“Allah” on Nike shoes

IMPORTANT! If you plan to leave a comment, please read this blog post fully, there are too many people totally missing the point of this blog post and are leaving comments using foul language and comments that quite clearly show that they have not read and understood the content of this post.

This email does the rounds once in a while, this time I got it with a picture so you can see what those pesky infidels at Nike have done!

Here’s the pic:

Now, I don’t know about you but I think perhaps us Musilms have become too tetchy, OK so it kind of has a passing resemblance to Arabic and the central part of the design looks like lam, lam, alif, it also looks like a “W” with bits next to it. To me it resembles fire more than anything else and even has a passing resemblance to the Hindu “Om” symbol [Om wiki entry]. I emailed Nike about this and got the following reply back from their Consumer Affairs department today [20-OCT-2008]:

Dear Masud A. Khan,

Thank you for your email.

Unbeknown to Nike the script logo used on the shoe could be seen to resemble the word “Allah” written in Arabic-style script.

This is an issue we took, and still take, very seriously. Once we became aware of this situation shortly after the product went on sale in 1996, we immediately issued a recall of the product from worldwide sale and a public apology to the Islamic community.

As the product was designed and originally sold in the US, throughout this process we worked closely with the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) to resolve the issue. They helped us in our efforts to rectify our mistake and to communicate our apologies to all Muslims. I attach a copy of the press release that was issued at the time outlining steps taken by Nike to rectify the issue.

We hope that you will understand that it was never out intention to offend the Islamic community, and that we have undertaken everything possible to resolve the issue and communicate our sincere apologies.

Nike has the utmost respect for all religions, cultures and individuals, and would never intentionally offend anyone. If you have any questions or further concern regarding this issue please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours sincerely,

Leanne Fowler
Consumer Affairs Department
Nike UK Ltd

They even included a statement (first put out in 1997) that they put out after reaching an accord with CAIR in the USA as follows:

NIKE REACHES ACCORD WITH ISLAMIC GROUP – CAIR

Beaverton, Oregon, June 24, 1997 – NIKE today announced an agreement to ease Muslim concerns over the logo design on a range of summer basketball products.

“Through a long process of discussion, we have resolved our differences of opinion with the Muslim community,” said Martin Coles, NIKE’s Vice President, Europe, “While we never intended to offend, we did; we have done everything possible to communicate our sincere apologies and to address issues related to the distribution of any products offensive to the Muslim community.”

“The potential for confusion was first identified by one of our Muslim distributors,” said Coles, “We immediately affected design alterations we believed would avoid offense. Since CAIR’s alert, we have worked to mitigate the impact on the Islamic community, and have made organisational changes to ensure that similar misunderstandings are not repeated.”

The chronology of this event includes the following:

1. In late September, NIKE’s Muslim distributor in the Middle East voiced concern over the logo appearing on salesman samples of a range of summer basketball shoes — the script logo resembled the Arabic word “Allah”.

2. In addition to raising concern over this initial logo design, their distributor also suggested a number of ways to revise the logo that would (should) be acceptable to the Muslim community.

3. A design change was immediately ordered. The original logo was dropped, and the “A” was clearly separated from the “ir” on the commercial version of the product.

4. In mid-March, NIKE received a letter from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) alerting them that samples of summer basketball shoes with the original logo had been seen in the Muslim community.

5. On March 27, CAIR indicated that commercial product with the amended logo, becoming available at retail, included a graphic design that could still  “be interpreted as the Arabic word ‘Allah'” . CAIR demanded the following of NIKE:

– an apology to Muslims
-an internal investigation of how this incident occurred.
-sensitivity training on Islam for Nike employees
-the immediate recall of all shoes using either offensive symbol

6. Since that time, NIKE has taken the following steps to account for and resolve this issue:

7. NIKE has apologized to the Islamic community for any unintentional offense to their sensibilities.

8. NIKE has implemented a global recall of the original salesman samples, including an accounting of any samples which may have been sold.

9. NIKE has diverted shipments of the commercial products in question from “sensitive” markets. To date, over 30,000 pairs have been diverted from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey.

10. NIKE has discontinued all models with the offending logo. No further product with either version of the logo will be produced.

