Michael Jackson’s passing is almost as fittingly mysterious and dramatic as was his life. Everyone has their own MJ stories about how his music played a role in their lives, but tlooking back it seems like there were two of him, pre-Thriller and post-Thriller. Pre-Thriller, MJ was a musical icon, but afterwards with his descent into eccentricity, face bleaching, and retreat into a literal Neverland of his own making, MJ took on the status of living myth. The power of that myth persisted despite bankruptcy woes, accusations of child molestation, and other slings and arrows, so much so that last year when rumors of Jackson’s conversion to Islam began to float, they sent a shockwave of fascination throughout the world.

Though his conversion was never confirmed (and outright denied by his publicists), the idea of Michael Jackson as Mikael Jackson proved too powerful to let go. It’s fascinating how muslims in particular are now responding to his death; this thread at Talk Islam has attracted many readers who normally don’t comment to leave a message and express their sorrow and prayers. That MJ was a muslim is simply assumed as a given, and the thread is full of the muslim prayer for the dead, Innalillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un. His death has clearly touched muslims as one of their own, and the question of his belief only adds to the mythos he leaves behind.

Rest in peace, Michael. Like Marilyn Monroe, you’ve become immortal in a way that almost no other celebrity has ever become.

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