Marlow Stern writes: The late Muhammad Ali, who passed away Friday evening at the age of 74, was proudly, unapologetically black. He fought for the civil rights of African Americans, and famously refused to serve in the Vietnam War with the following ardent proclamation: “I ain’t got nothing against no Viet Cong; no Viet Cong never called me nigger.”
He was also a devout Muslim and dedicated member of the Nation of Islam, having fallen under the tutelage of Malcolm X in 1962. When rumors began circulating that year that he’d joined the Nation of Islam, one of his bouts was nearly canceled, and when he officially joined in 1964, he had his boxing titles stripped from two organizations, including the WBA. Shortly thereafter, Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad—who became a surrogate father to Ali—announced that the man formerly known as Cassius Clay would henceforth be “Muhammad Ali,” with “Muhammad” meaning “one who is worthy of praise” and Ali the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, as well as the fourth caliph. He later left the NOI after experiencing a falling out when Elijah Muhammad stepped down and, in 1975, converted to Sunni Islam (he later embraced Sufism).
In the wake of the deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, by two ISIS-affiliated terrorists, presidential candidate Donald Trump called for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States.
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” he announced in a campaign press release.
This was, of course, after a rash of other anti-Muslim comments Trump had made, including that he wanted American mosques to be surveilled, considered establishing a database monitoring all Muslims in the U.S., and his bogus claim that he saw “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating as the Twin Towers fell on 9/11 (then again, Trump also claimed he saw people jump from the Towers on 9/11 from a “view in my apartment that was specifically aimed at the World Trade Center,” even though he lives in midtown Manhattan, more than four miles from Ground Zero).
Ali, who was cordial with Trump in years past, and even gave him the Muhammad Ali award at his Celebrity Fight Night XIII in 2007, had strong words for the reality star turned politician’s proposed Muslim ban. [Continue reading…]