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31 famous celebrities who are Muslim – CBS News


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By Lily Rose
Bella Hadid, Dr. Oz and DJ Khaled. What do these celebrities all have in common? They’re Muslim. There are more than 1 billion Muslims in the world including some of the most popular and successful actors, rappers, models, sports heroes, political activists and more. Keep reading to see what these celebrities had to say about being a part of the Islamic faith. 
Dr. Mehmet Oz is a cardiothoracic surgeon at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, as well as an author and the host of the popular health and wellness TV series, “The Dr. Oz Show.” The Turkish-American doctor is also a Muslim.
In an interview with PBS, Dr. Oz explained that his father comes from Turkey’s “Quran Belt” and his mother was a secular Turk. 
“You know, I’ve struggled a lot with my Muslim identity,” he explained. “As a Turk, growing up in America with one parent from one side of the religious wall and one parent from the other side, and of course America clearly supporting the secular background, I found myself tugged more and more towards the spiritual side of the religion, rather than the legal side of the religion.”
The former One Direction band member was raised Muslim by his mother, who converted to the religion, and his British-Pakistani father. 
In 2018 the singer told Vogue that he no longer considers himself to be a follower of the Islamic faith. “With my mum and dad, they were always there to educate us – I did go to mosque, I did study Islam,” Malik said. “But they gave us the option so you could choose for yourself.”
In 2017 the model marched in protest of President Trump’s executive order seeking to halt refugees and visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Hadid later told Porter magazine that she protested in honor of her heritage and her religion. 
“My dad was a refugee when he first came to America, so it’s actually very close to home for my sister and brother and me,” Hadid said. “He was always religious, and he always prayed with us. I am proud to be a Muslim.”
Youssef is the creator and star of the Hulu series “Ramy.” The dark comedy is loosely based on Youssef’s life as a first-generation Muslim American millennial and the struggles that come with balancing those identities.
“You sit in contradictions,” he told NPR. “That has been the space that I’m trying to navigate. And that’s kind of the space that I bring to the work.”
His acting performance on the show earned him a Golden Globe award in 2020
The “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” host has said that he identifies as Muslim but that his identity is also informed by many things. “Like, just ’cause I’m Muslim – that doesn’t mean I can’t do yoga, even though that’s, like, a Hindu practice, comes from Hinduism,” he told NPR in 2020.
“Like, any of these things that have come from, you know, other cultures and religious practices or beliefs – like, if it makes if it vibes with me. I’m with it, you know? I’m kind of like PlayStation 3. Like, you know how it’s backwards compatible? I’ll play the other games.”
Ahmed has frequently spoken out about the realities of being Muslim in western countries. While leading a discussion during a diversity leadership event in California,  Ahmed, who was born in Britain and has acted in TV series such as “The OA,” “The Night Of” and “Girls,” said “I’m basically here to ask for your help, because it’s really scary to be a Muslim right now, super scary.” 
“I’ve often wondered, is this going to be the year when they round us up, if this is going to be the year they put Trump’s registry into action. If this is going to be the year they ship us all off.”
The Iranian-American actress was born into a Muslim family. In a 2013 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Aghdashloo speculated that her Muslim identity may have cost her a film role. Although director George Nolfi wanted her for the role of God in the 2011 thriller “The Adjustment Bureau,” she was let go.
“I say I was born a Muslim. I don’t introduce myself as a Muslim woman, but I guess the distribution company put the dots together and felt it’s too early for this,” Aghdashloo said. 
The Grammy Award-winning music producer is proud to be Muslim. “It’s life for me. I was born Muslim, my family raised me Muslim. It’s beautiful, it’s amazing, it’s incredible and it has put so many blessings upon me and my family,” he told Esquire in 2018. 
“My faith has helped make me the man I am right now, with the love and the respect that I put out there. I love anybody that loves God. That’s what I am about.” 
The “Evil” star told The Hollywood Reporter, “I grew up as a Muslim, but I’ve been in more bars than mosques in my life.” 
“I feel like there’s a moment in the history of this country, and American Muslims do need to speak out. It’s a privilege in a way to be an American Muslim speaking in whatever way I can at this time in history, when it’s so crucial.”
The American rapper converted to Islam in 2009. Raekwon, born Corey Woods, was asked by GQ in 2017 if he was keeping up with news of the Trump administration’s “travel ban” on refugees and visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries. 
“Allah… he’s going to let it be what it be, and whenever he wants to fix it, he’s going to fix it,” the Wu-Tang Clan rapper said. “Right now, I’m just focusing on my children, my career and really just letting it be what it’s going to be, at the end of the day it’ll work itself out.”
