Islam Hopes Music Will Bring Harmony

December 18, 2006

Author: Edna Gunderson

Source: News-Leader/USA Today

"There are 100 reasons I felt it right to leave the music business," Yusuf Islam says, "and 101 to come back in. A lot of those are songs."

Some landed on "An Other Cup," the first pop album in 28 years by the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, now billed as Yusuf.

The singer/songwriter is known in Islamic circles as a humanitarian who founded Muslim schools and provides relief to orphans and families through his U.N.-registered charity, Small Kindness.

As Stevens, he gained fame with such pop hits as "Oh Very Young," "Wild World" and "Moon Shadow" before stunning fans with his 1978 conversion and retreat from music and, a decade later, outraging the public with comments supporting Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa against author Salman Rushdie.

Though much has transpired, including an arranged marriage and five children, "Cup" embodies '60s values of peace, love and understanding. When he picked up the guitar again, "so many ideas floated in," he says. "I knew there was something I could do, a symbol of bridge-building.