Sinead was an enigmatic, complicated, but brilliant woman. I remember her hit “Nothing Compares 2 U” as a child. The stripped-down visual of the music video and her sublime, haunting voice are unforgettable. It was a marker of the 90’s but timeless.

Per her Irish roots, Sinead was politically courageous and intellectually free. In October 2018, O’Connor embraced Islam, calling it “the natural conclusion of any intelligent theologian’s journey.”

As Islamophobia spiked across Europe, she said: “If somebody hates me as a Muslim, I stand a bit taller.”

What I admired most about Sinead was her unrelenting individuality. She rejected conformity and the vapid trappings of pop culture and fame, refusing to conceal the depth of her struggles to remind us how perfectly human it is to be so patently flawed.

Young people, and the perfectly packaged celebrities of today, can learn immensely from that. We have enough self-anointed “icons,” and a dangerous scarcity of iconoclasts. Sinead was one. And 1 of 1.

If she could, Sinead – who embraced the name Shuhada after becoming Muslim – would speak up against the mainstream media tributes rolling out right now in real time. Tributes that overlook or erase her Muslim identity, portraying the patented shaved head of the 90’s instead of the Hijab she wrapped around her head until her last day. Still, today.

This is why I felt compelled to write this tribute. Bringing truth to halls of power that shadow our existence and silence our voices. Speaking up, and fighting back, like sister Shahuda always did.

I was proud to call Sinead/Shuhada a sister.

From Allah we come and to Him we return. Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un

Khaled Beydoun / Instagram