Stories Of New Muslims


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  • Stories Of New Muslims



  • 11. Mr. Yusuf Islam

    How I came to Islam

     

     

    All I have to say is all what
    you know already, to confirm what you already know, the message of the Prophet
    (
    Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) as given by God - the Religion of Truth. As human beings we are given
    a consciousness and a duty that has placed us at the top of creation. Man is
    created to be God's deputy on earth, and it is important to realize the
    obligation to rid ourselves of all illusions and to make our lives a
    preparation for the next life. Anybody who misses this chance is not likely to
    be given another, to be brought back again and again, because it says in Qur'an
    Majeed that when man is
    brought to account, he will say, "O Lord, send us back and give us another
    chance." The Lord will say, "If I send you back you will do the
    same."

    My Early Religious Upbringing 

     

     

    I was brought up in the modern world of all the luxury and the
    high life of show business. I was born in a Christian home, but we know that
    every child is born in his original nature - it is only his parents that turn
    him to this or that religion. I was given this religion (Christianity) and
    thought this way. I was taught that God exists, but there was no direct contact
    with God, so we had to make contact with Him through Jesus - he was in fact the
    door to God. This was more or less accepted by me, but I did not swallow it
    all. I looked at some of the statues of Jesus; they were just stones with no
    life. And when they said that God is three, I was puzzled even more but could
    not argue. I more or less believed it, because I had to have respect for the
    faith of my parents.

     

    Pop Star

     

    Gradually I became alienated
    from this religious upbringing. I started making music. I wanted to be a big
    star. All those things I saw in the films and on the media took hold of me, and
    perhaps I thought this was my God, the goal of making money. I had an uncle who
    had a beautiful car. "Well," I said, "he has it made. He has a
    lot of money." The people around me influenced me to think that this was
    it; this world was their God.

    I
    decided then that this was the life for me; to make a lot of money, have a
    'great life.' Now my examples were the pop stars. I started making songs, but
    deep down I had a feeling for humanity, a feeling that if I became rich I would
    help the needy. (It says in the Qur'an, we make a promise, but when we make
    something, we want to hold onto it and become greedy.) So what happened was
    that I became very famous. I was still a teenager, my name and photo were
    splashed in all the media. They made me larger than life, so I wanted to live
    larger than life and the only way to do that was to be intoxicated (with liquor
    and drugs).

     

    In Hospital

    After a year of financial
    success and 'high' living, I became very ill, contracted TB and had to be
    hospitalized. It was then that I started to think: What was to happen to me?
    Was I just a body, and my goal in life was merely to satisfy this body? I
    realized now that this calamity was a blessing given to me by Allah, a chance
    to open my eyes - "Why am I here? Why am I in bed?" - and I started
    looking for some of the answers. At that time there was great interest in the
    Eastern mysticism. I began reading, and the first thing I began to become aware
    of was death, and that the soul moves on; it does not stop. I felt I was taking
    the road to bliss and high accomplishment. I started meditating and even became
    a vegetarian. I now believed in 'peace and flower power,' and this was the
    general trend. But what I did believe in particular was that I was not just a
    body. This awareness came to me at the hospital.

    One
    day when I was walking and I was caught in the rain, I began running to the
    shelter and then I realized, 'Wait a minute, my body is getting wet, my body is
    telling me I am getting wet.' This made me think of a saying that the body is
    like a donkey, and it has to be trained where it has to go. Otherwise, the
    donkey will lead you where it wants to go.

    Then I
    realized I had a will, a God-given gift: follow the will of God. I was
    fascinated by the new terminology I was learning in the Eastern religion. By
    now I was fed up with Christianity. I started making music again and this time
    I started reflecting my own thoughts. I remember the lyric of one of my songs.
    It goes like this: "I wish I knew, I wish I knew what makes the Heaven,
    what makes the Hell. Do I get to know You in my bed or some dusty cell while
    others reach the big hotel?" and I knew I was on the Path.

    I also
    wrote another song, "The Way to Find God Out." I became even more
    famous in the world of music. I really had a difficult time because I was
    getting rich and famous, and at the same time, I was sincerely searching for
    the Truth. Then I came to a stage where I decided that Buddhism is all right
    and noble, but I was not ready to leave the world. I was too attached to the
    world and was not prepared to become a monk and to isolate myself from society.

