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Austin Cline

Cat Stevens: Judaism a "so-called religion"

By October 12, 2004

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Cat Stevens, now known by the name Yusuf Islam, gained a lot of sympathy when he was prevented from entering the United States. Some of that sympathy might evaporate, however, when people learn just how radical some of his ideas really are - like, for example, that Israel is merely a "so-called" religion.

The National Post reports:

In a videotape of the 1998 event [a Toronto fundraising dinner hosted by an organization that has since been identified by the Canadian government as a "front" for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas] obtained by the National Post, Mr. Islam describes Israel as a "so-called new society" created by a "so-called religion" and urges the audience to donate to the Jerusalem Fund for Human Services to "lessen the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Palestine and the Holy Land."
Mr. Islam then begins a 45-minute speech in English in which he says it is "intolerable" for Muslims to "stand and watch" the situation in the Middle East. He describes Jerusalem as the centre of a land that is holy because of its connection to Allah. "So this city which is blessed because of its religious nature. Therefore, what we see today is the result of the departure of religion from this area, of the uprooting of religion. So many of the people of the faith have been exiled from this region, moved on, to make way for what? Strangely and ironically, they moved on in the name of so-called religion, on behalf of ... the Jews.

Because many religious Jews live in and around Jerusalem, the complaint about the "departure of religion" from the area means that the most obvious interpretation of the label "so-called religion" is probably the correct one: that Judaism isn't a real religion after all. Now, it's one thing to criticize Israelis or even Judaism, but to suggest that it isn't a "real" religion as part of an effort to attack Israel generally is just ridiculous.

Islam is also quoted as saying that there could be "No political concept or construct or treaty or agent except the laws of Allah, which he instructed for this world." Sounds like he would like to see the creation of Islamic theocracies all around the world and denies the validity of any non-Islamic political system, including secular democracies like those in Britain and America.

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June 7, 2010 at 10:10 am
(1) Felix says:

I agree with Mr Stevens when he’s criticising Israel but he should have taken his statements one step further and include Islam in his criticisms. All established religions should be barred from our society, they steer people away from their true spiritual nature by the use of false information. Many sections of the Bible were edited out several hundred years ago in an effort to hide God’s true nature and our real connection with it and the universe.
Islam, I suspect does the same. We don’t need these massive hierarchies to tell us how to live, they were established to control not to enlighten us

November 9, 2011 at 1:18 am
(2) aiman says:

Yusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens was not calling Judaism a “so-called religion” as your misleading title suggests. Zionism as a movement is more secular than religious. He is criticizing Zionism, not Judaism. He has also criticised violence/injustice perpetrated by Muslims. Also it is far-fetched to draw conclusions from a theological statement. By the same token a statement calling for exemption of religion and the religious can be likened to fascism as demonstrated by Pol Pot.

November 9, 2011 at 11:59 am
(3) Austin Cline says:

Yusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens was not calling Judaism a “so-called religion” as your misleading title suggests. Zionism as a movement is more secular than religious. He is criticizing Zionism, not Judaism.

Except that no one calls Zionism a “religion”, thus referring to it as a “so-called religion” is nonsensical. The only thing that people refer to as a religion in the context of the foundation of Israel is… Judaism.

So if his statement is to be coherent in the least, he was referring to Judaism.

February 3, 2013 at 6:04 am
(4) Jesus says:

Jerusalem isn’t even mentioned in the Quran and has been the holiest city in Judaism, before Islam was even a twinkle in the eye of a desert barbarian. Islam is trying to do to Jerusalem what it has done to all the other pagan and Christian holy cities – claim them as its own and forcibly destroy any remnants of their pre-Islamic past as it has done in Afghanistan (to the Bamayan Buddhas), Iran (Persian which was Zoroastrian long before Islam came along), Lebanon and Egypt (Christian). Islam has usurped these countries native religions and turned their holy shrines into Islamic ones. This is an abomination. Jerusalem has been Jewish for thousands of years and the Muslims even built their “mosque” on top of the holiest site in Judaism – the Temple Mount, just to stop the Jews from rebuilding their temple. I would say it is Islam that is a “so called religion” but more like a totalitarian political movement nowadays.

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