New Islamic Directions

By Imam Zaid Shakir

Upon The Passing of Michael Jackson

Posted in articles by Imam Zaid Shakir on 2009-06-26

Like the light of a meteor streaking across the crisp, cold, clear sky of a winter’s night, Michael Jackson streaked across the sky defining this country’s cultural horizons. None of us coming of age in urban America will forget Michael’s debut onto the public stage with his brothers as part of the phenomenally successful Jackson 5. Hit after hit, “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “The Love You Save,” “I’ll Be There,” rocketed up the Billboard Charts to number one. I can still reel them all off from memory some forty years later. For better or worse, they are indelibly etched into my mind, and have played a part in defining my soul.

Although I was a couple of years older than Michael, I joined the ranks of unsuccessful Michael Jackson wannabes. At the time it seemed worth the effort as all of the girls had gone head over heels for Michael, and just a fraction of his dynamic appeal could reap huge dividends in terms of one’s popularity. The ‘hood was in love with Michael and he apparently had the talent to fulfill the lofty and ever increasing expectations placed upon his slim young shoulders.

However, as the sixties rolled, or limped,  into the seventies and the Jackson 5 began to cool off, eventually leaving the Motown label that had launched their incredible success, many of my friends, as well as myself, were attracted to different musical genres, more mature fare. Topping my personal list was WAR, Stevie Wonder, Santana, and Mandrill. I also began to listen to a lot of jazz, and accumulated quite a large album collection. Whenever, I received my weekly wages from whatever job I was engaged in at the time, and I had many in my youth –security guard, lathe operator, UPS warehouseman—I would head straight to the record store and add to my collection.

What I couldn’t afford to buy, I would get from the radio, my preferred listening hours were three and four o’clock in the morning, when the brother manning the controls at an FM station coming out of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut would put out some serious jazz. I would stay awake listening until just before dawn, sleep a couple of hours and drag myself off to work.

As the years went by I lost that passion for music. Perhaps my waning interest was aided by my little nephews who turned part of my album collection into a stack of customized frisbees when I went off to the Air Force in 1976. It was definitely aided by Islam. After my conversion in 1977, there was no one around to tell me that music was Haram (forbidden). However, as I grew in the religion, the enchanting melodies of the Qur’an became far more appealing than the increasingly commercialized musical fare. For example, George Benson’s offerings starting sounding more like Muzak than the rifts of a jazz purist who rivaled Wes Montgomery.

I would eventually give away what was left of my record collection. At the time I had left the Air Force and was studying in Washington DC at American University. However, I lived a few blocks from Howard University. I drove over to one of the used music vendors on the edge of the campus and made his day as I unloaded a box of cassette tapes and albums. 

During those years I had lost touch with what Michael Jackson was doing. I knew he had “blown up” as the young folks say today and that as a solo performer he was reaching heights of fame and popularity that not even Elvis had obtained. I would also read in the tabloids that caught my eyes as I waited to check out at the grocery store of the increasingly strange exploits Michael was involved in, the plastic surgeries, something about the bones of the Elephant Man, rumors of him sleeping in a transparent, refrigerated crypt, the allegations of pedophilia, the fantasy ranch in California, and on and on.

It was obvious that Michael was troubled. For sure the physical and psychological abuse visited upon him by a sick father was a large part of the problems that were plaguing Michael as he moved further into his adult years. Surely, the childhood that was denied him as he was thrust into the sinful rigors of show business at the tender age of eight, opening for strip tease acts on the “Chitlin’ Circuit,” in smoke-filled rooms wreaking of alcohol, was part of his troubles. Surely, the confusion of being caught between a devout mother struggling to raise her children as Jehovah’s Witnesses and a fanatically strict, violent and obsessive father was part of part his problem.

But I was only able to catch glimpses and snippets of Michael’s seemingly disintegrating life from a distance, hearing a bit here from a well-meaning niece, or catching a bit there on television, before I would take Jerry Mander’s advice and relegate my television to the garbage heap. If Michael was becoming a side show he wasn’t performing for me. Caught up in Islamic activism, during a time my friends and I refer to as “the heady days of the revolution,” I had little time to reflect on such matters, I was too busy trying to do my part to change the world.

