LONDON — Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor announced that she has converted to Islam and changed her name to “Shuhada,” saying her decision was "the natural conclusion of any intelligent theologian’s journey.”
O’Connor uploaded a video of herself singing the adhan, or Islamic call to prayer. She apologizes for mispronouncing some of the classical Arabic words. The Koran is written in Arabic, and its prayers are recited in Arabic, even if the believer is not fluent in the language.
“Once I’ve practiced the Azan a hundred times I promise I’ll sing it much better than the one I’ve Posted,” she tweeted.
The theologian at Islamic Centre Ireland in Dublin, Umar al-Qadri, released a short video clip of the Irish singer reciting the “Shahadah,” the profession of Islamic faith that begins, “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
“She’s so happy,” the cleric wrote.
“Her coming to Islam has been a careful and informed decision and follows a lifetime of searching and study,” the imam said in a statement.
Qadri added that O’Connor “has faced many challenges in her life. Where there is light, darkness has tried to envelope it, the greater the light, the greater the struggle with darkness.”
O’Connor told Oprah Winfrey in 2007 that she had tried to commit suicide at age 33 and was bipolar. She later said she had been misdiagnosed, but she has been outspoken in support of lifting the stigma over mental illness.
Qadri said O’Connor took the name “Shuhada” because “it refers to one who bears witness, as she hopes her life and her voice will always remain a witness to truth, justice and mercy.”
O’Connor has a new twitter account under her name Shuhada' Davitt, which she started in June. There’s a verse from the Koran and a Nike swoosh with the words: “Wear a hijab. Just do it.”
She lists her home as “Direland.”
The singer-songwriter is best known for 1990 hit cover of Prince’s song, “Nothing Compares 2 U.” She has had a 30-year musical career, winning a string of MTV and Billboard awards. She won a Grammy in 1991 for Best Alternative Musical Performance. She has continued to perform and record. She has new release — “No Mud No Lotus” — scheduled for next year.
O’Connor was born into a middle-class Irish Roman Catholic family in Dublin. After being arrested for shoplifting at age 15, she spent 18 months in a Magdalene laundry, the scandal-plagued reform schools run by The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity. In an open letter, O’Connor wrote that the institution “saved my life,” but she condemned its treatment of unwed mothers.
In 1992, she performed on “Saturday Night Live” and tore a photograph of the pope in half. In the late 1990s, she was ordained a priest in a breakaway Catholic church. In an opinion piece in The Washington Post in 2010, O’Connor condemned the Vatican for the church’s sex scandals.
“Irish Catholics are in a dysfunctional relationship with an abusive organization,” she wrote.
In a review of an O’Connor performance in 2005, the Washington Post rock critic wrote about her embrace of Rastafarian reggae — music that O’Connor said “raised God from the dead in the soul of a little Irish Catholic woman.”