What Yusuf Islam is singing in a U.S. prison | SoundVision.com

What Yusuf Islam is singing in a U.S. prison

What Yusuf Islam is singing in a U.S. prison

As I write these lines, brother Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) is probably sitting in a small, stinking prison cell somewhere in Bangor, Maine with his hands and legs tied. That is how potential deportees are treated nowadays. He has been there for more than 12 hours and he may remain there until he is deported.

But since he is on a US Terrorist Watch List, which probably means he will not be able to return to the UK on a passenger plane, I don't know what US authorities will do to him.

Yusuf Islam is probably the most well-known convert to Islam alive today. The 56-year-old Briton became Muslim in the late 1970s after success as a pop star. Since his conversion, he has been actively involved in charitable works, and in the last decade, restarted his career as a singer.

I feel for this brother who sang "Peace Train" in 1971. After becoming Muslim, Yusuf was reluctant to sing again. But people like me kept pushing him until he did. The September 11 terrorist attacks motivated Yusuf to re-record this song that ends like this:

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

Cause out on the edge of darkness, there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country, come take me home again

I hope Yusuf can use this time in that stinking prison cell to plant some flowers of peace, sprinkled with dews of sympathy for every oppressed person in the world.

I hope he can also write a few songs about my adopted country, the United States, something about the need to save it from the people who are destroying it. I'm not talking about the terrorists whose hands I hope will never reach America again. Terrorists, strangely, are making America stronger because their craziness gives us a resolve to fight for freedom. But the neocons who have occupied our country are dismantling our constitution, freedom and liberty, brick by brick.

I know Yusuf Islam welcomes my suggestions about songs. I know that my email cannot reach him although I wrote to him this morning. But if I could, I would also suggest a song for those hundreds and thousands of Americans whose hearts are bleeding for America. These are people who stand with all peace- and justice-loving people of the world who want America to rise again towards its highest ideals: justice and liberty for all.

While Yusuf is at it, he can compose a song about the thousands in America and the millions worldwide who are sitting in filthy prisons for the crime of wanting freedom. These are people who can cry but no one listens to them. I hope Yusuf will not only write these songs, but he will travel the world singing for peace, justice and freedom for all.

Islamophobia has reached new heights and humanity has fallen to a new low. I don't know what has happened to Yusuf Islam's daughter who was traveling with him. But I do know what happened to one of his daughters in a London bank where Yusuf and his family had been banking for 25 years. This bank, which has benefited from his accounts, last year called the police on Yusuf's daughter. She was detained because one page on her passport, which she was using for ID purposes, was slightly damaged. She was humiliated. She had done nothing wrong.  This was the cost of being a Hijabi in the UK.

When discussing this incident with Yusuf, I suggested he file a lawsuit against the bank. But being the humble person that he is, he simply attributed the incident to a silly bureaucratic error although the bank fully knew who his daughter was. I wonder if her  humiliation played a role in his decision to move his residence and business to Dubai instead of the Islamophobic UK.

This is what I was discussing early this week in Washington, DC in a meeting of social scientists and Muslim leaders. One Irish-American professor who also attended said she wants to just move away from America until it comes to its senses. Two other Muslim leaders dwelled on this thought as well, questioning whether this country is suitable for those Muslims seeking freedom, since their religion and skin color fail the litmus test of acceptability today.

There are thousands of American citizens and permanent residents who have made that choice, moving to Canada or other countries in the hope that when America comes to its senses they will be back. I met several of them in Dubai recently. I was also told about a mosque near Sharjah, all of whose attendees are American Muslims who have chosen to live there. They feel more like equal citizens in the monarchy of the United Arab Emirates than in the democracy of America.

But isn't leaving just an escape route? Who will make America better if not those who feel so strongly about it? Neither Jannah nor freedom on earth can be achieved without a price. America has the constitution and the rights it offers its citizens because of the blood, sweat and tears of those who struggled before us.

As a tribute to these people, just yesterday, I watched thousands of Native Americans in the inauguration of the National Museum of the American Indian. There were six million Native Americans here when Christopher Columbus landed. By the time the European colonizers were through dealing with them, only 250,000 were left. However, they survived and today they number four million, including 500 tribes, many of whom still speak their own language. These people, although defeated, contributed to what America has become.

Then African-Americans through their blood, sweat and tears not only helped build America but also achieved the height of civil rights for people of color. Thanks to their struggle, people of color like me are in America today.

Yusuf Islam should write a song about these people as well so that Muslims remember those who have fought for freedom before us. American Muslims need to develop all the right alliances to make this country better in its ideals and safer from neocons at home and maniacs abroad.

If you would like Yusuf Islam to sing again, let's try to gain his freedom, first from possibly a filthy, stinking prison cell in Maine, and then from the US Terrorist Watch List.

