By Rameez Abid, ICNA Council for Social Justice
(June 11, 2016, Louisville, KY) – Muslim leaders from all around the U.S. took part in the funeral service and memorial for Muhammad Ali on Thursday and Friday.
They came together to grieve and show their utmost respect for a man who was not only a proud Muslim but also a prominent humanitarian. The janaza prayer on Thursday was full of thousands of Muslims who came from all across the world to fulfill their religious duty towards their brother in faith. The janaza service was led by Imam Zaid Shakir of Zaytuna. The memorial service on Friday was moderated by him as well. The speakers for it were hand chosen specifically by Muhammad Ali himself. The arena echoed with the chant of “Ali Ali!” on numerous occasions despite there being no fight. The place was completely packed by people of all faiths.
Muslim organizational leaders from ICNA, CAIR, MAS, ISNA, and many others stood side by side during the janaza prayer to sincerely pray for Allah’s mercy on their brother’s departed soul. Some of them also gave interviews and expressed their emotions over the loss of a true champ from their community. They all also attended the memorial service and felt that it put a positive light on Islam and Muslims in America when they had mostly been given negative coverage especially due to islamophobic claims made by certain politicians. They felt it was good to see something positive about Muslims and Islam in the mainstream media for a change. The work of Ali, who was a proud Muslim, showed that being American and Muslim are not contradictory, rather, complementary. This is a complete slap in the face of islamophobes who continue to falsely propagate that Muslims are a threat to American safety.
Muslim leadership that was present for the funeral proceedings was also invited by the president of Turkey for an iftar because many of them were fasting due to Ramadan. President Edrogen of Turkey gave welcoming remarks to the Muslim leaders and drew focus on the lessons from the life of Muhammad Ali in being brave and courageous despite the circumstances.