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Interview With Yusuf Islam, Formerly Cat Stevens

Aired October 7, 2004 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, once he was Cat Stevens, pop music superstar, singing gentle hits about peace trains and moon shadows. Now he's Yusuf Islam, barred from the United States for suspected ties to terrorists, and he says he doesn't know why.
Yusuf Islam, the former Cat Stevens, is here for the hour with his side of the story that made headlines around the world. It's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's a great pleasure to welcome Yusuf Islam to LARRY KING LIVE tonight. He was the great Cat Stevens, knew him in the '60s and '70s for an enormous amount of hits. A wonderful entertainer and a great singer.

He was barred from entering the United States last month because of what the Department of Homeland Security says are concerns about activities potentially related to terrorism. We'll deal with all that in awhile, but first, let's go back a little.

How'd you get the name Cat?

YUSUF ISLAM, MUSICIAN: Cat? That's an old question. That's -- it goes back to the days when I was searching for an identity, maybe looking for something a little bit easier for people to remember.

My name at that time was Steve Dimitri Georgiou. And that was too longwinded, so Cat was something which, you know, I mean, a lot of people love cats, you know, so I was -- I was hoping they were going to end up loving me.

KING: Where did you grow up?

ISLAM: I grew up in London. Actually, not very far from where we are right now. This used to be my playground. We're in an area now which is close to Carnaby Street. Down the road is Soho. And I used to live a little bit further down the end of Yorkshire Street. My father had a restaurant. And I was actually born just across the road here, opposite -- Oxford Street.

KING: And you became an enormous hit in the United States. Did you like working in this country?

ISLAM: Oh, yes. It was a little bit daunting, of course, in the beginning, coming from the U.K. It was a more familiar place to me. But you know, America was that much bigger. And everything was just mega-sized, you know? And my career, actually, became mega-sized, also, along with it.

So it was a bit frightening at times, especially when things really took off and you know, we were playing big astrodomes...

KING: I know.

ISLAM: 60,000 seaters.

KING: Did you write your own material?

ISLAM: Yes. I think a lot of people who bought my records would have seen that most of my songs -- actually, all my songs except for "Morning Has Broken" were mine, yes.

KING: "Morning Has Broken" was -- who wrote that? That was a great hit, great song.

ISLAM: Yes, that was a hymn. That was actually something -- I was looking -- I was getting a bit dry, you know, from looking for inspiration. And I went into a bookshop and I went into the religious department. I have a kind of tendency to do that.

And -- and I came across this hymnbook. And I took it home, you know, bought it. And started running through these pages, and I found one song, "Morning Has Broken." I kind of played it with one finger style. It was such a beautiful song.

You know, I kind of revived it. I never sang that song as a child, you know, in one of the Catholic schools, which I went to. But a lot of people did sing that hymn. And it reminded them of, obviously, of their childhood. It's a beautiful song.

KING: Great story. I never knew it was a hymn.

OK, how did this happen, this conversion? Were you -- were you a practicing Catholic? I mean, did you go to mass?

ISLAM: No. There's more confusion to this, actually, because I went to a Roman Catholic school, because that was the closest school to my father's shop and where we lived. But my father was Greek Orthodox, and my mother was Swedish Baptist.

So you know, but it was a good Christian school. It was a good kind of moral school. And they decided to send me there. And I suppose that -- I mean, it was just off Drury Lane, you know? So again, back into show business.

KING: But how did the conversion happen to Islam? This doesn't happen overnight. Give me the story.

ISLAM: Well, you know, it is a big question, obviously. I mean when an icon from the music world, you know, sort of with his head in the sky decides to -- to cut out, you know, get away from that and put his head on the ground and start bowing to God.

Well, it's kind of -- it's important and a gigantic step. But it wasn't sudden, you know, because if you had listened to my songs and if you actually followed my path, I was always searching. Ever since I remember I was searching for the meaning to life.

And I didn't like things when they were hidden, when they were secret -- when they were kind of, you know, locked away and I was told, "Well, you can't go there."

And I said, "Why not," you know?

So I looked at all different religions: Buddhism, you know, Taoism. I had my Christian upbringing. And I was just interested in -- in different ways of looking at this universe. I mean, science was telling us something and in a way, a lot of people were now replacing religion with science, because hey, now we know how the universe began, sort of, I think. But no one was really sure.

