'Islamic Reflections': Yusuf Islam opens up about faith in Ramadan series

The musician, formerly known as Cat Stevens, hosts a four-part special for the BBC during the holy month

epa07469772 Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) performs as an estimated 20 thousand people attend the National Remembrance Service to those who were tragically killed in the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre shooting at Hagley Park, in Christchurch, New Zealand, 29 March 2019.  EPA-EFE/MARTIN HUNTER AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT
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Yusuf Islam is fusing his faith and his music in a series of special recordings this Ramadan.

The musician, formerly known as Cat Stevens, hosts a four-part series for BBC Radio, the first of which was broadcast on Friday, May 1.

The British singer, 71, helms the series Islamic Reflections, which comprises 10-minute episodes that will be released weekly throughout the holy month.

The first segment was dedicated to the "power of science, divinity and spirituality", with Islam reading passages from the Quran, as well as other religious texts.

Among the excerpts he reads is verse (42:51): "And it is not for any mortal that Allah should speak to them unless it be by revelation or from behind a veil."

Islam, whose songs include 1970's Father and Son, says human beings "are the only earthly creatures who have to live with the knowledge of their own mortality".

"Now, for anyone with a mind, it’s hard not to question the reason for this, or to contemplate what might be beyond the final wall we must all climb one day," he says.

The episode finishes with a three-minute performance of Islam's song Miles from Nowhere.

In the next segment, the musician reveals he will "go over some of my background as a young man without a particular fixed cultural abode" and discuss "how near death came to wake me up to being my journey in search of meaning".

Islam embraced the Muslim faith in 1977, officially changing his stage name from Stevens a year later.

The star, whose musical career spans more than 50 years, is behind hits such as The First Cut Is the Deepest, Morning has Broken and Peace Train.

In a 2000 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Islam said his music always relayed his hunt for spirituality.

"If you listen to my music and lyrics, like Peace Train and On The Road To Find Out, it clearly shows my yearning for direction and the spiritual path I was travelling," he said.

After his conversion, he took a two-decade break from music, though revived his career in the 1990s with albums such as The Life of the Last Prophet and I Have No Cannons That Roar.

He also runs the Yusuf Islam Foundation, which supports victims in conflict zones by providing relief and educational services. A percentage of Islam's earnings go to the charity.

Islam divides his time between living in the UK and Dubai.