Muhammad Ali, boxing legend, champion of social justice and one of the greatest sportsmen ever to walk the earth, has died age 74.
As well as his peerless performances in the ring, Ali became known for having one of the sharpest minds, and sharpest tongues, in the game – something that clearly didn’t diminish with age, despite his long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
At the back end of last year, as businessman Donald Trump rose to prominence in the US presidential race – with all the Islamophobia that entailed – America’s most famous Muslim knocked him down a peg or two in one 132-word statement.
After Trump announced his plan to ban all Muslims from entering the US, Ali condemned it and the Republican loud-mouth without even having to mention his name:
I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world. True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion.
We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda. They have alienated many from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody.
Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness, I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people’s views on what Islam really is.
While Ali, a three-time world heavyweight champion who converted to Sunni Islam in 1975, did not explicitly refer to Trump, the statement was issued under the headline: ‘Presidential Candidates Proposing to Ban Muslim Immigration to the United States’.