WELLINGTON – As millions of rugby fans around the world had their hearts melted by the move of New Zealand Muslim player Sonny Bill Williams to hand over his world cup medal to a young boy, the once most hated league player revealed how Islam has saved him from bad past.
“When I’m most happy is when I’m doing my prayers,” Williams, now Hamza, told the Daily Mail on Tuesday, June 28.
“When you travel you can compensate by joining the two afternoon prayers and the two evening prayers together, which is pretty sweet.”
Born in 1985, Williams a top-notch rugby star in New Zealand.
He reverted to Islam in 2008 after attending prayer services at a Sydney mosque. The superstar is the first Muslim to play for the All Blacks rugby team.
Williams became a house hold name after giving his Rugby World Cup winners’ medal to a young pitch invader following the conclusion of last year’s final.
He acted after seeing a security guard tackle a young pitch invader during the All Blacks’ lap of honor following their 34-17 Rugby World Cup final victory over Australia.
Williams said that his daily prayers have helped him become the role model that he is today.
“How can you not spare 25 minutes of your day to give thanks? I look at where I came from and feel blessed,” he said.
Williams is the only Muslim in the New Zealand squad, both in the Sevens and the XVs.
He admitted that his Islamic lifestyle choice does take some adjustments when with his team-mates.
“The chefs provide halal food,” he said.
“I get kind of embarrassed when they make a big deal out of it. I just want to fit in and be one of the boys, but at the same time faith is where everything comes from. If there’s no halal meat, I can eat seafood. If there’s no seafood, I’ll just have a shake or something. There are people worse off than I am.”