``I'm here because of the terrible things that happened the other day,'' Ali said at the time. ``I'm a Muslim. I've been a Muslim for 20 years. ... You know me. I'm a boxer. 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 it were terrorist. ... I think all people should know the truth, come to recognize the truth. Islam is peace.''
Ali was joined by Will Smith, the actor who plays the boxer in the new movie, "Ali." Ali made a morale-boosting visit to rescue workers in the rubble of the World Trade Center.
``We appreciate his coming,'' said Richard Sheirer, director of the city Office of Emergency Management. ``I can't tell you how much we appreciate his coming.''
Ali, wearing a blue Fire Department baseball cap, was presented with a special credential by Sheirer before heading to the site in lower Manhattan. The three-time heavyweight champion said he was stunned when word of the Sept. 11 attack reached his Michigan home.
``It felt like a dream, like a movie,'' Ali said. ``I didn't think it was something that was happening in real life.''
``Islam is not a religion of hate,'' Lonnie Ali said. ``It's a religion of love.''
Ali then offered his message to people of all religious backgrounds: ``Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams--they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do--they all contain truths.''