Yusuf Islam (born Steven Demetre Georgiou; 21 July 1948), commonly known by his former stage name Cat Stevens, is a British singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, humanitarian and education philanthropist.
He is a prominent convert to Islam.Stevens' albums Tea for the Tillerman (1970) and Teaser and the Firecat (1971) were both certified triple platinum in the US by the RIAA. His 1972 album Catch Bull at Four sold half a million copies in the first two weeks of release alone and was Billboard's number-one LP for three consecutive weeks.
He also earned two ASCAP songwriting awards in consecutive years for "The First Cut Is the Deepest"; the song has been a hit single for four different artists. Some of his other hit songs include, "Father and Son", "Wild World", "Peace Train", "Moonshadow" and "Morning Has Broken".
In December 1977, Stevens converted to Islam and adopted the name Yusuf Islam the following year. In 1979, he auctioned all his guitars for charity and left his music career to devote himself to educational and philanthropic causes in the Muslim community.
Stevens became a convert to Islam in 1978 after a near-death experience. He adopted the name Yusuf Islam and became an outspoken advocate for the religion. Following his conversion, Yusuf abandoned his previous career as a pop star, with which he had always been uncomfortable.
Song and the use of musical instruments is an area of debate in Islamic jurisprudence (law) and is the primary factor Cat Stevens retreated from the pop spotlight. At one point he wrote to the record companies asking that his music no longer be distributed, but his request was denied.
Following Ayatollah Khomeini’s February 14, 1989 death fatwa against author Salman Rushdie, he made statements that were interpreted as endorsing the killing of Rushdie. On February 21, 1989, Yusuf Islam addressed students at Kingston University in London about his conversion to Islam and was asked about the controversy in the Muslim world and the fatwa calling for Salman Rushdie’s execution.
He replied, “He must be killed. The Qur’an makes it clear - if someone defames the prophet, then he must die.” Despite this he has received several awards for his work in promoting peace in the world, including the 2003 World Award, the 2004 Man for Peace Award, and the 2007 Mediterranean Prize for Peace.
Known professionally by the single name Yusuf, in 2006 he returned to pop music with his first album of new pop songs in 28 years, entitled An Other Cup. On 5 May 2009, he released the album Roadsinger.
He is to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.
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