Ah-Salamu Alakum: Celebs Who Are Muslim
All around the country and across the world, millions of Muslims are observing Ramadan, the month-long fast of the Islamic faith that involves abstaining from food, liquids and even swearing from sundown until sunset. Did you know these celebrities observing the holiday too?
Like a lot of other inmates who learn about Islam while being incarcerated, “Iron” Mike Tyson converted behind bars. The heavyweight-boxing champ was serving prison time after he was found guilty of raping former beauty queen Desiree Washington. After serving his time, Tyson continued to practice his new faith. In 2010, he made the holy pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia and shared the experience with his followers on Twitter: “I just left the Holy City of Mecca where I was blessed to have been able to make Umrah…Inshallah (God willing), Allah will continue to bless me to stay on the straight path.”
Jermaine Jackson sure loves the spotlight. However, it may come as a surprise that one of the flashier Jacksons is actually a Muslim. He converted to the religion after taking a trip to Bahrain in 1989. Married to an Afghan native, the Jackson Five member explained how he felt after converting. “Having embraced Islam, I felt born again,” he said in an interview. I found the answers, which I had failed to find in Christianity.”
Jermaine isn’t the only famous Jackson member that is Muslim. Youngest sister Janet will be taking part of Ramadan since tying the knot to Qatari billionaire Wissam Al Mana. Much like every other aspect in her personal life, she kept this relationship a secret and the announcement of her third marriage was made well after she tied the knot. Jackson was also secretly married to her second husband Rene Elizondo for years before revealing that he wasn’t just her boyfriend; he was her husband.
Born as O’Shea Jackson, Ice Cube converted to Islam during the height of his career in the mid 90’s. Off of the stage, the mild-mannered Compton native has delved into the world of acting and has established himself as a bonafide actor. The “Today Was A Good Day” rapper is currently starring in the comedy sequel “22 Jump Street.”
You probably wouldn’t know it by some of the material that’s found in his stand-up routine but Dave Chappelle is Muslim. He converted back in the late 90’s but don’t expect the comedian to go around talking about the religion. He revealed why he’s so secretive about it with in an interview with “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,” he said. “And I believe it is a beautiful religion if you learn it the right way. It’s a lifelong effort.”
For more than a decade, NBA All-Star Shaquille O’Neal has dominated the boards and the basketball court. Raised in a household with both a Christian mother and a Muslim stepfather, in 2010 the four-time NBA champion revealed that he converted to Islam and he was planning on taking the holy pilgrimage to Mecca in the near future.
Born Ferdinand Alcindor Jr., Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had one of the prettiest and deadliest skyhook shots in NBA history. The six-time NBA champ converted to Islam in 1971 while he was a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. Cementing himself in the faith, Abdul-Jabbar learned how to speak Arabic and spent a significant time in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia to get a better understanding of the roots to his religion.
He started out in the group Leaders of the New School but soon he stood out from the other two members and Busta Rhymes pursued a solo career soon and has never looked back. While he doesn’t broadcast his religion, Busta Rhymes, who is Muslim, received some flack a few years ago when he released the song “Arab Money.” Both British and American Muslims deemed the song to be disrespectful to Islam.
Calvin Broadus, Jr. may change his name as much as he changes religion. He started out as Snoop Doggy Dog in the early 90’s before dropping the second name and just going by Snoop Dogg. Born in a Christian household, the “Gin & Juice” rapper was reported to be a member of the Nation of Islam in 2009. But after a trip to Jamaica, he went through a spiritual awakening and emerged as Snoop Lion who was now a Rastafarian.
Perhaps best known for her Oscar-nominated role in the 1973 film “The Exorcist,” Ellen Burstyn got her start on Broadway before transitioning to the silver screen. Raised Catholic, Burstyn studied under the tutelage of a Sufi Muslim teacher when she was in her late thirties. The “Requiem for a Dream” actress has described herself as a spirit opening to the truth.
Lupe Fiasco is definitely not your typical rapper from Chicago. Born Wasalu Mohammed Jaco, the politically conscious artist is a devout follower of Islam and is known for address societal issues such as racism, poverty, gun violence and the disparity between the have and the have nots in his lyrics. Never hiding his religion, some of Lupe’s songs contain Islamic references and recitals.
Former British model Jemina Khan converted to Islam before marrying world-renown Pakistani cricket player Imram Khan. Despite the heiress’ Jewish heritage, she moved to Pakistan to raise a family. However, life in her new homeland proved to be too much of a cultural difference and caused a rift in their marriage. She has remained a Muslim following her divorce from Imram and subsequent move back to London.
He received a lot of attention right out of the gate with his debut single “Locked Up” in 2004. Although he was born here in the U.S., Akon spent a lot of his childhood in Senegal. A gifted musician, the Newark transplant learned how to play five instruments. Akon has been evasive when questioned about how many wives he has but he did give a shout out to Allah in his song “Senegal.” One of the best career moves the practicing Muslim ever made was signing Lady Gaga to his label before anyone knew who she was.
If you are familiar with any of T-Pain’s music then you know about his affinity for exotic dancers. The “I’m Sprung” rapper grew up in a Muslim household in Tallahassee, FL. Born Faheem Rasheed Najm, T-Pain tied the knot to his wife in 2003 but has been very vocal about their shared hobby of bringing other partners into the bedroom. His song “Up Down (Do This All Day” is currently tearing up the charts.
Dr. Mehmet Oz
He doles out sage medical advice and useful tips on how to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle each weekday on his show. But many would be surprised to find out that Dr. Mehmet Oz is a Muslim. The Turkish American citizen grew up in a mixed Muslim household. His father believed in Islam while his mother came from a more secular Muslim background. Recently the television personality was in the hot seat during a senate hearing on the authenticity of weight loss products in Washington, DC.