Nano essay on Cat/Yusuf

Let me start by saying I love Cat Steven’s music. He was/is one of the spiritual lights of my life. He once sat right in front of me at Harvard Performing Arts center to watch our local lady, Bonnie, do the opening set before his show. I was in awe.

One of the primary spiritual threads that informs my being is Sufi Islam. I highly recommend looking into it if you haven’t read any yet. Idries Shah is an excellent source of many books. Caravan of Dreams is my favorite. Sufi Islam is a love supreme by another culture.

Here’s Wiki on Yusuf:

Yusuf Islam (born Steven Demetre Georgiou, 21 July 1948),[1] best known by his former stage name Cat Stevens, is a British musician of Greek Cypriot and Swedish ancestry. He is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, educator, philanthropist and prominent convert to Islam.

As Cat Stevens, he has sold over 60 million albums around the world since the late 1960s. His albums Tea for the Tillerman and Teaser and the Firecat were both certified as Triple Platinum by the RIAA in the United States; his album Catch Bull at Four sold half a million copies in the first two weeks of release alone, and was Billboard’s number-one LP for three consecutive weeks. He has also earned two ASCAP songwriting awards in consecutive years, for “The First Cut Is the Deepest”, which has been a hit single for four different artists.

Stevens converted to Islam at the height of his fame in December, 1977,[2] and adopted his Muslim name, Yusuf Islam, the following year. In 1979 he auctioned all his guitars away for charity[3] and left his music career to devote himself to educational and philanthropic causes in the Muslim community. He has been given several awards for his work in promoting peace in the world, including 2003’s World Award, the 2004 Man for Peace Award and the 2007 Mediterranean Prize for Peace. In 2006, he returned to pop music, with his first album of new pop songs in 28 years, entitled An Other Cup. He now goes by the single name Yusuf

Awesome human being.

My problem with Yusuf:


Salman Rushdie controversy

Main article: Cat Stevens’ comments about Salman Rushdie

The singer attracted controversy in 1989, during an address to students at London’s Kingston University, where he was asked about the fatwa calling for the death of author Salman Rushdie. Newspapers quickly interpreted his response as support for the fatwa, but he released a statement the following day which said that he had not been supporting vigilantism, and was merely explaining the legal Islamic punishment for blasphemy. In a BBC interview, he displayed a newspaper clipping from that time period, which quotes from his statement. Subsequent comments made by him in 1989 on a British television program were also seen as being in support of the fatwa, but in an extensive statement in the FAQ section of his web site, [46] he states that he was joking and that the show was improperly edited. In the years since these comments, he has strongly denied ever calling for the death of Rushdie or supporting the fatwa. [3][40]

Apparently, I only caught the first two to three days of the news cycle on that one. My impression was that he agreed with the “legal Islamic punishment for blasphemy” – death. I tuned him out immediately on hearing that news update. It saddened me greatly that someone whose work I had admired so much had embraced hard-lined dogma.

I’m glad to discover that I’ve been wrongly seeing the man in that light.

7 comments

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    • RUKind on May 14, 2009 at 2:35 am
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    • Alma on May 14, 2009 at 2:48 am

    your fault you missed it.  I think it was that the media didn’t cover the rebuttal.  They didn’t want to clear the record.

    If I hadn’t been a Cat Stevens nut, I wouldn’t have known he had denied the meaning of his words.  There is also the possibility that at the time he was upset, and in thought, might have approved of the idea.  Kind of like in thought I wouldn’t mind if Cheney, or Rush was waterboarded, but just in fantasy.  It would bother me if it really happened.

  1. which was partially sufi in origin.  Really liked that.  Wish I were still doing it.

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