Muhammad Ali converted to being a Muslim in 1964 after learning of militant Islamic freedom fighter Malcom X, however, he has born a Baptist in Louisville, Ky., and promoted world peace his whole life. "Religions have different names and they all contain God and the truth," he said during the 1970s. He died on June 3 at age 74.
The fighter, famous for his rhyming sayings, even changed his name from Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., to Muhammad Ali as part of his overall transition.
According to an autobiography the boxer wrote with his daughter, The Soul of a Butterfly, he had a lifelong search for God: "When I was about nine years old, I would wake up in the middle of the night and go outside to wait for an angel or a revelation from God. I would sit on the front porch, look up at the stars and wait for a message. I never heard anything, but I never lost faith, because the feeling was so strong in my heart."
"Religion is a touchy thing," Ali said in 1977. "All of them are right, all of them are from God, all of them teach good. It's just the people and the titles that make you prejudice."
"All religions are good," Ali told Reg Gutterage on the British World of Sport show in Newcastle, England, in 1977. "Rivers, lakes, and streams; they all have different names but they all contain water."
Ali told the World of Sport audience he followed Islam because "it connected me." Ali claimed he could go anywhere in the world as a Muslim and have a place to stay and a companion. He was a member of the Islamic sect Sufim, according to online sources. As a Christian, he said, that was not the case, reports New York Daily News.
"As a Christian in America, I couldn't go to the white churches. That was for those people, it did them good, it didn't do me good."
Despite being a black man in the segregated U.S. south, the New York Daily News stated Ali never criticized Christianity's teachings. "You can choose any religion you want. If you believe it, you'll see God because all of them are good."
After 9/11, Ali in a televised statement just days after the attacks, Ali said, "I think all the people should know the truth and come to recognize the truth because Islam is peace. I'm against murder and the terrorists and the people doing it in the name of Islam are wrong, and if I had a chance, I'd do something about it."
The fighter spoke out against Islamophobia, especially initiated by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's plans to ban all Muslims from entering the country. Ali issued a statement to NBC news in December 2015, writing, "I am a Muslim, and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world. True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion."