(USA Today) Thousands of Muhammad Ali admirers, global dignitaries and celebrities converged on the Kentucky Exposition Center Thursday for the boxing legend’s traditional Islamic funeral ritual, thought to be the most widely covered Muslim funeral ever held in the U.S.
Ali's casket was rolled into the hall, with some chanting "Allahu Akbar," Arabic for "God is great," and holding phones and cameras high over their heads to snap photos. During the roughly 45-minute service, led by Imam Zaid Shakir, a respected Muslim-American scholar, funeral prayers echoed through the large concrete hall.
Among those looking on were the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, boxing promoter Don King, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Pakistani Ambassador Jalil Jilani and boxing greats such as Sugar Ray Leonard - all paying their respects at the noontime Jenazah service for a man many view as a hero of the Muslim faith.
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