In recognition of his two-decades-long musical legacy, the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston (USA) is all set to honour Oscar-winning Bollywood composer, song-writer and music director A R Rahman with an honorary doctorate.
The honor will be conferred on Rahman, 47, best known globally for the original scores and songs in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, ’127 Hours’, ‘Elizabeth: The Golden Age’ and ‘Million Dollar Arm’, at an event at the Berklee College of Music on October 24, a media statement said.
“I’m deeply moved to receive an honorary doctorate from such a distinguished school which has contributed so much to the world of music,” said Rahman.
Past honorary doctorate recipients include Jimmy Page, Annie Lennox, Willie Nelson, John Williams, Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, Sting, Howard Shore, Clint Eastwood, Alan Silvestri, Amar G Bose, and Gloria Estefan.
Rahman was born as Dileep Kumar into a Hindu family in 1967. In 1989, the entire family converted to Islam, and he took Muslim name Allah-Rakha Rahman. He has performed Hajj twice, in 2004 and 2012, and says: “Islam gives me peace.”
Rahman’s conversion story on his Facebook page reads: “The whole process started with a sequence of dream. It was in 1988. I was in Malaysia and had a dream of an old man who was asking me to embrace Islam. For the first time, I did not take it seriously, but then I saw the same dream several times and I discussed it with my mother. She encouraged me to go ahead and to respond to the call of the Almighty. Also, in 1988, one of my sisters fell seriously ill and in spite of the family’s effort to cure her, her health deteriorated by the day. Then under the guidance of one Muslim religious leader we prayed to Allah, which did wonder for my sister and she made a miraculous comeback to life. Thus, began my journey from Dileep Kumar to A.R. Rahman.”
Rahman’s advice to his fellow Muslims: “We should go to lengths to follow the basics of Islam; be kind to your neighbors, keep smiling when you meet others, pray and do charity. We should serve humanity. We should not show hostility toward others, even to the followers of other faiths. This is what Islam stands for. We should present before the world a model through our behavior, nature and presentation. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) never used his sword to spread Islam; rather he spread the religion through his virtues, behavior, tolerance and righteousness. And this is what is needed to change today’s distorted image of Islam.”
Rahman had a tough childhood. His father died when he was nine – and responsibility to look after his mother and three sisters fell on his tiny shoulders.
Rahman is married to Saira. They have two daughters of ages 12 and 9, and a five-year-old son. Watch a video below.