And -- and so what happened, I've gone through many, like, I would say developments in my identity, in my -- in my art. I still wasn't satisfied. I still hadn't found what I was looking for. I didn't have that peace.

Then I was given a copy of the Quran. And that was given to me by my brother David. He wasn't Muslim, but he kind of discovered Islam in Jerusalem, when he went there and visited one year, I think, in 1976.

When, he came back. He saw some books from Islam. He saw the Quran. He said, "Oh, that's the Bible for the Muslims." You know, so he bought it and gave it to me as a gift. And that was really the beginning of my discovery of Islam.

In those days, you've got to remember, Larry, that there was no -- there was no news about Islam, you know? At that time it was a secret. There were only some Oriental books about, you know, this religion, or you'd see books (ph). But very little in the news, you know? This is way before the Iranian revolution, everything.

So, I was discovering this, really, privately and reading the Quran alone, with nobody telling me how to think about it, what -- how to interpret it. It was just astounding to me that I hadn't discovered this religion before. But maybe there was a reason for that.

KING: The words that -- are we saying that the words on the pages of the Quran jumped out at you? I mean, did -- what happened from the Quran that you didn't get from the others?

ISLAM: Well, the first thing I got, which I didn't expect, was you know, the clear declaration in the belief in one God. You know, up to that point, I thought, well maybe Muslims might believe in moons and stars and mountains and, you know, the image of the camel. You know, I had no idea what belief was, you know, to Muslims.

And the first thing that came so clear to me was this declaration in the belief in one God in this universe. You know, now that's powerful. That's powerful. Of course, in the Jewish faith, you know, that's fairly well known but -- but here, it was a universal approach. It wasn't now, you know, if you like a racial approach where it was only owned by Arabs. The Quran was talking to me in terms of humanity. I'd never heard that before.

When I saw the name of Jesus and Moses, Abraham, along with the prophet Mohammed, of all these prophets mentioned in the Quran, that was quite startling. I never expected that.

KING: Let me get a break and come right back with Yusuf Islam. A story, an incredible story, really. What a life.

As we go to break we -- you know, we realize a lot of our audience below a certain age wouldn't know Cat Stevens as a singer, so here's a sample. Watch.








KING: We're back with Yusuf Islam. He was taken off a plane. We'll find out why, how he got into all this.

By the way, a DVD of Cat Stevens' 1976 Magic Hat Tour is now available from Eagle Rock Entertainment. It's -- it was recorded during his last North American tour, nearly 30 years ago.

Also available is the four-CD Cat Stevens box set from A&M United Music. It includes material starting with his first demo recording in 1965 through a 1997 collaboration done under the Muslim name.

And a video of Yusuf Islam performing his music in part of a double DVD of the November 2003 concert given to benefit Nelson Mandela's 46664 effort against AIDS in Africa.

Yusuf Islam is our guest.

What is the process of conversion like? What happens when you convert?

ISLAM: Well, essentially there's no kind of bathing ceremony or such. But what happens is you simply declare your faith in the one God and -- and in the last prophet, Mohammed, as being the seal of the prophets, accepting all of the prophets before him. And that's what makes you a Muslim.

And then, of course, after that you learn how to pray. You learn fasting. You learn -- well, you might already be giving charity, but here you learn how to give -- you have to give charity. It's not a question of an option or a voluntary choice. You have to give charity.

And so I learned all these things. But more than that, I think it was the -- it was the aspect of a complete understanding of life, not splitting life into, if you like, sort of a religious compartment over here and a kind of, you know, a social department over here and an artistic one. It kind of all encompasses life as a whole.

KING: In what?

ISLAM: And that was unique, I think.

KING: And I knew -- I knew Cassius Clay very well. And he, of course, converted and became Muhammad Ali. Why do you take another name?

ISLAM: Yes. You don't really have to take another name, Larry. I mean, it's a kind of a thing which, you know, if you have a good name there's no problem. You can keep that name, you know? But if -- if there's some kind of -- let's say if the name is slightly just, well, odd they may want to change it.

