Earlier I’d linked to an amusing graphic making the case that Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean fame was possibly a crypto-muslim. As it turns out, though, Suhaib Webb has a much more indepth analysis of the real historical inspiration for Jack Sparrow: Captain Jack Birdy.
In the late 16th century a young boy collecting scraps of wreckage from the docks wondered if he’d ever leave Faversham in the borough of Kent, the hottest place in the entire United Kingdom. It was a marshy place of little importance to anyone but the brigand. Its docks were a haven for smugglers and pirates and other such unsavory folk. That boy was John Ward, whose dreams would one day come true, though perhaps not in the way he had wanted; he would become Jack Birdy, the most fearsome pirate in the world, and towards the end of his life, Yusuf Reis, penitent Muslim, wealthy beyond any man’s dreams, spending the remainder of his life in his Tunisian palace.
Ward grew up on the docks, became a British naval officer, then a privateer, and then after a sordid betrayal, a feared pirate.. and converted to Islam afterwards. As Webb points out, the real life of Captain Birdy/Yusuf Reis had several Hollywood movies’ worth of adventure and intrigue. It would be amazing if someone were to bring his real, non-fiction story to the big screen.