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I have received many emails and phone calls from various people and organizations asking for a comment on the passing of Michael Jackson (”Al-hamdu Lillaah, innaa Lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon“ (‘Praise be to Allaah, Verily To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return’) and whether or not he was a Muslim.
For some of you, you know that Michael was close to Islam, many of his advisors were/are Muslims and have been for years. He was always a guest of the various royal families, and has Muslims in his family. It was stated that he had taken his Shahada as recently as 6 months ago during a recording session.
I have refrained from saying anything definitive for the following reasons and it gives me an opportunity to address some other issues that have disturbed me for many years about Muslims and the state of our collective iman and practice of this deen.
First, the family has requested that everyone respect their grieving and privacy at this time and who are we to demand answers of/to such a personal and private nature at ANY time! Next, was he Muslim? Allahu Alim!!! Whether he was or not, did he live in such a way that you would know it?
Whether his lifestyle exhibited it or not, if he chose to live in such a way that you would not know, or felt that he wasn’t, wasn’t that his choice? Does he owe anyone any open display of his beliefs?
How many ”Muslims“ do you know that you can tell they are a Muslim by their lifestyle? Does anyone really know by what you observe outwardly? Would that outward appearance allow you to know for certain and swear that person is or is not a ”Muslim“? Can you ”see and know“ that persons practice of their Deen from observing their outward appearance?
I suggest that no one can factually! Again, Allahu Alim!!! Which brings me to the issue that I have had with the state of our collective practice of this Deen.
Having been involved in this business of representing, managing, promoting, and advising many of the worlds most recognized Superstar professional athletes, celebrities and entertainers, I am intimately engaged in the reality of ”hero worship“ and the effects that it has on the public.
I have expierenced many times over where someone has stated that even my own clients and friends were Muslims and I had to chastise some very well respected and known Islamic leaders because tht fact was NOT TRUE! I have had several Superstars that has worked with me for years and participated in various Islamic events and even professional performances for Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a Saudi Arabian businessman, investor, philanthropist as well as other wealthy members of the Saudi Royal Family. Hammer even Co-Hosted and Co-Mc’d a National Islamic Convention with me on stage and participated in a three day International Islamic Conference! BUT, he is not Muslim and they both were dogged with this!
To a great extent, I created much of ”how it is done“ and originated the field over 35 years ago including the founding of Nike’s ”Pro Club“ which was the first group of professional athletes signed to exclusive contracts to endorse the brand.
This was the precursor and beginnings of the Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James branding divisions of today. But I digress. It never ceases to amaze and perturb me whenever I encounter someone that wants to find ”something“ to ”look up to/worship“ in a ”celebrity personality“ being ”Muslim“ just because they are a recognized celebrity.
They approach this phenomena as if it somehow is going to make them ”better“ in someway. We have witnessed the fervor that took hold of the Muslim communities when it was rumored that Denzel Washington had reverted/converted to Islam while prepping for ”Malcolm X“ and the same for Will Smith with ”Ali“, Princess Di in her relationship with Dodi al-Fayed, Samuel L. Jackson, O. J. Simpson, Mike Tyson, Ice Cube and M.C. Hammer many times because of his relationship with me and supporting Islamic events, and on and on.
I know some Shaykhs and Imams that have performed the alleged shahadah’s and I could not state with any certainty that the celebrity was ”Muslim“. What is this fascination with and what do we get out of these ”celebrities“ being Muslim, even if they are/were?
Is it the potential advantages for dawah that might be extracted from it’s proper use in marketing that fact? Does it somehow give you more ”pride“ in being ”Muslim“ because the ”celebrity is “Muslim”? Does it make you and/or the Deen of al-Islam more acceptable to some segment of society that you want to appease and be accepted by? Does this “celebrity” somehow make you a “better Muslim” in some way? Does this celebrity make your prayer, and/or service of sacrifice for Allah(swt) possible, easier or fulfilled in some way? Are you going to receive some additional blessings because they might be “Muslim”?
Do you gain any blessings because they are a “good” Muslim and/or do you also share/suffer the punishment if they are not “good” Muslims?
You see, ALL this is useless when it comes to you and Allah(swt) just as it is useless to them when it comes to them and Allah(swt). If at some point Michael’s family chooses to state that he was Muslim, and it has been rumored for years while there are other members of his family that openly proclaim they are, how can it help anyone then?
