Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, is a British musician, singer-songwriter and philanthropist. He has sold over 60 million albums worldwide in a career spanning five decades. He converted to Islam at the height of his fame in 1977. The following year, he started a three-decade break from music to devote himself to helping the British Muslim community.
Yusuf Islam was born in 1948 as Steven Georgiou. His father was a Greek-Cypriot and his mother was Swedish. He lived and grew up very near London’s Piccadilly Circus. Steven started playing piano when he was 12, which led to songwriting and playing guitar. He began to perform his songs in London pubs under the stage name Cat Stevens.
At the age of 18, Stevens got a record deal. His debut album ‘Matthew and Son’ was a huge success. He became a pop sensation until he developed tuberculosis in 1968. He spent several months in hospital, where he took up meditation and read about religion. He wrote many songs that would make him world famous in the 1970s.
In 1976 Stevens nearly drowned, an event that made him question his life. His brother gave him a copy of the Koran and he converted to Islam. Yusuf Islam then abandoned his rock star career. In 1981, he established the first of many Islamia Schools in Britain. He devoted himself to Islamic charitable causes and has received many peace awards. Yusuf returned to releasing records in 2006.