In recent years, Islam has been thrust into world spotlight for a number of reasons – starting with 9/11 and ISIS to anti-refugee sentiments in Europe and a certain US Presidential candidate’s anti-Muslim campaigns. In this hullabaloo, we have forgotten that some of the coolest famous people we look up to – from Muhammad Ali to Zayn Malik and Aziz Ansari – are all Muslims. Would you believe it if we told you there were many more Muslims in the celeb world?
1. Mike Tyson
Boxing legend Mike Tyson converted to Islam during his three-year stint in prison for rape. He has said that his faith is an important part of his life. Though he may not be strictly devout in every sense of the word, Mike has been to Mecca and wedded the daughter of a Muslim cleric. He had a tough and rather lonely childhood, which may have influenced his tempestuous behavior as an adult. Looks like his religion has made the boxer and occasional actor calmer and less aggressive.
2. Shaquille O’Neal
The 7 ft 1 inch basketball icon is a devout Muslim whose first name hints at his religion but doesn’t make it crystal clear. Shaq has revealed his desired to travel to Mecca for Hajj, but beyond this intention, he seems to live a quiet life as a practitioner of his faith. In fact, he has called himself a ‘people person’ who is respectful and welcoming of other faiths such as Buddhism and Judaism.
3. Aasif Mandvi
Previously a contributing correspondent on The Daily Show, Aasif more recently acted, wrote and produced in the now-canceled HBO show The Brink, also starring veteran actor Tim Robbins and funny man Jack Black. The show dealt with geopolitical crises, including a military coup in Pakistan. He is also the author of No Land’s Man, which is a light-hearted yet poignant look at his life as an Indo-Muslim-British-American actor. He has admitted to having a complicated relationship with his faith, but that it will always remain a part of him.
4. Cat Stevens
British singer-songwriter and humanitarian Cat Stevens had a largely Christian upbringing but began questioning his religion early on. After exploring other religions, he settled on Islam and has never looked back since. A devout Muslim, Cat – or Yusuf Islam post his conversion – is Islamist in his political views and believes Islam to be the true religion.