Ali converted to Islam in 2000. During the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards, the “Moonlight” star gave a passionate speech about the importance of loving each other despite our differences.
“My mother is an ordained minister, I’m a Muslim. She didn’t do backflips when I called her to tell her I converted 17 years ago,” he said. “But I tell you now, we put things to the side, I’m able to see her, she’s able to see me, we love each other, the love has grown. That stuff is minutiae. It’s not that important.”
Ali is also the first Muslim actor to win an Academy Award.
Indian actor Sahabzade Irrfan Ali Khan, known professionally as Irrfan Khan or just Irrfan, appeared in a number of major Hollywood and Bollywood films. Khan was born in Jaipur, India, and raised a Muslim. 
Khan died in April 2020.
In 2016 Khan faced criticism for speaking out about the Islamic practice qurbani, which is the ritual sacrificing of animals. 
“The meaning of qurbani is to sacrifice something which is close to you instead of any goat or sheep which you just buy to sacrifice,” he told the Deccan Herald
“Before sacrificing we should share a bond with that thing otherwise just killing of an animal will not serve the purpose. Nowadays we have lost the relevance behind such religious activities and perform these rituals without knowing the meaning.”
Shaquille O’Neal played for six different teams over the course of his 19-year NBA career, most notably the Orlando Magic, the L.A. Lakers and the Miami Heat. The talented 7-foot-1-inch center  led his teams to four NBA Championships and was a 15-time NBA All-Star.
When asked in a 2010 interview who he thought the best center of all time was, Shaq answered, “Another Muslim brother, Hakeem Olajuwon.” He then confirmed his plans to visit Turkey and one day undertake the Muslim pilgrimage, called the Hajj.
The video of the interview has since been removed from YouTube and it is not clear if O’Neal still practices the faith.
Legendary heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali – born Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky – converted to Islam in the 1960s and was a devout Muslim. 
In a December 2015 statement, he spoke out against extremism, saying: “True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion… Our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people’s views on what Islam really is.”
Ali died in June 2016 at the age of 74.
Born Michel Dimitri Chalhoub, the three-time Golden Globe-winning actor converted to Islam in 1955 to marry Egyptian actress Faten Hamama, whom he later divorced in 1974.
The actor died in July 2015. 
At 17, Yousafzai became the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. She has been named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” for 2013, 2014 and 2015 for her work championing education rights for girls. 
In 2015 Yousafzai told British TV Network Channel 4 that she believes being Muslim does not conflict with her feminist views. “Islam is about equality and calling myself feminist would have no position from the religion,” she said. 
Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon is widely considered one of the best centers to ever play basketball. After leading the University of Houston to three Final Fours, Olajuwon was selected by the Houston Rockets as the first overall pick of the 1984 NBA draft, over Michael Jordan.
He then led the Rockets to back-to-back NBA Championships in 1994 and 1995, taking home the title of NBA Finals MVP both years as well. 
According to NBA.com, Olajuwon still observed the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan during his NBA seasons. 
Raised by a Unitarian Universalist minister, Chappelle converted to Islam in 1998. Seven years later, he told Time, “I don’t normally talk about my religion publicly because I don’t want people to associate me and my flaws with this beautiful thing. And I believe it is beautiful if you learn it the right way.”
It is not clear if Chappelle still practices the faith.
Hip-hop artist Ice Cube rose to prominence in the gangster rap group N.W.A, then enjoyed a successful solo career in music and Hollywood films. Born O’Shea Jackson, the entertainer converted to Islam shortly after going solo in the 1990s.
In a February 2000 interview with The Guardian, he explained the nuances of his identity as a Muslim: “I mean, what I call myself is a natural Muslim, ’cause it’s just me and God. You know, going to the mosque, the ritual and the tradition, it’s just not in me to do. So I don’t do it.”
it is not clear if Ice Cube still practices the faith.
The former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, Mike Tyson has held all three major championship belts that boxing has to offer. You also probably know that he was once disqualified for biting Evander Holyfield’s ear. But did you know Tyson is a proud Muslim?
According to USA Today, Tyson converted to Islam in the 1990s. He has said he has performed various religious pilgrimages, including one to the holy city of Mecca
Legendary Lakers center and all-time NBA leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was born Lew Alcindor in New York City and raised Roman Catholic. At 24, he converted to Islam and changed his name.
Abdul-Jabbar detailed his reasons for converting in an editorial piece for Al Jazeera. “Part of my conversion to Islam is accepting the responsibility to teach others about my religion, not to convert them but to co-exist with them through mutual respect, support and peace. One world does not have to mean one religion, just one belief in living in peace,” he said. 
