Famous striker Nicolas Anelka changed his name as Abdel-Salam Bilal Anelka when he embraced Islam in 2004.
In an interview with the media in Britain, when asked about his cool and more mature manner, Anelka replied lightly. "Islam helped me a lot to be calm and concentrated and have high morale. I love being a Muslim, a religion of peace and I learned a lot from Islam."
Apparently, his move to Turkish club, Fenerbahce, after playing at Manchester City over the past three seasons, in 2004, Anelka get guidance to embrace Islam. During a holiday in UAE, he decided to become a Muslim and recited the kalima shahadah in the presence of the Mufti and two imams (Muslim religious leader in the mosque) at Al-Wassal Mosque in Dubai. So, he announced officially about his turning to Islam. He then read the Qur’an and worshipped at many mosques in Arabian Peninsula. Also he visited Mecca and Medina and performed his Umrah duty.
Born in Versailles, France, on March 14, 1979, Anelka spent his childhood in Trappes, a small town located on the western outskirts Paris. Anelka was an atheist. However, when he was irreligious, Anelka make friends with a Muslim family. And that"s where Anelka became interested in Islam. "I became a Muslim since I was 16 years old," he said in an interview with the Arabic magazine, Super Magazine.
To the readers of FourFourTwo magazine, he said, Islam is a way of life that fits him. "I felt comfortable and quiet with religion and my life today.”
Embraced Islam, the Chelsea striker is widely acknowledged to bring positive changes in his life. According to him, the religion of Islam led him to act wisely. And, this is what lies behind his quiet attitude while competing on the field. "Islam helped me a lot to be calm and concentrated and have high morale," he said.
"I am pleased to be a Muslim, a religion of peace and I learned a lot from Islam," he added. In an interview published in the Match, a magazine published by the French, Anelka reveals that Islam is a source of strength inside and outside the field. "I had a tough career. I then resolved to find peace. And, I finally found Islam. "
As a professional football player and a devout follower of Islam, the obligation of fasting during Ramadan does not make Anelka’s life hard to keep his activities. Like most other Muslim soccer players in the Premier League, Anelka tried to keep running fast.
In an interview with FourFourTwo magazine, the Premiership Golden Boot winner of the 2008/2009 season revealed that as a devout Muslim, he is obliged to respect the obligations of Ramadan with fasting. "Actually, fasting is not a difficult thing to run. I exercised and played the matches while I was fasting."