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.

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 ummahof Muhammad (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam). Ameen! 

Yusuf Islam 
(Formerly Cat Stevens) 

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