It was my choice, actually. And the reason I chose Yusuf was because I always loved the name Joseph. And the chapter of the Quran that really moved me was the story of Joseph, you know, the son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham.

And when I read his story in the Quran, it was just something about it. And I loved his story. And I felt, well, there was something here, something about my life which is sort of mirrored. I can't explain it. It just -- it just...

KING: Why?

ISLAM: heart opened and I said, "Well, you know, this must be my religion."

KING: Why -- why -- why, Yusuf, did you kind of give up your career, though? Others convert and don't give up what they do. Why did you sort of go away?

ISLAM: Well, I needed a break, Larry. You know, I wanted a break. I had been on the road more or less since I was 18, you know? And I hadn't known any other life, other than, you know, hotel rooms and concerts and records and studios and press conferences.

And -- and to me, here was a chance to jump off that kind of wagon and see life for real. You know, actually my last album was called "Back to Earth." So that was the meaning of it. I wanted to join the human race again. I didn't want to be a star. I didn't want to continue with that thing, because so much illusion and non-reality is connected to it. I wanted to be real. And so I -- I kind of -- I found an opportunity. And the actual point about music was -- the imam who I met and who I first embraced Islam with in London's Central Mosque, he actually told me to continue making records.

But there were other voices I was hearing which made kind of music slightly controversial, even though I never read anything in the Quran about music, saying it was forbidden or anything like that, but there were these other voices, quite strong.

And so therefore, I decided, well, you know, I'm not going to risk anything. I'm going to go slowly. I'm going to learn my faith. And you know what? I'm going to sell all my guitars. That's what I did. I gave the money to charity.

KING: On September 21, he and his daughter, Yusuf Islam, boarded a flight from Heathrow to Dulles, no indication of any problems when they boarded the flight. He was detained, taken off the plane in Bangor, Maine, and returned.

We'll find out what happened and if so, why? Don't go away.






ISLAM: Obviously half of me wants to smile and half of me wants to growl. I was traveling to Nashville with my daughter to initiate some recordings and you know suddenly we were (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and I was being interrogated by all these FBI officers and you know the whole thing is totally ridiculous. Everybody knows who I am, you know. I'm no secret figure. Everybody knows my campaigning for charity, for peace and there's got a whole lot of explanations.


KING: We're back with Yusuf Islam. OK, Yusuf. What happened? First, why were you coming to the States?

ISLAM: This is a fairly ordinary journey, Larry. I was coming, actually, to Nashville. I had arranged to meet some people there from a record label. We were going to discuss some music ideas, you know? And -- and that was basically it.

I was also going to go to L.A., because I have opened a chapter of my charity there, Small Kindness. We were going to make sure all the legal steps were, you know, wrapped up properly there. That was it, you know?

And that was the purpose of my journey.

KING: So you and your daughter get on the plane. No problems in London?

ISLAM: Yes, no problems. It was like, you know, pick up the electronic ticket at the desk and two bags. That's it. Seats fine, no problem. So we get on the plane. Everything seems normal, you know? We're going to Washington first and then going to catch a flight to Nashville.

Then, you know, as we started approaching Washington, then we heard something over the air that, you know, hey, there's heavy traffic in Washington. We're going to have to, actually land, to divert the plane somewhere to -- to another airport, Bangor. I'd never heard of it before, you know?

But -- and we landed in Bangor. I looked around and I thought, "This is kind of a ghostly airport." You know, like hardly anybody moving on the tarmac. Military planes here and there. You know, didn't think much about it.

Then when the plane stopped, you know, the door opened and in walked, like, six blue-uniformed security officers. And they suddenly surrounded us, me and my daughter, and said, "Are you Yusuf Islam?"

And I thought, "God." You know? I said, "Yes."

And they said, "Would you mind coming with us, you know, for some questions?"

I didn't know what to say. I said, "Well, OK."

I didn't have a choice. So anyway, I followed them out, and I thought, well, "Trust in God."

You know. I've done nothing wrong so let's see what they've got to say and then they guided us to the office and then they separated me from my daughter and I went in somewhere to another office and was sort of interrogated in a way by some FBI agents, they showed me their cards, you know and just they were asking me questions, "How do you spell your name?"

