’t just a problem amongst people who follow a certain faith.

          I can understand why you feel the way you do though, but judging something on the outside and on the inside is very different and it’s always good to keep this in mind.

          • Orion

            It’s an excuse in the sense you say. I am angry and this is important to me, therefore I can say horrible things to the singer because my faith being offended gives me the right to. It doesn’t.

            As for generalizing, I do believe I spoke of non-fanatics in my comments too. People are not black and white. It is statistically impossible for all the members of a religion or country or any group to be good/bad, unless the religion is worshiping Satan by means of human sacrifice or something.

            But yes, in a world where many use Jesus to ostracize others “because I believe he said so” or think being angry over something bad done/said about their faith gives them a free pass at abuse, of course I find that part of organized religion bad. Because it’s that corrupt part that teaches them “it’s ok, because religion”. That is not to say all of the religious establishments and carries are bad or that all of them teach that mentality, but sadly, many do. And it is up to people whether they interpret it with love and use it wisely or spew hate with it as their driving force.

            Whoever made those comments are either under the impression it gives them the right to do it because they are angry, or they are trolls using a religion to bash, offending the very religion and good fans in it in the process. Either way, those doing it will hopefully one day grow the hell up. If we’re being very optimistic here.

            But yes, fans should give constructive criticism, because this was not ok from the company’s side. Using something so important to so many for entertainment, in such an uneducated and shallow and disrespectful manner? They have some ‘splaining to do.

          • Sherry

            yeah i totally agree and understand your point of view. it sickens me when people use something like religion as a weapon against people. That is not the right thing to do, but sadly so many people do, and so i completely understand why you feel this way.
            It is okay if people feel angry and hurt because someone offended what they believe but it is not okay to take that anger and create more chaos. I think the best way to let out that anger is by sorting out your thoughts so you can explain to people how you feel and why you feel that way. i think that makes more people want to understand and listen to you than these trolls who are going off on a killing spree.
            i’m really curious to see what bs excuse YG even comes up with.

          • Orion

            They’ll probably try to turn it into a “We wanted to reach out to Muslim fans and show you our love, but we picked the wrong way and we deeply apologize”. Then they’ll pin it on some composer or some minor scapegoat, saying he/she did not inform them well as to the nature of what they used. Typical polite pseudo-apology, I am guessing. Which will just get them more hate and understandably so.

  • meshoz

    spread the rumor of ridiculous and some the muslims threaten to kill

    we not say this never !..we just want to delete the Quran verses of the song

    this is the right of muslims !! and that the religion of islam is a peaceful religion and dous not harm one

    if a muslim did something wrong like : kill or Insult ! this shows that he is a bad person and has nothing to do with islam because it will be punished severely because the religion of islam has forbidden the killing and insults

  • nothing

    CL hurt us, not we hurt she
    this is our religion
    this is our Believing
    why you don’t understand that
    That’s sad toooo sad to us

    it’s wrong
    Racism because our religion
    Why make us feel that we are different from you

    We all love 2ne1
    but cl hurt us
    It’s really a sad story
    Think about our sense of

    commmme on

    What this cruelty

    • nothing

      my English bad soory :'(

      • Orion

        Your text is just fine. :) Any entertainment that wants the love of international fans should be more careful with something so important to so many people.

        • Leasseable Lee

          Honestly, We are also a fan of 2ne1, but we got really offended and mad by using a verse in her song! We explain so many times that all we wanted is apology and remove the part from the BGM from the Qur’an that’s being used! This also for CL because to those people are not following k-pop would really find as act making fun of our religion and they could hurt CL!! This issue was really serious to us since it involved The Qur’an! I don’t agree with those people that threatening CL because people are 2ne1 antis!!! We want YG/Teddy to address this matter because if they ignore this, we are stepping up to request the high official Banned 2ne1 or any kind activities that’s involved YG like what happen to Lady gaga in Malaysia & Indonesia!! katy Perry has this kind of issue too, but her staff address the issue immediately because she got serious backlash Europe!!

        • nothing

          Yes, especially if we fan


          • herro of islam

            do not cry we will burn they song for islam becuase the are rasist! come broter we fight for freedom!

