In light of the passing of the celebrated boxing legend Muhammad Ali, the Muslim community should take the opportunity to discuss the faith that motivated this honourable human being to become a champion not only in the ring, but also in the wider global arena fighting fiercely against injustices, inequality and racism.
As the world discusses his legacy, Muslims should use the opportunity to dispel the myths surrounding their faith and stand up with their heads high against hate-filled politicians like Donald Trump, who portray them as an enemy we should all guard against.
Islam should be viewed through examples like Muhammed Ali, a true pioneer of justice and promoter of equality and freedom.
Islam should not be viewed through the narrow lens of a minority of fanatics who don't represent a faith which has the potential to transform people into great, successful people like Muhammad Ali.
We read about great people in history books, and sometimes we wonder whether they were living human beings like us or something else entirely -- untouchable legends who don't belong to our era and time. Muhammad Ali was a legend of our time and he has demonstrated that greatness is not something of the past alone.
At a time when Muslims in America are facing scorn and bigotry, as reported in Al-Jazeera, the late boxing legend Muhammad Ali should be remembered as the true, peaceful face of Islam, residents of his home town say.
"With the stuff going on these days, most of the time, you see in the media there's a bad image of Muslims," said Hamza Shah, a doctor in Louisville, where Ali grew up and first started boxing. "The one person we can definitely get a good image of was Muhammad Ali, and he portrayed what the real Islam is."
"Islam is a religion of peace. It does not promote terrorism or killing people," he said. "I am angry that the world sees a certain group of Islam followers who caused this destruction, but they are not real Muslims. They are racist fanatics who call themselves Muslims, permitting the murder of thousands."
Muslims should not be intimidated by few politicians who try to bully them and portray them as villains. They ought to follow the footsteps of this legend and be proud of who they are as they have nothing to be ashamed of.
Muhammad Ali showed courage and spoke up against injustice without compromise. When a bully made headlines about his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., he was quick to denounce and reject it out rightly.
He released a statement to condemn such hateful proposal. The boxing legend reiterated his decades-long stance that Islam was a religion of peace, and that people, in this case Trump, should not be exploiting it for political points.
"We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda," Ali said. "They have alienated many from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody."
As the world is getting together to celebrate the life of the legend, the world need to take heed about the religion which has been vilified by the media and opportunistic politicians like Trump.
The media ought to do Islam justice and stop trying to represent an entire faith through the actions of individuals who commit terrorism.
To know what the religion truly stands for, humanity should look deeper than the sensationalized images they see it on the media.
They ought to study greats like Ali, who made Islam his life and became a legend through its teachings.