In the 1960’s, the man known as Cassius Clay converted to Islam. He took the name Muhammad Ali, and despite shock and horror from Americans all across the country, Ali lived an honorable public life, as both a champion and a figurehead for religious inclusion.
It doesn’t stop there. In 1984 Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. A disease that slowly takes away a person’s fine motor skills. That became Ali’s third cause, and he’s carried it with grace.
While he may not have his stunning power and prowess in the ring anymore, Ali has his heart and his intellect; two unyielding sources centered on and against prejudice.
He’s now taking on Donald Trump. And he should.
In recent news, the Republican presidential nominee has pushed a xenophobic opinion of Muslims. All Muslims. Not jihadist radicals, but Muslims as a whole. He wants them out. Gone. Borders closed. None of them coming in.
Ali is happy to make the distinction between Jihadist radicals and followers of Islam — something Trump missed in his five minute debriefing, before spewing vehement prejudice into the fears of Americans.
“I am a Muslim, and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world. True Muslims know the ruthless violence of so-called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion,” Ali said.
“We, as Muslims, have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda. They have alienated many from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody.”
He continued, “Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness, I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people’s views on what Islam really is.”
These words ring true with religious history. But as seen by political buffoonery, fact-based-opinion, seems to be a thing of the past.
The hope is that Americans can center themselves, find an identity apart from fear, and embrace the diversity that makes this country great.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to Getty Images