    • herro of islam

      happy cry in my eyes for this broder of islam muslims hate this song and korea

  • Sherry

    I think people need to start by educating themselves why muslims are so angry about this. That is the first step before anything. The fact that people think this is okay or not a big deal is really disappointing. This goes for any minority that is being appropriated or objectified in any way or form. I don’t think YG is even going to apologize for this because since when has korea ever apologized sincerely for anything that is similar to this type of scenario? (correct me if i’m wrong). we always get the “sorry you were offended” apology, and honestly, that’s not what i want, that’s not what any of us want. All we want is for people to stop being so ignorant and understand why this is so wrong. that’s it. To take something so meaningful and important to a religion and put it into a song and sell it, if you aren’t muslim, then you honestly cannot understand the degree of how hurt we feel. It’s a shame, because although CL may have not had anything to do with this (although her performance of the song makes me feel uneasy since she does a prayer movement at that exact part), i can no longer listen to any of 2ne1’s songs without feeling uncomfortable. Yes, Islam is a religion based on peace, and that’s what we want, peace. how can we feel at peace when people are using what is so meaningful to us in such a way?

    • Orion

      If she did a prayer movement, then it is not just an ignorant composer which did this, but something that was incorporated into the whole thing by the company’s decision. And yes, those “apologies” are rather annoying. Do they just don’t care that everyone knows those formal apologies are dishonest or do they actually think people buy them? Urgh.

    • dustdevilliz

      I also think it’s more hurtful if there’s no apology because in the K-pop cultural/commercial context people apologize for really small (ridiculous, even) things like riding on airport luggage carts for 5 feet, or looking less then ecstatic during an interview.

      Lately YG does seem to have the approach of just ride the scandal/whatever out, which I mostly think is a good strategy for member’s private lives that really aren’t anybody’s business. But this seems like a good time for someone at YG to dust off their “how to apologize” manual.

    • herro of islam

      i agree this is racist againt muslims i can fell my head itching with horror wen i listen to this music.

  • Nic (MyKoreanHusband)

    I think there should be an apology at least and the song changed. As someone else mentioned there are possible copyright issues as well, not just religious insensitivity. The more Kpop tries to be international and the more Korea promotes itself to the world, the more there are issues like this. Korea has such a mono culture that is very unaware of the outside world and how insensitive some things can be, but companies like YG need to understand how things can be offensive if they want to play on a world stage. Considering how many other times in recent years there have been things that Muslims considered offensive, it’s quite surprising that YG didn’t think of that and wasn’t aware of that. During the making of this song, at all stages, why was there not someone raising the question… “hey is this actually okay?”

  • Aît Ryf

    not asking for so much, just some respect, i was a true fan, i loved
    and supported 2ne1 and big bang and YG for years, so when something like
    this happens i have the right to be upset and demand an explanation, i
    know they probably didn’t know what
    they where doing, i know it’s teddy’s fault, but the least YG could do
    is remove that part and apologize, is that too much ?, you can’t even
    imagine how i felt when i heard that part, disappointed, ashamed, sad,
    frustrated, but i didn’t bash any one and waited patiently for an
    explanation, but nothing happened, as if our feelings don’t matter, this
    is just too much. PS: i didn’t see any Death Threats From Muslims.we are angry at YG

  • kpopalypse

    This article has no reference to Raina so it’s not respecting my religion:

  • Ophelia

    This oddly reminds me of a discussion I recently had in my music class. Back in the day, a lot of early Christians believed that the music in church was wrong and would distract people from God, while others believed it was a better and more modern way to praise him.
    I’ve stumbled across a lot of controversy between media and the Islamic religion and I can’t help but be a little bit perplexed. I am a Christian-turned-Agnostic, but I’ve always been so curious as to why music is such a horrible thing to all of these religions. Can something really be so sacred that no type of music can be put to it? This confuses me…
    Additionally, CL’s song has no hate in its lyrics. While the Islamic religion is all about peace, they seem to be taking to this little mix-up in a very violent way…

    • evildogbot

      If I may please. I don’t really know how to put it, because English is not my 1st language. But, when you look at the music industry as a whole, what do you see? What kind of things and lifestyle does it promote? In Islam, we do have nasyid; calm and peaceful songs with lyrics that incorporate Islamic teachings and praises to God. Also, Islam IS a religion of peace. But people will always be people. How one Muslim reacts may differ from another. Islam and Muslims are two different things. I hope that clear things up a bit?

