The legendary three-time heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali passed away on Friday at age 74, after a decades-long battle with Parkinson’s disease, and the nation as well as the world mourned.
In his peak, Ali was the most popular person on the planet earth. More people knew his name than the President of the United States, the Pope, or the Queen of England.
Muhammad Ali was a much more complicated man than his public persona displayed and an interview in which a young boy asks a then 35-year-old Ali (Ali ended his historic boxing career at the ancient boxing age of 39) what he plans to when he retires from boxing put the real Ali on display.
After jokingly snoring, Ali gave an answer that gives us a deep dive into the real Muhammad Ali — a man with much more depth and introspection than has been adequately noted.
Below, Muhammad Ali gives a beautiful nine-minute response to this short question, an answer in which he finally gives the short answer, “Get ready to see God. I’m going to do all I can to help people. God is watching me.”
Ali proclaimed that he definitely believes in the eternal damnation of Hell and that “If there’s a Heaven, I want to see it.”
“God is watching me. God don’t praise me because I beat Joe Frasier. God don’t give nothing about Joe Frasier,” Ali said, making the strong case that all physical and material things will pass away. “He wants to know how we treat each other and how we help each other.”
“This physical stuff only lasts so long,” he said, after arguing in mathematical detail that we as humans spend years of our lives either sleeping, commuting/traveling and being entertained and therefore, life is really even shorter than we realize.
At one point, he asked the audience if they believe in God or not and asked for a raising of hands.
He then picks up his glass of water and asks if the glass sprung into existence by itself. Or if the clothes people were wearing wove themselves, stating the obvious that people would think he was crazy for believing such nonsense.
Ali made the case that if those simple things can’t just pop into existence, then how can the moon and the stars, earth and nature not be created by a higher power?
Yes, Muhammad Ali was a Muslim. But if all Muslims were like Muhammad Ali, there would be a lot fewer problems in the world.