Less than two weeks after the devastating Christchurch mosque terror attack, Sonny Bill Williams' mother Lee Williams and his All Black teammate and friend Ofa Tu'ungafasi have convert to Islam.
Fellow Muslim convert John Fontain posted an image to Facebook confirming the pair had taken the Shahada - the testimony of faith in which converts must pledge their belief in Allah as the one true God.
"Allahu akbar today Sonny Bill William's mother and his team mate Offa Tuungafasi accepted Islam. May Allah make it easy for them," he wrote alongside a photo of him with Sonny and Ofa.
News of the conversion has been welcomed by the Muslim community around the world.
"We just simply can't get enough of the glad tidings that continue to come out of New Zealand since that tragic Christchurch massacre," the Muslim Council of Hong Kong wrote in response.
"Though the Islamophobic incidents sadly continue worldwide, there are plenty of positive news too, this being one of them."
All Black star Sonny Bill grew up as a Christian but famously converted to Islam in 2008. The 33-year-old has credited the religion with turning his life around, shaking off the bad-boy reputation he once had.
"When I'm most happy is when I'm doing my prayers,'" Williams told the Daily Mail in 2016. "How can you not spare 25 minutes of your day to give thanks? I look at where I came from and feel blessed."
"I still feel like the same person but converting has given me contentment and happiness that I don't know how to explain."
On the day of the mosque attacks Williams posted an emotional message to social media, struggling to come to terms with news of the events.
It hit close to home for him. When he was living in Christchurch in 2011 and playing for the Crusaders, he and his brother John used to pray most Fridays at Al Noor Mosque where 42 of the 50 victims were killed.
Williams took time off from his playing commitments with the Blues to fly to Christchurch to support the Muslim community in the wake of the attacks.
Putting aside what he called his natural shyness he stepped up to be a leader in the community, wanting to show the country "we are Muslims but New Zealanders too."
"I am an All Black and I play for the Blues, but I am also a Muslim. Although I'm naturally a shy person I knew I had to be vulnerable and step up and be a leader in this space" he told Newshub.
"My message is about unity, it's about peace, it's about love, the core essence of what Islam is."
After attending the emotional commemoration in Hagley Park the week after the attacks, Williams visited some of the injured in hospital, accompanied by Ofa Tu'ungafasi who described the visit as "the most amazing experience."
"Am inspired and have drawn so much strength from you all," the All Black and Blues prop wrote in an Instagram post. "May the Almighty bless you all with quick recovery."
Williams is set to return from his hiatus this week for the Blues clash against the Stormers at Eden Park on Friday night.
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