How Yusuf Islam (aka, Cat Stevens) Came to Islam

I just love personal testimonies from those I most love and respect.

Here’s a snip from the full piece:

I realized that everything belongs to God, that
slumber does not overtake Him. He created everything. At
this point I began to lose the pride in me, because
hereto I had thought the reason I was here was because of
my own greatness. But I realized that I did not create
myself, and the whole purpose of my being here was to
submit to the teaching that has been perfected by the
religion we know as Al-Islam. At this point I started
discovering my faith. I felt I was a Muslim. On reading
the Qur’an, I now realized that all the Prophets sent by
God brought the same message. Why then were the Jews and
Christians different? I know now how the Jews did not
accept Jesus as the Messiah and that they had changed His
Word. Even the Christians misunderstand God’s Word and
called Jesus the son of God. Everything made so much
sense. This is the beauty of the Qur’an; it asks you to
reflect and reason, and not to worship the sun or moon
but the One Who has created everything. The Qur’an asks
man to reflect upon the sun and moon and God’s creation
in general. Do you realize how different the sun is from
the moon? They are at varying distances from the earth,
yet appear the same size to us; at times one seems to
overlap the other.

Even when many of the astronauts go to space, they
see the insignificant size of the earth and vastness of
space. They become very religious, because they have seen
the Signs of Allah.

That feeling of coming Home after wandering lost… it comes through with great strength in Yusuf Islam’s story. Very sweet, very real, very kind.

A Musical Interlude

From Kevin at Acoustics, Health & Sufism:

About this piece, Kevin says,

this is my new thing, using what is called “an adapted” guitar, ie; by placing ‘extra’ bridges onto the neck of the instrument one can play it like a zither or a koto. This also allows for a different set of pitches to be generated that aren’t dependent upon the tempered nature of the frets. The drawback, or variously, the benefit, is that fewer pitches are actually available for use – only six notes in this case. But, who says a pentatonic scale is a drawback anyway?

My inspiration is obviously gamelan music, which is music of Indonesia. The rhythmic flow in their pieces has always been intoxicating for me. The tuning I’ve used is: A Bb (+20 cents sharp) D (+20 cent sharp) Eb F Bb

As a longtime appreciator of Gamelan music, I can only thank Kevin for this offering. I wish the piece could go on for twenty more minutes.

[Cross-posted at Spontaneous Arising….]

Zakir Hussain with Charles Lloyd

Mrs. AntiSniveler and I enjoyed Charles Lloyd touring with the great Zakir Hussain a year ago when they came to Boulder.

All I can say is, if you ever have the opportunity to see Zakir in person, you will have a religious experience.

And I’m not saying this lightly.

The only other musician to give me chills like that was Pharoah Sanders.

Go figure.

Here’s more about Zakir:

Zakir Hussain is today appreciated both in the field of percussion and in the music world at large as an international phenomenon. A classical tabla virtuoso of the highest order, his consistently brilliant and exciting performances have not only established him as a national treasure in his own country, India, but gained him worldwide fame. The favorite accompanist for many of India’s greatest classical musicians and dancers, from Ali Akbar Khan and Ravi Shankar to Birju Maharaj and Shivkumar Sharma, he has not let his genius rest there. His playing is marked by uncanny intuition and masterful improvisational dexterity, founded in formidable knowledge and study.

Widely considered a chief architect of the contemporary world music movement, Zakir’s contribution to world music has been unique, with many historic collaborations including Shakti, which he founded with John McLaughlin and L. Shankar, the Diga Rhythm Band, Making Music, Planet Drum with Mickey Hart, and recordings and performances with artists as diverse as George Harrison, Joe Henderson, Van Morrison, Jack Bruce, Tito Puente, Pharoah Sanders, Billy Cobham, the Hong Kong Symphony and the New Orleans Symphony.

A child prodigy, Zakir was touring by the age of twelve, the gifted son of his great father, tabla legend Ustad Alla Rakha. Zakir came to the United States in 1970, embarking on an international career which includes no fewer than 150 concert dates a year. He has composed and recorded many albums and soundtracks, and has received widespread recognition as a composer for his many ensembles and historic collaborations. Most recently, he has composed soundtracks for the films In Custody, Ismail Merchant’s directorial debut, Little Buddha by Bernardo Bertolucci, for which Zakir composed, performed and acted as Indian music advisor and Vanaprastham, chosen to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May, 1999.

He’s a once-in-a-lifetime human being.

Here’s another clip that is mostly Zakir Hussain playing tabla: