Muslims hope to unite the world with traditional farewell to Muhammad Ali

Muslim prayers over the body of Muhammad Ali will be witnessed worldwide on Thursday, offering a window into a religion many outsiders have come to scorn. The service, or Jenazah prayer, is open to all, but meant especially as a chance for Muslims to say goodbye to a man considered a hero of the faith. U.S. Muslims hope the service for the boxing great will help underscore that Islam is fully part of American life, About 14,000 people are expected in Louisville, Kentucky, for the service, which will be broadcast to watching millions around the world on TV and streamed live online.

What’s going to unfold is a very traditional Islamic Jenazah prayer, but it will not in any way preclude people of other faiths to stand in solidarity with the Muslims

Timothy Gianotti, Islamic scholar

Ali, who died on Friday at 74, joined the Nation of Islam, the black separatist religious movement, as a young athlete, then embraced mainstream Islam years later, becoming a global representative of the faith and an inspiration to other Muslims. In addition to the traditional funeral prayer, an interfaith memorial service is planned for Friday, which will include representatives of several religions, including Jews and Christians. Muslim organizations are also asking mosques around the country to participate by saying a special prayer for Ali this week.

One of the most loved, one of the most recognized persons in the world happens to be a Muslim — everyone is coming from all over to celebrate this Muslim’s death. They will see the true nature of the religion and the way that Muslims — the majority of Muslims — live

Imam Abdullah El-Amin, founder of the Muslim Center in Detroit