A number of congregations in Cape Town have performed janazah salah for the boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who passed away on Friday at the age of 74. Heartfelt tributes continue to pour in from all parts of the world – testament to the immense impact he’s life had on others. Considered America’s most influential Muslim, Ali will be remembered for his indomitable spirit, steadfast faith and passionate belief in peace, justice and equality.
The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) led a prayer for the humanitarian giant at the Surrey estate masjid on Saturday. MJC president Shaykh Irfaan Abrahams called Ali “a great son of Islam”.
“The world is in grief and mourning. He was not only a great boxer but a da’ee for Islam. He spent his life calling people to the deen of Allah (swt),” he said.
“May Allah grant his Jannah for his service to humanity and Islam. May Allah (swt) place contentment in the hearts of his family. May we always remember the legacy he has left for the entire world.”On Sunday evening, the Claremont Main Road Masjid also performed salat al-janazah gha-iba (funeral prayer in absentia) led by Imam Rashid Omar. Similar prayers were also held at Masjidul Quds and lead by Shaykh Sadullah Khan.
In a beautiful tribute to the athlete, Imam Omar said Ali was 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,” said Omar.
“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.”
Omar writes that Ali will not only be remembered as the greatest boxer of all time but also as a peace-builder who stood up against racial oppression, and worked continuously for peace, unity, and reconciliation.
Ali’s fighting spirit could not be diminished, despite suffering with 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 Centre to celebrate his achievements and values. VOC