Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Mike Tyson, Chris Eubank, Niel Armstrong, Nicolas Anelka, Hakeem Olajuwon, Jemima Khan, Yusuf Islam… and the list is endless.
These are just some of the famous personalities who had all the money, power, luxuries, enjoyment and fame you could ever imagine but they only found real happiness and inner peace once they embraced Islam and gave up everything for the sake of their Creator.
Now you could be thinking whilst scratching your head and with your mouth wide open, what made these extremely rich and famous individuals embrace Islam?
Why would they want to give up booze, gambling, clubbing and enjoying their life to the max in return of praying five times a day and submitting their will to the will of God? Well, lets find out shall we….
Muhammad Ali is one of the greatest personalities of our time. At the height of his career there was not a king or president who did not fall over trying to shake his hand and walk side by side with him.
So what does Islam mean to this great personality:
‘Everything I do now, I do to please Allah. I conquered the world and it didn’t bring me true happiness. The only true satisfaction comes from honouring and worshipping God. Time passes quick. This life is short, I see my daughter Maryum.
Yesterday, she was a baby, now she’s grown and is ready to get married. Everyday is a judgement for me. Every night when I go to bed, I ask myself: ‘If God was to judge me on what I did today, would I go to heaven or hell?’
Being a true Muslim is the most important thing in the world to me. It means more to me than being black or being American. I can’t save other people’s soul , only God can do that. But I can try to save mine.’
These are powerful words which reach directly to our hearts and gives us that motivation and inspiration which we all need as young Muslims living in the west.
Even to this day Ali prays five times a day, studies the Quran and does all he can to spread the message of Islam. He regularly distributes Islamic pamphlets and says: ‘If I just hand out pamphlets, most people would
throw them away. But if I sign each one and put on them the person’s name, people will keep them and read what the pamphlet says. I’m not trying to convert anybody. Only God can do that. I just want to open peoples minds so they’ll think about God and Islam.’
Every one refers to him as ‘Ali the Great’ but on this he comments: ‘..the true great men in history never wanted to be great. All they wanted was a chance to do things for other people and be close to God.’
If that isn’t enough to convince you what drives the greatest of men to sacrifice everything for Islam then lets deal with two other personalities: Malcolm X and Mike Tyson, and see if we can understand why life is empty and meaningless without living and dying for Islam.
CALL OF ISLAM
The story of Malcolm X and Tyson is a lesson to all the non-Muslims and Muslims alike, especially the Tu-Pac wannabes. You don’t get anywhere in life by pretending to be a gangster but only by understanding life and submitting yourself to Islam.
We all know the story of Malcolm X …an ex hustler, pimp, burglar and cocaine addict became a guest of the US prison service, became a member of the Nation of Islam, became the angriest man in America, became a haji, became Malik al Shabbaz and finally became a martyr. So what does he say about Islam and why he accepted the faith?
‘…Islam is a religion that’s won more acceptance. It’s easier to fit, it fits right in to the nature of ones everyday life. In fact it’s a natural religion. It’s a religion that’s easier to practice. …America needs to understand Islam… before America allows herself to be destroyed by the ‘cancer of racism’. She should become better acquainted with the religious philosophy of Islam, a religion that has already moulded people of all colours into one vast family, a nation or brotherhood of Islam that leaps over all ‘obstacles’ and stretches itself into almost all the eastern countries of this earth.’
Malcolm X is a role model for us all: he found the truth and then sacrificed everything for the sake of Islam. Let us discover what drove Mike Tyson to choose the deen of Islam.
After a bitterly deprived childhood scarred with crime, drugs and abuse of all kind Tyson found his career in boxing and in March 1985 he turned pro. In just over a year Tyson became the youngest world heavyweight champion of all time at the age of 20.
Now all the wealth and power lay at his feet. Tyson had travelled a long road from living in the ghetto to living in two mansions worth $8 million and owning 18 cars worth $800,000.
Tyson faced many troubles outside the ring involving his actress wife, crashing his car, and getting involved in a street fight and so on. Life only got worse for Tyson after losing all his titles to Buster Douglas which is said to be the biggest upset of all times. Worse was yet to come for Tyson when he was sentenced to prison for six years for rape.
PEACE AT LAST
Tyson’s life was a living nightmare until he met an imam, Muhammad Sideeq in prison one day. While the Imam was holding a religious talk Mike Tyson walked in and sat down to listen.
He became extremely interested in Islam and started to hold regular discussions with the Imam. Tyson began to attend Friday prayers and continued his keen study on Islam. When he was asked what impact Islam had on his life he replied:
‘It helps me a great deal you know; if it wasn’t for Islam, I don’t know what I’d be into. I would become part of society in this place. I’d probably be in here with these damned faggots, getting high. Man, I’m telling you, it’s a hell of a world in here.
