The perception of Islam has changed for many Americans following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and the country’s subsequent “war on terrorism” with Al Qaeda. Earlier in March, as US Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King spearheaded a congressional hearing on the radicalization of Muslim Americans, Philadelphia emcee Freeway explained the positive impact Islam has had on his life and his Rap career.

“It definitely hurts my feelings when I hear Islam being put in a negative light,” Freeway said, during an interview with CNN. “You can’t judge a whole group of people by a few people making mistakes. I just want people to know that Islam is a beautiful, peaceful religion. It’s more than a religion, it’s a way of life.”

Since the events of 9/11 there have been highly publicized Qur’an burnings and protests to prevent the building of Mosques in other communities. Freeway, who says he took the Muslim confession of faith—or Shahada—at age 14 said his Islamic faith changed him both as a man and as an emcee.

During his 2003 Roc-a-Fella debut, Freeway focused a significant portion of his rhymes on drugs and violence, but he said his faith and maturation has led to a conscious effort to be more accountable about his lyrical content.

“My faith means everything to me,” Freeway added. “It’s the thing that keeps me going everyday. It’s my core; it’s my soul.”