The Claremont Main Road Masjid joins people all over other the world in mourning the death of Muhammad Ali, who passed away on 3 June 2016, at the age of 74. Ali had been suffering with the Parkinson’s disease for many years. His funeral will take place in his beloved place of birth, Louisville, Kentucky, where he founded the Muhammad Ali museum and cultural center to celebrate his achievements and values.
Muhammad Ali is widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time and arguably the most celebrated sports stars of the 20th century. He used his sports fame to promote peace and justice in the world.
Muhammad Ali’s embracing of the Nation of Islam in the sixties and his subsequent refusal to be drafted into the US army to fight in its war against the Vietnamese was seen as highly controversial at the time. Ali was made to pay a heavy price for his courageous stance against his Vietnam draft. He was reviled as unpatriotic and a disgrace to his country. He was stripped of his boxing license and heavyweight title at the pinnacle of his career. He was also embroiled in lengthy court battles and left almost destitute.
Muhammad Ali’s choice of belief and conscience over fame and fortune resonates far beyond the boxing ring, striking issues of race, faith and identity that continue to confront us all today. At a time when we are still grappling with the issue of racism in sport and professional sportspersons who are reluctant to jeopardize any endorsement deals, to see an athlete take a principled stand for justice and equality for all makes him a role model worthy of emulation by all young sportspersons.
Muhammad Ali will not only be remembered as the greatest boxer of all time but also as a peacebuilder who stood up against racial oppression, and worked continuously for peace, unity, and reconciliation.
We pray to God that He showers him with His mercy and that He blesses his soul which He has chosen to release on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan.
A special funeral prayer in abstentia (salat al-janazah gha-iba) will be read for Muhammad Ali at the Claremont Main Road Mosque on Sunday evening at 8pm.
Imam Dr. A. Rashied Omar
Claremont Main Road Masjid
4 June 2016