Steven Demetre Georgiou, remember him? Probably not.
I’m a huge fan. His hits just kept on coming the albums sold millions. One of my favorites was “Tea for the Tillerman”
Ahhh, now your remembering. Cat Stevens, that’s right the bearded hippy, folk singer that took the world by storm.
Then he just up and quit. Years later, Cat Stevens resurfaced as “Yusuf Islam”, acclaimed singer-songwriter, humanitarian and philanthropist.
Trouble was, he had become Muslim. Stevens’ decision to leave the music business, become a Muslim, and devote his life to humanitarian and educational causes is one that has often been greeted with a mixture of curiosity and confusion. Then, out of the blue he was back on the world stage, touring and thrilling thousands of fans worldwide. He looked every bit the Muslim, softly spoken and words well chosen, a humble man with a simple message.
Who really cared that this great singer had become a Muslim? We were more than happy to pay the ticket price to see him in concert and listen to his philosophy.
It was inspiring and uplifting and for many, provided an insight into the way of Islam. We were more than tolerant and happy to sit for 2 hours, to listen, be entertained and even learn a thing or two. Or have we? I read daily of the conflict between cultures, the hatred that is building, the clashes and violence happening with regular monotony.
Sadly we have seen the terrible result of one idealist in Norway. Right now we are witnessing the rioting in London and the effect it is having across the world.
(I remember listening to Enoch Powell’s so-called ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, which was delivered to a Conservative Association meeting in Birmingham on April 20 1968 & thinking this will never happen. How wrong could one be? )
Questions are being raised as to how we could let these things happen. I don’t have the answer, but what I know is this, it has happened, for whatever reason.
I pity the hatred this Norwegian man has for Islam amongst other things. We as a society must learn tolerance. We might not like what we are confronted with, but somewhere within, we must accept it.
It is hard to forgive and forget, but over time, the scar fades.
We are coming up on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and the haunting pictures are etched firmly in our minds forever. The destruction, loss, anger and pain suffered by everyone in their own way, will never leave us. But, here’s the thing, we have become tolerant and this tragic event for most, over time, has become a memory. It will never ever go away, but we learn to live with it. We live with the fact that Islam is here to stay, we might not like it, but somehow we tolerate it.
I learned to be tolerant a long time ago in fact, October 1973, the day I lost my legs. I’m well over that, but when I read and hear of how people of different cultures are being treated, I can’t help but wonder.
I have nothing but admiration for “Yusuf Islam,” aka “Cat Stevens.”
I will listen and no doubt I might just learn something!