A Tribute to the Greatest

Bismillah (in the name of Allah)…

As I lay awake in this deep of night, I know that in just a few short weeks I won’t be seeing 2 AM anymore. Unless, of course, I’m on night float. But in these remaining late nights I want to pen down some of my thoughts. If you’ve tried to access the site in the last year, you may have noticed that it required a password. Frankly, I’m a bit ashamed to say that I censored myself out of the fear that this site might somehow affect my application to residencies. Though the content here is not very objectionable, I still ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the potential risk. I had previously prided myself on being candid in a public forum in the hopes that it may inspire others, but somewhere along the way I lost that. I succumbed to cynicism in conjunction with the opinions of others, but now it’s taken the passing of a giant to force me to 2amreflect once again (cue theme music)!

When I was in elementary school, I had to do a project on a famous influential figure. I am not sure what prompted me at the time, but I chose Muhammad Ali. I remember checking out a book about him (back when books were still used to do projects) and being fascinated by just the course of his life. Here’s a man who changed his entire identity, including his name and never looked back or backed down. As a kid I couldn’t begin to understand the ramifications of renouncing war even in the face of jail time and even worse the potential end of your career. But he did it as he did all things – with grace and a whole lot of flare. Moments like these are what make me look at my own life and wonder what I could give up for what I believe in. I’m reminded of the prayer of the Prophet (S) after he was stoned and insulted in the city of Taif when trying to deliver the message of Islam, in which he said,

‘…O Lord of the weak and my Lord too. To whom have you entrusted me? To a distant person who receives me with hostility? Or to an enemy to whom you have granted authority over my affair? So long as You are not angry with me, I do not care…’

This other worldly mindset is what sets great men apart – the willingness to sacrifice so much for something bigger than yourself no matter the obstacle. It’s what made Muhammad Ali so special. There have been plenty of amazing athletes, but only one is the greatest. And it’s because he was the greatest in and out of the ring. It’s because he recognized that all the accolades he gained in boxing didn’t define him, but the way he treated people that spoke volumes.

So I can think of no better tribute to the man that he was MashaAllah (by the grace of God), than to try and learn from his example. There are so many facets of his life to choose from, be it his physical prowess, his steadfastness against racism and injustice, or his preaching of good character. Whatever it is I urge you to not just read or listen to the words, but really act as he did so that he may continue to live on.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon, surely we belong to God and to Him we shall return.

Happy [greatest of all time] Reflecting,
Naj