Islamic community prepares to say goodbye to Muhammad Ali - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Islamic community prepares to say goodbye to Muhammad Ali

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A memorial service centering around Muhammad Ali's Islamic faith is scheduled to take place on Thursday.

The service is known as a Janazah and it will be held in the North Wing of the Kentucky Expo Center with an over-flow crowd watching from Freedom Hall on monitors.

A total of 14,000 tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. And Islamic leaders say they wouldn't miss it for the world.

"Muhammad Ali was a true symbol of Islam and what it means to be a true Muslim," said Haleh Karimi, Executive Director of Interfaith Path to Peace. "There are great people who happen to be Muslim and doing great things and he was one of them."

As the world celebrates the life of one of the greatest boxers of all time, Louisville's Islamic community mourns the loss of one of the most respected Muslims in the world.

Karimi thanks Ali for breaking down barriers and myths associated with Islam. "He was a global symbol for peace."

Now that Ali's gone that huge hole needs to be filled. "It is going to be done by the whole wide world," Karimi said.

The world will watch as the legendary boxer is laid to rest and honored in an Islamic interfaith service at Freedom Hall.

Kings, presidents and thousands of Muslims are expected to come to Louisville on Thursday for the historic day. "I think, by far, this might be the biggest Muslim gathering that Louisville has ever seen," said Mohammed Wasif Iqbal, a spokesperson for the Louisville Islamic Center.

WDRB was told it won't be a traditional Islamic funeral.

Iqbal says it's custom to lay a Muslim to rest within 24 hours of his passing. However, the pomp and circumstance and sheer logistics surrounding Muhammad Ali's death would make that process very challenging.

We can sit here and say 'hey, he needs to be buried the next day.' But obviously there's a lot more to it because of who he was," said Iqbal. "There's things and justifications to let them go, and I would say because of who this individual was. That's justification on why it's delayed."

Iqbal predicts Ali's body could be carried into Freedom Hall and placed in front.

An Islamic leader, known as an Imam, will provide instructions for attendees and then lead the prayer.

Iqbal said, "There's no prostration, there's no bowing."

When it comes to the actual prayer, it's very short for this individual.

The Islamic service will likely be a first for many as people from different religious backgrounds prepare to attend the service at Freedom Hall.

It's another example of the power Ali had to bring people together from all walks of life.

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