Echos Of The Heart - ALI ! ALI ! ALI !

Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured, Life & Society Topics: Heart Views: 5640
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Hollywood was abuzz with the latest movie hit. It was not just another film, it was about the most famous athlete in history, a sports icon, a world hero, an "African-American", a Muslim...

Clay killed and Ali born

It was early one February morning in 1964 when my late grandfather woke up the household in our family home in the little farm town of Vryburg in the north-western part of South Africa with excited an cry; "Clay has won, Clay has beaten Liston". We huddled around the radio to hear Casius Clay announce that Liston promised to kill Clay and that Muhammad Ali was born."I am now a Muslim", he said. As African we were proud of this "black" hero and as Muslims we were now honored that he was one of us.

Ali at Masjid-ul-Quds

Years later, I had the privilege of hosting him at Masjid-ul-Quds in Cape Town and honored to introduce him to our congregation. Here was my sporting hero and a hero to so many people all over the world. He was by then (1994) an enlarged shadow of his former self yet was (and still is) considered the person that people worldwide would most like to meet.

Sporting Heroes

As an ardent sports fan and a South African growing up through the most brutal part of the apartheid era, "black" heroes were made to be rare. As a Muslim we witnessed the atrocities perpetrated against our global community of faith (ummah) in Kashmir, Palestine; both of which are still continuing. Added to that we subsequently have witnessed horrors at the hands of imperialists in Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Bosnia, Chechnya and Kosova.

 

Lewiston, Maine, 1965: after knocking out Sonny Liston

Conscientious South Africans then never supported the racist "all white" South African teams. Great "non-white" athletes such as Basil D'olivera, Kareem Jabaar, Lefty Adams, Bernard Hartze were never allowed the opportunity to represent our country. We proudly stuck to the principle of  'no normal sport in an abnormal society'. We therefore tended to support West Indies in cricket and Brazil in soccer. What joy Gary Sobers and Pele gave to us.

When the sports heroes were Muslims, we felt even greater pride. I recall those historic moments when Abdul Kareem Jabbaar of the LA Lakers was Most Valuable Player for the NBA in 71,72,73 and 74; Imran Khan lifted the World Cup Cricket trophy for Pakistan in Australia in 1994; when Hakeem Olajuwan led the Houston Rockets to basketball glory in 94-95, when Abdul Aziz Benazi led France to the 5 Nations Cup victory in 97; when Moroccans Hicham El-Gharouj and Khalid Khanouli broke the mile and marathon records respectively; or when Zainedine Zaidan captained his team to World Cup victory in 1998 in France; all moments of glory embedded forever in our minds and fondly cherished in our hearts. So much so, that when families and friends gather to reminisce about the "good old days", these moments of sporting glory are often part of those memories.

 

Ali in Masjid-ul-Quds, Cape Town (1994) with Imam Saadullah Khan

Uniqueness of Ali

As great as all those athletes were and as great as others, like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods may be, none have had the worldwide impact of Muhammad Ali. No athlete had a career so varied, so trying, so complex, so significant yet so little tainted by hypocrisy. Ali had the guts to take on his government when they undertook an unwarranted war in Vietnam, the courage of his convictions to lay down his title and go to jail for his beliefs, bold enough to accept the Islamic faith when it was least fashionable to be Muslim and humble enough to accept his shortcomings. He backed up his lips with actions, lost his title because he refused induction into the US army, always spoke his mind with eloquence, and in the process became the most famous person in the world.

Yes, he said "I am the champ" and that is no lie. He said " I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee" and that was no lie. He outfoxed the Hare (Patterson), thumped the Bear (Liston), taught Ernie Terrel his Muslim name, gave us the Thriller in Manila (with Frazier) and the Rumble in the Jungle (with Foreman) in Zaire. Ah! How emotions were moved when he spoke, when he fought, when he won. How hurt we were when he lost. And yes, how our heart danced with joy when we saw the 'Ali shuffle'.

Ali in the spotlight for 40 years

Ali humanized our perception of athletes, brought pride to the Muslims and dignity to the oppressed black masses. He made people proud to be who they were; the more downtrodden, the more proud. Malcom X said; "Ali will mean more to people than any athlete before him". ( How right you were Brother Malcom and we are eternally indebted to you for your positive influence). Ali has remained in the spotlight for 40 years with dignity, panache and flair. In the four decades that he has commanded our attention he gave us athleticism, artistry, accomplishment, alpha-star appeal and an ambassadorship for sports and Islam. 20 years after his last fight, he is still the most recognizable and adored person alive today.

