7 Celebrities You May Not Know are Muslim
At the beginning of July, 24% of the global population celebrated the festival of Eid al-Fitr, or the “feast of breaking the fast”. Eid marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting where Muslims abstain from eating and drinking absolutely everything from sunrise until sunset. The month of Ramadan is a time for mindful detoxification from worldly desires and Muslims who fast attempt to increase not just their endurance of hunger pangs, but also their capacity for patience, kindness and generosity.
Research shows that a social familiarity with Muslims tends to produce positive effects on an individual’s perceptions of the religion itself. But it’s concerning to find that 6 out of 10 Americans rarely or have never had a conversation with a Muslim. The rise in Islamophobia plaguing America has risen at an alarming rate over the past 18 months and hate crimes against Muslims have continued to grow on a global level. This seems like an opportune time to illustrate how many Muslims are embedded in our American pop culture and introduce you to some of the most famous celebrities that you may not know are Muslim.
There are more than 3.3 million Muslims in living in America, approximately 1% of the country’s population. If you’re reading this and happen one of the Americans who never interacts with a Muslim, it’s imperative to recognize that even if you’re not around a Muslim person in your daily life, there are numerous peaceful Muslims living in your realm of pop culture. The following celebrities have diverse occupations as well as varying practices concerning their religion. They demonstrate exactly how divergent people of the Muslim faith are, not unlike other large religions in the world.
- Zayn Malik: As an ex-member of the popular band One Direction, Zayn might be the most famous Muslim pop star in the world today. After years of receiving death threats and religious criticism on twitter, Zayn has said, “I believe that your religion should be between you and whoever your belief is in” and has stayed relatively mum on the subject of religion.
2) Akon: The chart-topping R&B singer from Senegal has never shied away from talking about his religion. In 2015, he discussed his progressive stance on creating music as a Muslim. He said, “I was born a Muslim… and there has always been a debate about Islam and music. I never looked at the performing aspect of the music itself, but on the intention. Even if you look at the daily prayers in Islam, we pray in melody”.
3) Amal Clooney: Born into a Muslim family, the world-renowned lawyer has kept her religious beliefs private but remains a vocal critic against the Trump administration’s discriminatory rhetoric. She noted, “[Trump] kept saying, ‘They only want jihad; they don’t believe in our way of life; they don’t respect our system…’” she said. “People, I think, should’ve been saying, ‘Do you mean the 1.5 billion people around the world who fit that description? Do you mean the people who are U.S. citizens, who are members of your military, the vast majority of whom are not extremist or violent in any way”?
4) Shaquille O’Neal: The famous ex-NBA superstar and sports host is a devout Muslim. When he was playing for the Celtics, O’Neal famously talked about his plans to take the religious pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.
5) Gigi Hadid: The daughter of a Palestinian Muslim refugee, Gigi was born into the Islamic faith. Gigi has refrained from discussing her religion, however, she turned to activism and showed up to a NYC protest when President Trump’s ban against six Muslim countries was first announced.
6) Dave Chapelle: The Emmy-nominated comedian has been in movies like The Nutty Professor, Con Air, and Half-Baked. Though he’s known to be notoriously private, Chapelle poignantly said, “I don’t normally talk about my religion publicly because I don’t want people to associate me and my flaws with this beautiful thing. And I believe it is a beautiful religion if you learn it the right way. It’s a lifelong effort. Your religion is your standard”.
7)DJ Khaled: The music producer who has created songs with Justin Bieber, Drake, Nicki Minaj & Jay-Z (to name a few) is a devout Muslim. When asked about how his faith guides his daily life, Khaled replied, “It would take me 40 years to tell you everything I pray about because I pray almost every second of the day. It’s the way I was brought up, and it keeps a shield around me”.