However, last year Michael’s name came up again. A good friend who is a reliable source of information called and said that Michael had become Muslim.  Allah knows best if he did or did not. However, Michael was no stranger to the religion, having been exposed to it by his brother Jermaine, who had converted to the faith in 1989.*

Now Michael is gone. Hopefully, he had found peace in Islam. Hopefully, the tears he cried in the privacy of his oftentimes lonely world, tears described by Smokey Robinson as those of a clown, shed when no one’s around, had dried. Michael was an icon, a pain-filled, troubled icon, and like many of comparable stature before him, and inevitably many after him, his fall was sudden and unexpected. Hopefully, his faith, if he did indeed convert to Islam, helped to cushion that fall.

* An earlier version of this article mentioned that Dawud Warnsby had assisted in Michael Jackson’s conversion to Islam. He has denied that. This article has been amended to exclude that claim. In writing this essay, I was given information from sources I considered reliable that Michael had indeed become Muslim. Obviously, the part about Dawud Warnsby is not true. However, there have been many reports throughout the media concerning Michael becoming Muslim. Allah knows best as to their veracity.

Comments


By Alveina on June 26, 2009 at 5:41am

May MJ soul rest in peace.May Allah bless him n accept his good work. My duas are with him.May Allah be pleased with him.ameen.

By tee on June 26, 2009 at 7:35am

JAK for a nice article - very timely. However, the bit about MJ working with Dawud Wharnsby Ali is not true. Dawud is someone I know well and he clarified that it's untrue some time ago. Hope you can correct this paragraph asap.

By Jashim on June 26, 2009 at 8:02am

Nice article, but I just wanted to ask, the news about Michael embracing Islam, was that ever verified ? I always thought it was just a rumour ?

By Ihsan Muhammad on June 26, 2009 at 9:04am

السلام عليكم: Imam, so many people who likewise grew up on Michael wish to pray for him, but are very intent on knowing for sure whether he did indeed take his Shahada before doing that. If you vouch for it formally, I'll pass it on via Facebook, etc. What you said in your article is enough for me personally, but for the Nas, you know... إحسان

By Noreen Farooq on June 26, 2009 at 9:13am

Mashallah beautifully said Brother. Michael Jackson was someone who inspired many people his music was like no other, his voice, dance and personality was like no other he remains in our hearts and mind. I pray that allah gives him jannatul ferdous bless him immensley and good that he was removed before so he didnt go back to the music which could have led to other bad stuff may allah have mercy upon his soul. Give ease to his family and guide all those people who are still left in the dunya.

By zainab on June 26, 2009 at 9:16am

Ameen. Subhanallah, though im no fan and have just heard one of his songs once when my physics teacher played his long playlist, i was still quite shocked to hear of his death, yet another reminder that we'll all taste death. I hope we get to hear any of the songs he may have made with Dawud Wharnsby.

By Abu Ali on June 26, 2009 at 9:43am

Assalamu alaikum, Dawud Warnby has confirmed he has never met Michael Jackon. Source: http://www.deenport.com/iframes/viewtopic.php?topicurl=viewtopic.php?t=24832&sid=aa7f1b18e1875033b4c0e8b811501ad9 It was also rumoured in 2008 that Yusuf Islam witnessed Michael's shahada. This was untrue according to Yusuf Islam. Please see: http://www.yusufislam.com/faq/did-yusuf-help-jackson-become/ Many people are saying he died a Muslim based on your article. I would love forthat to be true, afterall we should love iman for others. But we need to base things on facts. Please consider editing your article. wa salam Your Brother in Islam

By Abdullah on June 26, 2009 at 9:55am

It may appear that Micheal Jackson didn't in fact become Muslim: http://www.yusufislam.com/faq/did-yu...ackson-become/ Did Yusuf Help Jackson Become Muslim? Contrary to persistent press rumours, I was not at any kind of conversion ceremony for Michael Jackson. Nor, I believe, was Dawud Wharnsby or any of the others mentioned in connection with the story. Granted, I was in Los Angeles at the time these rumours first appeared

By MR on June 26, 2009 at 9:56am

JazakAllah khair Imam Zaid. One minor point, Dawud Wharnsby Ali had this to say about his relationship with Michael Jackson: "Lastly

By AsimG on June 26, 2009 at 10:13am

SubhanAllah, a great read. Jazakullah khair Imam Zaid for this.

