Muhammad Ali's New Spiritual Quest
He's given up religion in favor of spirituality and he's embraced Sufism, says Hana Ali of her father.Hana Yasmeen Ali, 28, is the third-youngest of Muhammad Ali's nine children. Hana Ali's mother, Veronica Porche, and her father divorced when she was nine years old, yet by all accounts she is the closest of her siblings to Ali. She lives about 15 minutes from his ranch in Berrien Springs, Mich., and spends much of her time there. Over the course of two years, she and her dad wrote The Soul of a Butterfly, an unconventional autobiography of the great boxer that strings together stories, poems, and spiritual lessons. Beliefnet Senior Editor Deborah Caldwell recently talked with Hana Ali about her relationship with her father, his spiritual life, and what it was like to write a book with him.
What is your father's most important spiritual goal?
All he's ever done and even more so now than before, is try to do good, be kind to people, to lead a clean moral life, and most of all help people in need. His spiritual journey comes back to loving people. He loves his fans and people in general, so it comes more naturally to him than most people. He really does believe he's working for God-being kind to people, having time for people. He gets up every day and does his fan mail. He goes around the office and looks for stuff to do. People leave messages for him with their phone number included, and he'll have his office call them back. He gets hung up on a lot.
Oh yeah. When I was 13 or 14 and we'd come to be with him for the summer and we'd go through the phone books, my dad would call people and say, "This is Muhammad Ali." And just go down the list. He's really happy when he gets a number, because he loves surprising people. Because no one expects him to actually call.
So he just dials them up?
Sometimes people talk to him, but nine times out of 10 he gets hung up on. Other times he gets voice mail messages, so he leaves a message saying "Hi, I'm Muhammad Ali, and I got your message." Even when we're in a car driving, my dad will stick his face in the window and look at people in other cars. It's kind of dangerous on the freeway because they get excited. It's like having a kid in the car.the speed up-slow down game. It gives him a sense of contentment and enjoyment.