It was a chance meeting between the two Muslims. Their deaths occurred only days apart, a coincidence for those who believe in coincidence.
Muhammad Ali arrived first. The line of autograph seekers surrounding the Champ at the Pearly Gates shortened considerably by the time Omar Mateen arrived. Mateen recognized his fellow Muslim and smiled, betraying a misplaced confidence that he’d arrived at a place where only Muslims go after their life on earth.
Ali realized who this man was. “You know me,” he said. “I've been a Muslim for years. I've been called “The Greatest.” People recognize me for being a boxer and a man of truth. I wouldn't be here representing Islam if I were terrorist. I think all people should know the truth. Islam is peace.” (Actual Ali quote).
“But you,” Ali said to Mateen, “you’re the one who caused Allah to weep since the early hours of this morning.” Mateen was confused. “Why would Allah weep over what I’ve done? I have slain infidels and those who are sexually impure. I’ll be received with the honors promised a martyr. Who are you to say I have caused Allah to weep?”
Ali looked past Mateen, casting his eyes on the 49 who followed their killer to those gates. Mateen seemed annoyed. “Why are they here,” he demanded to know. “They’re not Muslims.”
Ali explained that people are often surprised to find who is there. “Anyone who does the will of Allah may enter through these gates.” Ali explained the word “Islam” means “submission.” He told his Muslim brother that according to the Quran, Adam was first to do Islam and others, including Moses, Abraham, Noah, and Jesus followed.
Ali taught him that though they were not Muslims, they were doing “Islam,” that is following the will of Allah. “Anyone can enter Paradise if they follow the will of God and not that of humans.”
Walking away, Ali added, “You have not done Allah’s will.” He looked back at Mateen and said, “Have you not read the words of the Holy Quran?”
“No,” said Mateen, his voice now evidencing growing desperation. “I have not read them but I’ve been told that Allah will reward me, as He does all martyrs, with seventy-two virgins.” Mateen recited verses from the 78th chapter of the Quran. "Verily for the righteous there will be a fulfillment of the Heart's desires; gardens enclosed, and grape-vines; companions of Equal Age.”
Ali responded. “Nothing in what you have committed to memory speaks of virgins much less a reward for your great evil.” Mateen assured him that an Imam with whom he had spoken interpreted those verses to guarantee him the reward of virgins in exchange for the killing of non-believers.
Ali’s countenance fell. “You my brother, you have made the mistake that many fundamentalist radicals of all faiths make. You have put your life on the line for a bad translation of a single verse taken casually from the entirety of the Word of Allah.
“Allah never takes delight in the killing of His creation. The Quran is clear and certain. Allah ‘loveth not mischief.” (2:205). Ali pointed to the fifth chapter, 16th verse of the Holy Quran. “Wherewith Allah guideth all who seek his good pleasure to ways of peace and safety and leadeth them out of darkness, by His will, unto the light, guiding them to a path that is straight.”
“Islam is a religion of peace,” Ali continued. “What you’ve done is evil in the eyes of Allah. “According to the Word of Allah given to his Messenger in the Quran (5:32), ‘We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.”
They departed one another’s company, each to face Judgment for their own understanding of Islam.