Soke Ali Abdul Karim (Family photo)

Stunned by the untimely passing of a beloved martial artist master, hundreds traveled from points far and near to attend Janazah services (funeral) for Soke Ali Abdul Karim in the heart of Brooklyn, Bed-Stuy, on Saturday, May 6, at Masjid At-Taqwa.

He was revered as a skilled martial artist who formed his own style of Ninjitsu at his Star and Crescent School of Essential Knowledge in the heart of Bed-Stuy. Many Grandmasters of martial arts, teachers of various systems, students of the arts, family, and friends came to show their respects at his Janazah, traveling from as far as Ankara. 

“This is brotherhood and how we show love to our brother Soke Abdul Ali-Karim,” said Soke Haisan Kaleak from Kuroshi Kai Dojo in East New York. “That’s why all these brothers and sisters are here. We came from all over. I greeted no less than 20 people from out of state, knowing that when the word went out, we would all be here to pay our last respects. We lost a giant in martial arts and also a community leader as well.”

Imam Abdul Malik said, “Ali-Karim was always kind. He always loved Islam and always had that warrior spirit to do what was right for the Muslims. He always protected this house of Allah. When you look at the number of people here today, that is a testament of the manifestation of the love that we have for him. You cannot get a turnout like this unless people love you. This turnout is beautiful.”

Sister Badiyah Hafiz said, “I have had my six-degree black belt from Soke Ali Karim for over 20 years, and although he is not here with us physically, his name and his school will live on. We will carry on his legacy.”

“Besides from being an incredible father, he was an incredible man,” said Rashid Abdul Karim, son of Soke Ali Karim. “He helped not only Muslims but people in general. He helped to clean up this part of Brooklyn from the scourge of drugs and violence. His tutelage in Islam and in martial arts is something to be revered. He helped so many to protect themselves in martial arts and to better themselves in Islam. He is by far someone worthy to be remembered. So many people are here to give him honor, which is indicative to the type of man he was. This is just remarkable.”

Kiyoshi Khaleeq Lewis, a student since 1993, said, “Master Ali Kareem was a student of the great grandmaster Ronald Duncan. He started in 1969 in the American Bushido self-defense system—at that time, the art of Ninjitsu. He later developed the Star and Crescent School of Essential Knowledge. His style of Jujitsu, Ninjitsu, Aki jitsu, was formed and he taught us weaponry and discipline along with spiritual growth. His presence will be missed, especially at the African Street Festival event, where he secured the venue and kept it safe for many years. This will not just be a tremendous loss to me, his family, but also to the entire community.” 

Paying respects to Soke Ali Karim at the Janazah was also Grandmaster Sijo Muttakibir from the SWAM system, who pointed out that “his death in this world is not a loss, but an elevation where Allah has shifted him from this world in his physical skin to his earthly plane, which is his soul. He will always be in my heart.” 

He went on to say, “His dedication and commitment helped me clean up parts of South Jamaica, Queens, near Sumpter Boulevard. Soke Ali Karim was the first person that I went to for help when we put a siege on the drug activity there to stop. He came and helped without any hesitation.”  

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Karim Camara, community activist, former elected official, and longtime friend of Soke Ali Abul Karim, recalled the early days of Soke training and developing the young students at his parents’ Cush Campus School Al-Karim in Crown Heights. “Not only did he teach the children how to defend themselves, but also how to be humble. He was a humble man and he walked with humility. He was a strong brother who instilled that in the students. People need to remember that not only was he respected in the Islamic community, but he was known and respected throughout the larger community. He gave of his talents and his gifts, and he was a very humble servant.”  

Grandmaster Najee Hassan, Sirat Al-Sayf, who traveled from Philadelphia, said on his Facebook page, “My beloved brother, teacher, sahabi, mentor Ali Abdul Karim Soke was honored with well over five hundred members of our Muslim community from all over the United States and abroad. Non-Muslims who [were] affected in some matter came to show respect. Grandmasters, masters, and senseis who came included Soke Little John Davis, Soke Haisan Kaleak, Grandmasters Bill McCloud and George Logan, Osei Jones, Hanshi Duncan, Bashir Ali, and the list goes on. Soke Ali was loved by all. We are truly missing a true warrior. May Allah grant him Jannatul Firdous. Ameen.”

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