Muhammad Ali: ‘Misguided Murderers Have Perverted’ Perception of Islam

Muhammad Ali, Sonny Liston
The Associated Press

America’s most famous Muslim issued a statement responding to presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposal for a moratorium on followers of Islam immigrating to the United States.

But Muhammad Ali’s statement focuses on Muslims alienating others from their faith rather than the candidate so critical of the actions of his co-religionists. In fact, the Parkinson’s-afflicted pugilist fails to mention Trump at all in the increasingly-rare public declaration.

Ali explained in a statement:

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 that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion.

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.

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.

As the former heavyweight champion noted, he served as an equal-opportunity offender during his 21-year professional boxing career, joining the National of Islam and refusing induction into the armed services during the 1960s, and telling a reporter in the 1970s after beating George Foreman in Africa, “Thank God my granddaddy got on that boat.”

Ali converted to Sunni Islam about a decade after he joined the Nation of Islam.

A few years after Ali retired from boxing for good in 1981, Trump began hosting major fights at his Atlantic City properties. He stood in the ring with Mike Tyson and Michael Spinks, for instance, before and after their lucrative 1988 fight when they fought for the title Ali once held. Tyson, who converted to Islam in prison, recently spoke in favor of a Trump presidency.

Trump on Monday called for what his campaign deemed a “complete and total shutdown” of Muslim immigration. The Republican presidential candidate explained that “it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”