Posts Tagged ‘belief’

“Oh God! If you save me I will work for you.”

~ Exclaimed Cat Stevens when his leisurely swim off the coast of Malibu turned into a nightmare. He was busy drowning.

21 of July 1948, Steven Demetre Georgiou who would later be known by his stage name Cat Stevens was born to a Greek Orthodox father and Swedish Baptist mother. “I was born to a Christian family which revered money and I did the same, I felt in admiration for singers to the extent that I made of them my supreme god , then decided to become one of them. I ended up becoming one of the biggest Pop stars, and media made of me an icon, bigger than life itself and will live forever.” He said.

Cat Stevens is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, educator, and philanthropist. He had been a pop star since his teens. Under the name “Cat Stevens”, he has sold over 60 million albums around the world since the late 1960s. The world famous British pop singer used to earn sometimes more than $ 150 000 a night. Cat Stevens had everything most people aspire to achieve: fame, talent, wealth, good looks, and strong magnetism towards the opposite sex, yet he felt something was seriously missing. Living a fast-moving pop-star life, Stevens for once, received a call to spiritual awakening.  He became very ill with tuberculosis and a collapsed lung. Consequently, Cat Stevens got hospitalized for a long period, an experience that made him search for the meaning of life.

In 1976, Stevens received yet another call to spiritual awakening. This time, at the coast of Malibu, California, where he nearly drowned. He shouted in the bid to conform with the constant calls, “Oh God! If you save me I will work for you.” This near-death experience intensified his long-held quest for spiritual truth. Cat Stevens had looked into other spiritual formulas including Buddhism, Zen, and I Ching, Numerology, Tarot cards and Astrology. He writes:

My quest for truth continued in parallel with my artistic career, till the day when a friend of mine who came back from a trip in the East told me that he found serenity inside a mosque which he didn’t in a church, which led me to shift my interest to that religion and bought a translated Koran. At last I found answers to my questions: Who I am? Where I come from? And what is my goal in Life? Through my several readings of this holy book, I concluded that there is only one God with whom we can communicate directly without any interference.

It was the Qur’an that gave him the peace he was searching as he says, “. . . 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 (Peace be Upon Him) we will be successful.”

He further states:

Everything made so much sense. This is the beauty of the Qur’an; it asks you to reflect and reason….When I read the Qur’an further, it talked about prayer, kindness and charity. I was not a Muslim yet, but I felt the only answer for me was the Qur’an and God had sent it to me.

He formally reverted to the Islamic faith in 1977, and took the name Yusuf Islam in 1978. After reverting to Islam, Yusuf Islam denounced his pop career calling music un-Islamic, auctioning his guitars and gold records and used the proceeds for Islamic charities. He even urged record companies to stop stocking his music, some of which he viewed as “immoral”. Talking about the need for dropping out of music, he said, “. . .  I had another agenda to fulfill; I had to learn my faith and look after my family, and I had to make priorities.”

Estimating in January 2007 that he continues to earn approximately $1.5 million USD a year from his Cat Stevens music, he decided to use his accumulated wealth and continuing earnings from his music career on philanthropic and educational causes in the Muslim community of London and elsewhere such as supporting orphans in Bosnia. In 1982, he and other concerned Muslims were troubled to see their children not getting proper Islamic education in Britain. Hence they founded the Islamia Schools’ Trust, a registered British charity which led to the opening of a Muslim primary school in London the following year and secondary schools later.

Yusuf Islam was famed for publicly endorsing the death sentence issued by Ayatollah Khomeini against Salman Rushdie in February 1989. “Salman Rushdie, indeed any writer who abuses the Prophet or indeed any Prophet under Islamic law, the sentence for that is actually death,” he said at the time, stating the punishment for blasphemers required under Islamic law.  Showing that blasphemy is a capital offense according to God’s standards, he said; “If you ask a Bible student to quote the legal punishment of a person who commits blasphemy in the Bible, he would be dishonest if he didn’t mention Leviticus 24:16.” The verse reads: “And whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the Lord, he shall be put to death.”

Yusuf Islam has been given several awards including 2004 Man for Peace Award presented by Mikhail Gorbachev for his dedication to promote peace, the reconciliation of people and to condemn terrorism; (2005), Honorary Doctorate by the University of Gloucestershire for services to education and humanitarian relief; (2007), The Mediterranean Prize for Peace in Naples, Italy; Honorary Doctorate (LLD) by the University of Exeter (10 July 2007), in recognition of his humanitarian work and improving understanding between Islamic and Western cultures.

He lives with his wife, Fauzia Mubarak Ali, and five children in Brondesbury Park, London and spends part of each year in Dubai. In response to those who take black-sheep’s of Islam as the benchmark for its truth, Yusuf Islam said:

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 into 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.

Websites:

www.mountainoflight.co.uk

www.yusufislam.com

www.yusufislam.org.uk.

Contact Information:

Mailing address

2 Digswell Street,

London N7 8JX,

United Kingdom.