11. NIKE has agreed to pull back all remaining product in their distribution center.

12. NIKE has implemented organizational changes to their design department to tighten scrutiny of logo design. Responsibility has been centralized into one department and all graphic designs must now be approved by a design review board.

13. NIKE is working with CAIR to identify Muslim design resources for future reference.

14. NIKE has taken measures to raise their internal understanding of Islamic issues. Specifically:
-Worked with CAIR to identify reference materials to locate in their Design Library
-Scheduled a discussion on Islamic imagery at their next Design Summit
-Centralize the graphic design process to ensure those with familiarity in Islamic issues evaluate all graphic designs
-Conducted a formal investigation into this issue, and CAIR is satisfied that no deliberate offense to the Islamic community was intended.

“I am glad we were able to come to a mutually acceptable understanding,” said Coles, ” I believe that we emerge from this process with a deeper understanding of Islamic sensibilities and a stronger bridge into Muslim communities.
###

Now, considering the initial controversy was in 1996 and was seemingly resolved a year later in 1997, why then in 2008 do we still have Musilms circulating this non-issue and then calling into question the faith of people who do not then forward the email on to an x number of other Muslims?

It always boils down to the same question, whether it is something about Coke, Pepsi, Nike etc – Why would a multi-national corporation like Nike, with multi-Million dollar interests in the Middle-East and the Muslim world, purposely offend Muslims and jeopardise profits on purpose and then go to the expense of a product recall?

Come on people move on and occasionally use your brain on such matters and especially if the issue is dead, buried and, like this one, actually decomposed.

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35 thoughts on ““Allah” on Nike shoes”

  1. Salam Masud bhai,

    Dunno what to say about the whole “Arabic on Clothing” issue as a couple of months ago I caught the bus with a young woman wearing a long dress (jilbaab) with Arabic letters patch-worked on the arms and the across the bottom of the dress near her feet.

    For those of us who believe the Arabic Script is Sacred – how do we respond to designers from Muslim backgrounds who do such things? And this was a young woman with black headscarf and dress :-/

    I just dunno anymore man………

  2. PS – and on the other side of things, I receive emails from Non-Muslim artists wanting to use Arabic Script in their work..

    There’s just too much inconsistency…………………. PLOO

  3. jzk for posting this…it just goes to show how Muslims often jump the gun without looking into things further. with regards to what TR wrote above….theres a different between arabic text and islamic/qur’anic text. so the word Allah…is sacred…but writing normal evryday arabic txt such as ‘bayt’ (house) or ukht (sister)… it doesnt have the same reverance.

  4. This morning a friend passed to me the picture of the shoes with the so-called logo. He enjoined me to boycot Nike. As I never saw or heard this old incident, I asked him what proof he has. When he said it was in the news some time ago, I searched the web and found this article and more like it.

    I am very grateful to the writer and I agree that it doesn’t make a business sense for a company like Nike to knowingly behave like that. I saw the same argument I raised with my friend in this article.

    Thanks Masud. Let’s not jump the gun. Something like this does not harm Islam as such; it hurts more the doer.

    Regards

    Yousef

  5. i thank god that now a days there is still people think then act which in these days it is rare
    for me i saw it as fire not like our mighty
    or like what the other said a symbol from Hindus or like the chi symbol too
    at the end
    if u take these kind of things by gun u make them more powerful so take it easy and then think in a peacefultime and u will have the same idea that we had here
    thank u

  6. Heya,

    I chanced on this website after receiving the same email from a friend.

    I was sad to see how many times the email got forwarded before it was sent to me.

    A lot of Muslims were misinformed – about something that occurred more than ten years ago. All it did was generate hate.

    I wish people would do some research before forwarding mail.

    But… they don’t. :) (because it’s so much easier to click the forward button.)

    So here’s to not jumping the gun, and to not believe everything you see on the internet. :)

    Cheers!
    Hana

  7. i think this ananymous person is from nike
    hows that for being prejudgmental

    ————–

    Mas’ud says: Omar, which anonymous person are you talking about?

  8. Finally a reasonable free-thinking individual. I would never wear a product that offends any religion. This was clearly a mistake. Allah is oft forgiving most merciful so we should accept this apology and their shortcomings. The response from Nike seems genuine and is backed by strong evidence to support their claim of sincerity and sensitivity to all religions.

