Sinéad O'Connor is the latest celebrity convert to Islam; who are the others?
- 08 November 2018
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As Sinead O’Connor becomes the latest star to embrace the religion, we look at some of the personalities to have done so before her.
Last week, Irish singer-songwriter Sinead O’Connor announced that she had converted to Islam in a ceremony conducted in Ireland by a Sunni cleric.
She told her followers on Twitter, “This is to announce that I am proud to have become a Muslim. This is the natural conclusion of any intelligent theologian’s journey.”
She continued, “All scripture study leads to Islam. Which makes all other scriptures redundant. I will be given [another] new name. It will be Shuhada’.”
Of course, O’Connor isn’t the first celebrity to have converted to Islam. Here, we take a look at 10 other personalities who have done so before her.
1. OMAR SHARIF
Born Michel Dimitri Chalhoub, the late legendary Egyptian actor converted to Islam and changed his name to marry fellow Egyptian actress Faten Hamama.
Following their divorce in 1974, Sharif never remarried, claiming that he never fell in love with another woman again.
2. DAVE CHAPPELLE
The hugely successful American comedian, who returns to the UAE this November for a one-off gig at the Dubai World Trade Centre, converted to Islam in 1998.
However, he rarely speaks publicly about his faith, once telling Time magazine, “I don’t normally talk about my religion publicly because I don’t want people to associate me and my flaws with this beautiful thing. And I believe it is beautiful if you learn it the right way.”
3. YUSUF ISLAM
The British musician, also known as Cat Stevens, embraced Islam in 1976. He is passionate about many philanthropic causes and founded the Islamia Primary School in 1983 and the Association of Muslim Schools (AMS-UK) in 1992. He is also the founder and chairman of Small Kindness, a charity that helps famine victims in Africa and now supports orphans and families in countries such as Iraq and Indonesia.
4. ICE CUBE
The American rapper and actor converted to Islam in the mid-1990s but admits he doesn’t follow particular aspects, calling himself a “natural Muslim, ’cause it’s just me and God. You know, going to the mosque, the ritual and the tradition, it’s just not in me to do. So I don't do it.”
5. A.R. RAHMAN
The award-winning Indian music director, composer, singer-songwriter and music producer, best known internationally for his work on Slumdog Millionaire, was born Hindu and converted to Islam in his twenties.
The American rapper of House of Pain fame converted from Catholicism to Islam in 1996. However, he admits that he doesn’t regularly practice, stating in 2011, “Even though I would consider myself still to be Muslim, I don’t really. I really kinda reject all organized religion.”
7. MAHERSHALA ALI
Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim to earn an Oscar in an acting category when he won the honour for his performance as Juan in the film Moonlight.
Raised Christian by his mother, the American actor later converted to Islam and changed his surname from Gilmore to Ali.
8. DOLLY SHAHINE
The controversial Lebanese singer, who retired from the entertainment industry in 2016, is rumoured to have converted to Islam in Cairo in 2017 prior to marrying an Egyptian businessman.
9. JANET JACKSON
Jackson reportedly converted to Islam following her marriage to Qatari businessman Wissam Al Mana in 2012. However, since her split from him last year, it is unclear whether she continues to follow the religion.
10. SONNY BILL WILLIAMS
The 33-year-old New Zealand rugby union and rugby league footballer and heavyweight boxer converted to Islam in 2009, making him the first Muslim to play for the All Blacks. He performed the umrah earlier this year.
“I’ve become a true Muslim,” Williams told CNN in 2013. “It’s giving me happiness. It’s made me become content as a man and helped me to grow. I’ve just got faith in it, and it has definitely helped me become the man I am today.”
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