The singer who rose to fame as Cat Stevens, and is now known as Yusef/Cat Stevens, is getting candid about his conversion to Islam and the fallout that ensued.
On Sunday, the 72-year old musician — born Steven Demetre Georgiou to a Swedish mother and Greek Cypriot father — appeared on the BBC 4 radio program Desert Islands Discs to discuss his life, including the 1976 near-death experience that resulted in him turning to the Muslim faith.
“I was an Englishman, ” he told radio host Lauren Laverne of nearly drowning in Malibu, Calif. “I didn’t know it wasn’t wise to go out at that time of day and take a swim, so I did.
“I decided to turn back and head for shore and, of course, at that point I realized, ‘I’m fighting the Pacific. ’ There was no way I was going to win. There was only one thing to do and that was to pray to the almighty to save me. And I did.
“I called out to God and he saved me. A little wave came from behind. It wasn’t big. It was just simply pushing me forward. “The tide somehow had changed and I was able to get back to land. So I was saved. I didn’t know what was going to happen next. ”
Following the incident, Stevens — who had already explored Buddhism while battling tuberculosis as a teen — was given a copy of the Qur’an by his brother.
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