A book club for busy ladies who make time to read
Muhammad Ali: The Soul of a Butterfly
Summary of the Discussion on 19th February 2017
- What is your favourite passage of the book and why?
We shared our favourite passages. One particular one was “The Real Success”. Many of us were struck with Muhammad Ali’s ability to see the extraordinary in what might otherwise seem ordinary e.g. ants walking.
- What is the title of your autobiography, and briefly, what would it’s message be?
This question was thought provoking and required a lot of discussion. We felt it depended on where we were in our lives and agreed that the title of an autobiography is probably fluid.
- What difference does it make that Hana, his daughter, penned this book?
We actually started our discussion with this question. It was suggested that her daughter writing this book may have lead to bias, but not all of us agreed with this view. Those dissenting said that it was obvious there was no bias through some of the stories told. It was agreed that she was mentioned as one of her favourite daughters and therefore had a close relationship with her father. It was also agreed that Hana had an insight into the life of her father that another biographer would lack and was in a good position to jog her father’s memory, especially on family matters.
- There are few or no people who are seen in a negative way in this book despite history telling us otherwise. What does this tell us about Muhammad Ali?
We did not deal with this question directly but instead discussed that earlier biographies made mention of his relationships and negative aspects of those. This book served the purpose of charting his spiritual progress and therefore did not deal with negative relationships.
- Would Muhammad Ali have had the same confidence if he was a white American in the 60’s?
Again, this question was not dealt with directly but touched upon in other questions when looking at the society in which he lives and contextualising his experiences. It was agreed that:
- It was Muhammad Ali’s roots and upbringing which gave him a sound self-identity;
- The Society in which Muhammad Ali lived not only made life harder for him but also easier for him to become an icon. It served a purpose for him and he fed into that.
- With regards to his conviction, how was Muhammad Ali able to stay true to his beliefs when everything was against him?
Erm… we didn’t discuss this!
- What are your thoughts on his use of ‘magic’ in certain circumstances?
Many of us felt this was an interesting question and perhaps something we hadn’t thought of until now. It was mentioned that deception is not permissible in Islam with specific reference to the magic tricks mentioned in the Qur’an during the life of Musa (as). It was agreed that a children’s magician who did a show for a party was entirely different to someone professing they used magic and were not performing a magic trick. It was agreed that the magic tricks used by Muhammad Ali to impress the young boys after one of his fights was acceptable.
- At what stage did you know who you wanted to be in life?
This question led to some interesting discussion. It was intriguing to hear of self-discovery stories and also perceived confidence. Some of us felt the pressure of University resulted in increased confidence. It was nice to be reminded that when nervous about public speaking, some of us make dua to Allah.
All of us felt that this would not have been a reading choice were it not for the book club. We felt pleased we had read it. Many of us could relate to what Muhammad Ali described and in fact one comment was “Oh my god, this is my life.”. We felt inspired by his words and impressed to see who he was.
To feel the soul of the butterfly was humbling,
because all we knew was the sting of the bee.