It’s pretty sad that it’s 2016 and we are still subjected to people perpetuating negative Muslim stereotypes in the media and in real life. I thought we were way further as a society, but apparently I could not be more wrong. I can’t believe this nonsense is a constant topic in modern conversation. The Islamic culture has come under fire due to the actions of a few individuals and it is unjust and illogical to categorize an entire group of people based on some of its members.
It is foolish to judge someone’s character based on just one attribute, especially religion. Not all Muslims look, talk, act, and think alike. And I feel dumb that I even had to say that. That should be a very obvious sentiment, but that is sadly not the case. “Being Muslim” should not evoke the negative stereotypes that it does, but a lot of people are caught in these views. They probably don’t even realize that a lot of their favorite singers, actors, models, and athletes believe in Islam. It just goes to show that the old saying is true: “you cannot judge a book by its cover.” For example, there are plenty of Muslims with fair skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes, so you cannot “tell” what religion someone believes in based on physical appearances or clothing style.
Maybe if more fans realized that the stars they love believe in Islam, then it could be more accepted like other cultures are. There are so many people who are beloved celebrities who practice Islam, but a lot of the loyal fans do not even realize it.
For instance, these 15 popular celebrities are Muslim and you probably had no idea.
15. Snoop Dogg
When many people think of Snoop Dogg, the first thought is usually weed, and then after that some of his song lyrics might pop into your head. And a lot of those songs are fun jams about partying so it’s probably a little bit surprising to know that he’s a religious man. In 2009, Snoop Dogg announced that he is a Muslim when he took part in the Nation of Islam Savior’s Day convention in Chicago. This is also when he announced his temporary (and super weird) name change to Snoop Lion, which I did not support at all. He also mentioned incorporating elements of Rastafarianism into his life as well, so I guess he’s coming from the Shaq school of thought when it comes to adopting tenants of multiple religions.
14. Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson has been missing in action for a while, but whenever she does pop up, she is more covered up than her fans have been used to seeing her. Most fans think of Janet as a sex symbol with a smoking hot body, so why the style change up? Aside from just naturally getting more modest with age, Janet Jackson has converted to Islam after marrying Muslim millionaire Wissam Al Mana. So that explains why we are way past the “Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty” and nipple-popping days.
13. French Montana
In all honesty, I didn’t really care about French Montana until he dated Khloe Kardashian, but now I am a fan who is pretty captivated with his personal life. And a big part of French Montana’s personal life is his Muslim faith. French Montana even abstained from sex and drinking with then-girlfriend Khloe Kardashian during Ramadan in 2014. He also spoke out against people blaming the November 2015 Paris attacks on Muslims.
12. Zayn Malik
Zayn Malik is one of the most talked about pop stars in the world these days. Everyone wants to see how he is going to fare as a solo artist after his controversial exit from the band One Direction. All eyes are on him these days. It turns out that the British-Pakistani singer is a proud Muslim and if you have been following his career, you might not be so surprised by this fact. In 2012, Zayn temporarily deleted his Twitter account after receiving hateful messages and death threats about his religious affiliation. And you thought that the hate he received from miffed One Direction fans was bad— this was clearly way worse. Hopefully people who love Zayn, and even those who don’t, can learn to embrace his religious beliefs.
11. Gigi Hadid
When you look at Gigi Hadid, it is easy to get caught up in her girl next door vibe with her blonde hair and blonde eyes, but that does not add up to the whole story. Yes, Gigi is Dutch on her mother’s side, but her father Mohamed Hadid’s entire family is Muslim. To be clear, Gigi has not openly declared herself to be Muslim, but she has made it clear that she supports those who follow Islam since she has grown up with aspects of the religion in her family.
10. Shaquille O’Neal
Shaq is very proud of his Muslim beliefs. In 2010, he made this public when he announced his plans to travel to the city of Mecca in a Muslim right of passage known as “Hajj.” But that’s not all though, Shaq follows the tenants of other religions as well. He even declared, “You believe what they believe, you respect what they respect, and you respect that person as a man or a woman, and you’ll make it far in life. Fact is I’m Muslim, I’m Jewish, I’m Buddhist, I’m everybody ’cause I’m a people person.” That’s a little confusing, but I just take it as Shaq being open-minded and accepting of many religions and cultures.