By Salah Chafik on June 26, 2009 at 10:28am

a touching story - many lessons can be drawn from his life. iA he will moonwalk his way to heaven. inna li llahi wa inna ileyhi raji'oon. "nobody around to tell me music was haraam" ".... a well known Muslim musician" Just a bit confused about that juxtaposition withing the article.

By Nadeem G. on June 26, 2009 at 11:04am

From Dawood Wharnsby's official website: Lastly - many have been in touch with me over the past year to inquire about my personal relationship with Michael Jackson. A November 21, 2008 Sun (UK) article spread internationally stating that Michael had adopted the religion of Islam through friendship with both myself and my colleague Idris Phillips during recording sessions in Los Angeles. For the record: Though our professional circles did cross-over slightly with various common professional acquaintances - I never had the honour or pleasure of meeting Micheal Jackson personally, nor did we ever correspond on matters of our professions, personal lives or faiths. Peace, dawud wharnsby Link: http://www.wharnsby.com/03_blog.html

By Jamal on June 26, 2009 at 11:07am

# He became a Muslim a few months ago in Bahrain and it was all over the British newspapers. His Muslim name is Mika

By Barry Danielian on June 26, 2009 at 11:18am

Shukran wa Jazak Allah Khair Imam Zaid- As someone who has been playing music since 6 yrs old and professionally since 16yrs. I share your observation that Michael helped define so much of our American culture. I can attest to the self imposed pressure all artists put on themselves to reach a perfection the we as Muslims know is for Allah only. That said, I can only imagine the pressure he endured throughout his life. Music can be such a beautiful thing with the power to uplift, break down barriers of language & culture. In the case of marvin get us to think about socio-political realities and in the case of John Coltrane hear the human soul crying out for it's Creator. The Music business however is full of shaytans,deception,illusion and nafs driven idols. One can hardly imagine a young Michael trying to navigate that. I just pray that he found some peace in Islam and that Allah grants him forgiveness and mercy. A lyric from a song of his says "I'm starting with the man in the mirror-I'm asking him to change his ways- no message could be any clearer-if you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself then make a change" If that's not Islam I don't know what is.

By Jamal on June 26, 2009 at 11:20am

Many UK newspapers confirmed that Michael (Mikaeel) became Muslim Nov. 21st, 2008, but we will know once he is buried. He died just after converting to Islam. May Allah grant Michael "Mikhaeel" Jackson, al-jannah.

By Suhaib Webb on June 26, 2009 at 12:24pm

Asalamu alaykum, May Allah reward Imam Zaid for this. Irregardless of MJ's Islam, Imam Zaid's commentary on fatherhood and environment were crucial. In an age where Huka bars are filled with young Muslims, drinking and drugs are running rampant in the Middle East and the call for orientation is reaching a deafening pitch, Imam Zaid's points were right on time. I hold Imam Zaid as one of the senior leaders in our community. I love him dearly and I'm always happy when I see he has written something new. Awesome job at keeping things relevant. George Benson! Man, I thought I was old school? Suhaib

By Sufyan on June 26, 2009 at 12:32pm

Great article shaykh! Great reflection material. Just to clarify about him being given shahadah by Dawud, th below links are from the blogs of Yusuf Islam and Dawud Wharnsby who both said they did not give him shahadah. Insha'Allah he still died a Muslim. http://www.yusufislam.com/faq/did-yusuf-help-jackson-become/ http://wharnsby.com/blog1/2009/06/26/the-passing-of-michael-jackson/

