12 August, 2011

The Two Yusufs

Very few Muslims are as well known, as popular and as listened to as Yusuf Islam and Sami Yusuf. Both make and play music. Excellent, soothing, relaxing music. And both are British. For some, the two have 'deviated' to music. Music which some consider 'haram'. But, for millions of people around the world, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, the two Yusufs are very popular.

The two, are excellent examples of the other side of Islam. Yusuf Islam - born on 21 July 1948 as Steven Demetre Georgiou to a Greek-Cypriot father and a Swedish mother - was first a rock star called Cat Stevens. As fate would have it, after listening to the 'Adhaan' while in Morocco and being captivated by it and later in 1976, in California, while swimming and nearly drowning - he called: “Oh God! If you save me I will work for you.” - he was saved and a short while after, in 1977, one of the most successful British rock stars - Cat Stevens,  converted to Islam and became Yusuf Islam. He went on to abandon music completely from 1978; was denied entry into the US in 2004 due to "concerns of ties he may have to potential terrorist-related activities" - as the US authorities put it. This, even though Yusuf Islam had just won a Man Of Peace award. He returned to playing a different kind of music, in the 1990s.

Much younger, born in July, 1980 of Azeri-Persian parents, is Sami Yusuf. While Yusuf Islam is very popular in the non-Muslim world, especially in Western countries, Sami is more known, more popular and his spiritual,  songs are more listened to, in the Muslim world - from Bosnia to Beirut, from Morocco to Malaysia. Whether 'haram' or 'halal', I know many who have converted to Islam because of the two, and I know of Muslims, especially the young, after reading about the two or listening to their music, becoming more spiritual and more devout.

+ Yusuf Islam's: MOUNTIAN of LIGHT
+ TIME magazine on Sami Yusuf
+ Light in a dark world: Sami Yusuf