Thousands of mourners joined the family of Muhammad Ali to pay their respects to the sporting legend in a moving prayer service. Over 14,000 people traveled from all over the world to attend the traditional Muslim prayer service or Jenazah at the Freedom Hall on Thursday 9 June in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.
The prayer service marks two days of memorials in honour of the sports star and was attended by family members such as his wife, Lonnie, who was accompanied by daughters, Laila and Hana, and Ali's granddaughter Sydney. Ali's second wife, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, also attended and was seen comforting Lonnie during the sombre service.
Other high-profile guests in attendance were civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson, boxing promoter Don King and former boxer Sugar Ray Leonard who paid tribute to his friend, describing Ali as "a man of great character and courage".
In accordance with Ali's wishes, the service was open to all members of the community and so from 9am, mourners of all ages and faiths arrived to pay their respects. Poignant images show Ali's casket being brought into the centre as thousands of onlookers offered prayers.
The Jenazah prayer service was led by Imam Zaid Shakir, a prominent US Muslim scholar, who welcomed the crowd who had gathered to honour the boxing champion, Mirror online reports.
"We welcome all of you here today. We welcome the Muslims, we welcome the members of other faith communities, we welcome the law enforcement community. We welcome our sisters, our elders, our youngsters. All were beloved to Muhammad Ali," he said.
Offering an insight into Ali's global influence, he said that: "One reason Muhammad Ali touched so many hearts, he was willing to sacrifice the fame, the lights, the money, the glamour, all of that, for his beliefs and his principles," Imam Shakir said. "That's moving and that touches people."
The 20- minute service which marks the start of two days of memorial events, comprised of four recitations of 'Allahu Akbar' or 'God is Great,' with silent prayers in between of a reading from the first chapter of the Quran. There was also a blessing for Abraham and prayers both for Ali and for funeral attendees, Mail Online reported.
Sherman Jackson, a prominent member of the Muslim-American community, offered condolences hailing Ali as "an unapologetic fighter in the cause of black people in America — and not just the classes among black folks, but even more especially the masses.
"Ali was the people's champion, and champion he did the cause of his people," Jackson added.
As the prayer service was live streamed across the world, Imam Abdullah El-Amin, founder of the Muslim Centre in Detroit, said: "One of the most loved, one of the most recognised persons in the world happens to be a Muslim - everyone is coming from all over to celebrate this Muslim's death. They will see the true nature of the religion and the way that Muslims - the majority of Muslims - live."
All 15,500 tickets for the interfaith memorial at the KFC Yum! Centre in downtown Louisville on Friday 10 June have been claimed and fans of the cultural icon are expected to line the route to the centre in a mile-long procession.
Muslim organizations are asking mosques around the country to offer prayers for Ali as he is laid to rest.
The boxing legend passed away on 3 June at a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, after battling respiratory problems.
He had been suffering from Parkinson's disease, which had grown more advanced in recent years. The three-time heavyweight world champion was surrounded by his family, as he breathed his last.