By Khalid Abu Malik on June 26, 2009 at 12:38pm

FYI - From Dawud Wharnsby's Blog http://www.wharnsby.com/03_blog.html Lastly - many have been in touch with me over the past year to inquire about my personal relationship with Michael Jackson. A November 21, 2008 Sun (UK) article spread internationally stating that Michael had adopted the religion of Islam through friendship with both myself and my colleague Idris Phillips during recording sessions in Los Angeles. For the record: Though our professional circles did cross-over slightly with various common professional acquaintances - I never had the honour or pleasure of meeting Micheal Jackson personally, nor did we ever correspond on matters of our professions, personal lives or faiths. Peace, dawud wharnsby

By Imam Zaid Shakir on June 26, 2009 at 1:36pm

An earlier version of this article mentioned that Dawud Warnsby had assisted in Michael Jackson's conversion to Islam. He has denied that. This article has been amended to exclude that claim. In writing this essay, I was given information from sources I considered reliable that Michael had indeed become Muslim. Obviously, the part about Dawud Warnsby is not true. However, there have been many reports throughout the media concerning Michael becoming Muslim. Allah knows best as to their veracity.

By Man in the Mirror on June 26, 2009 at 1:42pm

Jazakallah Khair for this Imam Zaid. I've been very sad and I pray that, if even a smile is charity, then may Allah reward Michael generously for the uncountable smiles he has lit in the world. May Allah balance his scale favorably. May Allah have mercy on him. Ameen.

By Molly Darden on June 26, 2009 at 4:18pm

This thoughtful essay is a beautifully written capture of Michael Jackson's inner self, as much as we can discern. While we hope he had converted to Islam, undoubtedly Islamic principles influenced the many positive, little-known aspects of his troubled life.

By Abu AlHareth on June 26, 2009 at 5:27pm

Salam Alikom :), Imam Zaid, jaka Allahu khayran. I'm glad to read your words about Michael Jackson. It is kind of a relief. I have recently read Sheikh Hamza'a article "who are the disbelievers" and I know that Allah's justice, knowledge and mercy surpass our ability to seances, intellect and judgment. Is it Halal or haram to pray for mercy on someone who died not on state of Islam; saying "Allah yarhamoh". Is the Hadith that the prophet -peace be upon him- was prohibited from making "istighfar" to Abu Talib, an evidence that it is not allowed. Like many people I grew in my teenage imitating him, then distancing my self from him and his works due to media remarks about his behavior and then the allegations. I lately, decided that I shouldn't say I like his work but not him, because I did indeed like him and I felt hypocritical and not right in denying that. Many of the information about Michael are not true and some of them can be understood in light of his life circumstances, if humanistic approach is to be taken, like the reference you made to his rough childhood. I certainly prayed that Allah gives brother Abdulaziz patience and I was saddened for him and for Michael. I'm afraid that with the emotions I have, I may unknowingly say things that are Islamicaly inappropriate. What is the relevance of the prophet's istighfar to Abutalib as pertains to this situation May Allah give you tawfiq and baraka in your time so that you can stay in touch with us and continue on your work. wassalam

By jomila on June 26, 2009 at 6:13pm

subhanallah, i hope he did convert insha allah

By Kareemah on June 26, 2009 at 11:59pm

As salaamu alaykum. For our brother Mikaeel-- May Allah forgive him his sins, give him light in the grave and widen it for him. And May Allah make his questioning easy and give him Jannatul Firdaus. Wa alaykum us salaam

By zaidah on June 27, 2009 at 5:15am

jazaaka Allahu khayran May Allah shower His mercy and blessings on our brother's soul and grant him everlasting bliss. Ameen

By hamza on June 27, 2009 at 5:34am

As salaamu alaykum It seems history keeps repeating it self over & over again with rumours of Shahabad

By HEIWA on June 27, 2009 at 5:41am

SALAAMS IMAM ZAID MY BROTHER FIRST I HOPE YOU AND FAMILY ARE WELL AND THAT YOU ARE RESTING?KNOWING YOU...YOU ARE NOT RESTING GOOD ARTICE HOWEVER ALTHOUGH I TOO AM SADDEND FOR THE FAMILY MOSTLY.. WHY DO WE AS PEOPLE GET SO REFLECTIVE WHEN ICONS,TOO US ANYWAY DIE? WHAT OF THE COUNTLESS,NAMELESS FACELESS OTHERS WITH NO"FAME" WHO DIE ON OUR STREETS AND IN ALL WARS AND EVEN NOW BECAUSE OF MASS SERVICES CUTS TO BENIFITS? HOPE TOO SEE YOU SOON HEIWA