      • Nina

        I can think of lots of song promoting values such as equality, philosophy, respect… (even thought it surely doesn’t concern the whole music industry) that are not related to religion or God.
        Personally i think the samples used in MTBD are really beautiful, I really like the voice, the melody and the whole thing (with the rest of the song and cl’s voice) If i were the one writing the song i would totally put the samples too because i like it and that would be an artistic approach regardless of the fact that it’s considered sacred by some people.
        As for the main problem: the fact that they used sacred samples in a song which is not related to islam (that’s what she’s blamed for right?) i can’t say if it can be considered offending or not, even though i thought about it. But asking them to re-edit the song is really too much, it’s not like what they did is “unacceptable”, she’s not insulting islam is she? i can’t see where the disrespect is, (if someone could give me an explanation i’m willing to understand) and asking her to remove the samples of the song is more a constraint to freedom of expression for me.

  • Aît Ryf
  • Maria Jae

    people do not need to understand your religion nor respect it. It is up to an individual to choose their stand on others people belief. Just because we don’t know and understand your religion doesn’t mean you have the right to force an apology or demand to delete an offense of your culture. It is your culture not non-muslims and we do not have to follow it. If i was giving a track and decided I like the rhythm and wanted it in my song and then release it I for sure being non-muslim am not going to delete or apologize for it. If you do not like it don’t listen to it. Muslims need to understand the world doesn’t revolve around them and just because something angers you, you have to get your way with threats death threats. and the re-edit of the song or an apology is just encouraging muslims in their disgusting behavior.

    • WuRi Kua

      It’s so funny that Muslims think they earn a right to oppress other’s rights of expression just because people offend their religion deliberately or unintentionally.
      Maybe it’s time to ask Muslims remove things they said about LGBT people in their Qur’an because it clearly offend LGBT community.

      • sung ji yoo

        keep your mouth shut

      • Sui Feng

        It’s funny with the way of your thinking . Let see if your family were humiliated , I wonder what would you do ? Respect the kidnapper’s right to do as he please ?
        If really all these thing was done unintentionally , well why is it so hard for them to apologize sincerely ?

      • StarfishieT

        Excuse me ? Last time I checked people of ANY religion could get (and did get) offended if anyone incorporated anything of their religion that meant a lot to them into something as banal as a pop song without considering its meaning. Have you actually read the Qu’ran? because it’s easy to say something’s in there to validate your statement. The Bible also said ‘sodomy’ without defining any further what that means, and yet groups of Christians take it to be ‘homosexuality.’ Groups of Christians also use their religion to justify , for example, denouncing someone else as less than a human being.

        You might as well ask of Christianity or Buddhism or any religion to change its entire underlying philosophy in every instance that the media chooses to blow up some apparently negative aspect of that religion . Oppression of certain rights is not a characteristic of Islam alone, and it’s dangerous to make such assumptions as it only fuels the thought that Islam equals terrorism. What you’re doing is making a generalization and as much as you’d like to get your point across I don’t think your arguments are valid.

    • Sui Feng

      Can I ask you one thing ? Have you ever tried to use your brain ? Please do so , it is annoying to see a girl who couldn’t differentiate culture and religion . Since you believed that “people do not need to understand your religion nor respect it” then should I piss on your statue in church ?

      • Maria Jae

        go right ahead because that is what you call freedom of speech. Just like i can’t do anything about your hateful words. muslims have no right to so same, we shouldn’t drop everything because of a stupid thing like the world revolves around them theyare to full themselves. and how about you use your brain because religion is part of cultrue z.z get over not everyone is going respect your religion and i am definitely one them.

        • StarfishieT

          No one is ‘too full of themselves’. I find it funny how you assume that (all) Muslims think the world revolves around them, which is most definitely not true. I have several friends who are Muslim and they are some of the kindest, most caring people I have met in my life. Yes they do adhere to a certain religion and they do have certain practices because of that religion, but followers of a religion who try to enforce their ideas on you through violent acts are extremists and form only a small fraction of the entire Muslim community. The ones who love their peace are often too afraid of the extremists to speak up.