  9. this is abig attack in our religion we should not bought any thing from nike again go to hell nike we are da strong arabs …..allah ….. mohamed….. islam

    1. This is not a big attack as you seem to think, it is a misunderstanding that was cleared up over 10 years ago, why do Muslims persist on going over and over things like this which are dead and buried?

  10. As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,

    I often get chain emails telling me to send on this email to ten of my friends or whatever. It is nothing more than a variant on very old chain letter themes. I got one just last week that had a hadeeth whose transmission supposedly had a great virtue, therefore I should send it to all my friends, and as ever I had to scroll down to get to the meat of the email. I am also sick to death of food additive rumours which come up on DeenPort and other fora every few weeks, often about long-settled issues. Muslims should do a bit of research before they forward any such thing, but it would be no harm to just notice that it’s an email forward and hit delete.

  11. Hi, I am totally surprised with this whole issue. I was in the thick of it all cos I was working in a sneaker shop back in singapore when this happened back in the day. the product was recalled, the changes made, the issue is dead and buried… back in 1997, people! Get over it! The new Air Bakin there after comes with the traditional Swoosh and Air logos. What sickens me is the response from Karim. Rather than getting the facts straight, he succumbed to a typical knee jerk reaction.
    There are alot more important things that needs attention. If they are the strong Arabs, why is the Palestinian/Israeli issue not resolved. During the attacks in Gaza, which was not too long ago, where are the strong Arabs? I have been based here in the Middle East for the past 4 years and have a fair bit of understanding of the region. seeing what happened when Gaza was practically steam rolled by the Israeli forces, looking at the leaders of the Arab world just sitting back and discussing about a united currency of all things, in a time of adversity, that was just sad! They just sat around and let it happen! I wonder what Mr. Karim’s reaction to that was?
    Like I mentioned earlier, this issue is dead and buried. So get to the bottom of things before we unleash a whole can of ignorance.

    p.s mr karim: asia has the largest number of Muslims in the world. Not arabs… just a little bit of info. thanks!

  12. Allah is the all forgiving and humans do make mistakes, as a muslim I care and protect Islam but please bros/sis we need 2 b better educated/informed and stop reacting b4 getting the facts straight. I thank bro Mas’ud Ahmed Khan for his interest in informing us. like ur blog and jazzaka allahu khirom

  13. salam
    y r these kinds of acts mostly done against muslims and islam ? beside this issue, these multi-nationals (coca cola,pepsi,nike,mc donald etc.) r supporting israel against palestinaian muslims. so i will still suggest muslims to boycott these multi nationals.
    regards
    farheen
    —–
    Fareen, did you not read what I wrote?

  14. Thanks Masud for the great article. I totally agree with you that people need to research first and see how such problems were rectified before sending chain messages requesting to “boycott” companies. However, I think you need to change the title of the post. The title as a full sentence is very inappropriate and offensive (Although I’m sure you just picked it to match the context). I hope you change it to something like: “The truth about the word “Allah” resembled on a Nike shoe” it will have the same search keywords.

  15. “As Sallam U Alaikum”….yes brothers this issue has been finished,so there is no more controversy.”Islam”,is a great religion and i pray”ALLAH” will have mercy upon everyone.

  16. I totally agree with the writer as i recieved today this email with the picture. i hate those who try to use people’s believes to sabotage or blackmail others while they themselves know thetruth. i thank you for your follow up and wished we had more like you to battle these in correct emails. Nike has proved that they care unlike other “moslem” companies who just think that the people are idiots

  17. Dear Br.Masud,

    I agree with you that the issue was raised in 1997. Subsequently the products were called off from the stores. Now when every thing has been sorted out how come the product appears again on the shelves of the stores after thirteen years . This is nothing but to reignite the hatred fire. This is one of the dastardly acts of the infidels

  18. “As Sallam U Alaikum”….yes brothers this issue has been finished,so there is no more controversy.”Islam”,is a great religion and i pray”ALLAH” will have mercy upon everyone.

  19. i know about the incident long time back. the issue was resolved and if i am right the product is no more seen inthe market. show the sincerity of effort on the part of concerned. i agree that such a reputed company will not put its business at stake. however there is a chance that some one while designing the logo did it on intention to serve the interest of those who want to defame the company. the company has anounced an organosational change to ensure such incidents are not repeated in future. i feel satisfied and so should all muslims be.

