Thousands say goodbye to Ali at Islamic service

Remembering Muhammad Ali

LOUISVILLE, KY (WBTV) - Considering all the tickets are gone for Friday's final tribute to Muhammad Ali, the Islamic service held in Louisville in his honor Thursday was the only chance for thousands to pay their last respects.

Wanda Trigg is a language teacher at a Catholic high school in the champ's hometown. Like so many who showed up Freedom Hall, she says the boxing legend offered a message of tolerance and unity.

"I think it's fabulous to give us his hometown the opportunity to send him away," she said.

Followers of his Muslim faith, like Khalid Awan, agree.

"He was a unique personality. God created him for this purpose," Awan said.

Observers say this is the largest Islamic funeral ever held on U.S. soil and prayers were not only for Muhammad Ali, but also those who made such a purpose driven journey.

"Don't cast us into tribulation after his departure," Imam Zaid Shakir prayed. "Forgive us and forgive him."

One well known minister in this crowd, Reverend Jesse Jackson. praised Ali's courage for taking a stand against the Vietnam War.

"He was right about making sacrifice. He was a living martyr," the head of the Rainbow Coalition said. "He was not just a champion. He was a martyr that became a hero."

He was a hero for another reason to ESPN NFL Analyst Tom Jackson who found power in his words.

"I am beautiful. I am the greatest. I can't be beat. I'm a bad man," Jackson said quoting Ali. "And I had never heard a black man speak like that in those terms."

Observers say it wasn't just about speed in the ring any more, but rather the positive deeds of his life that mattered.

"As a person of peace, as a person of faith. Who would not want to be remembered like that?" Trigg said.

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