          Many people nowadays take ‘Jihad’ to mean ‘holy war’, but its original meaning is simply ‘the spreading of the message’, aka the Word of Allah. In whatever form that happens is up to the individual, and unfortunately the majority of the Muslims we see in the news choose violence to forcefully spread that message because they see that as the only way that (non-Muslim) people will pay them any attention.

          ‘Freedom of speech’ doesn’t happen without consideration for each other’s philosophies. It is simply not possible to have a reasonable debate on someone’s religion/philosophy without mutual understanding as to why a person chooses to live by that religion/philosophy. I’m not asking you respect Islam as in, ”to look up to it”, but at least try to understand where the argument for this debate his coming from, why Muslims consider this offensive, instead of simply denouncing it as overreacting.

          P.S. Pissing in church: ‘freedom of expression’ yes, but it might just get you arrested 😉

  • taehee

    so after sex and nudity didn’t make a lot of money the cheap korean music industry uses Islam by insulting muslims following their big mama american ways

  • CD

    To save face, and for the possibility of not alienating themselves in Malaysia, Indonesia, etc., they should apologize at the very least. I think the sample works really well in the song, but a re-edited version should be issued — deleting the song would do no good. After all, the album has already been out for a while now and the song is already widely distributed. A smart business decision would be to apologize and re-release. [And make sure the re-released version is used in future performances of the song.] [They should also reshoot CL performing “MTBD” at a later show, possibly at their upcoming Malaysian concert, without the sample.]

    If Teddy did know what the sample was, he shouldn’t have done it, but it is very likely very few knew what the sample actually was. It sounds like many hip-hop songs that have had Arabic influences in the past, and I can see how someone might have just assumed it was a generic Arabic chant if they didn’t already know.

    It would be foolish for YG to do nothing though. CL herself may not need to say anything (although she should) but Teddy definitely has apologies to make, as do YG’s reps.

    As for those who say that ‘we shouldn’t have to apologize to Muslims because freedom of speech’ or whatever — Muslims still are fairly powerful. And they ask that artists respect their culture by not commercializing it. I find that a peaceful request, like a petition, is not unreasonable. They have every right to be offended, just as much as CL and Teddy have a right to create a song as they see fit. The song will still be amazing without the sample, I think.

  • sara

    if you think you are ignoring us will forget it you are wrong because this is our religion

  • herro of islam

    I f**kimg kill all koraan they rasist and making fun of muslims. I will never listen to korea songs again. You shold be ashamed of yourself for disgrasing all of me.

    • D_Lited_

      I think you are not even a muslim,
      you are just trying to give a bad image to muslims by saying such things.
      you just made an account (with such a meaningless name) to do this, isn’t that right..

  • priness248

    Freedom of speech she can sing what ever she wants and we have no say in the matter. And if muslims dont like then werent fans to begin with, just elfs dont care whatever super junior does the same way cl true fans will do. Dont like the song then dont listen.

  • deedee

    well dayum we black females are still waiting for an apology from Rain when he did that gesture to the black female in his La SONG video….

  • toci maco

    and now, i hate cl ~

  • oh

    and you think muslim is over react with this kind of thing whereas the song itself started to provoke us first, i dont want to say much because haters gonna hate so might as well i just stop listen to this song because they must be MTBD to insert that part

  • Annie Côté Labonté

    I can’t really add anything to the debate here since pretty much everything has been said, but I want to say i’m glad that everyone can debate in a peacefull and intelligent way. I was caught reading pretty much all the comments like I would read an article. Beyond hallyu bravo!

  • Ken

    I think it was yet another sly effort to make South Koreans hate Muslims (openly or secretly).
    The psychopaths who have hijacked the U.S. gov (most analysts think it’s primarily the CIA at the helm) are trying to get as many countries as possible to hate Muslims, in order to garner support that will allow faster progress with the murderous military invasion of the Middle East. They’re eager to finish up and move on to East Asia.
    I have no love for Islam, or Christianity, or any other religion but it’s important that we not be duped by these cleverly crafted Muslim-hate operations when they turn up in mainstream media.