In the US call the Secretary of State office: 202-647-4000

You can send a message via Internet on this page:

Ask them to get him off the Terrorist Watch List
Ask them to get him released

If you are in the UK, fax the Prime Minister's Office at 0207-925-0918
Their website is http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/page3.asp:

And if you decide to post comments here, do let him know what songs you want him to write. We will try to forward those to him.


Assalamu alaikum,InshaAllah justice will be done. I am very sad for the actions of the US. I am a convert of five years, and I am ashamed of the US and it's Govt. they way they handle issues regarding Muslims. Humdullah we know the Truth and Allah is with us. Insha Allah we will win in the end. My Salam



Salam aleikum, I will say alhamdullilah on behalf of our brother in islam, Yusuf Al- Islam. the reason being that the enemies of Islam think they are persecuting him upon their own belief but then allah is only testing his faith .This is the point where we need to make our prayers to allah on his behalf to come out victorious in this test his in. Allah promised to guide and protect his religion AL-ISLAM and this will forever be upheld.I beseech both brother Yusuf Al-Islam and his family to remain steadfast in their iman, all will be well inshaAllah. Ma Salam.



Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu. The detention and labelling of brother Yusuf Islam as a terrorist, shocking as it is, should not come to any discerning person as a surprise in the light of the stream of events post 9/11. The target is the religion of Islam and muslims, who have been adjudged guilty for the action of the 19 murderers of 9/11/01. True muslims have no apologies to make for 9/11 just as we do not expect Christians to be apologetic for Slobodan Milosevic's actions in the Baltics. Hold your heads high muslim brothers and sisters as you do not owe any man-made authority or power any exlanation for toeing the True Path and worshipping your Creator.Salaam.


Lagos, Nigeria

Assalamu'alikumHope this message reaches you in the best state of health and Highest spirit of imaan. I switched on the telly last night and 5minutes news update was on. It reported that Br Yusuf is being detained 'because his activities could be linked to terrorism'. My heart literally stopped beating, I could not believe this peace loving man was being detained like this. I pray that Allah keeps Br Yusuf and his family strong. We will remember them in our duas. Br Yusuf - Keep singing! Peace - ur sister always in Islam



it is very sad that yousuf got this sort of misconduct. It was stunning for me when i heard about that, not only becuase he was converted muslim but also he is a simple human being and he should be free to move around.



Asalamu3alaikom Wr Wb, as I was having my dinner late last night, I turned on the television to see Yusuf Islam was detained for being on the terrorist watch list, Yusuf Islam, who sings A is for Allah - a song that my best friend learned arabic to and taught her bits about Islam before she converted (alhamdulillah) that really worried me, I mean if Yusuf Islam, who is a peace keeper and activist, is considered a terrorist, and detained that quickly, what will they do to the rest of the Muslims in America that practice their right to free speech?? it's no wonder why so many Muslims are afraid to stand up and say something here. I am a political activist and hope for peace and justice in this country, Insha'Allah Wasalamu3alaikom Wr Wb


Charlotte, NC

Assalaam Alaikum, Thank you brother for this letter, please convey our families wishes and hopes for a quick resolution to this very unfortunate incident. It is a sad day in America when this happens to someone who has contributed as much as Br. Islam. I hope and pray with all my heart that he will be understanding and not judge all Americans by the Governments actions, as there are many even non muslim who are outraged and stunned and disappointed by what is happening to him.



asalaam alaikum, what happened to brother Yusef Islam is not only sad but also just the beginning of what is to come for all muslim brothers and sisters. what is it that they say" the worst is yet to come" inshallah we will be ready for it. jazakumAllahukhairan


sugar land, tx

this article greatly touched me as i was just speaking to my younger sibling about how great Yusef Islam is and what he and others like him sacrificed for islam and their da'wa to the oness on Alla subhanhu wa taala. May ALah grand him freedom from fear and give him strength and save him from any touture that would be planed aganist him and put it on those who plan to harm him or his da'wa in anay way. Ameen. And may Allah reunite him and his family in peace and harmony for there is nothing harder on man kind than felling fear that his family is not safe or that he may not see them again. I've lived this fear and felt this teror or the unfair governent almost taking the dearests oerson away from me, i truly understand how they may feel and tears come to my eye as i say du'aa for them all. Alahuma takabal Du'aa, all that is spoke and all that can't be spoken in side me and all others that feel the same way.may Allah garnt him courage and power of standing for his word and speaking of it out loud for his sake and ours and for the sake of a better more powerfull muslim ummah that is acknowleged in the western world.



Assalaamu Alaikum,What you have said about the condition in which Yusuf Islam is currently detained is indeed unjust and undemocratic. Also the conditions you have described in which Muslims in America have to live is archaic and goes against the principles of freedom, liberty, and democracy. Indeed these are symptoms of superpower hegemony gone mad.Despite all these, I would like Yusuf Islam in particular and Muslims in general not to resort to song writing but to genuine dua and prayer to Allah. In the final analysis the dua and prayers will prove helpful not song writing to songs.


Sydney, Australia


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