Face to Face with Muhammad Ali, Sportsman of the Century
By Perwaiz Ahmad
It was early morning in February 1964 when I learned through Dawn that a boxer named Cassius Clay had challenged the reigning champion, Sonny Liston. Looking at the full length picture of the two fighters I honestly got terrified because I felt sorry for the Challenger, then Cassius Clay with boyish looks, standing next to Liston who had a ferocious demeanor. The challenger looked like a sheep waiting to be clobbered by a lion. Although in my early teens I seriously thought that Cassius Clay would get seriously hurt because of his skinny frame but lo and behold, when the two met in the ring on the appointed day the news quickly flashed all over the world that the young 22-year-old Cassius Clay had defeated the burly 31-year-old Sonny Liston (rock of Gibraltar) in an eventful seventh round! It was the biggest upset in boxing history eclipsing the titanic encounters of pugilists like Joe Luis and Rocky Marciano.
It was the most hair-raising fight because the young Cassius Clay was extremely brash with his uncanny predictions before the bout took place. He clearly outclassed most senior boxers like Ernie Terrell, Henry Cooper (England), George Chuvalo (Canada) Oscar Bonavena (Argentina), Karl Mildenberger (Germany) who could not match his boxing prowess.
America had not seen or heard an outspoken boxer like Ali, his poetic quality and his loud mouth infuriated many middle age Americans while the younger generations simply adored him for his courage, skills, a breath of fresh air and sportsmanship. He was ready to defend his title more frequently than his predecessors, he once quipped, "I want to fight two boxers in one night".
The fight of the century in 1971 with Joe Frazier created lots of enthusiasm because Ali was stripped of his Heavy Weight title by WBA following his refusal to go to war in Vietnam. Ali lost but in the rematch called "the Thrilla in Manilla" with smoking Joe Frazier, he regained the title
The "Rumble in the Jungle" in Zaire with George Foreman described as the mother of all fights was the last hope for all Ali detractors who wanted him humiliated in the ring. Foreman was considered the most devastating boxer of his time because his opponents would not last more than three rounds.
Who knew that exactly 10 years later, just before his "Rumble in the Jungle" fight with George Foreman in 1974, I would have the privilege to meet Muhammad Ali on his mountain top training camp - Deer Lake - a suburb of Philadelphia. It was the biggest thrill of my life because in ten years Ali had become larger than life, a leader of the Muslim world who would challenge the highest authority of the free world. We were greeted by his second wife Khalilah and daughter Laila, then a few years old, riding on a pony.
Muhammad Ali, a towering personality, joined us a few minutes later. After the customary greetings in Urdu with me and my two brothers he asked us where we were from. I told him that we were from Pakistan, to which he responded, "You speak Urdu!" Later, I asked him, "What do you think about the upcoming fight with George Foreman?" He said, "I am going to whoop him". He then told us to come the next day at 2:00 PM to see him train for the upcoming fight. We saw him at arms-length for 12 rounds training with his sparring partner which was a real delight, never to be forgotten.
A friend, late Faz Husain in Michigan who was close to Muhammad Ali, named his new born son after him. Ali was a magnet for any fundraising events because people used to come in droves to have a glimpse of him and donated generously because of their profound love for him. Back in the early 1990's, I thought it was an opportune time to arrange a fundraising event through Faz for our Masjid Al Rehman in Garden Grove but the plan did not materialize.
In my opinion Muhammad Ali stands tall because of his immense contribution to humanity and I rank him with greats like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, John F. Kennedy, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa and perhaps, Abraham Lincoln, who changed the course of history because they were firm in their conviction to bring justice in this world of "the Haves and the Have-Nots". His resolve not to honor the Vietnam War Draft sparked a nationwide protest, forcing the Establishment to review their stand on the war that had cost 60,000 American lives, a colossal loss.
During his appeal period his passport was confiscated to restrict his travel abroad. In his hay days he was the most sought after speaker but was barred from earning money through lecture engagements in and out of the United States. He stood his ground, undeterred by jail time and loss of revenue to prove that the war was a mistake, that he would resist the draft no matter what its ramifications were. After three years he finally won the case when the Supreme Court's unanimous 3-0 decision was announced.
