Today, with the news of his death, there are enquiries from Muslims about the permissibility of an autopsy (short answer: yes) or whether or not janaza prayers will be held for him (short answer: maybe). Scores of others grapple with conflicted feelings, growing up with his music ("haram as it is"), but wanting to honour him as a Muslim if his conversion was to be believed. His impending burial will be another clue to that.
But for now, Jackson will likely be given the benefit of the doubt as people associate his innovations as an entertainer with the best of his intentions - to bridge gaps between people and make people smile. That someone with his influence could have benefited - and benefited from - Islam is now an academic discussion that will be pondered for as long as Jackson's music lives on. "May Allah be with you, Michael, always. Love you," said Jermaine at a press conference announcing Jackson's passing yesterday. And with that, Michael's association with Islam and Muslims - wanted or not - was made eternal.
Zahed Amanullah is associate editor of altmuslim.com. He is based in London, England
Reprinted with permission from Altmuslim.com