By Harun on June 27, 2009 at 10:53am

Allahu A'alam, The commentary was enlightening in spite of such tragic events. Whether MJ took shahadah or not he certainly touched the lives of millions and millions around the world including me and according to this piece, Imam Zaid as well. My prayer is that those whose lives he touched be filled with Nur Allah (the Light of Allalh)for "after the discomfort comes the ease". Walaikum salaam

By rafiq on June 27, 2009 at 2:49pm

so it is still not confirmed??? I did not read confirmation; I read what might be!!!

By Your sister in Islam on June 27, 2009 at 3:35pm

As salaamu alaykum, InshaAllah, everyone who has posted ahead of me are with the best of Iman and Ihsan! MashaAllah, Imam Zaid, on a beautifully written article.I have read through the comments above and I would like to just point out that many who have posted are missing the point of this article. The point is not weather or not Michael Jackson was a muslim? or who helped convert him, Dawud Warnsby or Yusuf Islam? Imam Zaid just clarifed that he heard from a reliable source that MJ had converted to Islam, period :)With that said, what I gained from this article, is that MJ played a role in the lives of many people, across the globe, including Imam Zaid (as youth), he transformed popular culture and did this while he suffered from the many trials and tribulations Allah set forth in his life. He is gone now, but where are we? where we going? are we transforming the world for the better of Islam, Iman and with Ihsan? or are we caught up in the "meteor streaking" like beings, like Michael Jackson to help define who we are? Let us ponder and thank Allah (swt) for life and the hereafter..."We belong to him and we shall return to him" With peace, love and wisdom, Your sister in Islam

By Your sister in Islam on June 27, 2009 at 3:39pm

As salaamu alaykum, InshaAllah, everyone who has posted ahead of me is with the best of Iman and Ihsan! MashaAllah, Imam Zaid, on a beautifully written article.I have read through the comments above and I would like to just point out, that some of you who have posted are missing the point of this article. The point is not whether or not Michael Jackson was a muslim? or who helped convert him, Dawud Warnsby or Yusuf Islam? Imam Zaid just clarifed that he heard from a reliable source that MJ had converted to Islam, period :)With that said, what I gained from this article, is that MJ played a significant role in the lives of many people across the globe, including Imam Zaid (as youth), he transformed popular culture and did this while he suffered from the many trials and tribulations Allah set forth for him in his life. He is gone now, but where are we? where we going? are we transforming the world for the better of Islam, Iman and with Ihsan? or are we caught up in the "meteor streaking" like beings, such as, Michael Jackson to help define who we are? Let us ponder and thank Allah (swt) for life and the hereafter..."We belong to him and we shall return to him" With peace, love and wisdom, Your sister in Islam

By michael jackson on June 27, 2009 at 4:05pm

i really wish that imam zaid would take the comments feature down so that we can read his article and not have to scroll down furthermore for comments as posted above, some including other imams, too, who, mind you, seem to themselves be spending too much time online or in the blogworld. this isn't philosophy by any means, this is just a nice essay by our dear imam zaid, and that's that. the plethora of discussion about his so-called conversion to islam is, by my standards, a waste of time and word-space. anyway, that's how i see it. perhaps i'm posing a contradiction with my very post but it's just what i;m thinking. take care and thanks imam zaid. salaam

By Hasan on June 28, 2009 at 6:40pm

If he died a Muslim (and Allah swt knows best), may he be forgiven and given the reward of Jannah. This is a reminder to all of us to ask for forgiveness and realize the purpose of our existence - to worship the One to whom we will return.

By Nanima on June 29, 2009 at 8:35am

Salaams Imam Lots of things say that he might not be muslims but there are a few things that hint that he could have been muslim. His brother saying May Allah be with you at the end of his statement. Michael Jackson made a song about the Kaba wall. Now the imam says his sources say that Michael is muslim.. Why aren't the muslim scholars of America ensure that he be buried the Islamic way.. it is now 5 days since his passing..