I said, "Y-U-S-U-F" and they said, "Are you sure you don't spell it 'Y-O-U-S-S-E'?" and I said, no, "Y-U-S-U-F." They asked me other kind of questions which didn't seem to be really related to me like, "Did you ever apply to become a U.S. citizen?" I said, "No." They said, "Are you sure?" I said, "No."

So I kind of thought, "Well maybe this is a mix-up." Optimistically, you know. And then later I was interrogated again by some other official. I swore an oath that everything I was saying was the truth, gave a statement and then at the end of that they said, "Well, I'm sorry, you're inadmissible."

What? You know, it's unbelievable. This is like a new planet I had landed on. And then you know, the whole thing just started going from there. I mean obviously they weren't mistreating me, actually they were very nice to me. I gave a few autographs. You know, to a few of the guys, but here I was now, I was going to be separated from my daughter. I gave as many telephone numbers as I had for Washington and then they took away my phone and all of the sudden I was isolated. I was like, you know, all effects, you know, I was a prisoner or a hostage, I don't know.

But anyway, then they drove me to Boston, which is like a five- hour grueling journey and they changed cars about three times along the way. Ended up in Boston. They gave me a hotel room which was nice. And then next morning, of course, switching on the television, I was actually reading about what all this was about and the first time I'd learned that I was on a no-fly list. You know, and I couldn't say anything. I was powerless to respond. That's the story, Larry.

KING: What happened...

ISLAM: And then finally...

KING: What happened, they flew you back to London?

ISLAM: They arranged to send me back to London. To - I hadn't spoken to my daughter for about 33 hours, my family was watching all of this on television, frightened to death for me.

KING: All right, let's -- an example - people, this has been a very serious story. We're going to give you the comments of Homeland Security, but here's what some American comedians have had with this story, and you know what they do. Watch.


JON STEWART, HOST, "DAILY SHOW": A flight from London carrying the artist we all used to know as Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, was forced to make an emergency landing in Bangor, Maine after his name showed up on a terrorist no-fly list. I tell you, it's a real success story in the war on terror. You know, we finally got the guy that wrote "Peace Train."

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Do you know who Cat Stevens is? Remember his big song, "I'm being followed by a sky marshal, sky marshal..."

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW": Yes, Martha Stewart is going to jail and Cat Stevens is being deported. Man, I feel so much safer now, I don't...


KING: I gather you must have enjoyed comics having fun with this in a light-hearted way if we can look at it light-heartedly. What happened to your daughter?

ISLAM: She had to go to Washington alone. And she met some friends there, actually made contact and was looked after by family and the next day they arranged a flight for her back to London. It wasn't the same flight as my one but we ended up landing in London more or less within one hour of each other. KING: Have you been to the United States, let's say, between 9/11 three years ago, have you been to the United States during that time until now?

ISLAM: Yes, frequently. I was in the United States actually about two months after 9/11 at the World Economic Forum in New York meeting Hillary Clinton and Peter Gabriel and all those, you know -- so I've also -- if you're talking about the visits -- possibly about 19 visits since that time.

KING: So why now? Why do you think...

ISLAM: And the last visit was in May.

KING: Why do you think -- what happened between May and September?

ISLAM: God knows, Larry, and I'm sure there should be a good explanation for this and I'm just waiting to hear it because what happened as far as I was concerned, I was living a normal life doing what I normally do and I did have a holiday during that time. We went to -- I made pilgrimage with my wife and three daughters, small pilgrimage you call it, to Mecca, Medina, then I went to Dubai to visit my media offices there in Dubai Media City. I did an interview for NBC, then I went on to Malaysia to have a holiday and relax and that was it. I came back, you know, and I arranged for this trip, and that's it.

KING: Let me get a break and when we come back we'll tell you what the Homeland Security Department had to say about this and we'll continue with our interview with Yusuf Islam, the singer-songwriter known as Cat Stevens. An incredible story. Don't go away.


KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. Tomorrow night we'll be on at 11:00 instead of 9:00 following the second of three presidential debates. We'll be on at 11:00 tomorrow night with a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. For the third debate next Wednesday night we will be in Tempe, Arizona, from the site.

