Calgary Muslims honour Muhammad Ali in Sunday ceremony
They say the 'Great One' was a great inspiration not only as an athlete, but as an ambassador for the religion
Members of Calgary's Muslim community gathered Sunday to remember Muhammad Ali, who died Friday at the age of 74.
They say the "Great One" was a great inspiration not only as an athlete, but as an ambassador for the religion.
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Fifteen-year-old singer Hassaan Rizvi is a proud Muslim.
He says, in part, it's because of a legendary boxer.
"He said, 'I'm going to make my God happy,'" Rizvi said.
"That's what inspired me the most and made me a very, very, huge fan of Muhammad Ali."
About 30 men and children gathered at a northeast mosque to honour Muhammad Ali as a fighter in and out of the boxing ring.
Imam Syed Soharwardy met Ali in Saudi Arabia in the early 1990s, decades after the boxer converted to Islam.
"I cannot forgot that few seconds of my conversation with him," Soharwardy said.
"He was strong, he was tall. He spoke very well. He inspired a lot of people there. He said, 'You should be proud of yourself that you are Muslim,' he brought hundreds and thousands of people to Islam."
Ali was a fighter in many ways, the imam said.
"He also fought against racism, he also fought against Islamophobia," Soharwardy said.
Ali championed the religion, even as Soharwardy points out, into his last days.
"When Donald Trump spoke [of a] Muslim ban in North America, and Islam is at war, Muhammad Ali was the first one who stood up against Donald Trump and against Islamophobia," Soharwardy said.
It's a fight many in Calgary's Muslim community are glad the boxer took on.
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