There may be no other actor on the world’s stage whose life has been as heavily documented as Muhammad Ali's. Yet for all the ways the legendary athlete and humanitarian’s life has been scrutinized and celebrated, few have attempted to tell the story of what he valued most: his spiritual evolution.
From America Abroad Media, The Muhammad Ali Center, and PRX, “The Universal Title” is a six-episode special on Muhammad Ali’s spiritual journey from Christianity to Islam — And what really made him ‘The Greatest.’ Hosted by Preacher Moss.
Episode 1: The Church of Mama Bird
What did it mean for young Ali (then Cassius Clay) to grow up Black and Christian in the segregated South? We’ll hear from Ali’s family members, childhood friends, and religious leaders as we explore the religious landscape and tensions of Ali’s childhood.
Episode 2: The Cartoon and the Convert
From Louisville to Chicago to Rome from Miami to New York, we’ll trace some of the factors and the actors on the world’s stage who influenced Ali’s conversion to Islam. We’ll also take a look at how his name change was connected and when such a major identity shift might be required for Muslims.
Episode 3: A Message of Concern
What did Ali believe about heaven and hell as a member of the Nation of Islam? And what exactly did he mean when he said white men were the devil? We’ll take a look at this and explore the opposing religious messaging that began to turn Ali in yet another new direction in his spiritual journey: toward traditional Islam.
Episode 4: “I’m a Baaad Man!”
Ali refused the Vietnam War draft as a conscientious objector. For five years he had to wage a battle in U.S. courts to defend his religious freedom. We’ll look at the religious beliefs that informed his position and why Ali’s eventual Supreme Court case helped turn the tide for religious minorities in this country.
Episode 5: Stand Up, Let the World Know
In 1975, the Nation of Islam began to go through a dramatic shift called the Second Resurrection. It marked a transition to traditional Islam and a different style of leadership. Learn about some of the core changes to Muhammad Ali’s religious beliefs during this pivotal period and how he helped ensure the future of the community after the death of the Nation of Islam leader known as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
Episode 6: The Universal Title
Ali’s career boasts three-time Heavyweight Champion of the world, the first to ever do it, 56 wins, 37 knockouts, and an Olympic gold medal. But the title that would mean the most to him had 0 to do with boxing. In fact, in a riff he did with radio hosts in 1966, he first imagined it as the title win from a match in outer space, with an alien opponent. The Universal Title in this series, however, is symbolic of universal human excellence. We’ll look at how Muhammad Ali won that Universal Title and why this standing is so important to his legacy.
Excellent work! Ali couldn’t have said it better.
This is some really good work! Excellent flow! Digestible! New! Historical! Rare! Universal! Spiritual! FUN! Great job Precious and others. Wonderful, natural narration by Preacher Moss.
THE GREATEST podcast of the year so far
I have read nearly every book about Ali - the most charismatic, courageous and talented athlete in American history along with Jim Thorpe. This is a fresh new angle into the most important element in Ali’s life. It is also a story too often overlooked - the transformational power of faith. There are plenty of inspirational conversion stories involving Christianity, but this is one of the few inspirational stories of a spiritual journey that leads to Islam, in spite of the prejudice and political costs that new Muslims know that they will have to endure.
This podcast will entertain and enlighten. But it has the opportunity for something even greater: to build desperately needed bridges between people of all faiths and people who choose not to believe as well. I am looking forward to sharing this with my Bible Study and hopefully using it for interfaith dialogue with some Muslim friends and groups. Hopefully schools, colleges, and seminaries will see the potential to use this to stimulate discussion as well. Congratulations to all involved. Please release more episodes soon!
From his roots
Great compilation of interviews and research presenting a true insiders voice to Mohammad’s spiritual journey.