The passing of the great Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) not only illuminates the unparalleled accomplishments of the man, it illuminates the trajectory of the Muslim African American experience.
Kidnapped from Africa and forced into slavery, millions of people – now called African Americans – were forced to change their name, religion, culture and all vestiges of their heritage. After a 400 year sojourn of enslavement, brutal legalized oppression and forced religious conversion African Americans encountered a circuitous search for self-identity.
In 1930 a mysterious man presented an ideology that was a mixture of vestiges of their ancient past, aspects of their current oppressive reality with a rationale that said they were gods of royalty and the perpetrators that oppressed them were devils.
Inspired by these bold assertions, many African Americans became Muslim and declared their allegiance to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam. This was the initial path of Muhammad Ali who was named by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
Admired and rebuffed by American society, Muhammad Ali articulated the racial and social oppression of African Americans and said Islam as the only alternative.
In 1975 Elijah Muhammad passed and his son, Imam W. Deen Mohammed, became the leader. He taught the Qur’an, transitioned the Nation of Islam removing all vestiges of racial superiority and mythos. He stunned the world with the largest conversion to universal Al-Islam in history. Muhammad Ali supported Imam W. Deen Mohammed and made the transition. He became the most recognized and noble example of Muslim in the world.