Did Shaun King convert to Islam?

Did Shaun King convert to Islam?
In a video that later went viral, the African-American writer and his wife can be seen reciting the shahadah in a Muslim community center.
2 min read
11 March, 2024
The Black Lives Matter activist said his decision to convert to Islam was prompted by the suffering and pain he witnessed over the past six months in Gaza. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Prominent African-American activist and writer Shaun King converted to Islam at a mosque in Texas on Sunday, along with his wife Rai, according to a video that has since gone viral online.

The video shows Palestinian-American imam Omar Suleiman guiding King through the shahadah - the Muslim profession of faith.

After reciting the shahadah in Arabic and English in front of other followers, King can be seen passing the microphone to his wife Rai, wearing a brown hijab, who also takes the oath.

King linked his decision to convert to Malcom X's heritage and to his longtime friendships with Muslims, but also to the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

"I don't know that I would be here today without the past six months of suffering and pain and trauma that we've seen in Gaza," King said after converting.

His comments, made at the local mosque where he declared his new faith, were recorded and uploaded on the Valley Ranch Islamic Center's Youtube channel. 

"It has touched me in the most profound ways to see people right now in the most dangerous, traumatic place on the planet still be able to sometimes look at nothing but rubble and the remains of their family and still see meaning and purpose in life," King added.

"More than anything, it's been friendships and the deep devotion and faith of the Palestinian people that have moved my heart."

King's conversion came a day before the start of Ramadan, the month in which Muslims fast from pre-dawn to sunset.

"They're both fasting tomorrow in sha Allah and they're ready to start," Suleiman told other followers at the mosque after the ceremony.

Originally a Christian pastor, Shaun King rose to prominence in the mid 2010s as a voice for the Black Lives Matter movement.

He launched several online campaigns to defend Black victims of police brutality and raise funds for charitable causes, such as for victims of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

But King is also a controversial figure in activist circles, and has been accused of pocketing funds meant to support the families of those killed by police brutality in the US, claims he strongly denies.