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Article courtesy of Vivian Kenudson.

From Cat Stevens To Yusuf Islam:
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REVELATION: Yusuf Islam, the artist once known as Cat Stevens, speaks on Sunday in Fort Lauderdale about his conversion. Staff photo/Steve Mitchell

On his long, winding path from ‘70s pop icon to Muslim activist and educator, Yusuf Islam, formerly Cat Stevens, faced many challenges.

"The journey was truly miraculous," Islam told a crowd of about 700 Muslims, music fans and the curious who came to hear his story at the Rolling Hills Hotel & Resort in Davie on Sunday. "Searching for truth and understanding is not an easyjob."

The soft-spoken London native, who began a music career in the early 1970s and ultimately sold more than 30 million records with catchy hits like Wild World and Peace Train, spoke in Davie on the first stop of a four-city U.S. tour in support of a new recording project.

"I’m back in the studio, but it’s not to make top 10 hits," Islam told the crowd. "I want to relate new ideas for people to talk about."

The ideas are contained in a children’s book and companion CD called A is for Allah, a primer on Islam for children and non-Muslims. Key principals, rituals and other aspects of the 2,500-year old faith are explained through the 28-letter Arabic alphabet and readings form the Quran, the sacred book of the Muslims.

Islam addressed the crowd for about an hour, talking about his youth on London’s West End and his growth into a recording star who was always searching for spiritual meaning to his life.

"I remember reading, ‘if you embark on the path you will never be satisfied until you reach the truth’

I couldn’t sleep the night I read that," said Islam, who was raised as a Greek Orthodox and attended Catholic School as a child. "I wanted to know for myself what the right religion was."

Islam’s path led him to the Quran and the life of the Prophet Muhammed, a revelation Islam said many of his fans respected, but many did not.

"It’s funny how when I tried to be good, to start living my life properly, some people branded me as crazy," Islam said.

Islam alienated some Western fans in 1989 when he supported Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s call for the assassination of author Salman Rushdie.

Others have stuck by him all along.

"I never knew what was really said in that situation," said Cat Stevens fan Vivian Kenudson 28, of Hallandale Beach after Islam’s speech. "I’m so thrilled I finally got to meet him today."

Kenudson is a frequent contributor to the Cat Stevens fan Web site but had never met the man until Sunday.

"His message was inspiring, and it held truth for everyone, regardless of faith," Kenudson said.

Islam also briefly answered written questions from the crowd.

"There are always going to be men who are oppressive towards women, said Islam, answering a question about the status of women in the religion. "But all souls are equal, and these men will have to answer to Allah for their crimes."

Vivians pictures from this lecture:

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