Yusuf Islam: Why I still carry a guitar

By Ahmed Wafi

GOMBAK, 6 May 2015: IIUM was delighted to have the international music star Yusuf Islam graced the halls of IIUM and enlightened the young hearts. Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens was invited by the Spiritual & Islamisation Department of the Student’s Representative Council to give a brief yet enlightening speech in collaboration with Institut Terjemahan dan Buku Malaysia (ITBM).

The Moot Court in the Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Laws (AIKOL) was the place to be on the evening with the event scheduled to start at 5 p.m. but due to late arrivals of the VIPs and some members of the audience, the event had to be delayed until 5:45 p.m. The event was held to promote his new book “Why I still carry a guitar” which was translated into Malay as “Mengapa saya masih memetik gitar”. The event of the evening was entitled the same name as his book.

Among the guests of honour present on the night was the Deputy Rector (Student Affairs), Prof. Datuk Dr. Mizan Hitam and Yusuf Islam’s son-in-law, Majid. The crowd in attendance was too overwhelming for the hall to accommodate up to the point where the event was also broadcast outside the hall in order for the less fortunate members of the audience to catch a glimpse of the years of knowledge and experience Sheikh Yusuf Islam had to share.  As usual, the event did not begin without the recitation of Ummu al-kitab Surah al-Fatihah.

Yusuf Islam entered the hall dressed in a simple denim jacket and jeans and was accompanied by the moderator of the day. After a few light jokes about the moderator’s singing talents, Sheikh Yusuf began talking about his transition from the wild pop star he once was to become the man he is today.

He says when he found Islam it “brought him back to a place of childhood” and that he was then pure like a “sheet of paper”. He expressed his curiosity regarding Islam in the West during his time of conversion. He questioned why Islam was so concealed in the Western world that not many people even knew about this. He described Islam as “The biggest secret that was concealed in the Western World.”

Sheikh Yusuf spoke on how when he first found Islam, he decided to stop performing altogether and put down his guitar. He even recalled the memory of him selling off his old guitars in an attempt to distance himself from his past. Another topic mentioned by the musical sensation was that of death and the different perspectives that the Westerners and the Muslims have of it.

After much thought, studying and consultation, he eventually picked up his guitar again. He mentioned that one of the experiences that led him to rediscover his love for music was when he travelled to Bosnia as a volunteer to assist those in need during the Bosnian genocide. He explained to the crowd that not all music was haraam and that he used music for the betterment of the world.

Once his speech ended, the floor was opened for questions and later, an autograph session.

Nowadays, Yusuf Islam is not as wild as he was. He is a storyteller and his message is peace.***

Photo of Puteri Othman

Ahmed Wafi

The first step to being good at something is to suck at something. I like running and boats.

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