Our guest is Yusuf Islam, the singer-songwriter convert to Muslim. Well, let me read for you, Yusuf, what Garrison Courtney, the director of public affairs for the Department of Homeland Security had to tell us regarding you.

"The Department of Homeland Security placed Yusuf Islam on the no-fly list in response to information received from the intelligence community. We do not place individuals on the no-fly list arbitrarily or indiscriminately, but we will take decisive action when we receive credible intelligence information in an effort to ensure air travel safety." They also said, "Yusuf Islam has been placed on watch lists because of concerns about activities that could potentially be related to terrorism. Also, more recently the intelligence community has come into possession of additional information that further heightens the concern of Yusuf Islam." What is your response?

ISLAM: Come on. This is a joke. As far as I'm concerned, looking at it from my side of the picture, I have done nothing. I have never been involved in terrorism. This has been one of the, I suppose, attempts to try and link me to something quite unsavory which I have nothing to do with. I denounce any kind of terrorist activity. I have no clue about what they're talking about and this is similar to many other things, I think, along in my history. If you study from day one when I became a Muslim, there always seemed to be some kind of little stories people try to tag on to me to make it look as if I'm an unhealthy character and you know to watch out for this guy.

Look, I haven't changed from my songs. If you listen to my songs, "I want to get on a peace train," I have not stopped wanting to get on that peace train. What is the evidence, this is what I'd like to know, what has happened? I think I can't answer that, Larry. They have to answer that.

I know that Colin Powell has made some statements, the foreign secretary here in the UK, Jack Straw, has made an official complaint. It may also be raised in the UK parliament, so we do want to get to the bottom of this. And it may be a mistake. It's a system which obviously is trying to safeguard Americans, American lives at this moment. There is no problem with that. But innocent people should not be victimized.

KING: What did Colin Powell say?

ISLAM: I think -- oh, sorry, he said, "There is no evidence of anything we can charge Yusuf with, not here or in the UK" and if you read the "Newsweek" article I think it was they came to the conclusion, that, hey, you know what, there might have to be an apology because the intelligence is so weak.

KING: Do you think it was weak intelligence...

ISLAM: I don't need an apology.

KING: What do you -- do you think it was weak intelligence or a mistake, a confusion of names and they are trying to back it up?

ISLAM: It seems to be that there is more than one story. One is that they got the name wrong because they really did not have my name on the watch list. It was "Y-O-U-S-S-O-U-F" I think and my name is not spelled like that. The other point was what there was -- as far as I can see other questions related to me being a U.S. citizen, didn't relate to me, so I thought maybe it's that. Then they're kind of talking about other issues connected to information that happened between July and September. Well, I know what happened between July and September. So I really would like to see what they have.

KING: What do you make of...

ISLAM: What is it all about...

KING: What do you make...

ISLAM: ...information.

KING: ...of them saying we have come into possession of additional information that further heightens the concerns?

ISLAM: Come on, Larry. We're just learning today about the weapons of mass destruction issue. There are people who go around frightening others, creating, if you like, a storm where there is no storm. So probably that is the answer, but that is for them to explain. It's not my job to explain.

KING: Do you have any official, any official of your government or a lawyer or someone requesting this, making some demands that America back up its charges?

ISLAM: Well, yes. Essentially my lawyer has written to the Homeland Security Department asking for clarification and an explanation, asking for me to be removed from this watch list and as far as I know, as I say, the case is under review. We are now looking and waiting for information. As far as the government in this country is concerned, they've already voiced their complaint about this issue and we're just waiting.

KING: Funny. If you're on a watch list, how were you able to get on the plane at Heathrow?

ISLAM: That's a good question and I don't know the answer to that, either. Perhaps there is this disparity, again, you've got this -- as far as I know there is a whole new system being brought in where information is being fed through from here and from there. Who knows? It may be a blip. It must be a blip because they've got the discrepancy where it wasn't in the UK but it was in Washington. So it's imperfect but let's get to the point where people own up and if things can be improved, fine. I'm not necessarily looking for a big apology. I just want to have the freedom of movement and to clear my name, that's all.

KING: Is it possible that maybe through the course of the year you've, say, contributed to an organization, honestly gave to an organization that later turned out to contribute to someone involved in terrorism. This happened in the forties where Americans would give gifts to someone and the gifts would turn up in a communist ring and they got involved. Is that possible?

