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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Mahershala Ali: What's in a name?

Mahershala Ali   (Photo by jfer21)
Mahershala Ali, the first openly-professed Muslim to win an Oscar, was recently honored for his stellar performance in Moonlight.

Born Mahershalalhashbaz Gilmore, the actor was named after “a biblical prophetic name-child” from the Book of Isaiah, chapters 7-9.  His mother, an ordained minister, raised him as a Christian.

Gilmore later converted to Islam and “joined the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.”  He then changed his surname, and was known as Mahershalalhashbaz Ali until 2010.  His professional name was later shortened to Mahershala Ali.

The Ahmadiyya movement began in Punjab, India during the late 1800s.  Its founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad “claimed to have been divinely appointed as the Mujaddid (renewer) of Islam.” His emphasis was to bring about this renewal by peaceful means.

As of 2016, this movement has grown within “209 countries and territories… with concentrations in South Asia, West Africa, East Africa and Indonesia."  Ahmadis have often faced persecution from mainstream Muslims, some of whom consider the Ahamdiyya Muslim Community to be heretical.   


Copyright February 28, 2017 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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