There are many “celebrity Muslims” that are alive and well here today that I don’t see how that fact is going to get anyone into Jannah. This brings me to the point.
IT’S NOT!!! It will, at best, only have a microscopic marginal effect on your existence and only Allah(swt) will know that. But if it makes someone feel good about being “Muslim” then that is a positive that we all will take.
But there is something patently wrong with the “hero worship” associated with celebrities in any form, of any stature, and this is from someone that helped create the business. There is a slogan from President Barack Obama’s campaign that when modified is so apropos for this concern. “You are the Muslim You that have been Waiting For ALL THIS TIME!!!”
What one needs, this will not come from anyone else, not your Shaykhs, Imams, nor parents! We need to stop looking for something in someone, something, anyone, anything else, that we can and must ALL inevitably find in ourselves thru Allah(swt), Quran, the Sunnah of prophet Mohammad(saas), Hadith and our practice of this Deen of al-Islam.
I pray Allah(swt) that I have answered those questions asked of me, insha’Allah. Here’s a link to a newscast regarding Michael’s reversion/conversion:
The Free Food give-aways with KPFA Radio Station in Berkeley has been INCREDIBLE SUCCESSES masha’Allah.
You can listen to or download the broadcast of the PSA’s for the Free Food Donations by clicking the links below. Everyone came from miles around was treated with as much food and flowers as they could pack, including the staff at Pacifica Radio Corporate and KPFA al’hamdu’lillah. They now want to do this donation on a weekly basis after the overwhelming back-to-back-to back successes of the previous public food give-aways that had people calling and coming from as far away as Santa Barbara and north/east to Oregon and Nevada.
There are no words to express the sincere gratitude and “Thanks” conveyed on the part of the public and the employees and staff at Pacifica Radio and KPFA. JOB WELL DONE!!! These events was sponsored by Masjid al-Islam, Masjidul Waritheen, Oakland Islamic Center, Masjid Tasbeeh, The Muslim Community Center of San Francisco, Jama’atus Salaam, Go Wireless, Emad’s Tune Up, and The Justice For Ali Campaign- all of Oakland.
These type of promotions are impossible without their involvement in these efforts, insha’Allah. This is incredible Dawah! Jazzak Allah Khair Khayrun. The “Thank You’s” to the Masajids and Muslims businesses for their invaluable support in providing all the food and floral arrangements with 100’s of bouquets of flowers and more for the “Nadra Foster Benefit” at La Pena Restaurant in Berkeley was aired live on the “Full Circle Show” with Host Joy Moore on Friday, June 19, 2009 at 7:00 PM. Jazzak Allah Khair Khayrun. Oddly enough, while the broadcast was being aired, unbeknownst to the crew, Khalil Yasin was there providing food and refreshments for them for their enjoyment after the show.
They still have not stop thanking him and the above mentioned parties. You can listen to or download the broadcast of the “Thank You’s” mentioned above by clicking on the links below. Be sure and spread the word to support and acknowledge the Dawah these masajids and businesses are doing for our communities and Islam.
On several occassions I have pointed out to many people at Pacifica/KPFA, a young man standing next to Snoop Dogg in a framed picture proudly displayed on the main wall outside their main conference room, from a rally to save Tookie Williams from execution held in November 2005. That young man is Imam Abu Qadir al-Amin.
They were even more humbled when they acknowledged that he and the Muslim Community Center were one of the sponsors for this event. You can listen to or download the broadcasts of the PSA’s, the promos and “Thank You’s” for the Free Food Donations aired on the list of Pacifica stations, with over 100 affiliate stations worldwide, by clicking on the links below or on our blog at: http://superstarmanagement.wordpress.com/audio-and-new-submissions/
6-24-09 KPFA Jazz Passages “Thank You’s” To Masjid Tasbeeh, Masjid Jama’atus Salaam, and the San Francisco Muslim Community Center, Go Wireless Mobile, Justice For Ali Campaign and Emad’s Tune Up http://www.box.net/shared/931o3glvvf
KPFA Broadcast 6-6-09 http://www.box.net/shared/64rm8fjhx1
KPFA Broadcast 5-30-09 http://www.box.net/shared/r7f9nke7gt
Abdul-Jalil (510) 638-0808