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By Dr. Abidullah A. Ghazi
The death of Muhammad Ali on June 3, 2016, was neither sudden nor unexpected, given his long struggle with Parkinson’s. Yet its news was still received by America and the world with great sadness and grief. In fact, Muhammad Ali’s story is not only that of a Muslim African-American hero but the story of America itself. In the days since the news of his death, eulogies and lifelong achievements have filled TV channels, newspapers, social media, and the internet across the world recapturing inspiring touching historical memories and fond eulogies.
The events that turned an insignificant lad Cassius Clay into a very significant Muhammad Ali and how a man rejected and despised as a traitor rose to become the undisputed hero to his country and globally is truly one of the genuine American stories that our generation has experienced and which future generations will always cherish. Coverage of his life overshadowed a bitter and divisive election campaign and seems to have united us as Americans, if only so fleetingly. Yet his death revealed a unique dimension of American history and society. Cassius Clay becoming Muhammad Ali, adhering to a separatist religious ideology, rejecting conscription, condemning subordination, subjecting himself to ridicule, boycott, financial loss and condemnation, and then eventually becoming a national and global hero – It could only happen in America!
Muhammad Ali was born on January 17, 1942, to African-America Parents. He did not seem to be very strong when his bicycle was snatched by a local thug, yet he realizing his weakness sought to remedy it with gaining power. Fortunately, he found a sympathetic (white) police officer, who initiated him into boxing and turning him a formidable boxer. A spiritual search led him to the charismatic founder of Nation of Islam (NoI), Elijah Muhammad, a man who proclaiming himself the “Messenger of Allah” and re-defined Islam in his own terms as a means for blacks to overcome the centuries of oppression and discrimination. Muhammad Ali came to espouse black supremacy and the notion of the “blue-eyed devil”.
When my wife Tasneema and I met Muhammad Ali in London, just before his bout with Henry Cooper in 1963, he subscribed to that ideology. He warmly welcomed us, offered a £20 (a two-week salary of a teacher or medical doctor, then) to come oversee his practices, however, he rejected shaking hands with a very fair Lebanese man, saying: “I don’t shake hands with whites.” The Arab fellow embarrassingly withdrew his hand saying: “But I’m a Lebanese Arab Muslim.” Muhammad Ali grabbed his hand, hugged him and apologized profusely. Then he ordered tea for us and the other visitors and left for practice with his sparring partner.
Yet it seems that Muhammad Ali’s heart was too big to fit into the narrow confines of racial exclusivity and hatred, and he did not stay long on the NoI’s path. His attachment to Malcolm X is well-known and it was tragically cut short. But it was through Ali’s encounter with Warith Deen Mohammed (seventh of Elijah Muhammad’s children with his wife Sister Clara Muhammad) that the boxer would come to know the Universalist message of true Islam. Muhammad Ali was one of the several thousands of Warith’s followers and his receptive mind must have realized that, just as Warith was moving the NoI away from its racist theology, America too was also moving forward in freeing itself from archaic bigotry, discriminatory laws, and racial injustice. Muhammad Ali was to regain much more than he had lost. The folly of Vietnam and his courage in rejecting the draft was now honored. The Olympic gold medal that he threw in the river in protest was replaced. He received from President Bush America’s highest civic award.
Perhaps one of Muhammad Ali’s and modern America’s greatest moments was the opening ceremony of the 1996 Summer Olympics. He all of a sudden appeared on stage to kindle the Olympic Torch, holding it high, walking with pride, though with shaking hands and unsteady feet. America finally recognized its illustrious son and the son was ready to walk with the torch in hand, taking steps that would take this country – and humanity – to new heights and glory.
السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
All of us at IQRA’ International Educational Foundation wish you and your loved ones a blessed and fruitful Ramadan! May Allah Subhana wa Tta’ala make this a time of peace, reflection and spiritual growth for one and all! We are pleased to inform you that IQRA’ has reached an important milestone having fulfilled 33 years of dedicated service to the Muslim community worldwide.
We wish to take this time to thank you from the depth of our hearts for the dedication and support with which you have nurtured and supported this unique organization. May Allah swt bless each one of you and make IQRA’ worthy of your continued confidence and support. Nevertheless, this is only the beginning of our journey; for we have much more to accomplish with your du’a and support, inshallah!
As the leading provider of Islamic educational solutions, IQRA’ continues to make the greatest possible impact on young Muslim minds across North America and beyond. We have completed the revision of our entire elementary courses. Our new material reflects changes that respond to the needs of our schools in a changing world. We have also moved into the digital realm and our entire program will soon be available in e-book format. In addition, we have expanded the list of low-income and urban schools and students who receive our material free of charge.
We fervently appeal to you to join hands with us and donate generously to the worthy cause of acquisition and dissemination Islamic knowledge. Your donation is an Amanah and it is only spent with great care in covering the production costs of IQRA’s books. We hold your trust in the highest regard and carry it with sincerity.
Please make your pledge now and send your check along with the ANSAR (http://iqrafoundation.com/donate/) form today. We also request that you remember IQRA’ in your prayers at this sacred time of the year and share this appeal with family and friends.
DONATE NOW – http://iqrafoundation.com/donate/
Thanking you in advance!
Tasneema Ghazi, PhD.
IQRA’ International Educational Foundation
All of us at IQRA’ are so proud to share with you the news of great honor awarded to one of our own talented and dedicated young man, Dr. Sayeed Khaja by the village of Hanover Park.
The Village of Hanover Park, IL has created a new volunteer position of Physician/Medical Advisor of non- commissioned officer rank for Dr. Sayeed Khaja. Dr. Saeed Khaja is an internal medicine physician and cardiologist at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. Dr. Khaja has served Hanover Park Fire Department as a firefighter since May 2006.
Dr. Khaja will be responsible to “communicate between doctors and the fire department regarding health concerns, fitness for duty, disease prevention, physical fitness and nutrition.
Hanover Park Fire Chief Craig Haig says the position offers an “innovative approach” to ensuring health in the workplace.
CONGRATULATIONS! Dr. Sayeed. You are a model for the young people of our community.
Welcome to President Obama’s Initiative
Dr. Abidullah Ghazi: Chairman
IQRA’ International Educational Foundation
IQRA’ International Educational Foundation heartily appreciates the initiative of President Obama to visit Baltimore Masjid and deliver a candid and much needed message of Hope. The Muslims must respond to this initiative with:
- Study of American history and historical experiences of other minority groups and in the light of Islam’s message of hope participate in the total national enterprise-political, social, economic creating coalition with the majority of Americans who are law abiding and fair minded.
- We as Muslims must remember that in this unique homeland every four years we get an opportunity to bring about a change. That time has come now.
- It is our social, political and religious responsibility to go to the polls and defeat these messengers of hate and support the harbingers of hope.
- Let us learn lesson from Iowa elections, where even Republican Party has administered a shameful defeat to the protagonists of hate.
- And finally keep faith in the basic goodness of this country, our own responsibility and Allah swt Who is ever watchful on what we think, plan and do.