Muhammad Ali takes a little piece of Canada

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When Muhammad Ali is laid to rest on Friday 10th June, 2016, a little bit of Canada will be buried with him. Just like many other things when it came to planning his funeral, Muhammad Ali was thorough, taking almost 10 years to work out all the subtle details.

St. Catharines resident Sallah Hamadani and his family’s textile business were requested to provide a kafan, the Islamic burial shroud used to wrap the deceased’s body. Hamdani was to some degree anxious, thinking about whether he could give something deserving of one of the best boxers of all time and a gallant figure in the Muslim world.

“What was beautiful is Muhammad Ali wanted the simple one, he wanted the simple shroud,” Hamadani said outside Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky just before Muhammad Ali’s jenazah, the Islamic term used for funeral.

“It’s not a thousand-dollar suit, it’s not a ten-thousand dollar suit, it’s not anything made of jewels or gold or silver, it’s a simple cloth,” he said. The kafan is a simple cotton white cloth used to wrap the body before a customary Islamic funeral. Hussein, Sallah Hamadani’s brother said the kafan is incredibly symbolic.  Hussein added, “The idea is to keep it simple, that in the eyes of God, it’s our character that matters not our worldly possessions,” which also goes for their gravesites as well, leaving it unmarked and simple, lavish displays are discouraged in Islam.

The Hamadani family is incredibly honoured to be a part of such a big occasion. “To have the shroud from our family, from Canada, to be adorned by one of the greatest men we’ve known about, it is such a blessing for Canadians and our family,” Hussein said.

The solicitation for the shroud came about eight years back from Timothy Gianotti, a dear companion of the Hamdani family and one of a small group of consultants who helped Muhammad Ali shape his memorial service arrangements. Timothy Gianotti said Ali precisely arranged his goodbye to incorporate individuals of varying backgrounds, to bear his message.

“He’s left us with a challenge, to curtail our mourning and to get on with the business of carrying on this legacy of inclusiveness and universal love and universal brotherhood and sisterhood and service to humanity,” said Gianotti, a professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Waterloo.

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