He was born December 11, 1954,he is an American Grammy Award-winning singer, bass guitarist, former member of The Jackson 5 and brother of American pop stars Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson. And Most importantly, he is a Muslim.
Jermaine Jackson, brother of world-famous star Michael Jackson, tells how he embraced Islam. Islam is a religion which transcends all petty prejudices of color, race and territorial boundaries. Deserting the religion of one’s forefathers is one of the most difficult decisions, but the golden principles and the virtues of broadmindedness of Islam have persuaded mankind to adopt it as a way of life.
Born to parents Joseph and Katherine Jackson, Jermaine became the original lead singer of an earlier incarnation of The Jackson 5 until 1967 when younger brother Michael assisted lead vocals but Jermaine would co-lead with Michael for many years. Jermaine and his brothers signed with Motown Records in 1969.
Jermaine was the co-lead singer of The Jackson 5, after his brother Michael, and sings notable parts of “I Want You Back”, “I’ll Be There”, and “I Am Love”. Like Michael, Jermaine also began a solo career concurrent to his tenure in The Jackson 5, and had many hits.
When The Jackson 5 left Motown, Jermaine left the group and stayed at Motown. Jermaine was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for his 1979 album Let’s Get Serious. He had several hits throughout the 1970s and 1980s all over the world.
Jermaine converted to Islam after a visit in Bahrain in the 1989s. In 1992, he, Margaret, and Suzanne de Passe produced The Jacksons: An American Dream, an award-winning and highly-rated miniseries about the history of The Jackson 5. Jermaine, Jr. portrayed his father as a young teenager in the miniseries. Jermaine appeared in the media a lot in the recent years to defend and support his brother Michael. He also participated on the UK BIG BROTHER show where he was really appreciated by the fans in England. He recently collaborate with Indian artist Adnan Sami on a song called “Let’s go to Mumbai city” which were released in India. Jermaine is also a part of the TV project “The Jacksons; a family dynasty”… he’s also a jury in the TV show “Move like Michael Jackson” (England, Netherlands, Belgium).
“Voice of Islam” makes an interview with Jermaine Jackson to know more about him, his brother Michael Jackson and his convert to Islam. Let’s present some issues of this interview.
When and how did you start your journey towards Islam?
It was way back in 1989 when I, along with my sister, conducted a tour to some of the countries of Middle East. During our stay in Bahrain, we were accorded warm welcome. There I happened to meet some children and had a light chitchat with them. I put certain questions to them and they flung at me their innocent queries. During the course of this interaction, they inquired about my religion. I told them, “I am a Christian.” I asked them, as to what was their religion? A wave of serenity took over them. They replied in one voice “Islam.” Their enthusiastic answer really shook me from within. Then they started telling me about Islam. They were giving me information, much in piece with their age. The pitch of their voice would reveal that they were highly proud of Islam. This is how I paced toward Islam. A very short interaction with a group of children ultimately led me to have long discourses about Islam with Muslim scholars. A great ripple had taken place in my thought. I made failing attempt to console myself that nothing had happened but I could not conceal this fact any longer from myself that at heart I had converted to Islam. This I disclosed first to my family friend, Qunber Ali. The same Qunber Ali managed to take me to Riyadh, capital of Saudi Arabia. Till that time, I did not know much about Islam. From there, in the company of a Saudi family, I proceeded for Mecca for the performance of “Umrah”. There I made public for the first time that I had become Muslim.
What happened when you got back to the US after embracing Islam?
When I returned to USA, American media orchestrated heinous propaganda against Islam and the Muslims. The gossips were let loose on me that really disturbed my peace of mind. The Hollywood was hell-bent upon maligning the Muslims. They were being projected as terrorists. There are many things where there is consensus between Christianity and Islam, and Quran presents Holy Christ as a virtuous Prophet. Then, I wondered, why Christian America levels baseless allegations against Muslims? This made me gloomy. I made up my mind that I would do my best to dispel the wrong image of Muslims, portrayed by the American media. I had not the slightest idea that American media would not digest the news of my accepting Islam and raise such a great hue and cry. It was virtually acting against all its tall and much-publicized claims about the freedom of expression and the freedom of conscience. So the hypocrisy of American society came to surface and lay uncovered before me. Islam unknotted many complications for me. As a matter of fact, I came to think of myself as a complete human being, in the literal sense of the word. After becoming Muslim, I felt a tremendous change in me. I discarded all thing prohibited in Islam. This made things difficult for my family too. In short, the Jackson family tumbled altogether. Threatening letters poured in, which further intensified the worries of my family.
What sort of threats?
Well, they would tell me that I had nurtured the animosity of American society and culture, by entering into the laps of Islam; you have deprived yourself of the right to live with others. WE would make life unbearable for you in America so on, so forth. But I confess that my family is broadminded. We have held all religions in esteem. Our parents have trained and groomed us in that way. Therefore, I may say that the Jackson family enjoys friendly relation with people belonging to almost all religions. This is the result of that training that I am being tolerated by them so far.
What was the reaction of your brother Michael Jackson?
On my way back to America, I brought a number of books from Saudi Arabia. Michael Jackson asked me himself for some of these books for study. Before this, his opinion was influenced by the propaganda of American media against Islam and the Muslims. He was not inimical towards Islam, but he was not favorably disposed towards Muslims either. But after reading these books, he would keep mum and not say anything against Muslims. I think perhaps this is the impact of the study of Islam that he diverted his business interests towards Muslim traders. Now, he has equal shares with the Saudi billionaire prince Waleed bin Talal in his multi-national company.
It was said earlier that Michael Jackson was against Muslims, and then there are rumors that he had become Muslim. What is the real story?
I testify this fact, at least there is nothing in my knowledge that Michael Jackson ever said anything derogatory against Muslims. His songs, too, give message of love for others. We have learnt from our parents to love others. Only those who have their own ax to grind hurl allegations on him. When there can be a nasty uproar against me when I became Muslim, why can it not be so against Michael Jackson. But, so far, media has not subjected him to scathing criticism, although he is threatened for his getting somewhat closer to Islam. But who knows what it would look like when Michael Jackson embraces Islam.
What is your candid opinion about the American media?
American media is suffering from self-contradictions. Take the example of Hollywood. The status of an artist is measured here keeping in view the model of his car, the standard of this restaurant that he visits, etc. This is the media that raises someone from the dust to the skies. They do not consider the artist as a human being. But I have met so many artists in the Middle East. They have no misplaced arrogance in them. Just look at the CNN, they do that much exaggeration about some news that it appears that nothing else has happened except that event in the world. The news of fire in the forests of Florida was given such a wide coverage as it gave the impression that the whole globe has caught fire. In fact, it was a small area, which was affected by that fire. I was in Africa, when the bomb-blast took place in Oklahoma City. The Media, without any proof, started hinting at the involvement of Muslims in that blast. Later on the Saboteur turned out to be a CHRISTIAN!!! We may term this attitude of American media as its willful ignorance.
By Nouran Radwan