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“I am America,” he declared. “I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me – black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me.”
We have become part of a generation which was once introduced to the valiant words of Muhammad Ali, and we have become the last generation to have witnessed his unceasing bravery throughout both the youthful days and the old. Although the entire world stands in unity as we mourn the loss of a man who revolutionized what it meant to be Muslim, American, and how we stand stand up against all the odds faced by our society, we are also reminded of his legendary influence on both the Muslim and American community.
Here in Atlanta, the memory of Muhammad Ali has not yet diminished as funeral prayers and memorial services are held in both his honor and in remembrance of all he has done for our communities at large. At the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam, the masjid where Muhammad Ali prayed and worshipped in while in Atlanta, a funeral service which attracted hundreds was held. One of the organizers, Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of the Georgia chapter of CAIR, spoke of Muhammad Ali’s courage and was aired on 11Alive News.
Just yesterday, Friday June 10th, the Roswell Community Masjid also held a Janazah (or funeral prayer) service in commemoration of Muhammad Ali. More than 200 people gathered after Friday prayers in recognition of both the American Muslim community’s loss as well as in memory of the bravery which he instilled in the hearts of millions. The funeral service was also aired on WSB-TV Channel 2 News as the metro-Atlanta community, including Imam Arshad Anwar of RCM, also gathered in high spirits and with great honor.
Muhammad impacted the Muslim American community beyond any state, racial, and ethnic borders attempted to be placed between him and what was deemed right during the days of his time. He stood with Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, and joined Malcolm X in battling the injustice that black Americans faced in the days when segregation was the norm.
He joined the Islamic community with admiration and unbreakable faith, completely altering the image of Islam in America with his undying bravery as he stood up unfaltering whenever his beliefs were challenged. He advocated for the oppressed even outside of America, reaffirming his ideologies as he refused to fight in the Vietnam War, despite having to willingly sacrifice his world heavyweight title.
Hassan Faye, Hifz teacher at the Al-Bayyan Institute: “Muhammad Ali, for me, embodies what it means to be loved by Allah and know it. When I think of him, I think of sacrificing one’s self for the sake of Allah, then Allah rewarding your sacrifice by giving you exactly the thing you have for him. "No sacrifice is too big for one’s belief in Allah."
Even beyond the American Muslim community, Atlanta feels the incredible weight of grief as we all stand united in reminiscence while honoring his legendary achievements. Last Thursday, Atlanta’s Corey Tower displayed a large photo of Muhammad Ali in one of his many moments of victory. Along with that, Paige Jarvis, a photographer here in Atlanta, visited the Olympic Torch Tower where Ali once lit the flame that burned forever. There she took photographs of memorials left behind by those who also visited in memory and recognition of the boxer.
Although in a world like ours, there are very few that can aspire, inspire, and revolutionize their society in the short time they have with us, Muhammad Ali’s legacy will live on for thousands of generations to come. And in the words of President Obama: “Muhammad Ali shook up the world. And the world is better for it. We are all better for it.”
Roswell Community Masjid:
Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam:
Credits to Samir Ahmed
From 11 Alive Atlanta:
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