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Muhammad Ali: "The People's Hero" Dies
6/8/2016 3:37:12 PM
Last Updated:
6/10/2016 9:56:56 AM

By Hakim Abdul-Ali 

Whenever I think of recent heroes and sheroes in the living experience, I tend to side with those who were courageous in the face of oppression and injustice, and I also admire those who fought for freedom, justice and equality. That quality is a rarity among many true "hue-mans," no matter the their ethnicity, culture or religion.

Last Friday, America, Africa and the rest of the world truly lost a vaunted and unparalleled hero in the passing of the great boxer Muhammad Ali. The self-proclaimed "I Am The Greatest" boxer, died in Phoenix, Arizona, at the age of 74.

It's very hard to describe how I really feel about this remarkable soul, who was a genuine Muslim and he fearlessly fought to be recognized and accepted as same, even in the face of some of America's most virulent racist attacks trying to belittle him and deny the religion of Islam respect.

Muhammad Ali was many things to many different folk, both inside and outside of the boxing arenas. He was widely regarded as one the most significant sports heroes of all time and the most well known " hue-man" on the planet.

The Muslim named Muhammad Ali was a man who I believe was totally about peace and love,and he loved people in general. His life was about sharing and giving as he actively pursued paths to universal brotherhood.

This giant of a figure stood up for the Black race in the world. He was always a thorn and resisted bigoted White domination, especially during the turbulent 1960s and 1970s. Because he was proud to be a Black man, he seemed to always be at the forefront of debates by many who disliked him because he was a Muslim.

In many ways, nothing much has changed in so many corridors of today's bigoted global spheres of confusions.

Muhammad Ali, my Muslim brother, will always be remembered by me as a Muslim brother who stood up for what he believed in and care about, and that was glorifying almighty ALLAH. He never backtracked from that posture, and he was always about telling people about Al Islam (the submission to God Alone) in all of his life's experiences and reminding Black folk everywhere to learn about their true history and their legitimate religion, after he himself, learned of Al Islam in the 1960s.

Personally, I remember learning and casually studying about Al Islam in the early '60s during my undergraduate studies at Howard University.My father died when I was a freshman, and I didn’t wanted to stay there any longer because I didn't have an interest in school per se.

My mother wanted me to stay and graduate because she said my dad would have been proud. At Howard, I came across a foreign born Orthodox Muslim brother at Howard who told me that it would take courage for me to be able to do what my mother asked of me.

I did graduate, and I began to embrace a deeper understanding of what courage really was about from various men and women who gave up things in this life for the long scheme of success in the Hereafter.

That's when I began to listen to a courageous Muslim called Malcolm X, a man who played a prominent role in Muhammad Ali's early understanding of Al Islam, life and the inherent nature of racists.

American systematic and political racism towards Black people in the '60s was no joke then and that sentiment still exists in reality today. "Black Lives Matter". It takes courage to fight against any foe that literally is out to destroy you. Malcolm X taught that. Muhammad Ali clearly understood that. He never wavered in his love for ALLAH and Al Islam, no matter what was thrown at him.

Giving up the so-called championship of the boxing world meant nothing to this undaunted soul if it meant that he had to deny his religion and being a Muslim. That unyielding spirit of Muhammad Ali is what really binds me to him and his unflinching legacy because he first and foremost was a gallant man who you couldn't buy or sell out when it came to being a Muslim. Even some "colored" folk, who weren't Muslim then, knew that this indomitable brother was one heck of a courageous individual to believe in what he believed and (still) give up all the riches and fame that comes with being a championed boxer or sports celebrity.

Muhammad Ali was truly idiosyncratic in the purest sense of the word. The title "The People's Hero" is what I call him because he was definitely that and so very, very, very much more to the zillions of people around the world who loved and cherished his personality.

To me, and to so many all others around the globe, he symbolized what courage, strength and faith were all about, even as his body was stricken with a disease that would eventually claim his life on June 3, 2016. No one who I've come in contact with since his death had anything negative to say about "The Champ." He was royalty.

From world leaders to entertaining notabilities, the world felt fortunate to be in his presence. Lovingly referred to by his last name, Ali, the champ was admired by all world's people of every religion because his legacy of courage preceded him wherever he went or was known. He had serene love for children.

When I now think of Muhammad Ali's passing, I'm forever reminded of a passage from the Muslim's revered sacred book, “The Holy Qur'an”, which tells us all about the fragility of each moment that live. It would do you well to take heed to this timely reminder no matter what you believe.

ALLAH says in Surah 3: verse 185, "Every soul will taste of death. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is removed away from the Fire will be admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (a deceiving thing)."

Muhammad Ali wasn't deceived. With that, I respectfully and resolutely offer, rest in peace my brother. You truly were "The People's Hero" and a believer in ALLAH. May ALLAH forever have mercy on your soul "Champ," and for today, that's, "As I See It."


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