Ok, yes, I admit I'm too young to ever have seen a Muhammad Ali fight. I vaguely remember my dad and his friends eagerly watching the fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. But even though, I've never seen him box, the thing about Muhammad Ali was that his reputation proceeded him. Yes, he was a great athlete and a champion boxer but he was also a man known all over the world for his great reputation. He had unique universal appeal and there'll never be an athlete who draws global attention and respect like this again. Certainly, there'll never be another Muslim athlete who commands such a reputation.
On the day of his death, and later, on the day of his funeral, the thing that hit me, like a bright beam of sunshine on a cloudy day, was that nobody had a bad word to say about Muhammad Ali. Furthermore, nobody had a bad word to say about a a famous Muslim man who had died. Of course, there was a small minority calling him a racist but this was brushed aside because in the time and place where Muhammad Ali lived, everyone could be called a racist. The vast majority of the media, including social media, were positive, complimentary and respectful. Furthermore, the Jewish Rabbi gave a particularly rousing and honest speech at the funeral.
As a Muslim myself, the fact that I took notice of and was pleasantly surprised by this feeling of mass positivity shows that for so long all I have experienced from the media against Muslims and Islam has been negativity, hatred and blame. So all the optimism and unity left me with a warm glow in my belly and a renewed faith in humans.
Even in his death Muhammad Ali managed to unite people all over the world, regardless of creed, colour or background. His determination, moral integrity and steadfastness to his faith are a source of inspiration to anyone who believes in anything good. He was an example of hope, peace and a true Muslim and humanitarian. He was and is a better representation of an "everyday Muslim" than a suicide bomber will ever be.