It’s a world within a world. Islam has given me a great outlook on life. I have to appreciate where I’ve been and where I haven’t been. I could have been somewhere else worse. I just praise the Lord that I’m not dead.’
Finally, he found the one thing that all the power and wealth of the world could not give him: inner peace and harmony.
ON March 1995 Tyson was released from prison and he went directly to a close by mosque and took the shahadah (declaration of faith) publicly to end the confusion about him accepting Islam. He then prayed side by side with Muhammad Ali before stepping out to meet the world outside.
MANCHESTER: HERE I COME
Since his release Tyson, now named Malik Abdul Aziz, had a topsy tervy time when faced with all the temptations and pressures of life: he threatened to punch someone on the street as well as the unforgettable ear-biting incident against Hollyfield.
Tyson’s reputation was on the line when he recently came to Manchester for his latest fight. Tyson lit the world on fire and was welcomed like a king, especially by the Muslim community. Sky TV’s commentator stated: ‘..no other personality, politician or religious
leader could have received a more memorable welcome by the media and the public than Tyson.’ Tyson visited Regent Park mosque in London and several other mosques around the country. The Muslim community welcomed him as their guest and respected Muslim brother.
He was expected to arrive at Victoria Park Central Mosque in Manchester for Jumma Prayer but due to the massive turnout by excited Muslims who were dying to get a glimpse of Tyson, he was forced to change route and head for a local mosque.
Everyone is asking what type of a Muslim is Tyson and how seriously does he take Islam. He answers this question by saying:
‘Everybody seems to be confused about my faith. But I’m not confused about anything. I know what I believe in and I know where I stand. I believe in Islam and I am a Muslim, Alhamdulillah.’
When asked how strong a Muslim he is, Tyson said: ‘..I may be in the back of the line but at least I’m in the line. I know I have made a lot of mistakes, but I also know I have to improve. I’m not in the front but I’m there with the Muslims.’
Finally at the Press Conference in Manchester, he said: ‘..I am not a good Muslim neither a bad Muslim. I leave my deeds to Allah and try to follow the best example of mankind in the Prophet(pbuh). If we follow the principles of Islam we will be a better world.’
LESSONS TO LEARN
There are many things, we as Muslim youth can learn from Tyson:
- being a gangster or a ‘bad boy’ gets you nowhere apart from prison and a life full of trouble and corruption.
- In today’s society which invites you to sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll you can only get happiness and innerpeace in Islam.
- Being a Muslim doesn’t mean you get a free ticket to Paradise so you can do whatever you want. No! You have to study your faith, practise it and spread it.
Check this out
Islam is the fastest growing faith in the world. In the UK alone it is a fact that SIX people embrace Islam every single day.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Yusuf Islam- formerly Cat Stevens, international pop icon; Jemima Khanformerly Jemima Goldsmith, daughter of the late Sir James; Michael Bukhitformerly Michael Barry, TV cook and radio programmer; Yehia Bert- formerly John Birt Jr, son of John Birt- former head of BBC….are some of the famous British personalities who have embraced Islam.
Islam in Britain is not a new thing, as Prince Charles said in Oxford in 1993: ‘…Islam is a part of our past and our present…It has helped to create modern Europe. It is part of our own inheritance, not a thing apart.’
What does Islam mean to an ordinary person on the street like you and me?
Today we have people like Imam Hamza Yusuf, Nuh Ha Mim Keller, Abdul Hakim Murad and Imam Siraj Wahaj who were normal chaps like us, but who found Islam and then sacrificed everything for the sake of Allah.
Today they are the prominent scholars and preachers of Islam in the West. Every single day an ordinary guy or girl like you and me says ‘hang on a minute, there must be more to life than this’. So he or she starts
a journey to search for the truth and their journey ends once they come to Islam.
A FINAL WORD
So in a nutshell, no matter how rich, famous, popular, influential, powerful, sexy or intellectual you are, your life is nothing, meaningless, empty and incomplete without one tasting, accepting and submitting oneself to their creator and living their life in service of Islam.
Islam is the only religion, ideology, philosophy and system that can answer accurately all the questions of life. So we as Muslims should ask ourselves what kind of Muslims are we?
Muslims just in name or do we actually practise our deen. We as Muslims should understand Islam, practise it and then propagate it to non-Muslims.
These great personalities should be a great motivation and inspiration to all of us, and teach us a great lesson - even in this time of sex, drugs and rock and roll, there is a purpose in life and its not chasing your desire but in fact it is for you to submit your will to the will of God. Success lies only in Islam.
Autobiography of Malcolm X, Trends, Asian News, Islam: a closer look (video)