By Al Qalam Correspondent
When renowned US Islamic scholar Dr Umar Faruk Abd-Allah was addressing a packed gathering of the Islamic Forum in Overport, Durban, everyone got a surprise when internationally known nasheed artist Yusuf Islam – better known as Cat Stevens in the music world – unexpectedly turned up at the event held at the Suleman Lockhat Audiotiorium.
Yusuf Islam was in Durban for a once-off music concert of his old songs. When he unexpectedly walked in, everyone was surprised and Dr Umar Faruk Abd-Allah said jokingly: “Now I have been upstaged.”
Islam was asked to address them and much to the delight of the audience, he readily took to the podium. He said that he had no idea who to follow and neither did he have any role models except for the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be upon Him). “Everybody seemed to be so different and they wore clothes which was part of their culture and spoke different languages, but they were all Muslims.
“I found Islam when I received the Quran, and I got it from someone who was not a Muslim. My brother who married and Israeli girl and they went to Jerusalem and he was in awe of the architecture of the beautiful mosque,” said Islam.
Early in life, he had a natural instinct for art and drew cartoons and later when it came to music, it opened even greater doors.
“We were part of the revolution of yesterday and we knew what we wanted tomorrow to be. It had to be naturalistic and spiritualistic. When I wrote a song, I was the first person to hear it. It came naturally to me and I want to say to you that you have to do what comes naturally to you,” said Islam.
He pointed that he was in Durban to host a concert. “I need to open some hearts” and the audience applauded him as he spoke without any notes. He endorsed what Dr Umar Faruk Abd-Allah said about the oneness of mankind. “Unity comes from within.”
Meanwhile, Dr Umar Faruk Abd-Allah said advised Muslims to embrace people who were coming into the Deen, regardless of their racial, cultural or differing backgrounds. “Do not expect people who come into Islam to look like you or adopt your culture, to be Muslim does not mean that you have to look like an Arab, it’s fine to be different, he said.
His address, “Islam and the Cultural Imperative” held the audience spellbound as he took them on a journey going back thousands of years from as far East as the Pacific Rim to the Atlantic Ocean. – Islamic Forum.