Ali has been an opening to something great, he spoke of Allah, he spoke of the rights of the oppressed, he gave charity to the hungry and the poor, he cared for the sick, the old and the downtrodden. He raised his game to a drama. Millions of fans cheered Ali ! Ali! Ali ! He stood for something great. As these admirers (many who were neither boxing enthusiasts nor sports fans) climbed on to their seats for him they felt it. They were witnessing greatness on display and sporting poetry in action. Sportswriter Brian Murphy never considered himself an Ali fan. But when he, like many Americans, watched as a physically humbled Ali lit the flame to begin the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996 he said; "I suddenly felt something I never felt before. I loved him, not out of pity but out of respect. Ali was terribly controversial throughout his whole career, but he was authentic the whole way through. And controversial as he was, he never made you ashamed to be his fan."

Ali became the second man in boxing history to regain the world heavyweight championship, with an eighth-round knockout of George Foreman.
October 30, 1974

Appearing at the 'Muhammad Ali World Healing Project' in 1997, Muhammad Ali said; "I wish people would love everybody else the way that they love me. I hope I can encourage people to show the same love and respect for each other. If so, it would be a better world".

The Greatest Athlete

In honoring Muhammad Ali as The Greatest Athlete of the Century, USA Today's  Jon Sareceno wrote; "For nearly five decades this man has, in one arena or another, commanded our attention... and we are still mesmerized. He is a come-to-life definition of his Muslim namesake, Muhammad "worthy of praise" and Ali "most high". When recently asked if he was "the greatest", Ali replied; "I ain't the greatest. Only Allah is the greatest. I gave myself a job. I work for Allah". Indeed you do Ali, indeed you do, much more than all the sermons I could ever give in a mosque. You have been used and abused, but be rest assured that someday when I sit with my grandchildren, Insha-Allah, hearing them talk about there sporting heroes, I'll tell them of the Muhammad Ali , the greatest sportsperson of all time that lived in our days. I'll say it with pride and without fear of contradiction, and I will be right. Yes, My heart will always dance when I see the 'Ali shuffle' and I'll feel a knot in my throat and a tear in my eye whenever I hear your name ... Ali ! Ali ! Ali !


  Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured, Life & Society
  Topics: Heart
Views: 5640

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Older Comments:
FARIQ FROM INDONESIA said:
the article was a very touching one. thx for bro S. Khan for writing this article. it brings back some memmories of him. Muhammad Ali is one of my hero. i remember the joy when he won. i remember how sad i was when he lost to larry holmes.
i proud to have a moslem brother like him. i pray there are more of us who, at least, could be as influencial as he was.
may Allah bless us and forgive our sins
2002-02-05

MAHAD FROM AUSTRALIA said:
i thank the brother that wrote that because i never knew that much about ali. u r right he does make u proud as a muslim, and it i comforting to think u got a bro like that in the world. may allah bless us all and forgive us for our sins. may allah help our muslim brothers all over the world over come their persicussion and may we rise as one to up hold our creater's name
2002-02-04

FAISAL SHARIF FROM CANADA said:
Asalamu Alaikum,

Nice work brother, it was a touching article! We should be proud to be muslims. Indeed Ali is someone I would like to meet, eventhough I was born 1985 and never really saw one of his fights I fully respect his efforts on raising the status of Islam, and his rights.

Ali, should be honored for his braveness and for being the world's greatest boxer.
2002-02-04

ANEESE FROM CANADA said:
i'm a 12 year old kid liveing in canda when i see Muhmmad ali i feel proud to be a muslim and Muhmmad ali is a man he give up so much and got very little in retun but he will get rewarded

By Aneese Rakka Canada Alberta






















































2002-01-31

MUZAFFER ZUBERI FROM USA said:
It is fortunate that us Muslims have strong personalities like Br. Mohammad Ali among us and at times him and others come forward to find peace among people. Recently Br. Ali delivered messages to the angry Islamic groups who, to some extent, crossed the boundries of our religion and tried to use Islam as a weapon of destruction. As we all know, any act of oppression is forbidden in Islam. However, I request and expect the influential personalities like Br. Ali to voice their opinion and make the US-Goverment realize about the oppression that goes on in different parts of the world.
It's a fact that the USA is the strongest & wealthiest country in the world. The whole world looks up to it. We have always helped the world in the time of need by providing supplies upon disasters, taking refugees, etc. but at the same time we have bullyed arround as our history tells us. I beleive, one bad stands out more than several good. In my opinion, the US should act a big brother,instead, to most of the poor world in solving conflicts. Us who live in this country cannot imagine the kind of life people live in the poor countries. Those people are hungry, sick and depressed because of the difficulities in life. The law makers in the Whitehouse should find solutions to the problems by negotiating not bombing merceleously. I agree that the culprits who design plans to kill innocent people (in places like WTC) must be punished and brought to justice. Since there is a developing problem with some Muslim countries, personalities like Mohammad Ali can be very instrumental to help negotiate between US goverment and the goverments of those countries where there are problems. I pray to Allah that this world can live with peace & harmony the way our prophet (sw) taught us.
2002-01-31