In 2017 rapper Lupe Fiasco, born Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, told the Chicago Tribune that “I think you’ve got a lot of people who want to represent and show the world that Islam is not just some Arab dude with a full gown and a long beard. I’m Muslim, and I’m standing right next to you. Islam comes in every form and every color.”
Supermodel Iman Abdulmajid, born Zara Mohamed Abdulmajid, told Vogue Arabia in 2018 about growing up as a Muslim girl in Egypt. 
“I’m Muslim and Egypt was a very progressive place. Girls like me could go to school. I completely fell in love with the people and the cultural legacy that goes far beyond the pyramids,” she said.
Jermaine Jackson was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness but converted to Islam later in life, after a trip to Bahrain.
“I think if the Western world really looked at Islam for what it really is, and stopped trying to put this terrorist word with Muslims and Islam, the world could be a much better place – because this is the most pure religion ever,” Jackson said in a 2010 interview with Al-Arabiya TV.
Yusuf Islam, the folk music artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, publicly converted to Islam in 1977. Over the next few years, he changed his name, auctioned off all his guitars for charity, and left his successful music career behind, saying it ran counter to his faith. Then, a few months after 9/11, he picked up a guitar again.
“There was so much antagonism in the world,” he told Rolling Stone in January 2015. “Many Muslims have come up to me, shook my hand and said, ‘Thank you! Thank you.’ I’m representing the way they want to be seen. So much of the middle ground gets forgotten in the extremities we witness around the world.”
American hip-hop artist Busta Rhymes, born Trevor Tahiem Smith, Jr., is a proud Muslim and attributes much of his success to the way in which his faith has kept him grounded.
In a 2007 interview with Hollywood TV, Rhymes said, “I try to really just understand every aspect about the most high. For me, the most high is Allah… And I live my life by Islam. 
“At the end of the day, I think that’s pretty much what grounds me in the way that I think most people should be grounded. That’s just enjoying who you are as a human life, as opposed to trying to add all these other additive and preservatives to your perspective on life.”
Akon, the R&B singer known for hits like “Smack That” and “I Wanna Love You,” is a Muslim; his full name is Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Akon considers Senegal his home country, because he spent much of his childhood there.
In June 2015, ahead of a performance in Morocco, he spoke with The National newspaper in Abu Dhabi about his career and his faith: “I was born a Muslim… and there has always been a debate about Islam and music. I never looked at the performing aspect of the music itself, but on the intention. 
“Even if you look at the daily prayers in Islam, we pray in melody. When we hear the call to prayer in any part of the world, it is also done with melody. So, no one can tell me that music is haram,” or forbidden, he said.
Acclaimed rapper and hip hop producer, Q-Tip, who rose to fame as part of the group A Tribe Called Quest, was born Jonathan Davis in 1970. In 1990, he converted to Islam and changed his name to Kamaal Ibn John Fareed.
“I read the Koran and it appealed to me,” Q-Tip told The Guardian of his conversion. “At the time I was agnostic and it really breathed spiritually back into me… For me it’s really a cushion. It’s cool. I’m cool with it.”
East Coast rapper Mos Def, who now goes by Yasiin Bey, is a Muslim rapper. The first lyrics on his breakthrough album, “Black on Both Sides” were, “Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem” (“In the name of God, the most gracious, the most merciful.”)
“You’re not gonna get through life without being worshipful or devoted to something,” he told Beliefnet in 2001. “You’re either devoted to your job, or to your desires. So the best way to spend your life is to try to be devoted to prayer, to Allah.”
Pakistani-American actor Faran Tahir, best known for his roles in “Iron Man,” “Star Trek” and “24,” is Muslim in real life has also played memorable Muslim characters onscreen. 
On “Grey’s Anatomy,” he played Isaac, a Muslim lab tech who learns that he has an inoperable tumor, then demonstrates patience, faith and optimism in the face of that diagnosis.
“Even if you want me to play the bad, evil guy, OK, I’ll play it,” he told HuffPost about being offered roles based on negative Muslim stereotypes. “But in the same storyline, is there another Muslim character which is not that? Is there another point of view that we are giving? It would be nice to have that counterpoint.”
In 2016 the rapper, born Karim Kharbouch, told MTV that being Muslim is part of the reason he is so successful. “My religion plays a big role in my success,” he said. “It’s just about doing positive … You fear not doing the right the thing.”
Lily Rose is a senior writer for CBS Essentials and the site’s expert in home appliances such as washers, dryers, refrigerators and ranges. When she’s not writing about how you can upgrade your laundry room, she’s writing about home and kitchen essentials that will transform your space. Her favorite appliance is her air fryer. She firmly believes that it can make the crispiest sweet potato fries.
First published on December 18, 2015 / 3:47 PM
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