Is Muhammad Ali’s Islamist past being scrubbed from social media? According to a new report, one source certainly thinks so.
If you were just learning about Muhammad Ali aka Cassius Clay, you’d know he was a devout humanitarian, a civil rights activist an Olympic gold medalist and was “The Greatest of All Time.” Moreover, according to History, Ali had Irish roots. However, there’s one notable fact that may escape your fresh knowledge of the boxing legend: Ali was a Muslim and cherished his faith more than patriotism and the color of his skin.
BuzzFeedNews published a post that called into question whether a company “scrubbed” Muhammad Ali’s “unapologetic” ties to the Muslim religion. Apparently, the suspicion about “forgetting” Ali arose after a visit to Ali’s social media feeds — Instagram, Twitter and Facebook (to a lesser degree) — showed they are “conspicuously” void of any connection to Islam.
At the center of the swelling controversy is Authentic Brands Group (or ABG), the owner of the Ali brand. In 2013, the licensing company purchased the rights to Muhammad Ali’s intellectual property. In short, it owns a bounty of authentic property with commercial value tied to Muhammad Ali’s name, including, pictures, videos and other memorabilia — even his famous trademarked slogan, “Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee,” according to BF.
The site supports its point of a conspiracy to wash away any link between Muhammad Ali and the Nation of Islam by pointing to the noticeable absence of images tying him to the denomination.
“There are black-and-white photos of Ali visiting a hospital, embracing Nelson Mandela, and standing next to Martin Luther King Jr. But in the dozens of photos on posts dating back years, there’s not a clue that ‘The Greatest’ was a Muslim, an omission so glaring that it seems deliberate.”
— Footybedsheets (@_shireenahmed_) July 9, 2017
Sherman Jackson, a Muslim, is an expert on Islamic affairs at the University of Southern California. Professor Jackson said companies that market Muhammad Ali’s novelties and collectibles likely view his doctrine as an “inconvenient fact,” something that doesn’t fit the marketing fold for profit.
“It’s up to Muslims to really understand his legacy, to really preserve it, and to put it where it ought to be in terms of the pantheon,” Jackson suggested.
Popular pictures of Muhammad Ali — one with Malcolm X, an image of the boxer pointing to a newspaper headline that read, “Allah is the greatest” and one of him kissing the Qur’an, to name a few — are etched in the minds of older generations, as BF wrote. However, none of the iconic images appear on Ali’s social media feeds. Further, reportedly there was no mention in the accounts of the Islamic holy month, Ramadan.
On this day last year, we lost 'the greatest of all time', Muhammad Ali.
We continue to be inspired by his legacy. pic.twitter.com/51zD0il0ae
— Islamic Relief UK (@IslamicReliefUK) June 3, 2017
Harris Zafar is a national spokesperson for Ahmadiyya Muslims who often opines on issues pertaining to Muslims in America. He accused groups like ABG of “whitewashing” Muhammad Ali, the Muslim.
“He was Muslim, and he was an American hero. He was black, and he was an American hero. That’s how you honor him, not by erasing those traits of his.”
Muhammad Ali died on June 3, 2016, after suffering many years from Parkinson’s disease.
Do you think there is a concerted effort underway to erase Ali’s Muslim faith from his legacy?
[Featured Image by Tim Graham/Evening Standard/Getty Images]