Islam famously became a Muslim in 1977 after enjoying a successful musical career in his native country of England and when a near death experience led him to delve deeper into spirituality. 37 years later Islam is still performing and producing wholesome music, while being recognized for his accomplishments.
This year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was held in April and aired on television Saturday May 31st, 2014 via HBO. Friend and fellow Hall of Fame Inductee Art Garfunkel inducted Stevens, noting: "He played with his persona the way he played with chord changes... The most sincere seeker, a loving man with an ever-expanding embrace, my friend Yusuf Islam, the artist we call Cat Stevens."
A full transcript of Yusuf Islam's thoughts after being inducted can be found below:
I never thought I'd be on the same stage as KISS, to be honest ... I am very happy to be here representing my band on behalf of Cat and father -- my father and my son -- and by moon shadow and the rest of the group ... We are very honored to be inducted.
Musically, let's face it: we are all infamous. Something inspires us. One of the first things that inspired me was my sister's record collection. She had Beethoven -- my god yes. The best pop song ever written was the 9th Symphony ... Then the man who kind of turned classics into a modern form: Leonard Bernstein, [who] to me, was one of the best. "West Side Story" turned my life around. Then of course there was the other side, which was the blues. You had Lead Belly who's the grandfather of the blues ... Then came of course Bo Diddley, and one of his lookalikes, Buddy Holly, god bless him. And then, the Beatles. They all really inspired us. And then Bob Dylan.
Now, just one last point, a little riddle, questioning the compatibility of this strange thing called rock and roll with the detached and heavily fraternity lifestyle, which I still belong to, and considering that the judges have actually voted for someone who doesn't' drink, doesn't smoke and, you know, doesn't throw televisions out of hotel rooms and only sleeps with his wife. I'd say it was a very brave decision, and one which was unexpected, and strangely, outrageously rock and roll! Peace!
The last paragraph of his speech certainly sheds light onto why so many people hold Yusuf Islam dear in their hearts today.