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Famous Converts to Islam

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  • Famous Converts to Islam

    Famous Converts to Islam
    1. Khadijah - wife of Muhammad. First convert to Islam.
    2. Shabbetai Tzevi - seventeenth-century Turkish Jew who had claimed to be Messiah and attracted a large following. His conversion to Islam largely dissolved this mass messianic Jewish movement, but also resulted in the development of the ongoing Donmeh religious movement.
    3. Malcolm X - More popularly known as Malcom X; black-rights activist and religious leader. In 1964, after a pilgrimage to Mecca, he announced his conversion to orthodox Islam and his belief in the possibility of brotherhood between blacks and whites.
    4. Cat Stevens - World famous legendary British pop singer. He converted to Islam in 1973 and changed his name to Yusuf Islam.
    5. Art Blakey - Abdullah Ibn Buhaina - American drummer and jazz musician. His contribution to jazz from 1954 to 1990 as leader of the Jazz Messengers established the sound Hard Bop, greatly influencing later generations of musicians and entertainers.
    6. Muhammad Ali - Greatest sportsman of all time. Boxing legend, three times world champion, and convert to Sunni Islam.
    7. Matthew Saad Muhammad - world champion boxer (formerly Matt Franklin) .
    8. Dwight Muhammad Qawi - World champion boxer (formerly Dwight Braxton).
    9. Eddie Mustapha Muhammad - World champion lightweight boxer (formerly Eddie Gregory).
    10. Mustafa Hamsho - World champion boxing legend.
    11. Akbar Muhammad - Boxer.
    12. Hamdan Chris Eubank - In March 1997, after former super middleweight world champion Chris Eubank defeated Camilo Alocon of Columbia at the Dubai Tennis Stadium in a light heavyweight contest, Eubank embraced Islam and took the name Hamdan.
    13. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - Formerly Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor. Before the 1971-72 season Alcindor converted from Catholicism to Islam and took the name Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He played 20 seasons in the league with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers. By the time the 7 foot 2 basketball player retired in 1989, Abdul-Jabbar was a six-time Most Valuable Player and is now one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.
    14. Queen Noor - Born Lisa Najeeb Halaby to a prominent Arab-American family. Raised by Christian parents, she converted to Islam when she married the late King Hussein, a Hashemite and descendant of the prophet?s line, on 15 June 1978. When she converted, she changed her name to Noor al-Hussein -- the light of Hussein.
    15. Maryam Jameelah - Formerly Margaret Marcus; Jewish American essayist, poet, journalist and author of several highly acclaimed books. She converted from Judaism to Islam in 1962. An Open Letter To Her Parents.
    16. Daniel Moore - Highly talented Anglo-American poet.
    17. Muhammad Marmaduke (William) Pickthall - He was born William Pickthall in 1875 in London. He converted to Islam in 1917 and by 1930 Pickthall published The Meaning of the Glorious Koran; which was an English language translation (meaning) of the Qur?an.
    18. Michael Wolfe - Author of The Hajj: An American's Pilgrimage to Mecca, and One Thousand Roads to Mecca: Ten Centuries of Travelers Writing About the Muslim Pilgrimage. Born of a Christian mother and Jewish father, he is most well known for his documentary on ABC?s Nightline which aired on April 18, 1997 called An American in Mecca.
    19. Aminah Assilmi - Denver area broadcast journalist; now director of the International Union of Muslim Women (former Baptist)
    20. Jemima Goldsmith - daughter of British billionaire Sir James Goldsmith, who married Imran Khan. Converted to Islam and changed name to Haiqa Khan.
    Last edited by Abdullah al-Muhajir; 07-06-04, 10:56 AM.
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  • #2
    Float like a butterfly ...
    Anayat Durrani
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    • #3
      Marmaduke Muhammad Pickthall- a Servant of Islam
      Abu Ali Hadhrami and Dr. A. Zahoor

      He was born William Pickthall in 1875 in London, to an Anglican clergyman, and spent his formative years in rural Suffolk. He was contemporary of Winston Churchill at Harrow, the famous private school. During intervals from living a sedentary life in Suffolk, Pickthall traveled extensively in the Arab world and Turkey. In 1917, Pickthall reverted to Islam and soon became a leader among the emerging group of British Muslims.

      In 1919, Pickthall worked for the London-based Islamic Information Bureau that among other things published the weekly Muslim Outlook. After completing his last novel the Early Hours in 1920, he departed for his new assignment in India to serve as the editor of the Bombay Chronicle.

      Pickthall devoted considerable interest in the independent Islamic empire of India that was gradually eroded through a string of British conspiracies. In 1927, Pickthall took over as the editor of Islamic Culture, a new quarterly journal published under the patronage of the Nizam of Hydrabad. He gave eight lectures on several aspects of Islamic civilization at the invitation of The Committee of "Madras Lectures on Islam" in Madras, India.

