Time Magazine, March 27, 1978 (link to online edition)
Earlier in February that same year, Ali was featured on the cover of Time Magazine, with the caption "The Greatest Is Gone". The quote is sometimes mistakenly sourced to this February 1978 edition. We couldn't find any mention of it in the February interview.
Later during that year (April 19,1978) Ali autographed a letter to Atlanta Hilton hotel.
It was the first time that Ali has written down this quote:
The quote can also be found in the 2016 book Muhammad Ali Unfiltered: Rare, Iconic, and Officially Authorized Photos of the Greatest.
The quote is also featured in Ali's autobiography The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life's Journey, 2004
The quote was also tweeted on the official Muhammad Ali twitter account in November 2017.
Who Really Said "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth"?
Muhammad Ali said these exact words, but he was not the first one to use a variation of this phrase. We've tracked it down back to 1918.
It was an inscription over a doorway on a hospital in India, first cited in print in The American Journal of Nursing, Volume 18, which you can find on Google Books
There are other famous people that used these same words. Just scroll down and find similar quotes by other authors.
What is the Meaning of "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth" Quote
The quote means that helping others is the best way to live one's life.
Helping others is a way of showing gratitude for the good things we have in our lives.
By helping others, we make the world a better place, and we also improve our own lives.
In other words, service to others is a way of repaying the world for the gift of life.
What are Other Similar Quotes?
As already said, Ali was not the first one (nor the last one) to use these words. Here are some other quotes with the same flavor:
- Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time. - Marian Wright Edelman, 1992
- Remember, purpose is about giving. All you can do with your life is to give it away in the service of others. - Wayne W. Dyer
- The more we give away, the more is given to us. – Wayne W Dyer
- The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away. - David S. Viscott, 1993
- Knowing your purpose gives meaning to your life. - Rick Warren, 2002
- The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. – Mahatma Gandhi (read more)
- The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others. – Albert Schweitzer (read more)
- You have two hands: One to help yourself, the second to help others. – Audrey Hepburn
- Help others and give something back. I guarantee you will discover that while public service improves the lives and the world around you, its greatest reward is the enrichment and new meaning it will bring your own life. – Arnold Schwarzenegger
- We must give more in order to get more. It is the generous giving of ourselves that produces the generous harvest. - Orison Swett Marden
- The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity. - Leo Tolstoy
For an extensive overview of all sources that use these same words, we recommend reading a great article by barrypopik.com. They have found over 15 occurrences of this quote BEFORE Ali has said the words.