We haven’t really heard from Akon in a minute, but the controversial singer has some bangers that will live on forever. He has even given shout outs to Allah in his song lyrics. Akon also has a pretty interesting personal life. Early on in his career, Akon had declared himself a polygamist and that he has three wives which he justifies because the Qur’an states that Muslim men can have up to four wives. Who would have thought that the singer of the song “Smack That” would have such a complicated personal life?
8. Aziz Ansari
If you are a fan of Aziz Ansari‘s stand up routines, then you know that he talks a lot about how his Muslim upbringing has affected his life. You also know that he does not practice the religion he was raised with anymore even though his parents do. And if you watch his Netflix series Master of None, then you know a lot about Aziz’s Muslim parents. Nevertheless, he has spoken out many times in support of Islam and defended its followers for believing in what they want.
7. Dr. Oz
Dr. Oz has a pretty interesting past when it comes to his religious beliefs. Both of his parents are Muslim, but to two different extents. His mother’s family was more secular while his father’s relatives were more traditional. So where does the doctor fall? He’s leaning more toward the secular side if anything, explaining that he is more into the spiritual aspects of religion instead of other aspects and as a result he identifies the most with the Sufi Muslims.
6. Amal Clooney
When George and Amal first got engaged, people wanted to know everything they could about his new fiancee. And religion was a part of that media investigation. People speculated whether the Arab lawyer was Muslim and it still remains kind of vague. Amal’s father is a Shiite Muslim and her mother is a Sunni Muslim, which is at the very least a little bit awkward given the schism between those two sects. So it is very unclear where Amal falls, but it’s safe to say that she has been influenced by Islam while growing up
T-Pain has a pretty mysterious persona. His music has been pretty omnipresent, but I also feel like no one really knows anything about him. I imagine that he’s the kind of dude who reaps all the benefits of being a famous rapper without the disadvantages that come with the public scrutiny that other celebrities endure. T-Pain was raised Muslim and has said, “I try not to put a label on my beliefs. I believe in God, I believe in Jesus. I was raised Muslim. I believe in everything. I believe in Buddha. I believe in whatever it is.” So he is another one of those celebrities who has learned from multiple religions.
4. Dave Chappelle
When I think of Dave Chappelle, my mind just drifts to him disappearing from Comedy Central and retreating away from the media at the pinnacle of his fame. So what was up with that whole situation. It turns out that Dave Chappelle actually had a tough time reconciling his work with his Muslim faith and that is why he abandoned his talk show. Well, I am sure that there is more to it, but his religious beliefs were a major factor in his decision-making at the time.
It’s not too shocking to find out that the supermodel is Muslim because her name is actually a Muslim word. The word “iman” is used to describe six articles of faith in the religion. Iman was raised Muslim and even wrote a book detailing her struggle to balance her faith and her job as supermodel in the fashion industry. Maintaining her faith has been something that has been a struggle, especially when it came to her clothes and body image, but it has proven to be important to her over the years.
2. Rita Ora
Rita Ora grew up with a Catholic mother and a Muslim father, but there wasn’t really conflict when it came to raising her. She said her parents were not really practicing either religion and that she was “taught about morals and respecting your surroundings more than religion.” So even though she does have a Muslim background, it did not really affect her to a great extent.
1. Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson is a man full of contradictions. Aside from being a fighter with a lisp, Mike Tyson is also a Muslim who supports Donald Trump’s bid for presidency. Yes, you read that correctly. Mike Tyson converted to Islam while he was in prison. When asked about the Muslim ban proposed by Trump, Tyson said, “It’s just not gonna happen. He’s just not gonna do that. Congress just won’t do that. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be president, you know what I mean?” No, I don’t completely get what he’s saying, but it is definitely interesting to see a proud Muslim supporting the controversial candidate.
This list shows us all that we should not make assumptions about people’s religion and culture. With all of the negative stereotypes surrounding Islam, hopefully people become more accepting when they see that their beloved celebrities practice Islam or have been raised with a Muslim influence.