On Friday evening, people noticed that the clothing company Shein had rugs on sale that looked similar to mats that Muslims use to pray.
Some of the descriptions used by the online retailer include "fringe trim carpet," "fringe trim Greek fret carpet," and "fringe trim graphic carpet."
Some of the carpets in the photos had illustrations of the Ka'bah and mosques.
Khadija Rizvi, 24, a journalism graduate student at the University of Salford based in Manchester, England, posted on her lnstagram page about the prayer mats and her post went viral. Rizvi told BuzzFeed News she came across seven prayer mats that were being sold as carpets.
In her Instagram post, Rizvi called the items highly offensive and disrespectful. She asked people to contact Shein and to boycott the company until they responded.
She wrote: "I am disgusted. I am livid. @sheinofficial is also PROFITING off muslim prayer mats (janemaz/sajadah) by selling them as ‘fringe trim carpets’ for people to use casually around the house.
"Not only is it disrespectful but they once again renamed and stole credit from a whole faith this time, by failing to label it as a muslim prayer mat; which allows people to use it casually as a decorative mat."
Rizvi said while she isn't a regular customer, she has purchased products from Shein before. The item was bought to her attention by one of her followers on Instagram.
She said her first response upon seeing the mats was complete anger.
"I was so incredibly offended and hurt that a piece of my religion, something we pray on 5 times a day, was being used as a casual mat for regular use — when at home we treat it with the utmost respect," she said.
One of the carpets that was for sale as a "flower print tassel trim" carpet had Ramadan Kareem–decorated products in the background of the photo and the Ka'bah on the mat.
It's unclear how long Shein had been selling the rugs, but some of the reviews date back to mid-May this year.
A lot of people agreed with Rizvi, and said that the products being sold as regular mats was offensive.
Rizvi said she did not expect her post to go as viral as it did.
"I shared my own outrage and it turns out tens of thousands feel the same way which led to the items being removed, we did it together," she said. "As a journalist and activist I believe it's my duty to use my platform and voice to raise awareness of the corners people sometimes overlook in society."
Shein apologized in a statement, saying, "To our community - we made a serious mistake recently by selling prayer mats as decorative rugs on our site.
We understand this was a highly offensive oversight and we are truly sorry."
The company said that the products had been immediately removed from its site and it had formed a product review committee consisting of staff from different cultures and religions to prevent something like this from happening again.