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.
UK police on Thursday said the 56-year-old was found unresponsive in her London residence on Wednesday and that her death was not being treated as suspicious.
O’Connor, whose chart-topping hit “Nothing Compares 2 U” helped her reach global stardom, converted to Islam in 2018.
Since her death was announced, Muslim fans of the superstar have said her conversion to Islam, a cornerstone of her identity, was inspiring, but that some media reports had failed to note her religious beliefs in obituaries.
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“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,” the songstress tweeted on October 19, 2018.
At that time, O’Connor tweeted selfies donning the Muslim headscarf, the hijab, and uploaded a video of her reciting the Islamic call to prayer, the azan.
She took on the Muslim name Shuhada’ Davitt – later changing it to Shuhada Sadaqat – but continued to use the name Sinead O’Connor professionally.
One social media user said imagery of the singer without the hijab points to the glaring lack of Muslim reporters in newsrooms.
Really don’t get why British media isn’t using Hijab pics of Sinead O’Connor when she was publicly a practicing Muslim – this is why we need Muslims in the newsroom because they just don’t understand the importance 🤦🏽♀️
— Unzela Khan (@unzela_) July 26, 2023
Others, like the US-based author Khaled Beydoun, lamented what he called an outright “erasure” of her identity.
Many Mainstream media outlets are overlooking or erasing Sinead – or Shahuda’s — Muslim identity
RT this pic.twitter.com/NKlyGCBxyg
— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) July 26, 2023
Meanwhile, some said that O’Connor was an inspiration for queer Muslims globally.
In 2000, she came out as a lesbian during an interview. But the singer, who was married to several men throughout her life, later said that her sexuality was fluid and that she did not believe in labels.
Sinéad inspired queer Muslims globally through this simple act of love and defiance. She redefined conversion and didn’t fit the neat boxes of religion and theology.
‘Sinéad O’Connor wears rainbow top with traditional hijab on Good Morning Britain’ https://t.co/jd64wHNr80
— Amanullah De Sondy (@desondy) July 27, 2023
Some found joy in O’Connor’s conversion growing up, seeing themselves represented, while others, just learning about her Muslim identity after her death, also took inspiration.
Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Rajioon. I listened to Sinead when I was younger, as an angsty Somali-Muslim growing up in Toronto public housing & I enjoyed her music, her convictions, her not accepting fickle accolades. So when I found out she became Muslim, like me, I was excited. pic.twitter.com/l0f3h6JvaN
— Amina 🐪 bsky: ayasinvan (@ayasinvan) July 26, 2023
I am *just* learning about Sinead O’Connor and I am in awe. What a woman. What a Muslim. So so deeply grateful for her consistent courage & generosity. Specifically, that she donated her mansion to my people during the Somali civil war & resulting famine. May Allah honor her!!!💙
— fatoom in her barbie era 💞 (@fatimasflavors) July 26, 2023
O’Connor was no stranger to controversy.
A lifelong nonconformist, she was outspoken about religion, feminism, and war, as well as her own addiction and mental health issues.
In 2014, she refused to play in Israel.
“Let’s just say that, on a human level, nobody with any sanity, including myself, would have anything but sympathy for the Palestinian plight. There’s not a sane person on earth who in any way sanctions what the f*** the Israeli authorities are doing,” she told Hot Press, an Irish music magazine.
We extend our condolences to the family of Sinead O'Conner, may Allah have mercy upon her. We also urge media to respect her acceptance of Islam by acknowledging the name she chose for herself, Shuhada' Sadaqat, & using recent photos that depict how she chose to present herself.
— CAIR National (@CAIRNational) July 26, 2023
Her iconic shaved head and shapeless wardrobe defied early 90s popular culture’s notions of femininity and sexuality.
In 1992, she ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II during a television appearance on Saturday Night Live, vocal against the Catholic Church’s history of child abuse.
The late former star was also a firm supporter of a united Ireland, under which the United Kingdom would relinquish control of Northern Ireland.