He once joked with then President Jimmy Carter that he could reach Soviet Union President Brezhnev on the phone anytime but he could not reach him. He was revered by young and old, rich and poor, Head of countries all across the globe, a distinction hardly anyone else could claim.
Muhammad Ali, a great Muslim ambassador, passed away at the age of 74 after a prolonged illness from Parkinson disease on June 3, 2016. He remained mentally alert and joked around with leaders of the world whenever he got a chance. May his soul rest in peace.
Make Best Use of Time in Ramadan – Invest It for a Better Return!
By Saghir Aslam
(The following information is provided solely to educate the Muslim community about investing and financial planning. It is hoped that the Ummah will benefit from this effort through greater financial empowerment, enabling the community to live in security and dignity and fulfill their religious and moral obligations towards charitable activities).
We have been planning for Ramadan for months and it’s now coming to an end. We are already in the last Ashra of the blessed month. Time is something that is the most precious and valuable part of our life which each one of us own and it is up to us how we utilize our time. Those of us who have spent the last over 20 days in making the best use of our time to get Allah’s mercy have made a great investment in the hereafter and have Insha’Allah attained Allah SWT’s mercy.
Time is something that once gone cannot be recovered. You can buy anything with money but you cannot buy time. Time is so important that in the Qur’an in Surah Al-Asr, Allah SWT swore upon time “Wal Asr”. This shows the importance of time for us. Unfortunately, we give it the least importance in our life. We waste good amount of time for nothing. By the time we realize what we have wasted, it is too late.
However, in this beautiful month of Ramadan, we still have time to attain salvation from hellfire in the third Ashra that we are already in.
The last ten days of Ramadan (Third Ashra) are most important and superior to the early two Ashras as Lailatul Qadar falls in the third Ashra. Also, most of the Muslims practice Itekaf in the third Ashra.
Here is a list of few things one should do during the third Ashra:
a). The Last ten days are emancipation from the fire so one should strive hard in this third Ashra of fasting to ask pardon and forgiveness from Allah. The Prophet (PBUH) used to devote Himself more intensively to prayers and urged others too during the third Ashra of Ramadan.
Narrated by Aisha (R.A):
“The Prophet (PBUH) strove harder and took greater pains to observe prayer etc. during the third Ashra of Ramadan than other days” (Muslim).
Allah SWT in the Qur’an stresses on being tolerant, humble, kind and forgiving. He says, ‘Don’t you like me to forgive you’? The more we are forgiving, the better chances of Allah SWT forgiving us. If Allah SWT can forgive our major sins, why can’t we forgive each other for petty issues; and even if it’s a major issue we should have Rehma on others, show mercy and forgive each other. Allah SWT loves it when you forgive others.
The Prophet (PBUH) has said:
“Do repent in this month to Allah for your sins, and supplicate with raised hands at the time of prayer as these are the best times during which Allah Al-Mighty looks at his servants with mercy. Allah answers if they supplicate, responds if they call, grants if He is asked, and accepts if they entreat. O People! You have made your conscience the slave of your desires. Make it free by invoking Allah for forgiveness. Your back may break from the heavy load of your sins, so prostrate (Sajda) yourself before Allah, for long intervals, and make this load lighter.”
Ramadan is the month of mercy, forgiveness and being generous. While we fast, pray, recite Qur’an and do more Ibadah in this month, we also have to take care of the poor people particularly in this month. Those who are less fortunate, who do not have enough food and other means to survive. Helping the widows, supporting orphans and honoring them is a plus as Allah SWT in return will honor you on the judgement day. One such program is Saba Homes that is honoring the orphans and helping them to achieve their goals and dreams. To help an orphan in Ramadan is one of the best charitable deeds and has great rewards in return as promised by Allah SWT and His Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). For more information on Saba Homes program you can visit the website: www.sabatrust.org , call the office on: 714.305.5425 or send email to: email@example.com.
(Saghir A. Aslam only explains strategies and formulas that he has been using. He is merely providing information, and NO ADVICE is given. Mr. Aslam does not endorse or recommend any broker, brokerage firm, or any investment at all, or does he suggest that anyone will earn a profit when or if they purchase stocks, bonds or any other investments. All stocks or investment vehicles mentioned are for illustrative purposes only. Mr. Aslam is not an attorney, accountant, real estate broker, stockbroker, investment advisor, or certified financial planner. Mr. Aslam does not have anything for sale.)