Former NRL and New Zealand rugby player Sonny Bill Williams has admitted he tried to pressure his wife into wearing a hijab during the early days of their relationship.
The recently retired footballer and boxer has sparked controversy with his social media posts about the war in Gaza.
Now, an attendee at an Islamic education event in Malaysia has questioned the devout Muslim over his wife Alan’s decision to wear a traditional headscarf.
Williams converted to Islam in 2009 and said at the time that it helped him when he was getting lost in the chaotic world of professional sports. His brother and his mother also converted at that time.
He married his wife Alana Raffie in August 2013 after a whirlwind four-week romance despite admitting that they were not in love at the time but were instead adhering to Islamic tradition.
“We immediately said we were going to make it Islamically correct, so even in the first four weeks I wasn’t alone with her, we always had a companion,” he previously admitted.
Sonny Bill Williams and his wife Alana celebrated 10 years of marriage and have four children together, and Alana now chooses to wear the traditional headscarf.
Alana hasn’t always worn the hijab and Sonny Bill admitted that he tried to pressure her into wearing it in the early years of their relationship.
The couple has already celebrated 10 years together and have four children together.
Williams was named a guest speaker at the first in a series of Faith Events Islamic educational events for 2024 in Malaysia and was speaking to Shaykh Wael Ibrahim when he was asked about his wife’s headscarf.
The former NRL premiership winner and New Zealand All Black World Cup winner admitted he tried to pressure Alana into wearing the hijab early in their relationship as she began her journey into the Islamic faith.
“When I started to become religious, I started to learn more, because I was on this journey, I expected those close to me, I started to hope they were on the same journey,” he said.
‘Where everyone is on their own journey.
“So I started pressuring my wife at one point, you have to put the scarf on your head.”
At the time, Alana didn’t agree.
‘My wife is the Cape Malay fighter [Muslim community in South Africa] “That’s right, he said, look, this is my journey, worry about yourself and stop pointing fingers,” Williams said.
‘Then Subhanallah [Glory be to Allāh] I just went on my own journey and understand that I am the shepherd of my family.
‘I had to lead with my actions and that’s what I’ve always done as a rugby player.
“So I started leading with my actions.”
Williams converted to Islam in 2009 and said at the time it was a way to help him cope with the pressures of being an international star athlete.
Williams spoke about the moment his wife made the decision to wear the headscarf and the emotional impact it had on both of them.
Williams then spoke about the moment his wife decided to wear the headscarf and the emotional impact it had on both of them.
‘I forgot and two years later, I returned from the Fajr to the Masjid. [Fajr prayer at the mosque], I’m sitting downstairs and asking where is my wife? She normally she’s down here. he said.
‘Then I went up to the room and found her, she was praying, crying.
‘I’m waiting for her to think what did I do? And then she turns to me and says today is the day. Is the time [to wear the head scarf].
“The point of my story is that we as men are the leaders of the house, but you have the responsibility to lead your actions and be authentic in them.”
Followers praised Williams for his actions and patience with his wife, calling him a great family man and leader.
“Beautiful human being and shows the strength of leading by example,” one follower posted.
”I’m not Muslim, but I have HUGE admiration for Sonny Bill and his family. I don’t like him as a footballer, but I see that he is a great guy,” added another.
“I’ve been following SBW since the early days of the league before AB and it’s amazing to see the growth,” said another follower.