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Muhammad Ali was a boxer, philanthropist and social activist who is universally regarded as one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century. Ali became an Olympic gold medalist in and the world heavyweight boxing champion in Following his suspension for refusing military service, Ali reclaimed the heavyweight title two more times during the s, winning famed bouts against Joe Frazier and George Foreman along the way.

Diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in , Ali devoted much of his time to philanthropy, earning the Presidential Medal of Freedom in Growing up in the segregated South, he experienced racial prejudice and discrimination firsthand. In addition to being a police officer, Martin also trained young boxers at a local gym. In his first amateur bout in , he won the fight by split decision.

Three years later, he won the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions, as well as the Amateur Athletic Union's national title for the light heavyweight division. Olympic boxing team, and traveled to Rome, Italy, to compete. He soon turned professional with the backing of the Louisville Sponsoring Group and continued overwhelming all opponents in the ring. Cassius Clay joined the black Muslim group Nation of Islam in At first he called himself Cassius X before settling on the name Muhammad Ali.

The boxer eventually converted to orthodox Islam during the s. Ali started a different kind of fight with his outspoken views against the Vietnam War. Drafted into the military in April , he refused to serve on the grounds that he was a practicing Muslim minister with religious beliefs that prevented him from fighting. He was arrested for committing a felony and almost immediately stripped of his world title and boxing license. The U. Department of Justice pursued a legal case against Ali, denying his claim for conscientious objector status.

He was found guilty of violating Selective Service laws and sentenced to five years in prison in June but remained free while appealing his conviction. Unable to compete professionally in the meantime, Ali missed more than three prime years of his athletic career. Ali returned to the ring in with a win over Jerry Quarry, and the U.

Prophet Mohammed 'was a warlord': Sam Harris

Supreme Court eventually overturned the conviction in June Muhammad Ali had a career record of 56 wins, five losses and 37 knockouts before his retirement from boxing in at the age of Often referring to himself as "The Greatest," Ali was not afraid to sing his own praises. He was known for boasting about his skills before a fight and for his colorful descriptions and phrases. In one of his more famously quoted descriptions, Ali told reporters that he could "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" in the boxing ring. A few of his more well-known matches include the following:.

After winning gold at the Olympics, Ali took out British heavyweight champion Henry Cooper in He then knocked out Sonny Liston in to become the heavyweight champion of the world. Ali recovered quickly, but the judges awarded the decision to Frazier, handing Ali his first professional loss after 31 wins. Dubbed the "Thrilla in Manila," the bout nearly went the distance, with both men delivering and absorbing tremendous punishment.

However, Frazier's trainer threw in the towel after the 14th round, giving the hard-fought victory to Ali. Another legendary Ali fight took place in against undefeated heavyweight champion George Foreman. For once, Ali was seen as the underdog to the younger, massive Foreman, but he silenced his critics with a masterful performance. He baited Foreman into throwing wild punches with his "rope-a-dope" technique, before stunning his opponent with an eighth-round knockout to reclaim the heavyweight title.

After losing his title to Leon Spinks in February , Ali defeated him in a September rematch, becoming the first boxer to win the heavyweight championship three times. Following a brief retirement, Ali returned to the ring to face Larry Holmes in but was overmatched against the younger champion.


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  8. Following one final loss in , to Trevor Berbick, the boxing great retired from the sport at age Ali was married four times and had nine children, including two children he fathered outside of marriage. Ali married his first wife, Sonji Roi, in ; they divorced after one year when she refused to adopt the Nation of Islam dress and customs. Ali married his second wife, year-old Belinda Boyd, in Boyd and Ali divorced in At the same time Ali was married to Boyd, he traveled openly with Veronica Porche, who became his third wife in Porche and Ali divorced in Ali married his fourth and final wife Yolanda "Lonnie" in What people since the 19th century and long before have noticed is the accounts you find in the Koran of, say, the career of Noah tend to diverge from accepted narratives in Jewish and Christian sources.

    The question is why. One possible explanation would be Muhammad got it wrong. He misquoted his sources. He was getting it downstream, by some chain of transmission. Muhammad was aware of Christianity and Judaism. He had various options; this is assuming the Koran is not purely divine revelation. He might have adopted Christianity or Judaism wholesale or in larger part than he did. Do we know why he chose his course instead of sticking with the two forms of monotheism he had available to him? COOK: The tradition tells he initially saw himself simply as the latest monotheist prophet and expected Jews and Christians to follow him.

