Media Review: ‘My Way’

ITV Interview with Singer/Muslim Convert ‘Cat Stevens’ on Islam (ITV, 23rd August 1981)

by Selim Ahmad, B.A.

The Islamic Guardian (UK), October to December 1981 Issue (Vol. 2, No. 4, p. 19)

Representing Islam, in this series of interviews on religion, was a former songwriter who achieved swift renown under the name Cat Stevens in 1966, and who continued to be commercially successful for much of the ensuing eight years or so. He abandoned this career on becoming a Muslim, adopting the name Yusuf Islam.

The implicit connexion between his music and his discovery of Islam was directly touched upon. He explained that he had felt the urge to write songs in order to express things which others did not seem to be saying. However, he found that the Holy Quran contained everything that needed expression, and in a manner which could not be surpassed.

He was able, in the course of the interview, to communicate something of the real meaning of Islam, bringing out the purpose behind its precepts and making a number of important points, such as that Islam treats women as persons in their own right and that modesty in their gaze is required from men as a counterpart to modesty of dress on the part of women. An outsider with no special knowledge of religion would have been able to gain a better insight into Islam from this interview than from the only comparable programme which has recently appeared on television, namely The Dervish Way (reviewed in The Islamic Guardian, vol. II, no. 2), a more complex programme and one requiring a greater degree of background knowledge to be properly understood.

Yusuf Islam spoke from the heart, from his own experience of life. Except through surrender to God, he explained, there is no ultimate or lasting satisfaction to be found within this brief earthly existence. He related how once, when in danger of drowning, he had promised to dedicate his life to God if He would only spare it. At this, he seemed to be lifted up by a surge of power which came as an answer to this prayer. However, he confessed, he did not immediately change his life as he had promised. Rather, Allah Himself in His mercy provided him with the means to fulfil this undertaking by leading him to Islam.