Muhammad Ali: 9 inspiring quotes about Islam and Muslims

Born on January 17th in 1942, Muhammad Ali was an icon for Muslims mainly due to his conversion to Islam, but also a legend in the eyes of all — widely regarded as one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.

Often dubbed the greatest boxer of all time, Ali was also renowned for his activism. He fearlessly took on the system and used his platform to speak about his faith, the civil rights movement, and other social and political issues.”

He became the youngest boxer to take the title from a reigning heavyweight champion in 1964 at age 22, beating Sonny Liston. Immediately after that fight, he announced his conversion to Islam—a bold move at such a tender age and with the world’s attention on him.

Ali, who initially joined the Nation of Islam but later transitioned to more traditional Sunni Islam, faced backlash and negativity about his religious conversion. It wasn’t universally accepted, and some referred to him by his former name, Cassius Clay. He would remind people to call him by his Muslim name, most famously asking Ernie Terrell, “What’s my name?” during a fight.  

He was also a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, refusing to serve due to his religious and ethical beliefs. This put him at risk of imprisonment and he lost his titles, but public opinion eventually turned in his favour as it became clear that he was on the right side of history about the war. He died on 3 June 2016 at age 74.

Quotes on Islam and Muslims

Throughout his life, Ali captivated audiences with his powerful words, inspiring many to listen to his message and be moved by his conviction.  

Here are nine memorable quotes about Muslims and Islam attributed to Muhammad Ali:

  1. “The word ‘Islam’ means ‘peace.’ The word ‘Muslim’ means ‘one who surrenders to God.’ But the press makes us seem like haters.”
  1. “The name Muhammad is the most common name in the world. In all the countries around the world – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon – there are more Muhammads than anything else….they gave me the most famous name because I was the champ.”
  1. “I believe in the religion of Islam. I believe in Allah and peace.
  1. “The only thing that matters is submitting to the will of God.”
  1. “Allah’s the Arabic term for God. Stand up for God, fight for God, work for God and do the right thing, and go the right way, things will end up in your corner.”
  1. “I didn’t want to submit to the army and then, on the day of judgment, have God say to me, ‘Why did you do that?’ This life is a trial, and you realize that what you do is going to be written down for Judgment Day.”
  1. “Terrorists are not following Islam. Killing people and blowing up people and dropping bombs in places and all this is not the way to spread the word of Islam. So people realize now that all Muslims are not terrorists.”
  1. “I’m just hoping that people understand that Islam is peace and not violence.”
  1. “I’m not afraid of dying. I have faith; I do everything I can to live my life right; and I believe that dying will bring me closer to God.”

Image: CC BY-SA 3.0 NL , via Wikimedia Commons

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