Good read on Muhammad Ali and the Middle East

I had a much fuller day of blogging planned for today, but the sunny, 70 degree weather we had here today was apparently too much for the local power grid, because we lost electricity early this afternoon and didn’t get it back until it was too late for me to do anything productive with it. At least I managed to get one thing written.

Anyway since it’s too late to try to get anything else written now, I figured I’d point you toward Michael Collins Dunn’s look at the late Muhammad Ali and his stature in the Middle East. Ali, of course, was a Muslim, but like his friend Malcolm X he came first into the Nation of Islam, a very, um, heterodoxy variant that most Muslims did not (and still would not) regard as genuine Islam, before eventually converting to more or less mainstream Sunnism. Ali went on to join a Sufi movement in the 1980s, so you could say he went from heterodoxy to orthodoxy to heterodoxy again, albeit of a much different type than the NOI.

Anyway, Ali was a frequent visitor to the Islamic world and was very well-regarded there. Per Dunn:

Throughout his career, he made many visits to the Middle East, beginning with a visit to Egypt in 1964, where he met with Nasser and visited the High Dam under construction at Aswan. It should be remembered at the time meeting with Nasser was itself cause for controversial, as was his meeting with Mu‘ammar Qadhafi in Libya. It added to his reputation as a rebel.

There’s a bit more at the link, including some great photographs.


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