|Steven Demetre Georgiou, aka "Cat Stevens".|
"I was never a supporter of the fatwa [against Rushdie], but people don't want to hear that..."
"Now I'm followed by all these misconceptions, and they're like a ball and chain. I just want to write music from my heart and give people a message of hope and the search for a better place."
Conversion to Islam.
Everything changed one day in 1976, when Stevens went for a swim in the ocean near Malibu. As he tried to swim back to shore, he realized the current was too strong to fight, and after struggling for a time he found himself on the verge of drowning. "I didn't have any strength left," says Yusuf. "There was only one place to go, and that was God. I never doubted God's existence, but I never called on him because everything had seemed all right in my life. This was life-and-death."
He pledged his complete and utter allegiance to God if he'd save him, and suddenly a wave pushed him to shore. Not long afterward, his brother David gave him a copy of the Quran. "This was before Islam was a headline," Yusuf says. "The Iranian Revolution wasn't even on the horizon. I felt like I was discovering something that was an amazing and immense secret."
The Middle Ground.
"There was so much antagonism in the world," he says. "Many Muslims have come up to me, shook my hand and said, 'Thank you! Thank you.' I'm representing the way they want to be seen. So much of the middle ground gets forgotten in the extremities we witness around the world."
(Note: If you'd like to see this video on You Tube, click on the video title, and that will take you directly to You Tube.)
Yusuf Islam's Golden Years: Cat Stevens on Islam and His Return to Music.