      His lectures were published under the title "The Cultural Side of Islam" in 1961 by S.M. Ashraf Publishers, Lahore. For an abridged version of his fifth lecture, point your browser to Tolerance in Islam.

      The mission of 'translating' the Qur'an had preoccupied Pickthall's mind since he reverted to Islam. He saw that there was an obligation for all Muslims to know the Qur'an intimately. In 1930, Pickthall published The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (A. A. Knopf, New York). Pickthall maintained that the Qur'an being the word of Allah (SWT) could not be translated.

      Pickthall returned to England in early 1935, and died a year later on May 19 at St. Ives. He is buried in the Muslim cemetery at Brookwood, Surrey, near Woking. Sixteen years later another distinguished translator Abdullah Yusuf Ali joined him in this earthly domain.
      Attached Files
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      • #4
        How I came to Islam
        Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens)

        All I have to say is all what you know already, to confirm what you already know, the message of the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) 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. Man is created to be God's deputy on earth, and it is important to realize the 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, because it says in Qur'an Majeed 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."

        I was brought up in the modern world of all the luxury and the high life of show business. I was born in a Christian home, but we know that every child is born in his original nature - 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 all.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.

        POP STAR
        Gradually I became alienated from this religious upbringing. 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 has 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 would help the needy. (It says in the Qur'an, we make a promise, but when we make something, we want to hold onto 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 and drugs).

        After a year of financial success and 'high' living, I became very ill, contracted TB and had to be hospitalized. 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 started 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 started making music again and this time I started reflecting my own thoughts. I remember the lyric of one of my songs. It goes like this: "I wish I knew, I wish I knew what makes the Heaven, what makes the Hell. Do I get to know You in my bed or some dusty cell while others reach the big hotel?" and I knew I was on the Path.
        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 all right 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 as 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.

        THE QUR'AN
        When he came to London he brought back a translation of the Qur'an, 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 your old age. In the West, whoever wishes to embrace a religion and make it his only way of life is deemed a fanatic. I was not a fanatic, I was at first confused between the body and the soul. Then I realized that the body and soul are not apart and you don't have to go to the mountain to be religious. We must follow the will of God. Then we can rise 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 Al-Islam.

        At this point I started discovering my faith. I felt I was a Muslim. On reading the Qur'an, 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 His Word. Even the Christians misunderstand God's Word and called Jesus the son of God. Everything made so much sense. This is the beauty of the Qur'an; it asks you to reflect and reason, and not to worship the sun or moon but the One Who has created everything. The Qur'an 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, they 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'an 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'an, and God had sent it to me, and I kept it a secret. But the Qur'an also speaks on different levels. I began to understand it on another level, where the Qur'an says, "Those who believe do not take disbelievers for friends and the believers are brothers." Thus at this point I wished to meet my Muslim brothers.

        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 successfully. 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 1977, about one and a half years after I received the Qur'an.

        Now I realized that I must get rid of my pride, get rid of Iblis, and face one direction. So on a Friday, after Jumma' I went to the Imam and declared my faith (the Kalima) at this 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 Qur'an.

        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, that are idols for the purpose.

        But Islam removes all these barriers. The only thing that moves the believers from the disbelievers is the salat. 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'an first and realized that no person is perfect. Islam is perfect, and if we imitate the conduct of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) we will be successful. May Allah give us guidance to follow the path of the ummah of Muhammad (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam).

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        • #5
          Hamza Hanson Yusuf - An Ordinary Nurse and an Intellectual. Coverted in 1977. The Institute he co-Founded... Zaytuna Institute
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          • #6
            Hamza Yusuf Hanson - arguably the most respected and well-known scholar in the world today. A great man with extraordinary vision, he has helped many non-Muslims in converting to the great religion of Islam.

            Zaytuna Institute is an educational institution he jointly founded, unarguably one of the best today, situated in the state of California. Many well known scholars teach there, and I would love to visit and study in that place one day. :)
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            • #7
              Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

              Acknowledged by many players and pundits as the greatest basketball player of all time, voted six times the National Basketball Association's most valuable player, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is also one of the most visible Muslims in the American public arena.

              The 7' 2" native upper Harlem, born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, starred for UCLA before entering the National Basketball Association with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1969. Alcindor later went to the Los Angeles Lakers. He was so dominant in college basketball that "dunking," at which he excelled, was formally banned from the intercollegiate sport. As a result, Lew Alcindor developed the shot for which he is personally the most famous- the"skyhook"- which has been called the shot that changed basketball, and with the help of which he was to score more than thirty eight thousand points in regular-season NBA play.

              When Milwaukee won the NBA title in 1970-71, Alcindor,
              who by then reverted to Islam and changed his name to Kareem Abd-ul-Jabbar, was the acclaimed king of basketball.

