Significance of Michael Jackson’s Conversion to Islam
Syed Ali Mujtaba
Pop star Michael Jackson has converted to Islam at a ceremony in Los Angeles recently. Jackson , whose once amazing career has been eclipsed in recent years, is said to have changed his name to Mikaeel, one of the angels of Allah name and taken the ‘Shahada’ or a declaration to believe in Islam.
The iconic star continued to be in news for legal and financial troubles. His career seems to be on wane since the news for his bizarre behavior led to the accusation of child molestation. He however was acquitted from all charges in this case after a Jury gave the verdict in his favor at the end of a sensational trial that lasted for 14 weeks in Santa Maria, CA in 2005. Some say this was the turning point in Jackson’s life.
According to a report, the legendry rock star showed interest in Islam after discussing the religion with a music producer and a songwriter on his new album. The duo started talking to him about their new beliefs to which they had converted recently and how they thought they had become better human being thereafter. It’s after that Michael began warming the idea on Islam and after being convinced about this faith, he finally went through the motion of its declaration as his belief.
The report says, the 50-year old legend wore the traditional Islamic attire as he pledged his allegiance to the Koran at a friend's home in Los Angeles. The religious ceremony took place at the Hollywood Hills home of Toto keyboardist Steve Porcaro, who composed music for Jackson’s iconic "Thriller" album. The function was attended by legendry Yousef Islam, a.k.a, Cat Stevens, another pop icon of the sixties.
When I heard about the news I was wondering whether there could be any connect between pop star Michael Jackson and the celebrated Urdu poet Mohammad Iqbal.
Iqbal penned the India’s unofficial national anthem “Sare Jahan Se Accha”... whereas Michael Jackson gave to the world - 'Just beat it'!
When we analyze the news of conversion Michael Jackson to Islam and its impact on his new faith, especially in the context of the controversies that has been erupting time and again since The Satanic Verses and running through the Danish Cartoons that maligned and denigrated the Islamic faith then the poet Iqbal gets connected with Michael Jackson episode.
Iqbal says: “Kuch Baat hai ke hasthi mithe nahi hamari, saadyon raha hai dushmane daure jamma hamara”…… ‘There is something in my religion that it fails to die; people have remained its enemy from centuries.’
These lines actually were art of "Sare Jahan's" poem, but the poet modified it later to convey the message of preeminence of Islam in the world.
The significance of Michael Jackson’s conversion to Islam could be ascertained from the fact that in recent past a series of writers have mushroomed that thrive on spreading the canard against Islam. There whole effort is to belittle a religion that’s faith of majority of people in fifty two countries of the world.
The trend of anti- Islam writers continue to grow since Sir Salman Rushdee wrote The Satanic Verses. The master story teller assumed iconic status by denigrating the religion whose name he continues parade even after making a killing out of mocking at it in his figment of imagination.
Back home, another author Taslima Nasreen became a celebrated figure after writing abuses against Islam. Her basic argument is Muslims should stop reading Koran and stop believing in Islam as its inhuman outdated religion. However, she too continues to parade her Muslim identity and never tried to set an example of her progressive beliefs and ideas.
There is another subtext to Michael Jackson episode especially for those who are busy spreading the canard that “All Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorist are Muslims.” This has become a fancy catch phrase since the 9/11 and to justify the war on terror and target a particular community.
The Michael Jackson episode has also ramification on the conversion debate raging in India. The Hindu extremists are accusing the Christians of using fair and foul means for doing conversion activities. The change of faith by Michael Jackson suggests that conversion is a voluntary decision of an individual person and no amount of incentives can change anyone’s heart.
Well whatever may be reason for the conversion of faith of Michael Jackson, the fact remains that the world adores him as a singer, dancer and a performer par excellence. As Mikaeel, he would continue to receive the same warmth of love and affection when he comes on stage to regale the world once again.
The entire world looks forward for this musical genius new album after he has changed his faith. The expectations are; Michael Jackson would reach to greater musical heights as Mikaeel, the angel of Allah.
After all did not Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr, became phenomena after becoming Mohmmad Ali. Did not Dilip become a rage in India after becoming Allah Rakha Rehman.
The significance of Michael Jackson’s conversion would definitely change the perception about Islam and provide an answer to all those who are busy in running a campaign against it. Its here poet Iqbal’s prophecy comes true.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org