NAVEED ARSHAD FROM ENGLAND said:
salaam, to all the brothers and sisters reading this message. I jus wanted to mail and pay my respects to the greatest living muslim i know. Im 21 and find it greatly refereshing to know that although i aspire to be a good muslim; Muhammad Ali has given further incentive to try harder. He has proved that with true faith and genuine feelings for the less fortunate, a human can be of substance and defeat any non-believer not just with a punch but with personality, stature, endurance and impact...thus displaying greatness in every way for a human being. Taking this inspiration, inshallah i can prevail and become the leading personality in my proffession. Alhumdillah.
2002-01-31

MUHAMMAD ASAD FROM PAKISTAN said:
First of all Thanx alot of Allah that he able to understand Islam and its basic right of spending all the life according to its fundamentals and how to use it. then it happened with a little thinking to save all the human race from evil(Shieetan) that a great champion of boxing become the champ of islam,
I think if all the champions of different game come toward islam no problem to us it will happen only our struggles and hard working.
thanx
2002-01-31

DON FROM U.S.A said:
VERY , VERY GOOD PIECE ON ALI AND THE OTHER MUSLIM ATHELE'S
2002-01-30

IMRAN AHMED FROM INDIA said:
I was very much impressed ain inspired after knowing about Ali,the great.But recently I read in the newspaper(The Times of India)that Ali was a womaniser and some critics wanted these topics to be covered in the film ALI starring Will Smith.The news was like a shock to me.Would you please explain me about this personal aspect of Ali.I believe that he is innocent and remain as an ideal muslim.
2002-01-30

JERRY EUSTASIE (MOHAMMED ASIF) FROM MAURITIUS said:
Assalamuoalaikum

Thanks for a great article on a great man. Being a convert myself, i can't help shedding a few tears of joy when I read about my hero Mohammed Ali. He brought us so much joy and pride (he still does)and i wish him a happy 60th birthday and good health.

Asif
2002-01-30

AESHA ARIF FROM PAKISTAN said:
Beautiful piece on Mohammad Ali. He was and is one of my heroes. And yes it positively makes my heart flutter with happiness when ever i hear his name , May Allah bless us with more great Muslim heroes Amen!
2002-01-29

ADJEB FROM ALGER said:
Salame alikoume !
Vous ecrire ce Message esque vous ete bonne sante ALI . My comment . He was Greatest Athlete aLways.
Thank yours ,
sincerly,
singnature,
MOHAMED ADJEB
2002-01-28

MOHAMMED ALI KHAN FROM AUSTRALIA said:
Ali is the greatest. he has shown the true character of a true muslim. i wish the non muslims to know that islam is peaceful religion. its only some who portray it wrong. Ali is the best example and a true champion. way to go ALI. may allah bless you.
2002-01-28

ALMAHABOOB FROM AUSTRALIA said:
Yes indeed Ali is a living legend. All praise to allah. who made Ali the greatest in his field.

Lets pray to allah to make more people like Ali who could serve for the cause of ISLAM. Inshallah, Ameen.....
2002-01-27

SUAD AHMED FROM CANADA said:
Assalam alakum

Now i understand why my father regareds Ali as the best athlit of his time. i grow up hearing about Ali and What her represented to the muslim community. I apriciat the history lesson.
2002-01-27

IMTIYAZ AHMED KHAN FROM INDIA said:
Verily, the greatest sportsman and very good human being. We salute him.
2002-01-26

WARFA ALI FROM CANADA,OTTAWA ONTARIO said:
i am very proud of muhammed ali, and proud to say to non muslim friends that muhammed ali is a proud muslim.I feel that muhammed ali is the greatest athlete of all time and insh-allah he would live to be a very old man and a stable person. Warfa ali
2002-01-26

MOHAMMED FROM AUSTRALIA said:
may Allah bless you n the future...
2002-01-25

MARTHA E MANTILLA FROM U.S.A. said:
SALAM!

