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World Muslims Mourn Muhammad Ali

CAIRO – Muslims around the world have mourned the death of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who passed away on Friday, June 3, after battling Parkinson’s disease for more than 30 years.

“May Allah have mercy on Muhammad Ali, whose courage, conviction and determination inspired all of humanity,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a tweet cited by Daily Sabah on Saturday, June 4.

“Muhammad Ali, who passed away yesterday, was an extraordinary athlete and a remarkable man of good deeds who conquered the hearts of millions,” Erdoğan also tweeted.

“Boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s life-long struggle against racism and discrimination will never be forgotten,” the president added.

The famed boxer and icon died Friday at the age of 74, after spending 32 years fighting Parkinson’s disease.

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His name trended all over social media with hashtags such as the Greatest of All Time or #GOAT for short, and Rest in Power.

“To the African-American community, he was a black man who faced overwhelming bigotry the way he faced every opponent in the ring: fearlessly,” wrote NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Facebook.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, offered condolences to the family and loved ones of Muhammad Ali and called him “a champion for peace and justice.”

“Muhammad Ali, a man who stood by his principles despite criticism and hardship, exemplified a true patriot and a true Muslim,” said CAIR National Board Chair Roula Allouch.

“His strength, courage and love of humanity has been, and will continue to be, an inspiration to people of all faiths and backgrounds in America and worldwide.”

“Ali’s legacy as a champion for peace and justice will motivate generations to come to make our world a better place,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “To God we belong and to Him we return.”

American Muslims Hero

The loss of Muhammad Ali was felt mostly among the American Muslim community, who considered his their first true hero.

Indonesian-born and now New York City-based Imam Shamsi Ali shared a sentiment felt by many: that Ali was “our hero and our pride.… not only a boxing champion, but also a hero of social justice and human equality,” the Daily Beast reported.

Congressman Andre Carson (D-Ind.), who like Ali converted to Islam as an adult, commented that “Muhammad Ali served as an example of service and self-sacrifice for generations of Muslim Americans.”

Comedian and activist Maysoon Zayid, who has cerebral palsy, admired Ali, who suffered from Parkinson’s, for another reason.

“Muhammad Ali was my first disabled role model.” She added, “the fact he was a champ and Muslim just made me love him more.”

Comedian Preacher Moss declared that “Muhammad Ali was is in the lineage of Malcolm X and MLK.  He was truly a shining and enduring example of Black Manhood.”

Kameelah Rashad, the Muslim chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania remarked, “as descendants of enslaved Africans, great individuals like Muhammad Ali remind us of the enduring resilience, faith and joy of our ancestors.”

Rashad noted poignantly, “Ali remains for me a symbol of what it means to be unapologetically Black and Muslim in America.”

Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council echoed that sentiment noting that Ali’s “heroism was not just demonstrated in the boxing ring, but it was also seen in his stand against the Vietnam War.”

“That is the hero I will always remember. That is the American Muslim who is an example for all Americans.”

MSNBC anchor and NBC News Foreign Correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin, who was born and raised in Egypt explained that, “Even before I moved to the US, I was always inspired by Muhammad Ali the boxer.”

“But the more time I spent in America growing up, the more I was inspired by Muhammad Ali, the person. He has reminded us all the power of standing up for our beliefs and fighting for our convictions despite the hate and in the face of so much misunderstandings and challenges.”