LOUISVILLE: The world begins two final days of mourning for Muhammad Ali on Thursday when the boxing great was honored with a Muslim funeral a day before receiving a final goodbye with an interfaith service.
Ali, one of the transcendent figures of the 20th Century for his boxing prowess, showmanship and opposition to the Vietnam War in the turbulent 1960s and '70s, died last Friday of septic shock in an Arizona hospital. He was 74.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (C) arrives to take part in the funeral prayer, for the late boxing champion Muhammad Ali.
Some 15,000 people were expected at his funeral prayers, set for noon at Freedom Hall in Ali's home town of Louisville, Kentucky, the venue where Ali defeated Willi Besmanoff on Nov. 29, 1961.
Imam Zaid Shakir, co-founder of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California, led the service. Ali and his family planned his funeral for 10 years, making sure it would honor his Muslim faith.
Ali's braggadocio startled white America even when he went by his birth name, Cassius Clay. He further shocked US society after he joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name in 1964.
In the 1970s, Ali converted to Sunni Islam, the largest denomination among Muslims worldwide. Late in life he embraced Sufism, a mystical school of the faith.
He was admired worldwide, and gave US Muslims a hero they could share with the American mainstream.
“To be properly prepared for burial, prayed over and then buried is a right owed to every single Muslim,” Shakir said in a statement issued by the Ali family spokesman.
“If no one fulfills those rights, then the entire community has fallen into sin. In the case of someone of Muhammad Ali's stature, to leave any of those rights unfulfilled would be a crime.”
Luminaries including former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and comedian Billy Crystal will attend Friday's event, at the KFC Yum Center.
"Ali will never die. His spirit will live on," boxing promoter Don King told Reuters from Thursday's venue at Freedom Hall, the complex where Ali defeated Willi Besmanoff in 1961 in his last fight in Louisville.. Tags: #Muslim-community #Islamic #
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