Dr. Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens)

Arthur J. Magida

in Opening the Doors of Wonder

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780520245457
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520941717 | DOI:
Dr. Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens)

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This chapter focuses on the conversion of Cat Stevens from Christianity to Islam. In his early life, he attended art school in London, took up folk music, and cut some hits (“Peace Train,” “Wild World,” “Moonshadow”) that sold 40 million albums by the time he was thirty. With a Greek Orthodox father and a Swedish Baptist mother, attending a Roman Catholic school produced a spiritual dissonance, a confusion of the soul. Stevens' yearning for some kind of certainty was accelerated in 1976 by his near-drowning off the coast of Malibu. Pleading for deliverance, he said to God, “Please, I'll do anything for you.” After he took shahada the next year, “Cat Stevens” essentially disappeared from the music world, a detour he later attributed to his early misunderstanding about Islam's attitude toward music. His rare public performances or recordings were invariably propelled by charitable motives, such as the 1985 Live Aid concert for famine relief in Ethiopia. By the mid-1990s, Stevens had learned enough about Islam to understand that lyrics in English were allowable, and made several recordings.

Keywords: Cat Stevens; Yusuf Islam; Wild World; Greek Orthodox; shahada; Ethiopia

Chapter.  2638 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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