Re: the correct way
- From: mohammad <elmasaken@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2007 10:28:12 -0800 (PST)
Islam: A Home of Tolerance, Not Fanaticism
by Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens)
Coming to Islam in my late twenties, after years as a wandering pop
star, one of the first interesting things I learnt was that the word
Islam itself comes from salâm or peace. It is a faith far away from
the violence, destruction and terrorism we have seen in recent days.
The finger has already been pointed at Muslims and the Arab world. But
the display of death and indiscriminate killing has nothing to do with
a religion that blends scientific reason with spiritual beliefs, a
As a Westerner I had been warned about Islam - that strange foreign
religion which seemed to belong to people with a different colour and
culture. But after being given the Qur'ân in 1976, I discovered the
opposite of what I expected. The Qur'ân first showed me a belief in
the universal existence of God (Allah), one God for all. It did not
speak against peoples; it said although we may be from different
countries and tribes, we were all human born of the same original
parents, Adam and Eve. The Qur'ân directly says:
"The best of people are the most God-conscious."
British Muslims feel nothing but sympathy for those families who lost
loved ones in this awful tragedy we've all just witnessed in the US.
This is why, today, along with most Muslims in Britain, we should make
it clear that such acts of horrific carnage as we've seen on TV and in
the newspapers have nothing to do with the beliefs of most Muslims.
The Qur'ân specifically declares:
"If anyone murders an (innocent) person...it will be as if he has
murdered the whole of humanity."
It goes on:
"And if anyone saves a person it will be as if he has saved the whole
"There is no compulsion in religion."
So respect for justice is at the core of the Qur'ân.
But some extremists, among them self-appointed Islamic clerics, take
parts of sacred Book out of context. This is a dangerous thing. For
Muslims believe in the authority of just government and the principle
of consultation. Radical fringe groups of any race, colour or religion
who organise to threaten or kill innocent people of any country,
disregarding God's boundaries of justice, are deplored by the majority
of scholars and ordinary Muslims. The problem is that these small
groups try to represent Muslims as a whole outside of Islamic law. You
find such dissident factions creating their own rules, contrary to the
spirit of the Qur'ân.
The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said:
"A believer remains within the scope of his religion as long as he
doesn't kill another person illegally [outside of due process]."
Such knowledge and words of guidance are desperately needed at this
time to separate the true from the false.
All I have to say is what you know already, to confirm what you
already know ... the message of the Prophet, peace and blessings of
Allah be upon him, 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. It is important to realize this 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. It says in the Qur'ân
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
highlight of show business. I was born in a Christian home, but we
know that every child is born in his 'original nature' (al-fitrah),
and 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
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.
Gradually I became alienated from this religious upbringing and 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 had 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 will help the needy. (It says in the Qur'ân,
we make a promise, but when we make something we want to hold on to 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
In the Hospital
After a year of financial success and 'high' living, I became very
ill, contracted TB and had to be hospitalised. 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 stated 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 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 alright 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 at 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.
When he came to London he brought back a translation of the Qur'ân,
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 old age. In the West
whoever wishes to embrace a religion and make it his only was of life
is deemed a fanatic. I was not a fanatic, I was at first confused
between the body and soul. Then I realized that the body and soul are
not apart and you don't have to go to the mountains to be religious;
we must follow the will of God, then we can rise even 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 Islam.
At this point I started discovering my faith. I felt that I was a
Muslim, on reading the Qur'ân. 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 God's Word. Even the Christians
misunderstand God's Word and called Jesus the son of God(the great GOD
has no sons the great GOD has no wife simply because the great GOD is
different from any of his creatures)
This is the beauty of the Qur'ân; it asks you to reflect and reason,
and not to worship the sun or the moon but the One who has created
everything. The Qur'ân 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, and 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'ân 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'ân, and God had sent it to me and I kept it a secret. But the
Qur'ân also speaks on different levels. I began to understand it
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
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 l977, about 1 year after I received the Qur'ân. Now I realized that
I must get rid of my pride, get rid of Iblîs (the devil) and face one
direction. So on a Friday, after Jum'ah I went to the Imâm and
declared my faith (the kalimah) 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
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, and they use the
idols for this purpose. But Islam removes all these barriers. The only
thing that separates the believers from the disbelievers is the salâh
(prayer). 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'ân first and
realized no person is perfect; only Islam is perfect, and if we
imitate the conduct of the Noble Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings
of Allah be upon him) we will be successful.
May Allah give us guidance to follow the path of the Ummah (community)
of Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
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