    I
    tried Zen and Ching, numerology, tarot cards and astrology. I tried to look
    back into the Bible and could not find anything. At this time I did not know
    anything about Islam, and then, what I regarded as a miracle occurred. My
    brother had visited the mosque in Jerusalem and was greatly impressed that
    while on the one hand it throbbed with life (unlike the churches and synagogues
    which were empty), on the other hand, an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity
    prevailed.

    The Qur'an

     

    When he came to London he
    brought back a translation of the Qur'an, which he gave to me. He did not
    become a Muslim, but he felt something in this religion, and thought I might find
    something in it also. And when I received the book, a guidance that would
    explain everything to me - who I was; what was the purpose of life; what was
    the reality and what would be the reality; and where I came from - I realized
    that this was the true religion; religion not in the sense the West understands
    it, not the type for only your old age. In the West, whoever wishes to embrace
    a religion and make it his only way of life is deemed a fanatic. I was not a
    fanatic, I was at first confused between the body and the soul. Then I realized
    that the body and soul are not apart and you don't have to go to the mountain
    to be religious. We must follow the will of God. Then we can rise higher than
    the angels. The first thing I wanted to do now was to be a Muslim.

    I
    realized that everything belongs to God, that slumber does not overtake Him. He
    created everything. At this point I began to lose the pride in me, because
    hereto I had thought the reason I was here was because of my own greatness. But
    I realized that I did not create myself, and the whole purpose of my being here
    was to submit to the teaching that has been perfected by the religion we know
    as Al-Islam.

    At
    this point I started discovering my faith. I felt I was a Muslim. On reading
    the Qur'an, I now realized that all the Prophets sent by God brought the same
    message. Why then were the Jews and Christians different? I know now how the
    Jews did not accept Jesus as the Messiah and that they had changed His Word.
    Even the Christians misunderstand God's Word and called Jesus the son of God.
    Everything made so much sense. This is the beauty of the Qur'an; it asks you to
    reflect and reason, and not to worship the sun or moon but the One Who has
    created everything. The Qur'an asks man to reflect upon the sun and moon and
    God's creation in general. Do you realize how different the sun is from the
    moon? They are at varying distances from the earth, yet appear the same size to
    us; at times one seems to overlap the other. Even when many of the astronauts
    go to space, they see the insignificant size of the earth and vastness of
    space. They become very religious, because they have seen the Signs of Allah.

    When I read the Qur'an
    further, it talked about prayer, kindness and charity. I was not a Muslim yet,
    but I felt that the only answer for me was the Qur'an, and God had sent it to
    me, and I kept it a secret. But the Qur'an also speaks on different levels. I
    began to understand it on another level, where the Qur'an says, "Those who
    believe do not take disbelievers for friends and the believers are
    brothers." Thus at this point I wished to meet my Muslim brothers.

    Conversion

     

    Then I decided to journey to
    Jerusalem (as my brother had done). At Jerusalem, I went to the mosque and sat
    down. A man asked me what I wanted. I told him I was a Muslim. He asked what
    was my name. I told him, "Stevens." He was confused. I then joined
    the prayer, though not so successfully. Back in London, I met a sister called
    Nafisa. I told her I wanted to embrace Islam and she directed me to the New
    Regent Mosque. This was in 1977, about one and a half years after I received
    the Qur'an. Now I realized that I must get rid of my pride, get rid of Iblis,
    and face one direction. So on a Friday, after Jumma' I went to the Imam and
    declared my faith (the Kalima) at his hands. You have before you someone who
    had achieved fame and fortune. But guidance was something that eluded me, no
    matter how hard I tried, until I was shown the Qur'an. Now I realize I can get
    in direct contact with God, unlike Christianity or any other religion. As one
    Hindu lady told me, "You don't understand the Hindus. We believe in one
    God; we use these objects (idols) to merely concentrate." What she was
    saying was that in order to reach God, one has to create associates, that are
    idols for the purpose. But Islam removes all these barriers. The only thing
    that moves the believers from the disbelievers is the
    salat. This is the process of purification.

    Finally
    I wish to say that everything I do is for the pleasure of Allah and pray that
    you gain some inspirations from my experiences. Furthermore, I would like to
    stress that I did not come into contact with any Muslim before I embraced
    Islam. I read the Qur'an first and realized that no person is perfect. Islam is
    perfect, and if we imitate the conduct of the Holy Prophet (
    Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) we will be
    successful. May Allah give us guidance to follow the path of the
    ummah of Muhammad (Sallallahu
    alaihi wa sallam
    ). Ameen!

    Yusuf Islam

    (Formerly Cat Stevens)

     

    End

     

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