Recently, ex-boxing champ Muhammad Ali died and the media is filled with praise for both his athletic accomplishments (which are richly deserved) and his "social activism." Now is not the time to bring criticism upon this man who achieved many things during his life but I noticed that there are few, if any, articles that highlight the greatest impact that Ali had on American society. More than any other individual in history Muhammad Ali is responsible for bringing the Islamic faith into mainstream religious practice, especially among African Americans.
His conversion from Christianity (he was brought up as a Baptist) to Islam and his embrace by Malcolm X and the Black Muslim group in 1964 did more to legitimize this religion, especially among young black men, than any other person or event in the history of American religion.
As a Christian, I was always disappointed by his embrace of Islam and, despite his great popularity, how this decision would affect his salvation. In the end, our judgment isn't decided by sportswriters and social pundits but by the Word of God which clearly states that our final salvation can only be obtained through Jesus Christ and no other (Acts 4:12). Beyond the testimonials and effusive praise for his accomplishments in the ring and around the world as an ambassador for the Muslim religion, there will still come the moment when "The Greatest" will have to face the "I Am."