BRAVO!BRAVO! ALEJANDULILIA ALI, I AM VERY PROUD OF YOU, AND ALA TOO.
MUY BIEN ALI, MUY BIEN!

SALAM

MARTHA E MANTILLA
2002-01-25

AZIZA FROM USA said:
I am a Muslimah from East Africa. The first day I landed in USA in May 1975, I met "Ali" my hero at the Los Angeles airport and got his autograf,on my diary.
This is when I decided this must be my destination, and I should settle here. I have never regretted my decision. "Ali" has definitely changed my life. May Allah bless and reward you "Ali". I love you.
2002-01-25

ABDUL MAJEED RUKNUDIN FROM USA said:
I like the article very much but it has not commented on the new film, Ali.
2002-01-25

DARIUSH FROM USA said:
I am not sure this way of sensationalizing is healthy nor its good for the subject i.e. Mohammad Ali.

He was a great man but there are other black muslims who are equally or more great and never mentioned.

This sensationalizm is also apparant in treatment of Youssof Islam (Cat Stevens). I wish he was left alone. His beauty for me was his solitude.

As muslims we need to INVENT new forms of expression as was was invented by Mohammad Ali himself. We can not follow the American hollow and often destructive propaganda like promotion of a person.

What was unique about Mohammad Ali was that he said something new and in a new imaginative form i.e. thru boxing.

Lets learn from him and stop the cliche promotions of the prominent muslims.
2002-01-25

SHADIA FROM AUSTRALIA said:
ASALAM WA ALAYKUM
Alhamdililah he is a muslim. He is such a great role-model for all the muslims out there and this article tells so much information about this great man. He speaks great words, acts great actions, and is loyal to his beliefs. He is a great role model not only for all the people, but, especially for muslims, for is living proof of a strong and proud muslim. This ofcourse is undoubted beacause he has been through so much with the american government and citizens because of his beliefs, but he stood by them and thats what makes him the man he is today. I am a fan of this man not only because he is a muslim, but, because he stands by his words and fights for what he believes in. He is loved and respected by millions of people all over the world (including myself) and should be, because it takes a great man to be who he is after all he has been through throughout his life. So i just wanted to commend you on this excellent report which i couldnt stop reading because of its great, positive view of this well, repected man, who i am so proud to say is a muslim. Thankyou for sharing this information
about this great muslim.
Wa alaykum wa salam to all the muslim brothers and sisters.
Shadia
2002-01-25

ABDUL'AHAT FROM CHINA,URUMQI said:
Uygur people's very very like Muhammad Ali.

2002-01-25

FADY FROM AUSTRALIA said:
ECHOES OF THE HEART - ALI ! ALI ! ALI !

Asalam Alaikom brother.

What a beautiful article.
It finished so soon...
would have liked it to go on for longer.

thanks, Fady.

2002-01-24

MANSOOR MOHAMMED RAHMAN FROM INDIA said:
assalam dear brothers with love
i am an undergraduate in engg at university of pune, so many times i feel something uncomplete that we are not following true spirit of islam and and how can we call all human beings to islam since we are not contributing to betterself of human life and and not contributing anything to the society in which we are living.....
so many time i felt the needy to do something to society.....
but many times i myself found in apathy....
i have heard about maulana abul ala,hassan banna,khurram murad,ghazali, just read about them....
but when i have looked at mohammed ali, just before writing this message i was completely excited to do something this world can enjoy infact the human beings living on this beautifull world can feel something usefull to life....
may allah give us courage to do something good.....
may allah all time keep us within the fold of islam
khuda hafeez
2002-01-24

BILAL YASIN EL-AMIN FROM USA said:
Thanks for a wonderful article. Ali is a great example of today for Muslims and all people. Praise be to Allah for him. He once said that what he feared most is not being admitted to Paradise. Ali, we pray you make, and that we will meet you there.
2002-01-24

G SADIQ FROM UK said:
ali even if you ill bestrong and say more as you feel.this will help you here and hereafter.SALAM
2002-01-24

MJKHAVAS FROM INDIA said:
IT is a great achivement mr ali had don it is a
boon from allaha to mr ali so as a muslime I pray
allaha that mr ali will sucess a great in serving
for mankind throughout world wide
thankyou
2002-01-24

SALIM TARIQ FROM NA said:
Asslam-o-Aleekum Mr Khan:
Read your article "ECHOS of the heart..." about Muhammad Ali. It is really a great article. You put words to my, and I believe many other Muslims, feelings. You are so right that we saw Ali as a symbol of struggle against opression against the Muslims. It is amazing how the true feelings of the Muslim Ummah are united across the borders. I lived in Pakistan, thousands of miles away from S Africa, but can relate to your feelings, dreams and desires. Thank you!

