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Staff Pick: The Soul of a Butterfly

Name: Roymax Sebastian
Book: The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life’s Journey
Author: Muhammad Ali & Hana Yasmeen Ali
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Year: 
Book Language: English

The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life’s Journey

“During my boxing career, you did not see the real Muhammad Ali. You just saw a little boxing. You saw only a part of me. After I retired from boxing my true work began. I have embarked on a journey of love.”

So Muhammad Ali begins this spiritual memoir, his description of the values that have shaped and sustained him and that continue to guide his life. In The Soul of a Butterfly the great champion takes readers on a spiritual journey through the seasons of life, from childhood to the present, and shares the beliefs that have served him well.

Ali’s reflections on topics ranging from moral courage to belief in God to respect for those who differ from us will inspire and enlighten all who read them. Written with the assistance of his daughter Hana, The Soul of a Butterfly is a compassionate and heartfelt book that will provide comfort for our troubled times.

Firstly, let me point out that this is not a book about boxing. While boxing is mentioned many times, they are only to set the scene and mark the various points in the life of this great man. The book is titled “The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life’s Journey” and this is exactly what the book is about. It is a poignant and deeply moving collection of memories and reflections that show Muhammad Ali not only as a great champion in the ring, but also a great champion out of it. This book is an emotional journey as it it takes the reader through injustice, sadness, self-discovery and eventually, triumph and worldwide adoration.

Since Muhammad Ali was arguably the most famous American Muslim, I chose this book in hopes of gaining a better understanding of Islam. In this book, he details the highlights of his life and his spirituality in a series of very simple and sincere short stories.

As a boxing fan, I have looked up to Muhammad Ali as one of my biggest heroes. I loved his charisma, brashness, courage, and the sublime boxing skills which made him “the Greatest”. One of my favourite things about Muhammad Ali is his inspiring wisdom. “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” I always remember this quote when I’m down and want to give up. While it may seem like a cliché, it is a source of inspiration as it comes from a person who faced many challenges and obstacles to be one of boxing’s all-time greats.

I think anyone who has admired Muhammad Ali will find their admiration multiplied many times over after reading this book. While he makes it clear how and why Islam served him from the time of his conversion, he is also clear about respecting the equivalence and value of all religions. His roles as a boxer and an entertainer were just the beginning of his greatness.

This book is a powerful inspiration a more peaceful and loving life. A must-read.

“I learned a lot from my parents while I was growing up. I noticed how they remained dignified in the face of injustice. I saw how they responded to the people around them; I witnessed how my mother would forgive, not hate. And how Cash always held his head high and he worked hard. Growing up, we were poor in terms of money, but we were rich to have had so much love and pride in our household. We were raised with strong values and learned the importance of integrity and compassion. More important than the words, I learned by their example.”- The Foundation of Life, page 6.

“I was going to be my own kind of champion, a champ to all people everywhere in the world. And no matter how high I climbed up the ladder of success, I was going to view the world without looking down on anyone. And I wasn’t going to forget the boy that I once was.”– The Road to Success, page 32.