Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Muhammad Ali, and Malala Yousafzai are not the only notable Muslim figures to leave a global footprint. Others, with less obvious names, did too.
Last Friday, American President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning persons from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen from entering the United States. The administration labelled these Muslim-majority countries 'terror prone' and presented the measure as a safety one. However, Trump supporter and adviser Rudy Giuliani said in an interview with FOX News that the president specifically wanted to pass a legal Muslim ban, before the commander-in-chief himself said that the US would prioritise Christian citizens of said territories, establishing once an for all that the measure was in fact a Muslim Ban.
So as humanity digests the news, we take a look at the world's pop culture history, only to discover that some of its most influential figures happen to be non-terror-prone African-American Muslims.
A pioneer of Gangsta Rap and one of the greatest MCs of all time, Ice Cube’s work has often incorporated heavy socio-political commentary. The multi-talented entertainer and businessman converted to Islam in the mid-1990s, however, his approach to the faith has been more spiritual than ritualistic.
Sex icon and one of the best-selling music artists of all time, Janet Jackson is the youngest child of the Jackson family. Her third studio album Control (1986) was her declaration of independence from her family and marks the true beginning of her career as a music artist. Despite her phenomenal success, the 5-time Grammy award winning and record smashing artist's career has often been marred by controversy. She converted to Islam in 2015, according to CBS News.
Senegalese-American singer, rapper, producer, and entrepreneur Akon gained world-wide fame with hit songs like I Wanna Love You and Smack That. He produced songs for the like of Lady Gaga and Leona Lewis and collaborated with artists like Eminem, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston. In 2010, Forbes magazine named the 5-time Grammy nominee one of the most powerful celebrities.
Busta Rhymes is widely regarded as one of the greatest MCs of all time due to his unique rapping style. The 11-time Grammy nominated producer, actor, and rapper has worked with Hip Hop legends such as P Diddy, Missy Elliott, and Dr. Dre. He was quoted as saying: "I live my life by Islam," by CBS News.
Grammy award winner and one of GQ’s 2006 Men of the Year, Lupe Fiaso rose to prominence after the release of his debut album Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor. In a 2014 interview with Katie Curic, the rapper, producer, entrepreneur, and Japanese Cartoon frontman opened up about reconciling his Muslim faith with Hip Hop culture.
Former Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic basketball player and retired rapper Shaquille O’Neal is one of the game’s most enduring legends who was among the select few considered for the Dream Team and a frequent All-Star player. In 2000, O’Neal won NBA MVP, All-Star game MVP, and Finals MVP, becoming the third player ever to do so after Willis Reed and Michael Jordan.
Identified as one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time by Comedy Central and dubbed the ‘comic genius of America’, Dave Chappelle explored themes like race relations in the US throughout his career. He became ingrained in pop culture with his sketch comedy show Chappelle’s Show. He converted to Islam in 1998.