Janet Jackson has reportedly split from her Muslim husband, amid reports that his oppressive lifestyle didn’t mesh well with hers. Jackson had adopted much of the Muslim lifestyle of her millionaire husband, Wissam Al Mana, since their marriage in 2012. She had never confirmed that she had converted to Islam, however.
Her new lifestyle since her marriage indicated she had converted, however. In the picture above, taken last fall while she was pregnant, Jackson was seen wearing a stylized hijab. She had moved to London and began making references in her last album and on social media that sounded like she had converted.
Now, reports have surfaced that Jackson’s husband drove her away with his strict Muslim lifestyle. In fact, Jackson had not been seen in public in months. Reportedly, her husband forbade her from leaving the house after she gave birth. Their child’s name Eissa, means “God is Salvation” in Arabic.
Wissam, who was born in Quatar but raised in London, lives by a strict Islamic code. His indifference towards women, particularly Jackson’s mother, helped drive the two apart, reports say.
On stage, Janet’s performances were noticeably muted. In 2014, on her Rhythm Nation tour, she wore long-sleeved, loose-fitting outfits (a drastic change from the figure-hugging PVC catsuits with which she had made her name) and refused to perform raunchy dance routines. She then eliminated any mention of the word ‘sex’ from her next album, Unbreakable, in 2015.
So dramatic was her image overhaul — and her new, low-key lifestyle since marrying Qatari-born Wissam, now 42, in 2012 — that there was even speculation she had converted to Islam to appease her stanchly religious other half (though her so-called ‘Muslim dress’ was later revealed to be £1,000 designer menswear from Adidas).
Since the couple’s son, Eissa, was born on January 3, Janet’s low-key way of life has continued.
In place of her X-rated lyrics, she wished fans ‘Inshallah’ — meaning ‘God willing’ — at the end of every show, and even featured the Arabic word in the chorus of one of her songs.
Her most recent message to fans on her official Twitter account ends with the phrase ‘Al Hamdu Lillah’, which translates as ‘Praise God’. A previous tweet said simply: ‘I miss you guys.’
Janet never confirmed nor denied her supposed conversion to Islam, but friends say she began immersing herself in Muslim texts very early on in her relationship. On visits to Wissam’s family in Qatar, she ditched her make-up and hair extensions and shrouded herself in traditional clothing.
‘She feels like she has found a home with her new religion,’ a friend said then. ‘She has spent a great deal of time studying it. The days of raunchy dance moves and sexual lyrics are long gone.’
Religious conversion was not a new concept to her: having been brought up as Jehovah’s Witnesses, her older brother Jermaine converted to Islam in 1989 and there are even rumours Michael did, too, shortly before his death in 2009.
Yesterday, a friend of the couple revealed that the marriage is over: ‘Sadly, Janet and Wissam have decided that it wasn’t working and to go their separate ways.’
The separation is amicable, it was claimed, with Janet planning to stay in London to look after Eissa, and Wissam returning to his business ventures in New York and Qatar.
Yet, last night, a very different picture began to emerge, of an apparently controlling, unhappy marriage, from which Janet has been desperate to escape for some time.
Sources say a clash of cultures has driven Janet and Wissam apart, made worse since the birth of baby Eissa, over whose upbringing and day-to-day care they disagree.
The baby has never been seen in public, and Janet was reportedly forbidden from leaving the house while she was nursing. Wissam, too, has disappeared from sight.
Indeed, those photographs last year mark the last time the couple were seen together. But even they do not hark back to happier times.
‘Janet thought he had become too controlling during the pregnancy,’ explains the source.
‘She had already allowed him to dictate her appearance and even the way she performed at concerts. It drove her crazy, and she felt she was losing her fan base.’
Janet’s performances have, certainly, in recent years, been much toned-down versions of her usual displays — or cancelled entirely.
But the final straw, it seems, came last month when Janet’s 86-year-old mother was forced to return to Los Angeles after a two-month stay with the couple.
Janet, who’s always been extremely close to her mother, was juggling the demands of a newborn with comforting Katherine, but Wissam is said to have shown a callous lack of interest in his mother-in-law’s plight.
‘That’s when Janet made her decision that there was no turning back,’ an insider told American media yesterday. ‘She was worried about her mother — and Wissam showed little to no concern.’