Source: Huffington Post
Yusuf Islam / Cat Stevens Musician, Artist, Writer, Producer and Philanthropist
As we settle down into the grip of another New Year, the past slips further away into obscurity and I am soberly having to grapple with the fact that many youngsters’ ears have never even heard the Beatles song, “Yesterday.” It’s an ominous sign of age creeping up and tapping you on the shoulder like a policeman halting you for driving too fast, dangling a rusty bucket in hand and reminding you of your own inescapable mortality.
If that’s the case, how much hope can we bank on to imagine they would know that there once really was a guy called Cat Stevens who dreamed of transporting his generation to a better world with a song called “Peace Train”? The chance of these young’uns ever hearing anything more about this old “Cat” becomes even more remote when you realize that he decided to embrace Islam and become a Muslim in 1977, almost 40 years ago, when none of these kids (and some of their parents) were even born.
The next major ponderable impossibility would be for them — as well as their parents — to have been given enough accurate information about “why” he decided to jump off the friendly choo choo and align himself to what seems today to be an alien and anti-Western religion, hell-bent on the destruction of civilization as we know it. How can we solve this paradox as we observe the increasingly frightful and blood-chilling news connected to the name of the faith he adopted as his own — Yusuf Islam?
Listening more closely to the “Cat” and his songs of the ’70s might have partially solved the puzzle. When he stunned the music world by walking away from fame and money, all you had to do was to listen to “Father & Son” to hear the last words of the song say, “There’s a way and I know, that I have to go — away…” But that still doesn’t really explain “why.”
Therein lies the riddle — and here comes the explanation: What people don’t know is that the actual station, at which the earnest peace-seeking singer alighted, was in fact hundreds of light years away from the (wild) world that sprouted around him following his entrance to Islam.
After having reached the peaceful state of submission to God, emptying his ego and bowing his head, learning to pray and fast, it was only one year after his conversion when the Iranian Revolution suddenly shook the planet. This was followed soon after by the war in Afghanistan, the Palestinian Intifada, the Iran-Iraq War, The Satanic Verses publication, the Bosnian Genocide, the list of tragedies rolled on through to 9/11 and all that followed up to the crisis we are facing in the world today with the arrival of ISIS and the ubiquitous war of-and-on terror which has invaded and affected all of us.
Now for the good news: Having recently attended the annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit Convention in Toronto over the Christmas period, it was perhaps one of the most exhilarating reminders of the wonderful faith I (first-person) had discovered and embraced before the dark clouds appeared and negative storm of propaganda against Islam began to hail down upon us.
Unfortunately, very few people know or have access to the enlightening and spiritual teachings of this faith as so much time and attention is paid to the more radicalized elements of the Muslim community. Nobody is saying such deviants do not exist, but they are unrepresentative (approx. 0.01 percent) and they receive an unfair percentage of the media’s valuable and influential space, which should be more fairly distributed to cover the real positive representations of the faith and its ethical principles.
Although the new Prime minister of Canada Mr. Justin Trudeau sent a
special video message of welcome and support to the event, there was hardly any other blip on the radar of media consciousness. Shame. Maybe that was because there was no bomb threat, no chaotic scenes or bloodshed; so it passed most people by like a snowflake floating in the breeze without even a whimper.
Why do beautiful things have such a hard time being noticed? And here’s the point: If the real intellectual and heart-cleansing message of Islam is not publicized or promoted, then the field is left to the belligerents and deadly aspirants of Armageddon. Can’t we try a bit harder to get back on that “Peace Train” again? To recall some lyrics in that anthem, “Why must we go on hating, why can’t we live in bliss?”