As part of the wider melieu, it is unsurprising that an old story that has repeatedly raised its ugly head has once again been circulating on the internet. The story in question is that Michael Jackson converted to Islam.
As a man that wore a traditional abaya on a trip to Bahrain a short while ago (see image above) – something that clearly goes against the practices of Islam – it would seem somewhat absurd to believe that Jackson could have converted. Indeed, it seems even stranger that such stories are given any credence or thought. However, it is apparent that they clearly do.
The email in circulation at the moment, contains a link to the Daily Telegraph article from November 2008.
The same story was also run in the Daily Mail on the same day. In both articles, Jackson apparently took Shahada – the declaration of faith in Islam – after speaking with Steve Porcaro, David Wharnsby and Phillip Bubal. In some reporting, Yusuf Islam – formerly Cat Stevens – is also thrown into the account. As if to give the story some credence, it adds that Jackson’s brother Jermaine converted to Islam in 1989.
But similar stories also ran – amongst others – in the San Francisco Chronicle in February 2007 and even as far back as 2003, when Jackson was alleged to have joined the Nation of Islam. Interestingly, Jackson’s alleged links to the Nation were mentioned in yesterday’s Telegraph.
For a man that sought publicity and attention for so much of his later life, it is highly likley that his flirtation with Islam – whether through the Nation or more orthodox forms – was little more than another of the eccentricities he cultivated as a means of gaining the media and public’s attention.
Given that he no longer received attention because of his musical or creative output maybe Islam served a purpose: in the current climate, what better way to encourage outrage and/ or interest in equal measure?
Maybe the ‘proof’ though of Jackson’s convictions lie in the fact that every time these stories ‘break’, he has recently had something major happen in his life. So for example, when he first began to speak about the Nation of Islam, it was shortly after he was arrested on allegations of child abuse.
When the story again broke in February 2007, it was shortly after Jackson had lost his Neverland Ranch and the true picture of his financial situation was becoming clear. He was also going through a custody battle with Debbie Rowe.
And then last year, Jackson needed to raise his profile again given the relative flop of the CD, ‘King of Pop’ and the fact that his 50-show stint at the O2 Arena in London was already being planned.
In my opinion not. Islam for Jackson was merely another means by which to cause a publicity stunt as indeed the image above would clearly seem to suggest.
This work by Chris Allen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. Based on a work at www.chris-allen.co.uk.