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Why I Embraced Islam

Yusuf Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens - British Pop Superstar)

Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, a world renowned British pop singer embraced Islam in 1973. Here is an excerpt of the interview with him.

Q: How did you come to know about Islam?

A: I first came to know about Islam through my elder brother David. Five years he traveled to Jerusalem, and among the many Holy places, he visited Al-Aqsa. He had never been inside a mosque in his life before. The atmosphere was so different from that of the Christian churches and Jewish temples that he had to ask himself, "Why is this religion (Islam) such a big secret?" He was struck by the behavior of the Muslims and their peaceful form of worship. As soon as he returned to England, he bought a copy of the Holy Qur'an and gave it to me, because he knew I needed guidance.

Q: What impressed you most when you read the Holy Qur'an?

A: It was the timeless nature of the message. The words all seemed strangely familiar yet so unlike anything I had ever read before; they were so simple, so clear. Up to this point the purpose of life had always remained an immense mystery to me. I had always believed that there was a master design to it all, but who was the unseen Artist? I had tried many spiritual paths without much satisfaction. I was like a boat without a direction, but when I read the Qur'an it was as if it was for it, and it for me. For over a year and a half I read and read. During that time I never met any Muslim. I was completely engulfed in the message of the Holy Qur'an. I knew that soon I would have to either submit myself fully, or continue traveling my own way making music. It was the hardest move of my life. One day, I met someone who told me about a new mosque which had just opened in London; the time had come for me to accept my religion. I started to walk to the Mosque on a Friday in winter 1977. After the Jum'a (Friday) prayers, I approached the Imam and told him I wanted to embrace Islam. That was the first contact I had with the Muslim community.

Q: Now that you are Muslim, what are your impressions of Muslims?

A: I think a lot of Muslims have lost their way; they have not really studied the Qur'an itself. It is the essence of knowledge and contains true guidance for those who are ready to understand it. I believe there is only one real Islam: Surrender to The Almighty and obey His Messenger. That to me is the safe road to Paradise. We must distinguish the true from the false by increasing our knowledge and staying close to the company who are traveling the right path. It seems The Almighty has preserved the treasure of knowledge by scattering numerous keys throughout the world. We Muslims only have to come together in order to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of what Islam really is. All Muslims believe in One God, One Quran and One Muhammed (pbuh), after that it is up to the individual, whichever path he or she wishes to choose. In the end, each soul will be responsible for its own deeds.

Q: How difficult was it to suddenly stop and give up many things that you have been doing?

A: It was not difficult because I knew deep down it was right to give up those vices which were in reality destroying me, like drinking, smoking, usury, etc. Yet the hardest thing was to separate myself from my old friends. I couldn't understand why they didn't all grasp the message of Islam. I tried to hold on for as long as I could without cutting myself off, but there came a point when I decided that for the sake of my religion, I had to draw the line between my past and Islam. There were many tests, for instance, when I was among non-Muslims, I used to have to say "excuse me" and quietly leave to perform my Salat (Prayers). I didn't use to tell them where I was going, so it must have looked a little strange. Then one day, I decided to make it known that I was going to perform my prayers. Immediately everybody accepted it and respected it and respected me for it. When you stand up and do your duty The Almighty makes it easy for you, after that I never had much problem.

Q: The pop world in this day and age has a very large following, even among the Muslims, what is your opinion about this?

A: Unfortunately, today people are seduced into buying things through their lower desires. Record, films, tapes, magazines, most of them designed to make money. Listening to pop music is like dreaming: it's a temporary release for the soul. People who follow this kind of music are generally yearning for union with "reality". Music provides them with short-term relief an escape from this merciless system we call "modern life".

Q: So what do you intend to do now as a career?

A: I am really literally only working for The Almighty. He sustains me and He has arranged it so that I can do this. I want to instrumental in establishing Islam in Britain by whatever means or in whatever capacity I can.

Q: What do you think of Da'wah activities among non-Muslims in Britain?

A:We should be careful not to follow the example of the Christians in this matter. It is a big responsibility for all of us. The message of Islam should not be spread by word of mouth alone. To begin with, you must make sure that your actions are correct and then give the good news simply and clearly: "Say, He is The Almighty, The One." Don't try and convey the complete message of Islam at once. The Qur'an is the embodiment of the teaching which The Almighty has sent a perfection of man, so you can't just use it as a mouthpiece, you must put it into practice: that means say little but do much more. Always remember, it is only The Almighty, Who can guide a person to Islam.

"It will be wrong to judge Islam in the light of the behavior of some bad Muslims who are always shown on the media. It is like judging a car as a bad one if the driver of the car is drunk and he bangs it with the wall. Islam guides all human beings in the daily life-in its spiritual, mental, and physical dimensions. But we must find the sources of these instructions: The Qur'an and the example of the Prophet. Then we can see the ideal of Islam." --YUSUF ISLAM


The Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186

March 1991
Ramadan 1411
Letters to the Editor
The Virtues of Fasting
Qur'an and Science
Fasting (Siyam)
The Kid's Corner
Women in Islam
The Prophet Sheth
The Prophet Idris
Islamic Dietary Laws
Teachings of the Prophet
Why I Embraced Islam
List of Publishers