YUSUF ISLAM

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Yusuf Islam was originally named Steven Georgiou before changing his name after his conversion, but is better known as his stage name Cat Stevens.

Growing up he went to St. Joseph Roman Catholic Primary School, but his father was Greek Orthodox and his mother was a baptist.

While on holiday in Marrakesh, Morocco, a predominantly muslim country, he was intrigued by the sound of Azan, the Islamic call to prayer. When he asked about it people explained it to him as “music for God” and he responded saying, “I thought, music for God? I’d never heard that before – I’d heard of music for money, music for fame, music for personal power, but music for God!”

In 1976 Stevens almost drowned off the coast of Malibu, California and he shouted “Oh, God! If you save me I will work for you.” after saying that a wave appeared and carried him back to shore. This near death experience motivated him even more on his long quest for spiritual truth. He looked into numerous things in hopes of finding his answer. Stevens brother, a convert to Judaism, brought him a copy of the Quran as a birthday present from Jerusalem. He took it right away and began his transition to Islam.   

While studying the Quran, Stevens began to relate more and more with the story of Prophet Yusuf (Joseph in Christianity) a man bought and sold in the marketplace, which is how he had felt within the music business.Regarding his conversion, in his 2006 interview with Alan Yentob,[68] he stated, “to some people, it may have seemed like an enormous jump, but for me, it was a gradual move to this.” And, in a Rolling Stone magazine interview, he reaffirmed this, saying, “I had found the spiritual home I’d been seeking for most of my life. And if you listen to my music and lyrics, like “Peace Train” and “On The Road To Find Out”, it clearly shows my yearning for direction and the spiritual path I was travelling.”

Stevens formally converted to the Islamic religion on 23 December 1977, taking the name Yusuf Islam in 1978. Yusuf is the Arabic rendition of the name Joseph; he stated that he “always loved the name Joseph” and was particularly drawn to the story of Joseph in the Qur’an.

In 1983, he founded the Islamia Primary School in Brondesbury Park, later moved to Salusbury Road,[75] in the north London area of Queen’s Park[1] and, soon after, founded several Muslim secondary schools; in 1992, he set up The Association of Muslim Schools (AMS-UK), a charity that brought together all the Muslim schools in the UK. He is also the founder and chairman of the Small Kindness charity, which initially assisted famine victims in Africa and now supports thousands of orphans and families in the Balkans, Indonesia, and Iraq.[76] He served as chairman of the charity Muslim Aid from 1985 to 1993