ISLAM: From that point of view, Larry, I suppose anything is possible, but that is why I take great care and, of course, even more so recently, to make sure that money goes directly to the people who deserve it and we give charity to orphans, to widows, to families. We help provide education to young girls. We've actually got a fantastic education center in Iraq right now which we were talking to members of the Interfaith Initiative in Washington about in May.

We're looking for support. So those kind of things we're very careful about. What happens sometimes -- even the Red Cross, UNICEF, the World Bank, must have been party to something illicit, but it never knew about it. It's impossible for certain things, I suppose, not to happen, but that's when you're in the business of giving charity you can't let that be a hindrance to making sure -- trying to make sure that the people who do need it get it.

KING: Back with more of Yusuf Islam right after these words. Don't go away.


TOM RIDGE, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Whether you are a celebrity or a complete unknown, if somewhere in the intelligence community that name appears on a watch list that says you're not to fly on airplanes, for whatever reason, and the individual at the port of entry who are responsible, for this instance aviation security, is responsible to make sure that the information is acted upon. That's precisely what we did.




KING: We're back with Yusuf Islam. He is with us from our studios in London. After 9/11, you did speak out against it. In fact, you wrote an editorial saying that Islam had been hijacked by terrorists on that day.

By the way, where were you on 9/11?

ISLAM: I remember exactly where I was, Larry. I was in a BBC studio, again, just down the road from here, having an interview with Bob Harris. We had just come out of the studio, and we saw this little monitor, you know. And we saw the Twin Towers and some kind of fire on the side of it. We thought, wow, light aircraft must have gone into that, you know, I didn't -- it didn't seem anymore serious than that at the time.

I went on after that to do an interview -- another interview. And then later, of course, it all unfolded what was happening.

KING: When you discovered who the culprits were, the individuals -- you wrote the editorial attacking it, do you think that day hurt your faith around the world?

ISLAM: Of course. It's a distortion of the concept of terrorism itself, which has nothing to do with the true and pure teachings of Islam. When you come to, like, the Quran, it says, whoever takes the life of an innocent person, unless it be through the process of law, then it is as if you have killed, you know, the whole of humanity.

Well, that is mirroring what we know is already -- it's in the Bible. It's the same law. It doesn't change. Nobody can escape the judgment of taking life in that kind of way, victims, innocent people, who have nothing with whatever the program or the agenda of this terrorist act was. KING: So a Muslim who commits terrorism is going totally against his faith?

ISLAM: Yes. I mean, this is obvious. And the Quran is very clear about it. You know, if you look at the teachings of Quran, which I learned when I became a Muslim, you know, what does it say? It says belief, you know, and good deeds. Well, you tell me how to do good deeds. Good deeds is prayer, it's charity, it's fasting, it's speaking the truth. It's being honest.

So you know, it's an antithesis of what Islam stands for, and therefore, you know, we completely condemned it. It's abhorrent.

But we have a new world today. And what has happened subsequently to that has, I think, been I would say maybe perhaps increasing the fear factor. And I believe there must a better way of creating peace and to create a better bridge between the Muslim world and the rest of the world.

I'm an example of someone who has been on the bridge, Larry. I've seen both sides. And believe me, there's good on both sides. And I love God's Earth wherever. You know, there are good people. There are people of religion. But that needs to come out now. I think that the war, the slogans for war against nations, whatever the excuse, let's calm down. Let's get back to normality.

And I think you must do that by supporting the cause of peace and tolerance and negotiation.

KING: Do you think Muslim, the Muslim concept of faith itself was hurt by black Muslims in the United States and violence, Louis Farrakhan and anti-Semitism, that that image, broadened out to the entire -- so a Jew would hear someone is a Muslim and immediately think less?

ISLAM: This is something that has been there a long time. As I say, there were books written a long time ago, trying to, in a way, from orientalists, you know, trying to reshape the view of Islam. It's only when you go to the actual sources of Islamic knowledge, you find a completely different story. And then, you know, you see what Islam is. It is actually a way in which we can view religion.