By Selima on June 30, 2009 at 4:24pm

Is making music haram? I attempted to accept that music is haram for many years, before realizing that musical expression is as much a part of my innate (God-given) nature as bird-song is to those hundreds of warblers who sing Allah's praises outside of my windowat fajr.

By husna on July 1, 2009 at 7:36am

Salam to all my brothers and sisters, I am not a die hard fan of MJ, Alhamdulillah. after he died, suddently all focuses are on him by medias, all people around the world and friends close to me. i dont use to listen to his songs or videos....Alhamdulillah. but because of these sudden ...well everybody knows... i start to go to websites and youtube with friends. just want to know who this guy really is. i know he was famous and great singer.. just kind of want to know why people are so crazy about him. i saw few of his videos. as a muslim i don't see anything great about him. we muslims are not the same like the non muslims. for my opinion MJ is just an icon to those who just want to fill their lust with something which goes against islam. he had a half naked women dancing during his concerts and he just inviting the audience to MAKSIAH. MJ was not someone for muslim to feel proud of. the thing that we should feel happy and proud of him is that if he choses islam as his way of life and forsake the maksiah- this would be a great sacrifices (not many people who get themselves into this kind of pupularity can do it). WELL, TO ALL MUSLIMS, THIS RELIGION ISLAM DOES NOT STAND STRONG BECAUSE OF ANYONE. IT DOES NOT GET FAME BECAUSE OF ANYONE. IT IS BY ALLAH THIS RELIGION WAS PRESERVED. If MJ truly a muslim, may Allah accept him among the people He guided on the true path. first of all i pray for myself, my parents, family and all muslimin.

By Solon of Athens on July 2, 2009 at 7:01am

Bismillah. Is this really a fitting topic for us to focus upon? Are there not vastly more important and pressing concerns for the umma, for all of us as people generally, as well as each of us individually? What about our brothers and sisters who are being shot at and blown up on a daily basis in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Palestine? Where is the outcry on the lives of these brothers and sisters on these pages? How fitting that today Michael Jackson's funeral will be an event at the Staples Center in L.A., for which one must purchase a ticket, following the next day in the same arena by the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus. Bread and Circuses. That's what MJ is for the masses. That's what American Idol is. Just look at the name. Ibrahim and Muhammad removed our idols once. It seems we need to clean house again.

By Michael Fan on July 3, 2009 at 12:51am

The man-boy named Michael showed us -- in the form of an adult man -- our innate, child-like vulnerability and desire to love and be loved. May he have achieved fanaa fillah. Ameen.

