By: Jumana Al Tamimi
Though Jennifer Grout, the 23-year-old American singer, doesn’t speak a word of Arabic, she has a rare talent: singing Arabic songs, including Arabic traditional ones, so fluently, so softly and so beautifully.
When Grout participated in Arabs Got Talent last year, she was among the top three finalists, with thousands viewing her spine-tingling performances of songs by Umm Kulthoum on YouTube. More recently, a video of a different kind has been drawing attention to Grout — one showing her announcing her conversion to Islam, which was posted online last month.
While she has actually converted to Islam, though “unofficially”, Grout told tabloid!the posted video is not real.
“Actually the video that everyone has seen is part of a Moroccan film I made before my performance aired on Arabs Got Talent.”
“And I originally was upset, and mostly scared, that it ended up on the internet, because I hadn’t even gotten the chance to tell my family and closest friends about Islam before there were headlines everywhere saying I’d converted. However, now that it’s out there, maybe it’s a positive thing — I am not ashamed of what I believe in,” she added in an email interview.
The posted video shows her declaring, in the presence of two men, the shahada, the declaration of faith that is one of the five pillars of Islam. In the shahada, the person states that “there is no God but Allah and Mohammad [PBUH] is His prophet”.
Grout, who lives in Morocco, explained that she has not gone to the mosque to “confirm her conversion with an Imam or get it on paper”.
“But I say the shahada from my heart. I have recently started to perform the [five] daily prayers.”