“I am the greatest!”
Who doesn’t remember those words as they came out from between the man’s lips? I think that all those born before the new millennium know very well the greatest boxing athlete of all time, Muhammad Ali. Hundreds if not thousands of stories could be told about the boxer, but today I’m going to talk about the man. I shall tell you a very brief story that had actually happened, and narrated to me and other attendants by our Sheikh. This Sheikh was on a pilgrimage trip, and while he was circumambulating the sacred mosque, he saw the champ himself wearing the simple white clothes, and walking slowly at a far distance from the mosque instead of trying to get as close as possible to it like most people do. My sheikh felt curious and thrilled, so he walked over to Ali, saluted him with peace greetings and asked him why he was walking in big circles and keeping himself as far as possible from the mosque? And the champ answered:
“I’m a big strong man, and my appearance might frighten some of the weaker pilgrims and the women… I came here seeking Allah’s forgiveness for all my past sins, and I don’t want to add new ones to my account.”
Prophet Muhammad said, “A true Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hand people are safe, and a true believer is the one people trust with their lives and their wealth.” [Recorded by Nasā’ī, tradition No. 4995, Authenticated by Albani].
You can fear him inside the ring, but outside, he was a totally nice and gentle person. His logic was simple, he said: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” Even when he became ill, his marvelous acceptance of his condition was as usual overwhelming, he said, “God gave me Parkinson’s syndrome to show me I’m not the greatest, He is. God gave me this illness to remind me that I’m not number one, He is.” He lived as a fighter inside the ring, and outside it, his athletic behavior never seized in the darkest times, and he always fought for what he believed in to be true and worthy; about this he expressed his path in life saying, “Allah is the Arabic term for God. Stand up for God, fight for God, work for God and do the right thing, and go the right way, things will end up in your corner.”
Ali wasn’t just a boxing athlete, he was much more than that, he was a deep thinker, righteousness seeker, self-made man, but above all, he was, and still is an inspiration for all youths throughout the ages that dreams can come true, so you should never stop dreaming and believing in yourself. May Allah bless his soul, may he rest in peace, Amen.
Written By: Ehab Shawky.