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Local imam describes Muslim burial procedure

Local imam describes Muslim burial procedure
Published: Jun. 4, 2016 at 5:34 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 4, 2016 at 11:51 PM EDT
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(Source: WAVE 3 News)
(Source: WAVE 3 News)
(Source: WAVE 3 News)
(Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Shortly after Muhammad Ali won the world heavyweight championship in 1964, he joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name.

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Years later, he converted to Islam.

Sources have told WAVE 3 News that Ali will have a Muslim funeral.

The Muslim Community Center off Westport Road is Louisville's newest and largest mosque.

Imam Muhammad Almoutem, the leader of the mosque, shared only with WAVE 3 News the details on the procedures for a traditional Muslim burial.

"We should deal with the deceased body like he is alive, in the nicest way," Almoutem said. "If anybody passes away, we should rush to wash the body and bury the body as soon as possible."

Almoutem was very specific in his descriptions.

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"We usually put him on the table (and) take off all of his clothes," he said. "We still cover his private parts with a thick sheet. If there is any dirt, we remove that dirt.

"We should wash the body three times. We start with the upper right side of his body."

The body is then wrapped in three white sheets and placed in a coffin. Muslims gather for a special prayer for the person who has passed away. It's called Salat Al-Janazah.

"The essential thing about funeral prayer (is that) we ask God to have mercy upon the deceased," Almoutem said.

After the body is wrapped in those three sheets, it is then taken to the cemetery to be buried.

Almoutem said when a Muslim person's body is placed in the ground, it is positioned on its right side, facing the direction of Mecca in Saudia Arabia.

Almoutem said he will always remember the iconic heavyweight champion.

"A long time ago, we used to watch his fight in the ring when the TV used to be black and white," he said. "Muhammad Ali (was an) icon for the family for sure, (for) the American Muslim community and America at large."

Leaders in the Muslim community are waiting to see how they can help with Ali's funeral arrangements.

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