There are hundreds of different religions in the world — someone believes in Jesus, someone in Buddha, and some pretend to believe in a cosmic deity made of pasta and meatballs. On this planet, people are free to choose whatever religion they want to practice, and if they decide to switch it up and convert to a different god or ethereal concept, it’s also fine.
Here are eight celebs you didn’t know were practicing Islam.
1. Mahershala Ali
The famous Hollywood actor decided to convert to Islam in 2000. Mahershala’s mother is a clergywoman and raised her son in the Christian tradition, but when Ali was old enough to make a conscious decision, he chose to become a Muslim. The man changed his name from Gilmore to Ali, but his relationship with his mother has not changed. She respects her son’s decision, and Mahershala really appreciates it.
2. Dave Chappelle
Many people, including celebrities, converted to Islam being already fully-developed adults. One of those celebs is the popular stand-up comedian Dave Schappell, who chose to serve Allah in 1998, and never once regretted his decision. According to Dave, this religion’s teachings are so wise that sometimes it feels like a lifetime is not enough to study and fully understand it.
3. Omar Sharif
The popular actor Omar Sharif was born into a Lebanese Catholic family and could have lived the rest of his life as a Catholic if it were not for love. The actor fell in love with the Egyptian actress Faten Hamam and became a Muslim in order to marry her. Their marriage lasted nineteen years and ended in divorce, but his faith in Allah remained until his dying breath.
4. Faran Tahir
This American actor with Pakistani roots became very popular after starring in Iron Man, but even before that, people loved him in the West Wing and 24. Many viewers also remember the role of the Muslim laboratory assistant Isaac in Grey’s Anatomy. Naturally, Faran not only plays Muslim characters in the movies but also practices Islam in real life.
5. Shohreh Aghdashloo
Viewers know Shohreh mainly thanks to the projects House of Sand and Fog, 24, and the Expanse. The actress is of American and Iranian descent and grew up in an Islamic family. Aghdashloo said she could not imagine professing any other religion, and we believe her.
If someone told you that the R&B star Akon is a Muslim, would you believe them? You should because that’s the truth. Akon, also known by his full name Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam, was born in a Muslim family in St. Louis. The musician once commented that even prayers in Islam have a melody, so music cannot be forbidden.
7. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Every NBA fan knows who Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is, but not everyone knows he was raised Roman Catholic and then converted to Islam at 24, even going as far as to change his name. For Kareem, this step was necessary to teach others about what it’s like to be a Muslim. He wasn’t trying to convert anyone, just be thoughtful and respectful of other people’s religion.
8. Shaquille O’Neal
Probably one of the most prolific and famous NBA stars is Shaquille O’Neal. He shot hoops for 19 years for teams like the Lakers, Orlando Magic, and Miami Heat. Throughout his entire career, Shaq became an All-Star fifteen times! In 2010, the NBA star said that the best center player of all time was “another Muslim brother, Hakeem Olajuwon,” and that he had plans to visit Turkey. Which, of course, means Shaq himself is, or at least was, practicing Islam at the time.