              Lew Alcindor first learned his Islam from Hammas Abd-ul-Khaalis, a former jazz drummer and founder of the Hanafi Madhhab in Washington, D.C. According to his own testimony, he had been raised to take authority seriously, whether that of nuns, teachers, or coaches, and in that spirit he followed the teachings of Abd-ul-Khaalis closely.

              It was by him that Alcindor was given the name Abdul Kareem, then changed to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, literally "the noble one, servant of the Almighty." Soon, however, he determined to augment Abdul Khaalis's teachings with his own study of the Quran, for which he undertook to learn basic Arabic. In 1973 he travelled to Libya and Saudi Arabia to get a better grasp of the language and to learn about Islam in some of its "home" contexts.

              Abdul-Jabbar was not interested in making the kind of public statement about his Islam that he felt Muhammad Ali had in his opposition to the Vietnam War, wishing simply to identify himself quietly as an African American who was also a Muslim.

              He stated clearly that his name Alcindor was a slave name, literally that of the slave-dealer who had taken his family away from West Africa to Dominica to Trinidad, from where they were brought to America.

              As a follower of the Hanafi Madhab, Kareem Abd-ul-Jabbar affirms his identity as a Sunni Muslim. He professes a strong belief in the Supreme Being and is clear in his understanding that Muhammad is his prophet and the Quran is the Final Revelation.

              Objecting to having been pushed into the Catholic faith by his father, he insists that his children will be free to make their own choices.

              .... For his part, Kareem accepts his responsibilty to live as good an Islamic life as possible, recognising that Islam is able to meet much more than just the requirements of being a professional athlete in America, but the way of Life ordained by Allah, Glorified and Exalted be He.
              Attached Files
              Last edited by Abdullah al-Muhajir; 07-06-04, 02:58 PM.
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              • #8
                More famous converts to Islam
                1. Mos Def - formerly Dante Smith. He is a recording artist, actor, and activist who converted to Islam in 1993. His 1999 album "Black on Both Sides," opens with ~ Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Rahim ~ (In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful). His tract "Umi Says" became the score for Michael Jordan's "Brand Jordan" Nike division 2001 broadcast campaign "Much Respect."
                2. Fareed Kamal - formerly Jonathan Davis. He is more popularly known as Q-tip, th former member of A Tribe Called Quest. He converted to Islam around 1996.
                3. Erik Schrody - lead singer of Everlast, who is of Irish decent, converted from Catholicism to Islam in 1997. The rapper turned rocker's hit single "What It's Like," off his "Whitey Ford Sings the Blues," garnered triple-platinum sales of his album. The lyrics of his album's closing track, "Graves to Dig," reflect his religion: "One for the prophet/Two for Islam/Three for the khutba from the imam."
                4. Mohammad Asad (1900-1992) - formerly Leopold Weiss, born in Lwow, Galicia now in Poland, to a Jewish father in 1900. Asad was an Austrian statesman, journalist, and leading Muslim scholar, who reverted to Islam in 1926. Asad was a former foreign correspondent for the Frankfuerter Zeitung, and is best known for his books, "Islam at the Crossroads," and "Road to Mecca," and for his English translation of the Qur'an.
                5. Murad Hofman - formerly Wilfried Hoffman. He was born into a Catholic family in Germany in 1931. The Harvard Law graduate, former German diplomat, and former director of information for NATO, embraced Islam in 1980 and changed his name. He has lectured and written extensively on Islam.
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                • #9
                  There is an excellent biography of Shaykh Marmaduke Pickthall at:

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                  • #10
                    You said it. A very awe-inspiring and complete biography.

                    Marmaduke Muhammad Pickthall is a blessing unto the mankind from Allah, Glorified and Exalted be He.

                    His translation of the Meaning of the Noble Qu'ran, enlightens to radiate the soul of the believing Muslim and magnonomously radiates to enlighten the non-Muslim.

                    He was one of the first in a very long line of native British reverts to Islam, which by God's Grace looks to go on eternally. We even have a few here, like Makki, Anna & Sultan. :)
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                    • #11
                      Suprising the number of (former) Catholics on here.. I wonder what the percentages are as far as Catholics
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                      • #12
                        Erik Schrody aka Everlast used to be in House of Pain. I understand that he suffered cardiac arrest and from this point onwards his outlook on life changed. He is also friends with Divine Styler another rapper who is also Muslim. Allah knows best.

                        What about Yahiya John Emerick? Also, another convert and a great writer of books relating to Islam.


                        • #13
                          .لا نريد زعيما يخاف البيت الإبيض
                          نريد زعيما يخاف الواحد الأحد
                          دولة الإسلامية باقية


                          • #14
                            i read once that that french actor guy, Girard Depardiou.. (forgive spelling) also converted. he was in the movie Green Card with Andie McDowell. i am not sure how much truth there is to that, just something i read before.
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                            • #15
                              Alhumdulillah. :)
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