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September 17, 2016

Many world dignitaries accepted Islam


September 17, 2016

Like many famous personalities in history, the incumbent British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Simon Collins, has now created a stir in the West by converting to Islam and preferring it over Christianity.

Having served in many Muslim countries, including Iraq and Syria, Ambassador Simon is hence believed to be the first-ever British diplomat to have perform the sacred ritual of Haj.

The British diplomat and his Syrian Muslim wife, Hude Mujarkesh, were recently among the two million people who had undertaken the pilgrimage to Mecca in a bid to earn the divine blessings.

A few years ago, former British Premier Tony Blair’s sister-in-law, Lauren Booth,  had flashed headlines in global media by committing apostasy too. Lauren had parted ways with Christianity to follow and practise the Islamic injunctions.

Quick research shows that various eminent international personalities had abandoned their respective religions to embrace other faiths.

The heads of state who embraced Islam include Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Gabon's President Omar Bongo.

Having performed the Haj pilgrimage, too, President Nazarbayev is deemed to be a devout Muslim. Previously, he had espoused atheistic views in the Soviet era.

Albert-Bernard Bongo was the President of Gabon for 42 years from 1967 until his death in office in 2009. Bongo had converted to Islam and took the name Omar while on a visit to Libya in 1973. At the time, Muslims had constituted a tiny minority of the native population.

However, following President Bongo's conversion to Islam, the Muslims grew in numbers throughout Gabon, though they still remained a small religious minority.

Then, as annals of history show, there have been two world presidents who had first embraced Islam and had then reverted back to their original religions.

Former President of Argentina, Carlos Menem, was raised a Muslim but later converted to Roman Catholicism, the official religion of Argentina, due to his political aspirations.

Mathieu Kerekou, the President of Benin, had also followed in Argentinean head of state Menem’s footsteps. He first chose to be a Muslim and then reversed his decision due to certain social pressures and expediencies.

Other globally-renowned people, who converted to Islam, include the likes of three-time US World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali (formerly Cassius Clay). After winning the 1964 Boxing championship, Clay had revealed that he was a Muslim.

Many sportswriters of the early 1960s had reported that it was Ali's brother, Rudy Clay, who had actually converted to Islam first in 1961 to influence his kid brother.

Another American Boxing giant, Mike Tyson (Muslim name Malik Abdul Aziz), is also a convert to Islam. Tyson was an undisputed heavyweight champion, who holds the record as the youngest boxer to win the World Boxing Council heavyweight title. He was first arrested in July 1991 for the rape of an 18-year-old girl.

Tyson was convicted on the rape charge on February 10, 1992, after the jury had deliberated for nearly 10 hours. On March 26, 1992, he was given sentence of 10 years--six in prison and four on probation. He was released in March 1995 after serving three years.

While he was serving time in prison, Tyson had converted to Islam and on July 2, 2010, he too had visited Makkah to perform the Umrah.

Star Pakistani Cricketer of the recent past, Mohammad Yousuf (formerly Yousaf Yohanna), best known in Cricket for his achievement in 2006 when he broke the world record for most Test runs in a single calendar year, had opted to convert to Islam in 2005.

Prior to his conversion, Yousuf was one of only a few Christians to play for the Pakistan Cricket team.

Alys Faiz, wife of eminent poet and journalist Faiz Ahmed Faiz, was also a convert to Islam after her marriage in 1930s.

Same was the case with Imran Khan’s former wife Jemima Goldsmith. Jemima, the daughter of Lady Annabel and James Goldsmith, had converted to Islam in 1995 after tying a marital knot with former Pakistan Cricket Captain Imran Khan.

Yvonne Ridley, a celebrated British journalist, also embraced Islam after being kidnapped and released by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Ridley, who had described the Quran as a "magna carta for women," had converted to Islam in 2003.

The Indian film sensation Divya Bharti (Muslim name Sana), who died very young at only 19 in 1993, had also abandoned Hinduism in favour of Islam after her marriage to producer Sajid Nadiadwala on May 20, 1992.

The exact nature of her death still remains a mystery.

Sharmila Tagore, mother of Indian actors Saif Ali Khan and Soha Ali Khan, also became a Muslim after marrying former Indian Cricket Captain (late) Nawab Mansur Ali Khan Patudi.

One of the greatest Indian singers, Kishore Kumar Ganguly (Muslim name Abdul Karim), also chose to be a Muslim after marrying one of the prettiest Bollywood actresses, Madhuballa, in 1960.

Kishore’s family, including his elder brother and noted actor Ashok Kumar, had opposed the marriage. The actress was a Muslim and her original name was Mumtaz Begum Jehan Dehlavi.

Magnificent Indian composer and Oscar winner, A.R. Rahman (Allah Rakha Rahman), had also officially converted to Islam from Hinduism.

In 2009, the Time magazine had placed Rahman in the Time 100 list of "World's Most Influential People."

He had converted to Islam in 1989, the religion of his mother's family.

Rattanbai, the second wife of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was also a convert to Islam from Zoroastrianism.

Celebrities who abandoned Islam include Princess Shams Pahlavi, the elder sister of the Shah of Iran, Raza Shah Pahlavi.

She had  reportedly converted to Roman Catholicism in 1940s although her husband and children had adopted Catholicism after her apostasy.