Since Donald Trump issued an executive order on Friday (January 27) banning the travel of citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations, the level of tension and frustration around the U.S. (and many parts of the world) has risen dramatically. Over the weekend, there were protests at many major U.S. airports as individuals, who had already been pre-approved to visit the United States, were detained and/or instructed to return to their country of origin.
The Trump administration asserts this 90-day ban is for the safety of Americans, so they can get a hand on the terrorism problem. However, countries with known links to terrorism, like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Lebanon, were left off the list leading some to wonder if Trump’s conflict of interests were at play since the Trump Organization has business in most of those countries.
From the public point of view, the ban is seen as anti-Muslim. Over the weekend, many celebrities voiced opposition toward the ban and stood in solidarity with Muslims around the world. During his acceptance speech for Best Actor in a Supporting Role at the SAG Awards Sunday night, “Moonlight”’s Mahershala Ali, took the opportunity to call attention to his Muslim faith and make a plea for solidarity and acceptance.
“My mother is an ordained minister. I’m a Muslim,” he said. “She didn't do backflips when I called her to tell her I converted 17 yrs ago. But I tell you now, you put things to the side and I’m able to see her and she’s able to see me. We love each other. The love has grown.”
At a time when the Muslim population is vulnerable to hate and persecution—on Sunday evening six were killed at a mosque in Quebec City, Canada—Ali’s use of the public platform served as a reminder to the general public that despite widespread Islamophobia, Muslim individuals are a part of the fabric of this nation, and when we can get past each other’s differences, we can live as one. And Ali is joined by a long list of Muslims in Hollywood who are proud of their faith.
It may look like the mega-successful producer has it all, but when it comes to his accomplishments and who’s ultimately in control of his life, he gives all the credit to his faith: “I have no bosses. Only Allah, the most high is my boss.”
Busta credits his success and ability to stay grounded to his devotion to Allah, saying, “I live my life by Islam and at the end of the day I think that’s pretty much what grounds me in the way that I think most people should be grounded."
Even when Trump was still just a candidate suggesting the idea of a Muslim ban, French Montana spoke out in opposition of Trump’s depiction of Muslims. In an interview with XXL, he told the publication, “As far as everything that Donald Trump’s saying about ISIS, about Muslims — I feel like he’s looking at everyone as a whole, when he should really be separating Muslims. ISIS is like how Bloods is, it’s like how Crips is: Just because Crips live in the neighborhood, it doesn’t mean that the whole neighborhood is going around shooting people and gang-banging.”
The Moroccan-born rapper equated nothing but positivity to his faith adding, “My religion plays a big role in my success. It’s just about doing positive ... You fear not doing the right thing.”
Mara Brock and Salim Akil
They’re the Hollywood power couple behind Being Mary Jane and The Game and before Trump was elected, the Muslim couple expressed concerns about what his rise to power would mean telling Slate, “It’s less about Trump and more about the people … If the American people are willing to elect someone like that president, then that’s more of a problem.”
The former One Direction member may be one of the more well-known Muslim entertainers, but he’s not comfortable being the poster child for his faith. Speaking to Complex he said, “Who knows? There may be a time where I feel like I have something to say about a certain topic and I’m educated enough and armed with the exact information I need before I make a statement that doesn’t offend anybody. Then I will do that. But in today’s day and age, it’s very hard to make any sort of statement that doesn’t offend somebody. I don’t want to throw stones out of a river that’s already raging. You know what I’m saying? It’s doing its thing by itself. I don’t need to put any input in there. I’ll just leave everything to itself."
If you follow him on Snapchat and hear his encouraging “praises to the most high," chances are you’re familiar with how devout DJ Khaled truly is. He explained to Rolling Stone that he prays “almost every second of the day,“ adding that his routine has helped “keep a shield around [him].”
Chappelle converted to Islam in the 90s and was out protesting the ban alongside many of his fellow Americans this past weekend in Dayton, Ohio. However, because of public opinion, he doesn’t really speak about his religious beliefs openly, telling TIME, "I don't normally talk about my religion publicly because I don't want people to associate me and my flaws with this beautiful thing. And I believe it is a beautiful religion if you learn it the right way. It's a lifelong effort. Your religion is your standard."
Ice Cube follows a less traditional path in his faith. “What I call myself is a natural Muslim, 'cause it's just me and God,” he told The Guardian. “You know, going to the mosque, the ritual and the tradition, it's just not in me to do. So I don't do it."
Mos Def, who know prefers to be called Yasiin Bey, was introduced to Islam at the age of 13 by his father. Since then, he’s grown in notoriety and his faith and was named one of the most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2011.
When it comes to being a Muslim man in the entertainment industry, Lupe admitted that there’s an extra level of comfort when working with fellow Muslims. Still, back in 2009, he revealed that he prefers to keep details about his faith out of the public eye. “I don’t like putting my religion out there. I don’t like wearing it like that because I don’t want people to look at me for the poster child for Islam because I’m not. And then I don’t want them to look at my flaws like, ‘oh, that’s the flaws of Islam.’”
Converting to Islam allowed Q-Tip to escape from a dormant spiritual existence. "I read the Koran and it appealed to me,” he told The Guardian. “At the time I was agnostic and it really breathed spiritually back into me."
In 2015, Akon addressed any concerns about his musical endeavors conflicting with his religion, telling The National newspaper in Abu Dhabi, “I was born a Muslim and there has always been a debate about Islam and music. I never looked at the performing aspect of the music itself, but on the intention. Even if you look at the daily prayers in Islam, we pray in melody. When we hear the call to prayer in any part of the world, it is also done with melody. So, no one can tell me that music is haram.”
T-Pain has previously been quoted as saying, “I don’t think I like religion. I think it’s another form of separation.” But the rapper was raised Muslim and recently proclaimed his Muslim identity on Twitter.
Ghostface Killah had a powerful conversion to Islam that left him inspired to rap about his faith. In 2013, he told Fact Magazine about his ambitious plans, saying, "I wanna do a God album, a positive album so the kids and everybody will understand what's going on. Feed the poor people, feed the animals – that’s one of the main reasons I’m here. God put me here to teach people and to lead people to his direction. I’m not a Christian, I’m a Muslim, but God is one. I just believe in the most high. I know what my duty is… I don't want to intimidate anybody or [make] people [feel] like I'm telling them to follow my God … [but] my job is to make them aware, to say something to turn they mind to that right direction."