At this moment in history, I would like to point out the barbaric treatment of the prisonors of war by the US government. I hope you could use your excellent expression skills to raise voice over that and other atrocities commited by India and Isreal on Muslims (whos blood has less value than lifeless statues.)
Wassalam
Salim
2002-01-24

ALI RKEIN FROM USA said:
Mohammed Ali is the greatest. Every time I see him on Classic's sports I get chill bumps. I wish I could have seen him live in one of his fights at least. The greatest boxer and athelete of all time.
2002-01-24

SADIQ FROM USA said:
The Muslim Ummah needs more Ali's now than ever; Ali's who are outspoken and defend the truth with courage and conviction that Allah helps those who defend the truth.
2002-01-24

ZED ALHADI FROM U.S.A said:
Ali will always be my hero. I have lived thru his legecy. Boxing has never been the same since he retired. I love him like my own brother. He love those whom used to hate him. That shows Ali is a gentleman not a radical as they tried to make him to be. He is a good citizen in a great country.
2002-01-23

FATIMA JACK FROM USA said:
Superb article. Touching and poignant, capturing the spirit of a great man at the right time. This is the Muslim that America should look at as a symbol of Muslims, not the stereotypical "terrorist". May Allah reward Sheikh Sadullah
2002-01-23

NAIMA S. FROM USA said:
As salaamu alaikum. No mere movie can ever match the reality of Ali. He is a man of his times. Al Hamdulillah he has remained true to himself - the self Allah created him as. This son of Adam (pbuh); This Muslim. This abdullah. May Allah always bless him and give us the best of his qualities, insha Allah.
2002-01-23

ZAKKAH FROM AUSTRALIA said:
Allahu Akbar! Let those Non Muslims see that MUSLIMS ARE NOT TERRORIST! Muslims are the best at what they do when they follow Islam and obey Allah! Inshallah kheir. By the way, I really like this site. Its well put and excellent. One of the site that I use for my dawa purpose :) May Allah reward you all. Ammen. Salam
2002-01-23

MOHAMMED GHANNAM FROM US said:
A well done piece!
2002-01-23

AZIM RIAZ FROM UK said:
MOHAMMED ALI BROTHER IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE THE WALKING LEGEND AS THEY SAY THE OLD ARE GONE AND THE NEW ARE BORN NO ALI THE OLD ONES ARE REMEMBERED AND THE NEW ONES EMBRACE THE PEOPLE I THINK ALI SHOULD MAKE MORE FILMS AS THIS WILL MAKE THE WORLD A MORE PEACEFUL AND GREAT PLACE ALI BROTHER I PRAY FOR YOU ALLAH HAFFIZ!
2002-01-23

ABDUL RAHMAN FROM INDIA. said:
MOHD ALI, no doubt is the immortal sportman. And no one can reach his challenge, guts and difficulties he faced. He is spimply the BEST and immortal sportsman. He is a sign of good muslim and good follower of prophet (PBUH).

2002-01-23

SAEEDA SAFI FROM USA said:
I was very excited to hear of the movie in Hollywood on Muhammad Ali. Truly I was proud of this sporting hero that is Muslim. But when I watched the movie, I was terribly ashamed. I didn't understand why Ali had allowed such a portrayal of himself. It was filled with kissing, and women, and steamy scenes, and then more of the same. This is not the man that I heard about, this is not the hero that I wanted to see. I was ashamed as a Muslim woman sitting in that theatre that the man on the screen proclaiming he was Muslim was commiting adultry.
But as I read your article some of the affection I had for Mr.Ali came back. I suppose that the film was more about his days in the Nation of Islam, although the film never clearly makes that distinction to the audience. I don't cheer the film, but I cheer you Mr.Ali, and I am glad and proud that you are part of the truth faith of Islam and away from the 'nation' and all other man-made systems, and have turned to Allah (SWT). And thank you Mr.Khan for a very well-written article. May Allah SWT bless our ummah, take us to the straight path, save us from oppression, save us from helping the oppressor, and lead us to victory in this world and the next. Ameen.
Sincerely,

Saeeda Safi
Missouri
2002-01-23

KARIM FROM INDONESIA said:
Muhammad Ali, semoga perjuangan Anda berhasil dan mendapat redho Allah SWT.
2002-01-23

NASIM_ASHRAF FROM U.S.A said:
It is a brilliant article,very touching and so true. I enjoyed every word of it.
2002-01-23