Toronto

Toronto Muslims remember Muhammad Ali with pride

Muslims attending the Mississauga Halal Food Fest on Saturday expressed sadness at the passing of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who died Friday at the age of 74.
Muslims attending the Mississauga Halal Food Fest on Saturday expressed pride and sadness at the passing of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who died Friday at the age of 74. 1:04

Muslims attending the Mississauga Halal Food Fest on Saturday expressed pride and sadness at the passing of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who died Friday at the age of 74.

"It is very sorrowful for the whole community," said Amir Shamsi, founder of the festival, who said Ali's high-profile conversion to Islam in 1964 was "very good for the Muslim community."

"As a boxing fan myself, it was very devastating to me, but I understand that he was suffering, and may he rest in peace" said Iqra Khalid, Liberal MP for Mississauga-Erin Mills.

Iqra Khalid, Liberal MP for Mississauga-Erin Mills, said the loss of boxing legend Muhammad Ali was 'devastating.'

"He became an icon, frankly not just for the world but for the Muslim community," said Omar Alghabra, Liberal MP for Mississauga Centre.

"He became an inspiration for many kids, Muslim kids who could see somebody like them become a successful athlete," added Alghabra.

A champion in and out of the ring

Some festival attendees recalled Ali as a champion for the oppressed.

"It is very clear that after he retired from the boxing arena, he dedicated his whole life for the welfare of the common man," said Ilyas Siddiqui.

Speaking to CBC News in Ottawa, National Council of Canadian Muslims executive director Ihsaan Gardee described Ali as representing "a lot of different things to a lot of different people."

"At a time in the world right now when a lot of news about Muslims and Islam is predominantly negative … he really stood out as a beacon of light, and truly reflected the values that the mainstream of the Muslim community understand, which is core to the religion, of compassion, of acceptance, tolerance, of standing up to power," he said.

"His loss has left a huge gap coming at a time like this."

Cassius Clay changed his name to Cassius X after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964. He later changed his name to Muhammad Ali. (Paul Cannon/Associated Press)