Monday, February 27, 2017

Yes, Maharshala Ali is a Muslim -- an Ahmadi Muslim

Many are trumpeting the fact that Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) is a Muslim, but not noting that he is Ahmadi. For background on the important role that African-Americans converts to the Ahmadi brand of Islam played in jazz, you should check out Hisham Aidi's book Rebel Music. A few of the more illustrious names: Yusef Lateef, Ahmad Jamal, Art Blakey, McCoy Tyner, Abbey Lincoln, Ahmed Abdul-Malik. Yusef Lateef and McCoy Tyner were Grammy winners and Art Blakey elected to the Grammy Hall of Fame. 

Grammys: way ahead of Oscars when it comes to honoring US Muslims and their contribution to the cultural life of the country.

On a side note: articles about Mahershala Ali that have appeared over the last few months often leave out his important role in Free State of Jones. It is an excellent film that was too quickly trashed as a "white savior" narrative. I think this is a bad misreading of the film and the events that it deals with. If you think I'm wrong, then please read Cedric Johnson's review, published here. Johnson argues that
Free State of Jones "may be the most politically important film about the Civil War and its aftermath to appear in a quarter century."

One more side note: Mahershala Ali's grandparents were Communists, and his grandfather was fired from his job at the navy yards in Alameda because of it. 

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