And if you study the history of Islam -- when it was correctly applied in this world, it was tolerant, there's always the room for people of different faiths living together. That knowledge is not very evident in the tabloids, it's not very evident in the media today, because it has taken on almost the banner of the former orientalists in trying to create a different view of Islam. That is not the view of Islam that I know.

KING: Does the Quran at all attack Judaism? I've never read the Quran, but I've heard this through the years that the Quran -- parts of the Quran are anti-Semitic.

ISLAM: Well, I think part of the New Testament would be too if you analyze it. I mean, Jesus is reported at some point to have been correcting certain Pharisees and scribes and saying, oh you, whatever.

Of course, there are verses in the Quran which try to, if you like, correct maybe some deviations, but as far as the Jewish faith is concerned, let me tell you a verse in the Quran, a very important verse. It says: "Those who believe," means Muslims in this case, "and those who are Judized (ph) and those Sadains (ph) and the Christians, whoever believes in God and the last day and does good works, no fear shall come upon them, neither shall they grieve."

That is a verse of the Quran, Larry. Now, a lot of people don't get to that part. They look at some of the sections, which, yes, they talk about certain wars which took place. Again, some of those are historical and have to be read in context. But the general principle is that there is no compulsion in religion and life is sacred, simple as that.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, right after this.


ISLAM: This is really a great honor and an opportunity I think for Islamiaya (ph) to shine its light to the world, to show that the light of Islam is bright and full of hope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what else have you written in your (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am enormously impressed by the warm welcome you gave me, and by all your questions and your voracious enthusiasm. It was a great joy to be received in that way.




KING: We're back with our remaining moments with Yusuf Islam and a fascinating hour.

Do you think some good can come of this?

ISLAM: Yes, I'm an optimist, Larry, and I once sang a song that, like, "If I ever lose my legs, I won't have to walk," you know, it's called "Moonshadow." And so I believe always that something good can come out. If my case can become an example to improve the system, to make sure that innocent people do not get indiscriminately picked on or victimized, then I think some good will come out of it.

Not just that. I mean, I have a kind of inkling. Well, you know, I was going to Nashville, I was think about, you know, musical ideas. And I thought, well, maybe this is a sign from God that I shouldn't think about that. But then I thought, no, maybe this has brought it more to the attention that I should. And so who knows what will result from this. KING: If everything is cleared up, do you plan to come back and go to Nashville and do the project?

ISLAM: It's difficult to say at this point. I saw a friend recently who was going back to the States. He showed me his airline ticket, and you know, I kind of shuddered. I kind of looked at this thing, I said, whoa. You know, but I think these things can be overcome. And I'd love to see you face to face one day, Larry, as we can talk about maybe a whole lot of other things. But yes, I would love to come back.

KING: And do you want to record again here?

ISLAM: Recording I can do anywhere. You know, I've just recently been to a studio in the country here in the U.K. And you know what, it's lovely. There are horses, there's greenery. You know, it doesn't bother me, that. The whole point is the freedom of movement. And that's a liberty which I value dearly.

Now, I don't think it should be taken away from me or anybody else who has nothing to do with these issues of terrorism.

KING: What has the aftermath been for your daughter?

ISLAM: My daughter is very brave. She's slightly dyslexic, so she had a very difficult time reading signs and that, but she was very brave. And she was worrying about me very much. Because she couldn't speak to me, obviously she didn't know what had happened.

But when we met, of course, when we had our reunion back in London with the family, that was fantastic. And it just brought us so much closer together. She's here right now filming this, by the way, Larry.

KING: Yusuf, thank you for a wonderful hour. Good luck and keep us posted.

ISLAM: Thank you.

KING: Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens. A DVD of Cat Stevens' 1976 Majikat Tour is now available from Eagle Rock. Also available, the four CD Cat Stevens box set from A&M United Music. It includes material from his first demo recording back in 1965.

Yusuf Islam.

I'll be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.



KING: Tomorrow night, we'll be on at 11:00 p.m. Eastern, following the second presidential debate. The debate will take place in St. Louis. We'll have an outstanding lineup of guests and your phone calls. And then next Wednesday night, we'll go to Tempe, Arizona for a live broadcast at 11:00 Eastern as well.

Right now, we turn it over to my man in New York, the host of "NEWSNIGHT," the esteemed colleague, Aaron Brown.


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