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Opening the Doors of WonderReflections on Religious Rites of Passage$
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Arthur Magida

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520245457

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520245457.001.0001

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Dr. Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens)

Dr. Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens)

Floating On A Cloud of Mercy

(p.239) 22 Dr. Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens)
Opening the Doors of Wonder

Arthur J. Magida

University of California Press

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

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