Thousands attend Muhammad Ali Muslim prayer service in Kentucky

Thousands gathered to honour Muhammad Ali at a traditional Muslim prayer service in Kentucky.

The service, known as Jenazah, began two days of remembrances for the boxing legend, who died on Friday aged 74.

Ali designed his final memorials himself years before he died, and intended them to be in his home town of Louisville, Kentucky, and open to all.

mam Zaid Shakir presides over Muhammad Ali's Jenazah.
Imam Zaid Shakir presiding over Muhammad Ali's Jenazah (David Goldman/AP)

"He was a gift to his people, his religion, his country, and ultimately, to the world. Ali was an unapologetic fighter for the cause of black people in America," said Sherman Jackson, a leading Muslim scholar who spoke at the service.

"Ali was the people's champion, and champion he did the cause of his people."

More than 14,000 received tickets for the service and millions more were able to watch by live stream. Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, boxing promoter Don King and Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, were among the high-profile guests in attendance.

Ali's wife Lonnie and her daughter Laila attend Muhammad Ali's Jenazah.
Ali's wife Lonnie and her daughter Laila at the Jenazah (David Goldman/AP)

Ali joined the Nation of Islam, the black separatist religious movement, in the 1960s, but left after a decade to embrace mainstream Islam, which emphasises an embrace of all races and ethnicities.

The attendees at the service were young and old; black and white; Muslims, Christians and Jews. Some wore traditional Islamic clothing, others blue jeans or business suits. Outside the arena, the term "Jenazah" trended on Twitter as the service started.

Muhammad Ali.
Ali designed his final memorials himself before he died (PA)

"We welcome the Muslims, we welcome the members of other faith communities, we welcome the law enforcement community," Imam Zaid Shakir, a prominent US Muslim scholar, told the crowd.

"We welcome our sisters, our elders, our youngsters.

"All were beloved to Muhammad Ali."

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