Hard to understand the silence. Why not record it as yet another step in the singer's journey?
It was Facebook that reminded me of the big news from five years ago: Sinead O’Connor had converted to Islam. On October 19, 2018, she tweeted: “This is to announce that I am proud to have become a Muslim. This is the natural conclusion of any intelligent theologian’s journey. All scripture study leads to Islam. Which makes all other scriptures redundant.”
When the Irish singer was found unresponsive in her London residence on Wednesday (July 26), all the commentary was about her chart-topping hit Nothing Compares 2 U, her global stardom, the shocking ripping up of a photo of Pope John Paul II during a television appearance on Saturday Night Live and her fulminations against the Catholic Church’s history of child abuse.
There was little about her embrace of Islam.
The day after the singer’s death Al Jazeera carried a piece headlined “Sinead O’Connor’s Muslim identity missing in obituaries, some fans say”.
Its lead para was as follows: “As musicians, politicians and fans remember Sinead O’Connor, some Muslims are disappointed that the Irish singer and lifelong activist’s religious identity is not being highlighted in tributes”.
It went on to say: “One social media user said imagery of the singer without the hijab points to the glaring lack of Muslim reporters in newsrooms”. And it quoted US-based author Khaled Beydoun describing the coverage as an outright “erasure” of O’Connor’s identity.
It’s reasonable to note that Islam was a relatively recent landing point in the singer’s life. Even so, it appears to have been important in her journey. So, why not record it as yet another step along the map of her life drawn by O’Connor?
It’s hard to understand the silence about her embrace of Islam but honestly, until that chance Facebook feed, I would not have remembered her epiphany.