Inna lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon. To God we belong and to Him we will return.
MPAC MOURNS THE PASSING OF MOHAMMAD ALI
(Lagos, 04/06/16) Last night, the world lost a legend. Mohammad Ali (January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was a Muslim leader and a leader for humanity who became a voice for the voiceless, a patriot, a legendary boxer who defeated every top heavyweight in his era (which has been called the golden age of heavyweight boxing) and a family man. Nicknamed “The Greatest”, Ali was involved in several historic boxing matches and made an indelible impression on everyone he met.
Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky. The older of two boys was named for his father, Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr., who himself was named in honour of the 19th century abolitionist and politician of the same name.
Ali achieved many great things in his 74 years on earth: around 1987, the California Bicentennial Foundation for the U.S. Constitution selected Ali to personify the vitality of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Ali rode on a float at the following year’s Tournament of Roses Parade, launching the U.S. Constitution’s 200th birthday commemoration. He published an oral history, Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times by Thomas Hauser, in 1991. That same year Ali traveled to Iraq during the Gulf War and met with Saddam Hussein in an attempt to negotiate the release of American hostages. In 1996, he had the honour of lighting the flame at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Ali’s bout with Parkinson’s led to a gradual decline in his health though he was still active into the early years of the millennium, even promoting his own biopic, Ali, in 2001. On November 17, 2002, Muhammad Ali went to Afghanistan as the “U.N. Messenger of Peace”. He was in Kabul for a three-day goodwill mission as a special guest of the UN.
Ali’s conversion to Islam in 1975 after Malcolm X introduced him to mainstream Islam was the major highlight of his entire life. Shaykh Yasir Qadhi, a professor of religious studies at Rhodes College in Memphis wrote concerning Ali’s role as a Muslim influencer: “If the only good that he brought was to bring a positive image of Islam, and to spread the name of our beloved Prophet (SAW) in every household and on every tongue in the world, it is a life that is indeed enviable,” In one of his interviews, Ali reminds his audience: “Allah is the Greatest. I’m just the greatest boxer“
The Muslim Public Affairs Centre mourns the passing of this great man whose example inspired Martin Luther King, Jr., countless black Americans and others. We pray that Allah will forgive him and grant him Al-Jannah Firdous, amin.
MPAC celebrates the life and contributions of Mohammad Ali and urges his supporters and admirers to keep his important works and legacy alive by giving to the causes he supported while alive, including the non-profit Muhammad Ali Center which focuses on core themes of peace, social responsibility, respect, and personal growth.