    Or if there were, they were in very small numbers. The Jews were relevant because there was a substantial Jewish population in Medina, and they rejected him. You can follow the tradition and see his decision to come up with a new form of monotheism as a reaction to being rejected by the Jews in Medina. As the tradition explains it, the prophet originally told his followers in Mecca to pray towards Jerusalem.

    But then, when he starts having bad relations with the Jews, he receives a revelation that says turn around and pray towards Mecca. This event is a nationalization of monotheism. It links to the belief that Mecca — that is, the sanctuary known as the Kaaba — was not originally a pagan sanctuary but a monotheist sanctuary established by Abraham and Ishmael, the ancestor of the Arabs. So the Kaaba becomes a national monotheist sanctuary.

    I think Lewis said this distinction was not present in the original materials of Islam. As far as they were concerned, the New Testament and the Old Testament were suspect — originally revealed texts but corrupted by subsequent followers of Moses and Jesus. That said, a lot seeped through from Christian and Jewish circles into Islamic circles.

    They had knowledge of things that went on in the Gospels. In the later Middle Ages, some Islamic scholars became extremely knowledgeable about the Gospels and the Old Testament. But neither the Hebrew Bible nor the New Testament is part of the mainstream Islamic tradition as texts.

    How and Why Muhammad Made a Difference

    Your second question: Did they develop something like that distinction later on, without having it in such a neat form as established by the founder of the religion? The answer is definitely yes.


    • How and Why Muhammad Made a Difference | Pew Research Center.
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    The Islamic state starts off being ruled by Muhammad, who is both a prophet and a politician. He then has successors who rule it after him. They are not prophets; they are Caliphs.

    Shammi Haque, blogger, Bangladesh

    But the Caliphs are nevertheless occupying an intrinsically religious office as well as an obviously political one. They have a religious authority as well as political power, so we still have the Islamic state here. But at some point that nobody has exactly agreed upon, the Caliphate falls apart. It falls apart in material historical terms: The Islamic world breaks up into numerous distinct states. But it also falls apart morally in the sense that people ceased to recognize those who claimed to be Caliphs as having anything like the prestige, the rectitude, the authority of the early Caliphs who came immediately after Muhammad.

    By the 11th century, Muslims are talking in terms of what you could call a dichotomy between religion and the state. In doing that, they are partly echoing a pre-Islamic Iranian Persian tradition, in which that dichotomy was a familiar dictum.

    How and Why Muhammad Made a Difference | Pew Research Center

    By the way, the pre-Islamic Persians are damnable unbelievers. They go to hell, they burn. But they were very good at certain things, and one of the things they were good at was statecraft. If you hear something they said about statecraft, you ought to pay attention. One of the things they said was that religion and the state are twins.

    That became a paradigm. But nevertheless, it became accepted as a paradigm in the Islamic world, particularly the Eastern Islamic world, on the ruins of the Persian Empire. The best we can hope is they at least defend Islam against its enemies and behave in a reasonably just fashion, as much as you can expect Turks to do that. When I talked about the contrast between the Gospels and the life of the prophet, as it was written up in the eighth century, one of the things I stressed about the prophet was the smartness of his judgment calls.

    There are deep cultural differences that trace back into medieval times. Could you talk about those differences, but also talk about the contemporary relevance of those differences in global politics today? COOK: One fundamental difference is language. The Arabs of Arabia and all the other peoples we classify as Arabs today —from Morocco to Iraq — speak Arabic, whereas the people of Iran speak Persian. That may sound trivial, but it is actually quite significant. When the Muslims conquered Iraq, Syria, Egypt and later North Africa, the populations at the time of the conquest were speaking all sorts of different languages, but they all came within a few centuries to speak Arabic.

    You have an enormous historical process of Arabization in those areas.

    Muhammad: The Messenger of God

    But after the Muslims conquered Iran, that did not happen. They held onto their ancestral language. They know there were the pharaohs and then the Greeks came and the Romans, that Egypt was converted to Christianity. In fact, they have a lot of information and misinformation about it. But they have no identification with the pre-Islamic past of Egypt. In the 10th century, you have scruffy military leaders who come from the mountains of northern Iran with their mercenaries and take over, trying to present themselves as heirs of the pre-Islamic Persian emperors.

    That tradition continues, though on a smaller scale, in Iran right down to the present day. Does that have any bearing in terms of openness to other cultures? That sense can be a unifying force for any religious group. When did a sense of persecution develop? At some point, this did develop in Islam, did it not? COOK: Absolutely. They had very little reason to develop a sense of being persecuted.

    All that happened in modern times is, it is dusted off and used for political purposes.