In 1971 Cat Stevens wrote one of my favorite songs, “Peace Train”. Apparently I wasn’t alone. Stevens was catapulted into stardom. In 1976 while swimming in California, Stevens was caught in a rip current and almost drowned. He committed his life to God and began a search. His brother bought him a Quran and shortly thereafter Cat Stevens adopted the Muslim faith turning his back on music and most of the world as he had known it. Cat Stevens went silent.
I applaud his devotion and commitment. He is a deep feeler and thinker with strong convictions.
Here’s my problem; the silence is deafening…and it’s killing us. Literally.
Stevens (he has since changed his name to Yusuf Islam) has given much time and money to promoting the Muslim faith, starting Muslim schools in London and traveling broadly to relieve the suffering of refugees. What’s not so clear is the real message. In 1989 during a debate at London’s Kingston University, Stevens declared that Salman Rushdie deserved to die for his writings, (the Ayatollah Khomeini had declared a fatwa on Salman). He has since walked the statement back but the impact haunts him. For most Westerner’s, the teaching of the Muslim faith is very confusing. We are reminded constantly that ISIS does not represent the majority of Muslims but where is the outcry from them? They are apparently the “silent majority”.
When interviewed in June of this year, the interviewer asked Stevens how he should address him; “as Cat Stevens or Yusuf or what”? His response mirrors the Muslim silent majority today:
“Well my name’s Yusuf Islam”
But some people still call you Cat Stevens…
“That’s fine too”
Which do you prefer?
“Well my name’s Yusuf”
“Whatever your comfortable with…”
Here’s what I’m not comfortable with, the screaming silence of the millions of Muslims who refuse to speak out against radical Islam.
Stevens sings in “Peace Train”;
“Now I’ve been crying lately
Thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating
Why can’t we live in bliss?”
Why indeed? Maybe it’s time to write a new song and Steven’s may just have the platform to do it…along with millions of “peaceful” Muslims.
Let’s pray so. Sing out Cat.