The Conversion of Sinead O’Connor

Sinead O’Connor, whether you know her music or not, is probably easily identified by her name as someone who is as Irish as Patty’s Pig — a distinctly Irish expression, no insult intended to the human or the pig. O’Connor was born and lives in Ireland. She’s had her troubles with the Irish Catholic church, and they with her — something about being disrespectful to one of the earlier starchy conservative Popes. Her most famous song might be the 1990 version of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2U”. I have a CD of that and other songs, which I still play in my Subaru, which is old enough to have a CD player.

O’Connor is 51, and she’s gone through various iterations of who she is as a person and as a singer, including shaving her head at one point and dressing like a nun even though she has children and maybe a husband or two floating around.  Her latest try at a coherent self is a conversion to the Muslim faith where she has emerged as Shuhada’ Davitt and wears a hijab. Honestly, for me it’s a stretch. I generally think people get to do whatever they want to bring themselves inner peace, and I think O’Connor gets to do that too. I just can’t look at that Irish face or hear that Irish brogue and see Shuhada’. Fortunately her musical career doesn’t depend on me, and on she will go. I’ll still play her music in my car — the old stuff, not the new.

If you want to hear her singing the Islamic call to prayer, here she is:

2 thoughts on “The Conversion of Sinead O’Connor

  1. I went to You Tube to listen to Nothing Compares 2U and there were literally hundreds of messages welcoming Sinead as a sister to Islam. I then listened to her sing “Belfast Child” and the mournful minor key is not that different from her Islamic call to prayer. Each of us is distinct and influenced by where and when we were born but there is some core human transcendence inherently illustrated in music.

    With my perhaps biased Western knowledge, I am admittedly horrified by how women are treated in Muslim countries, but then again the ongoing sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests has been quietly tolerated for eons. This explains my reluctance to consider joining ANY organized religion.

    In 1992, Sinead tore up a picture of the pope to protest child abuse in the Catholic Church. She was 25 years ahead of her time considering all that has been revealed in the last couple of years. Not sure how nor why she came to her decision to convert to Islam but she states a sense of peace. I have had a few young Muslim girls in my after-school program, some of whom wore the traditional hijab, and all I can say is they were highly motivated, embraced educational options, had the support of their family, and were extremely respectful.

  2. for Sharon: Lovely to hear from you, my friend. My reaction to O’Connor’s conversion isn’t based on any discomfort with people changing religions, or with her giving up her nun gear to wear a hijab, or with the sincerity of Muslims welcoming her to the ummah. It’s a purely personal sense that it’s hard for me to see that Irish face and hear the Irish brogue and see Shuhadda’. My musical ear isn’t finely tuned enough to hear the similarities you mentioned. O’Connor doesn’t strike me as a person who’s felt much peace in her life, so if this conversion brings that, it’s all to the good. I, like you, don’t seek or find peace in any organized religious setting, although I sometimes envy people who do. Makes life a bit easier, I suspect.

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