 

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{Excerpted from Salim Boss’ book “They are either Extremely Smart or Extremely Ignorant”. Buy the eBook  for $1.9 and the paperback for $9. Just click here to buy the book}

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[References: Islam, Yusuf. “My Journey from Cat Stevens to Yusuf Islam.” Mountain of Light, 2001; Islam, Yusuf.  “Questions for Yusuf Islam.” By Deborah Solomon. The New York Times 7 Jan. 2007; Craig R. Whitney. “Cat Stevens Gives Support To Call for Death of Rushdie.” The New York Times May 22, 1989; Brown, George. Cat Stevens: The Complete Illustrated Biography & Discography. George Brown, 2006; Islam, Yusuf. “Yusuf Islam.” an interview by Nigel Williamson. Billboard magazine 25 Nov. 2006; Paphides, Pete. “Notions of Islam.” The Times 6 July 2007; “Cat Stevens-one man, two identities.” The Sydney Morning Herald 24 Sept. 2004; Schwartz, Stephen. “Why Yusuf Islam was turned away from the United States.” The Weekly Standard.  22 Sept. 2004; “Cat Stevens becomes Yusuf Islam.” video.google.com 16 Feb 2006. <http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6157965900354777626&gt;;”Prince goes pop to praise school.” bbc.co.uk 10 May, 2000. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/743894.stm>%5D

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“Among Muslims throughout the world, there are many sincere pious men and women; there are also criminals and hypocrites.”

~ Ingrid Mattson

Ingrid Mattson, the sixth of seven children, grew up as a good, middle-class Roman Catholic school girl in Kitchener, Canada, a suburban community about 60 miles southwest of Toronto. She attended a Catholic girls high school and took piano lessons at the convent. Ingrid stopped attending Mass at the age of 16 after inquiring about Catholicism and spirituality to which she was given unsatisfactory answers.

Then as a determined agnostic, Ingrid Mattson went to study philosophy and the fine arts at the University of Waterloo, Ontario. Her first encounter with Muslims was in 1986, while studying in Paris. The warmth, dignity and generosity of the Muslims she met must have produced an influence in her life. “What I recognized was that, among their other wonderful qualities, they were the most naturally generous people I had ever known.” She said about the Muslims she met. She then plunged into reading of books about Islam and took classes in Arabic. In her personal study of Islam she came across Fazlur Rahman’s Islam in a bookstore. “It was his book and his encouragement that inspired me to start on the path to scholarship that I have found so rewarding,” She recalls. When she read the Qur’an, Ingrid found herself wallowed in amazement. And in 1987, as a college senior, she embraced Islam. “This religious community was giving me the framework for my spiritual experience, and so I entered into it,” she said in an interview.

After she graduated from college, she volunteered to teach Afghan women in a refugee camp of about 100,000 people in Peshawar, Pakistan. It was there where she met and married Amer Aatek, an Egyptian engineer working to install a water system in the camp. In 1989, she enrolled in the University of Chicago as a Ph.D. student and in 1999, she received her doctorate in Islamic Studies from the University. Presently, she is a professor of Islamic studies and director of Islamic chaplaincy at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. She is the head of ISNA (Islamic Society of North America), one of the largest Muslim organizations in America.

In 1995, she was an adviser to the Afghan delegation to the United Nations Commission on the status of women. In 2001, she was elected Vice-President of ISNA and in 2006 she was elected President of the organization. Dr. Mattson is the first revert to Islam and the first female to lead the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Professor Mattson is a contributor to The Muslim World Journal. She is the author of The Story of the Qur’an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life [Paperback: 272 pages]. Dr. Mattson lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children.

Some articles, lectures, and reviews by Ingrid Matson include:

►Respecting the Qur’an

►A call for moral leadership: Imagining a new heroism

►Comments on cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad

►Stopping oppression: an Islamic Obligation

►Faith in the Face of Terror – Multi-Faith Reflections on Meaning

►Faith, Justice and Terrorism

Among the lectures she has delivered are:

►Gender Equity-The Islamic Perspective

►Sharia in the Modern World

►Changes Within Us

►Extremism And Moderation

►Impact of Sept.11th

►What is Islamic Law (Sharia)?

►Building The Faith

Contact Information:

Duncan Black Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian/Muslim Relations,

77 Sherman Street, Hartford, CT 06105 USA.

Telephone: 860/509-9531,

Fax: 860/509-9539,

Email: imattson@hartsem.edu; isnapresident@isna.net

Website: http://macdonald.hartsem.edu/mattson.htm

 

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{Excerpted from Salim Boss’ book “They are either Extremely Smart or Extremely Ignorant”. Buy the eBook  for $1.9 and the paperback for $9.  Just click here to buy the book}

…………..     …………..     …………..     …………..     …………..     …………..     …………..
Buy Ebook Smart

[References:  Grossman, Cathy Lynn. “The Face of Islam in America.” USA Today 21 Aug. 2007; Macfarquhar, Neil. “Putting a Different Face on Islam in America.” New York Times 20 Sept.  2006; Mattson, Ingrid. “Finding the Prophet in his People.” whyislam.org. 31 Dec. 2004.] <http://www.whyislam.org/Forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=1662&gt;; “Faculty Profiles-Ingrid Mattson.” hartsem.edu <http://www.hartsem.edu/faculty/mattson.htm&gt;; “Ingrid Mattson: What is Islam?” cnn.com 18 Oct. 2001 <http://edition.cnn.com/2001/COMMUNITY/10/18/mattson.cnna/&gt; Mattson, Ingrid. “Finding the Prophet in his People.” pbs.org. <http://www.pbs.org/muhammad/essays/mattson.html&gt;; “A Conversation with Ingrid Mattson.” Penn State Public Broadcasting Lobby Talks Series. Produced by Pennsylvania State University 12 June 2006. <http://www.researchchannel.org/prog/displayevent.aspx?rID=10001&fID=345>%5D