By RHM on July 3, 2009 at 9:59pm

as salamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh, bismillah ir rahman ir raheem Cynthia McKinney, former US Congresswoman from the state of Georgia, sits today in an Israeli prison where she was taken at gunpoint three days ago by the Israeli military after being plucked off a ship in international waters on her way with other humanitarians to deliver medicine, food, olive trees, and toys for children to the people of Gaza. Some weeks ago she was part of a similar mission on another ship, the Dignity, that was rammed in international waters by the Israeli navy, and was nearly sunk. It was only by the grace of Allah that they made it back to a friendly port alive. This time, after placing their lives on the line again, these people who would have delivered food and medicine to sick and starving muslims in Gaza are now illegally interned in an Israeli prison. (See this legal opinion from UN ombudsman Richard Falk: UN expert says Israeli seizure of aid ship a crime | Reuters ) Here is Cynthia McKinney's phone call from her second day of imprisonment in Israel, as broadcast today on WBAI radio in New York: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZPRKJzgkHA& Now known by her Israeli captors as Prisoner number 88794, Ms. McKinney joins a long line of distinguished, nonviolent humanitarian prisoners of conscience against racism, colonization, apartheid, war, and genocide, from Martin Luther King, continuing on back through Mohandas Gandhi to Henry David Thoreau. Where is the impassioned outcry from muslims of conscience against not only the imprisonment of these humanitarians, but, even more importantly, against the ongoing genocide being levied against human beings, people who are also members of the umma, in Palestine, Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan? Both Imam Zaid and Sh. Hamza have taken the time and trouble this week to publish essays on the Zaytuna website about the death of Michael Jackson, but they have not seen fit to breathe a word about the genocide in Gaza, no less to writeupon the subject, in all of the months, running into years, during which this crime against humanity has continued. Is the death of a drug-addled pop star of dubious morality, however lamentable it may be that his life and talent have been extinguished, really the most fitting and pressing topic to have our attention directed to, and for us to focus upon? Are there not vastly more important and pressing concerns for the umma, for all of us as human beings generally, as well as each of us individually? I ask again, what about our brothers and sisters who are being shot at, blown up, mutilated, starved, incarcerated, made homeless, abused and tortured on a daily basis in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Palestine? Where is the outcry from the leaders of the Zaytuna Institute on the lives of these brothers and sisters? It is nowhere to be found in any measure. But isn't that just the point? How fitting that Michael Jackson's funeral will be a ticketed event at the Staples Center in L.A., which will be followed the next day in the same arena by the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus. Solon of Athens wrote about the polity being distracted from what truly matters by its leaders' promotion of "Bread and Circuses." That's what MJ is for the masses. That's what American Idol is. Just look at the name. Ibrahim and Muhammad removed our idols twice. It seems we need to clean house again. Astaghfirullah. The "rock stars" of the muslim umma should themselves be concerned with the state of the people who comprise the mass of humanity and the umma, more than about other rock or pop stars. We as muslims and human beings, our umma, and its institutions and leaders, are all indeed capable of so much better. Are we not? True courage, as exemplified by Ms. McKinney, is certainly an obligation under the blessings of freedom, and it is a duty of our deen. I pray for us all to be guided rightly Allahu 'alim. with love and concern, rhm

By mj (uk) on July 4, 2009 at 1:52pm

imam zaid, please take off my last post in the alias michael jackson. it's not needed and i apologize for making that comment. im still young and not used to this blog thing and asister of mine made me realize how not needed my comment was. shukr jaziil. ws alyk.

By Inaya Shujaat on July 7, 2009 at 8:17am

Asalaamu Alaikam, This article was put forward very nicely, mashAllah. I appreciate the bit at the end about the *possible* reversion of Michael Jackson to Islam. We should all remember that only Allah knows what's in a person's heart, and with that said, only Allah knows whether or not Michael Jackson really did accept Islam. This should not be something for us to debate, nor to make statements of surety one way or another. Only Allah knows. I am a bit bothered by all the media attention surrounding his death. So many days have passed, yet this is all the media cares to discuss? People die every day, all around the world. It can be a sad event for their families and friends, but ultimately, people understand (or should) that it is all part of the natural process of living on this Earth. This life is temporary, and one thing is for certain: it WILL end one day. It is time that the world moved on, and focused on other things, I feel. The "King of Pop" is dead, and we are all reminded of how temporary life is. Money and fame will not stave off death forever. We all must die one day, and we should pray that we die in a state of Islam.

By RIfat Sheikh on July 8, 2009 at 9:51am

Salaams fellow brothers and sisters in HUMANITY. I totally loved both articles written by Imam Zaid and Shaykh Hamza, both looked at the sudden death of MJ in proportion to this human beings impact in modern popular culture; the impact he had on and off stage. It was MJ's ability to still give-out despite being cut-off from normal society that was so amazing, showing immense "human" qualities. Today, we find ourselves in one camp or another, Muslims think they are all guaranteed for paradise, and all else to the hell fire... Some even think that they are so certain on who goes to hell or heaven, how tragically sad. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and Mercy be upon him) came to us as a MERCY to mankind, to the whole of HUMANITY! Not just Muslims alone, but to all creed, colour and race. I personally hope he was a Muslim, with Jermaine being his brother it is quite conceivable. MJ

By joeseph on July 8, 2009 at 11:59pm

nice article brother Imam Zaid , but i had to stop at the point where you say "there was no one around to tell me that music was Haram (forbidden)" . if you could bring a hadeeth or a verse from the Quran about music was haram that would be nice . may god bless you and your family

By ReFlafeCleta on November 6, 2011 at 8:48am

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