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Conscientious Objectors: Muhammad Ali

By LAYLA ABBAS

Conscientious objectors by definition are people who refuse to participate in wars because of their moral and religious beliefs. One of the most famous conscientious objectors examples occurred over 48 years ago. His life motto, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” was exactly how he overcame this challenging obstacle that caused him trouble.

Muhammad Ali, a champion heavyweight boxer refused to be inducted into the United States Army on April 28, 1967 because of religious reasons. Muhammad Ali thought, why would he go to war if “[He] ain’t got no quarrel with the Viet Cong.” Muhammad Ali mentioned that his Islamic beliefs prohibit him from participating in military service.

​He spent five years in prison and was banned from boxing in the United States. Ali was also stripped from his Heavyweight title and passport. It was not until World War 2 was underway before Congress recognized the “Conscientious Objector status” as a legitimate moral stand. Under the law the objectors had two options; they could either go into the medical corporation or could perform an alternate service that was work for national importance. Regardless of this, Ali and many others were either obliged to join the army or forced into jail.

​In his documentary, I Am Ali, Muhammad Ali reinforces that hurting innocent people is against his conscious. Unless they directly walk on United States’ soil and cause direct issues, he will continue to refuse physical conflict. As a boxer, it was shocking for Ali to come across as a sympathetic and caring human being. His daughter, Rasheda Ali, told audiences that her father was not the typical tough boxer; when he was at home he appeared to be a big teddy bear.

Ali’s refusal to carry out government procedures because of personal beliefs happens to be the first amendment. Freedom of religion, along with freedom of speech, hold our divine rights as  individuals. Citizens are encouraged and allowed to express their opinions. Although it was not a popular opinion, Muhammad Ali was unremitting and stood by his opinion.

I highly respect Muhammad Ali and everything he has accomplished in his lifetime. He is not only the greatest boxer of all time, and now dedicated his time to humanitarian work around the globe. Now that his Parkinson’s disease is slowly progressing, Ali lives a content life in Berrien springs, Missouri with his wife, Lolanda Ali.

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