Muhammad Ali’s Fight for Islam

In his final months, Muhammad Ali, who died Friday at 74, was promoting Islam, the religion he embraced in the 1960s.

In December, the boxing legend issued a statement criticizing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Ali called on fellow Muslims to “stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda.”

“American Muslims would be well-served to look at the challenges that Muslims such as Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali had to deal with,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

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Walid, who led prayers for Ali on Sunday at a Detroit mosque Ali used to visit, remembers as a child in the 1970s he received a Ali doll, which led to his eventual conversion to Islam.

Ali, originally a Baptist, renounced Christianity at 22 to become the most famous convert to Islam in American history when he announced he had joined the Black Muslim movement under the guidance of Malcolm X shortly after he first became champion. He eventually rejected his “white” name, Cassius Clay, which he considered a “slave name,” and instead used the name “Muhammad Ali,” bestowed upon him by Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad.

His rejection of Christianity as a slavery religion and his embrace of Islam as a liberation religion was utter nonsense. According to Mike Konrad, Islam is historically a champion of slavery, especially of Africans. What could explain Ali’s nonsense of embracing a religion of slavery and terror? According to Reuters, the U.S. Army twice rejected Ali for service after measuring his IQ at 78. These tests angered Ali, who in his turn angered many American patriots when for the sake of his Islamic beliefs he refused to fight communism in Vietnam. Even with his unpatriotic Islamic behavior, in 2005 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by conservative U.S. President George W. Bush.

Ali’s emergence coincided with the American civil rights movement and his persona offered young blacks an Islamic radical passion they did not get from the Protestant minister Martin Luther King.

Like many African-Americans, Ali’s first foray into Islam was through the Nation of Islam, the extremist black nationalist movement, started in Detroit, which advocated a kind of violent Islamic Black Liberation Theology.

“I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize,” Ali said. “But get used to me… my religion, not yours.”

Decisive for his Islamic propaganda was the U.S. cultural hegemony, which makes any fame and propaganda global. Without it, he would hardly have been, mistakenly, the greatest athlete of the century — in the service of Islam. This hegemony has been an effective platform for Islamic expansion.

In the past, this hegemony worked positively for Christian expansion — the U.S. was the biggest champion of Protestant missions in the world. But with the increasing U.S. moral decadence and a dramatic reduction of conservative evangelicalism (the U.S. has gone from a 98% Protestant population in the late 1700s to less than 50% today), it works now for any ideology, including Islam.

One of Ali’s final messages was defending Islam. Trump’s comments, Ali said, “alienated many from learning about Islam.”

He died at the age of 74 after suffering for more than three decades with Parkinson’s syndrome, which has been linked to head trauma because of his boxing career. This condition stole his physical strength and killed his loquaciousness.

With information from the Associated Press, Charisma magazine and Reuters.

Portuguese version of this article: A luta de Muhammad Ali em favor do islamismo

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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