Muslim is a religion that appeals to a wide range of people. It does not only include those who live or are from specific areas — the tenets of God and charity can appeal to anyone. These celebs were either born Muslim or converted to Islam.
1. JANET JACKSON
While it has not been officially confirmed, it is believed that Janet Jackson has fully converted to Islam. In 2012 she married Wissam Al Mana, and many believe that she converted to Islam after the wedding. It has not stopped her from pursing her career, and she seems quite happy with her husband. If she did convert, she is not the first Jackson to do so. Jermaine Jackson also converted to Islam.
2. DAVE CHAPPELLE
Dave Chappelle seems to have been forgotten ever since he made headlines around the world for walking away from his television show and a $50 million contract in the middle of production. He has since returned to standup and performed at Radio City Music Hall in 2014. He converted to Islam in 1998, but says that he does not like to talk about his faith. He wants to keep his flaws from being associated from the religion.
He was born Faheem Rasheed Najm and was raised in a Muslim household in Tallahassee, Florida. He has, however, decided to distance himself a bit from the religion. He always tries to avoid talking about it, and when pushed he says that he does not like religion. He has faith in God but does not want to label his beliefs. It may also have something to do with the fact that he married a Christian woman.
4. ELLEN BURSTYN
Ellen Burstyn is known for her roles in The Exorcist, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Resurrection and Requiem for a Dream. She was raised Catholic but started exploring other faiths. She started with Sufi Islam under the tutelage of a Muslim teacher. It was after that that she opened herself up to all faiths and prays to different ones based on her situation. She was given the name Hadiya by her Muslim teacher.
5. MIKE TYSON
Mike Tyson has made plenty of headlines in his lifetime, whether it was for biting his opponents, being a championship boxer, owning a pet tiger, or being convicted of rape. But it may come as a surprise for most people that while he was in prison for the rape conviction that he converted to Islam. He is very deep into his faith and even made a trip to Mecca and married the daughter of Muslim cleric.
6. BUSTA RHYMES
Busta Rhymes converted to Islam and says that his faith truly grounds him. However he probably should have been literally grounded when he decided to put out a song called “Arab Monkey.” The song offended both British and American Muslims and was even banned from being played on the radio. One DJ in the UK was fired when he played the song on the radio. Needless to say, Busta Rhymes may not be the strictest follower of his faith.
7. ICE CUBE
Ice Cube may not look it, but this rapper is a follower of Islam. He converted to Islam in the 90s and for a while it was rumored that he had joined the Nation of Islam. He says that he was never really a part of the Nation of Islam, and he does not follow the rituals that are associated with being a Muslim. However, he follows the aspect of it that focuses on just him and God.
8. SHAQUILLE O’NEAL
Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal was raised by a Muslim stepfather and a Baptist mother. In fact, his name means “Little Warrior” in Arabic. To that end, he says he is a bit of everything due to his upbringing, claiming to be both Muslim and Baptist. In 2010, he even spoke about going on a pilgrimage which is a tenet of Islam. His faith seems to have served him well, as he has had a very successful and varied career.
9. MOS DEF
Mos Def started to be very introspective of religion at a young age. Even though his father was Muslim, he was not really exposed to Islam until he was 13. When he was 19, he declared himself a Muslim and his faith has driven him ever since. He says that Islam’s sole interest is the welfare of mankind, and therefore Islam is the strongest advocate of human rights anywhere on Earth.
10. MUHAMMAD ALI
He was born Cassius Clay to a Baptist mother and Methodist father. However, he converted to Islam and was considered one of the first Americans to do so. Just days before his big defeat of Sonny Liston, he joined Malcom X and the “Black Muslims.” His focus turned away from boxing and turned toward his faith. He used his faith to avoid conscription, which resulted in him being stripped of his title. Four years later the conviction was overturned.
11. LUPE FIASCO
Lupe Fiasco was born Wasalu Mohammad Jaco, and he is a devout follower of Islam. He has never hidden his beliefs, and they have even found their way into some of his songs. He is known for being very outspoken on a number of issues including poverty, racism, gun violence, and the wealth gap. His first album was nominated for three Grammys and his third album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
12. DR. OZ
This controversial doctor is known for his daytime television show and his less-than-admirable practice of selling useless supplements for weight loss. What most people do not realize about him is that his full name is Mehmet Oz, and he was raised by a strict Islamic father and a secular Muslim mother. In 2009 he was named one of the most influential Muslims in the world.
13. OMAR EPPS
Omar Epps is most recognized for his role as Dr. Foreman on the television show House and his recent stint on the short-lived television series Resurrection. He is not vocal about his religion or his background, but many believe that he follows Islam because his middle name is Hashim. Even though he has yet to confirm or deny the rumors about his faith, most count him as Muslim.
Akon is a very successful R&B and Hip Hop artist with a number of successful songs to his name. He is the first solo artist to hold the #1 and #2 spots on the Billboard charts at the same time, twice. Akon identifies with Islam and uses that to justify his desire to have multiple wives. He has spoken out about his views on polygamy, and there are rumors that he has as many as five wives.
15. CAT STEVENS
Cat Stevens is an incomparable musician with several number one hits to his name. His song “The First Cut is the Deepest” was a hit for four different artists. His albums were certified triple platinum and he topped the Billboard charts. However, all that ended when he converted to Islam in 1977. He changed his name to Yusef Islam and sold all his guitars to raise money for Muslim charities. He has only recently started performing again.
16. KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR
Okay, with a name like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, it is probably not too surprising to learn that he is Muslim. However what most people do not know is that he was born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr. He changed his name when he converted to Islam. Kareem has gone even further to follow and show support of his faith. He learned Arabic and spent time in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia to better understand his religion.
17. AASIF MANDVI
He is perhaps best known as a correspondent on The Daily Show, but he also appears on HBO’s The Brink and the web series Halal in the Family. He also wrote the book “No Man’s Land” in order to help people gain a better understanding of religion and of Islam. He has spoken about his complicated relationship with Islam, saying that it is always going to be a part of who he is.
18. FAREED ZAKARIA
Fareed Zakaria is the host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, is a columnist for The Washington Post and has written 3 internationally best-selling books. He was raised by Muslim parents but says that he is no longer a very religious person. He remains supportive of Islam and even spoke out against the Anti-Defamation League when they protest the building of the Park51 mosque. He said that a moderate, mainstream version of Islam was required to win the war on terror.
Q-Tip is considered one of the best music producers of our time. He is also known for his rap career, his lyrics, and for his MCing. He was born Jonathan Davis in Harlem, but converted to Islam in the 90s. He changed his name to Kamaal Ibn John Fareed. He is credited as being one of the most successful Muslim music artists and music producers in the world.
20. CRAIG HODGES
Craig Hodges is a retired NBA player who won two NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls. He now works as a head coach for the Westchester Knicks. He is also known for being a very outspoken activist for minorities and impoverished community’s rights. He converted to Islam, and it was his faith that caused him to be such a strong advocate for his community. Unfortunately, his activism may have cost him his place in the NBA.