In 1978, pop artist Cat Stevens gave up super-stardom when he embraced Islam and became known as Yusuf Islam. He returned to the studio in the 1990s, recording several albums of Islamic songs, known as nasheed.
Yusuf's more recent albums mark a return to the pop music world. Explaining this shift, Yusuf says: "The language of song is simply the best way to communicate the powerful winds of change which brought me to where I am today, and the love for peace still passing through my heart. I feel gifted to have that ability still within me. I never wanted to get involved in politics because that essentially separates people; whereas music has the power to unify, and is so much easier for me than to give a lecture."
Yusuf Islam's most recent release (2010) contains 11 new songs in the classic, mellow "Cat Stevens" style. Yusuf's faith is apparent but not intrusive, with songs such as "Welcome Home" and "World of Darkness." Critics praise the "stand-out track" -- "Shamsia" -- a tribute to an Afghani girl who defied the Taliban to continue attending school.
In 2006, Yusuf released his first folk-pop music album since 1978, when he was known as Cat Stevens. Critics describe the tracks as "beautiful," "spiritual," "uplifting" and "peaceful." On his return to music, Yusuf says "I feel right about making music and singing about life in this fragile world again. It is important for me to help bridge the cultural gaps others are sometimes frightened to cross."