  20. This is not a big attack as you seem to think, it is a misunderstanding that was cleared up over 10 years ago, why do Muslims persist on going over and over things like this which are dead and buried?

  21. Note from Mas’ud:

    Saima, did you read what I wrote in my blog post? If you did then you wouldn’t have left this comment…

    ——–

    its,very wronge to write name of allah.it shows cheap thinking of nike compony.every should respect religon of every human being.

  22. Jazakallah for giving me a different perspective of seeing things and removing the guilt that I was feeling when purchasing these items. I love Nike and Puma footwear designs and I would have been very dissappointed to have to get rid of them.

    Very Refreshing!

  23. Muslims have always wanted to be seen as the victim,I am muslim myself,n its sickening how wen someone makes a simple mistake and apologizes for it,we still hold a grudge against ythem or in this case the company,newsflash:not everyone is out there to delibritely attack u!accept apology and move on

  24. Assalaam Aleikum.Thanks alot for this reliefing article,stay blessed.I agree with Maz fully.We should think before texting and shouldnt accuse others for something they didnt do.This is against Islam,we are causing hatred between us and them.This is stupid.What impression are we giving them?Things that should be taken into consederation,we dont take them seriously and such silly sms we get pissed off why?We should build a good relation with them this why they will learn more about Islam from us and InshAllah embrace Islam.Banning of hijab in Europe or mosques shouldnt have minerat,this are what we should discuss about.Not in aggresive way,we should just persuade our muslim women to never go against Islam just because they live there and that they should be proud and prove they arent weak to be driven by them.Allah bless us all and show us the straight path.Forgive me if I have offended anyone.Peace be upon you all.

  25. Thanks bro for your effort in clearifying this issue. I was totally unaware of it, yesterday i recieved an sms about this issue and the next thing I did was “google” and i found ur blog which satisfied me completely. My brothers and sisters please please “Think before you Act”

    ——

    Mas’ud says: Adeel, you will be surprised to see that most people who come across my blog post don’t actually read it and understand it. They start leaving me abusive messages and send la’nat on the Nike company and just act stupidly. They clearly haven’t read what I have written. I thank you for taking the time to read and understand.

  26. Alhamdulillah for this clarification. i am actually very impressed at how the company handled every thing. and may Allah reward you for your effort to pass this Along to people who are ready to understand. i also got this message some hours ago. it amazes me how it keeps circulating after a couple of years. and pls what do you know about the PUMA one?

  27. this information is trully helpfull we should share this instead of the other controversial msgs,i was soo disappointed with the companies be4 reading this..thank ALLAH i googled after receiving the msg,you are helpfull stay blessed and remember islam is peace!

  28. the product was
    recalled, the changes made, the issue is dead
    and buried… back in 1997,
    brothers n sisters! Get over it!
    WHY R V WORRIED ABOUT ISLAM…ALLAH S W T HIMSELF IS THE INCHARGE FOR THE PROTECTION OF ISLAM N QURAN….LETS LEAVE THESE WORRIES N CONCENTRATE ON SALAT N ZIKR….

    ALLAH HUM SBKO ZIKR SE ZYADA AMAL KI TAUFEEQ ATA FARMAYE…..
    SUMMA AAMEEN…

  29. Thanks brother for such a useful information, I was also thinking the same that how can a multinational firm like NIKE can afford to loose its MUSLIM customers Worldwide, because I know before conducting business in other countries the companies fully analyze their environment, culture, Religion, Political conditions & so on….then its too much costly for them to do it intentionally..But May ALLAH S.W.T open eyes of all MUSLIMS, Who pass the information without confirmation..

  30. thanks for clarifying this misunderstanding. we spread this information to as many people as possible because through text messages this misunderstanding is present still !

  31. Thank you so much for this but unfortunately, 4 years on from your blog and we are still receiving these emails so I finally decided to do a google search and found your blog! Good work mate! Mind if I put this on our website? The link is in my info.

  32. I can see it is written Air but the font of writing you choose it seems like it is written Allah in Arabic . don’t make it a big issue I suggest change the way of writing
    thank-you

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