The passing of Muhammad Ali marks a sad and sorrowful start to the Islamic holy month of Ramadhaan. The Greatest Of All Times finally floated like a butterfly on Friday 3rd June 2016, aged 74.

Ali Floating

Like many around the world, Ali was a personal hero of mine, someone I’ve never met but who nonetheless influenced me ever so positively, especially when it came to my religious convictions. In my opinion, Ali did more for the status of Muslims and the perception of Islam than any other Muslim currently alive. He was an emphatic living, breathing answer to the question: is Islam compatible with Western civilisation?

When the Champ was buried on Friday 10th June 2016, millions of Americans got their first glimpse of a Muslim funeral service, something that looks very similar to a Jewish or Christian service. Ali’s funeral is undoubtedly the most widely covered Muslim funeral in American history, significantly more so than that of Malcolm X. Indeed, Dawud Walid, Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, remarked: “In a political climate in which Islamophobia is front and center, his funeral will be counterpunch to the ridiculous notion that being a good Muslim and a good American are at odds.”

Below are just some of the tributes that have caught my attention.

The Observer front page…

Whilst tributes have been pouring in from all corners of the globe, as expected, the most poignant that I’ve seen is the front page of the Observer newspaper, which includes a quote from Michelle and Barack Obama:

Ali Observer

The Huffington Post even had an article dedicated to this front page entitled Muhammad Ali Death: Observer Front Page Hailed As ‘Stunning’ Tribute To Legendary Boxer.

The cover of Time magazine…

Time magazine also had an Ali cover tribute:

Ali Time

A cartoon from Keith Knight…

Another tribute to catch my eye was this really nice image drawn by the brilliant cartoonist Keith Knight.

Ali Keith

Mehdi Hasan’s cynical look at the tributes pouring in…

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on the passing of “an extraordinary human being”…

Fellow blogger Yasmina Blackburn makes a heartfelt point…

Allah has taken our brother, Muhammad Ali, back home to Him. Inna lilahi wa inna ilahi raji un. To God we belong. To Him we return. Wow – notwithstanding his accomplishments in boxing – and the memories I have of my family watching his matches with such excitement – he leaves behind such an indelible mark on the Muslim community. He was steadfast in his stance as a believer. In his devotion to doing the right thing by humanity. By standing against the grain for what was right and true. To standing up for the oppressed. For not caving into ego-maniacal traps of fame and fortune and demanding he use his gifts of the dunya to help others and to serve Allah. To strive for a spot in Jannah. – Yasmin Blackburn

Final word to the man himself…

Whilst I have blogged before about Ali, once to list some of my favourite quotes, another occasion to highlight some YouTube clips about the Islamic nature of Ali (both are worth a visit), the final word goes to the man himself talking about his own legacy:

I would like to be remembered as a man who won the heavyweight title three times, who was humorous and who treated everyone right. As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him…who stood up for his beliefs…who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love. And if all that’s too much, then I guess I’d settle for being remembered only as a great boxer who became a leader and a champion of his people. And I wouldn’t even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was. – Muhammad Ali


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