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Abdul Masih converted from Islam to Christianity and tried to persuade other Muslims to do the same.
Abdul Masih was a convert from Islam to Christianity and was baptised in 1811. He changed his name from Shikh Salih, to one that means ‘servant of the messiah.’ He evangelised other Muslims to try and persuade them to convert to Christianity.
This is an area of much interest for historians and sociologists. They study why people convert from one religion to another and what happens in religious encounters. They ask what changes for individuals and groups and what they bring with them to the new beliefs and practices they adopt.
The painter is unknown. It was probably commissioned by Daniel Corrie on the occasion of Abdul Masih ‘s ordination in the Anglican Church in Calcutta, by Bishop Heber, in December 1825. Masih had been a Muslim teacher and medical practioner and became known as the Christian doctor. He was a close colleague and friend of Corrie, who was an Anglican priest and the Archdeacon of Calcutta in 1825, going on to become the first Bishop of Madras. It is worth noting that Masih is portrayed in the portrait as a learned Indian, rather than as an Anglican clergyman.
Are there links to current religious practices or a modern equivalent?
Abdul Masih was a convert from Islam to Christianity and was baptised in 1811. He changed his name from Shikh Salih, to one that means ‘servant of the messiah.’ He evangelised other Muslims to try and persuade them to convert to Christianity. Conversion from one religion to another still occurs today, though it is often controversial.
Abdul Masih may be reading the Hindustani (Urdu) New Testament. He assisted in the translation of the Bible and wrote Bible commentaries and hymns. From the early 1800s there was growing interest in translating the Bible into many different languages. Making biblical texts available in indigenous languages remains important in Christianity today.
Abdul Masih (1776-1827) an Icon of Indian Indigeneity
IBMR 23/2. (April,1999)