Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Sonny Bill misses out on Muslims' top 500 listing

Sonny Bill Williams. Photo / AP
Sonny Bill Williams. Photo / AP

Senior Islamic figures here say they are disappointed that All Black Sonny Bill Williams failed to make this year's list of 500 most influential Muslims ranked by the Royal Islamic Strategic Centre in Jordan.

Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand senior vice-president Javed Khan said a formal letter would be written to the centre advising them of "the existence of New Zealand's Muslim superstar" and ensuring Williams makes next year's list.

The only New Zealand Muslim to make this year's list is federation president Anwar Ghani, who appears alongside Muslim kings, preachers and sheikhs.

The top 50 were ranked, with the other 450 named in 14 categories such as scholarly, political, business, media and celebrities and sports stars.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah again topped the list and Morocco's King Mohammed VI climbed from fifth last year to second place.

Mr Ghani was named under the "administration of religious affairs category" for agents of change responsible for founding or directing institutions that influence the religious affairs of Muslims.

The centre described Mr Ghani as having done "considerable work" in "building bridges with the Government as well as with the broader New Zealand population and leaders of other faiths".

Mr Khan said it was an honour for the federation's president to make the rankings twice in a row, but Williams also deserved to be on the list.

"Sonny Bill Williams is probably the most famous Muslim in New Zealand and, in a Rugby World Cup year, has brought the faith to prominence," Mr Khan said.

Williams converted to Islam in 2008 after attending prayer services at a Sydney mosque.

"I think the only reason he was not included in the list is because these people are not aware of the existence of New Zealand's Muslim superstar and we'll be writing to them to make sure he's there next year."


1 King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia (1 last year)

2 King Mohammed VI of Morocco (5)

3 Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey (2)

4 King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein of Jordan (4)

5 Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran (3)

Influential Muslim celebrities and sports stars

1 Zinedine Zidane, soccer (France)

2 Muhammad Ali, boxing (USA)

3 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, basketball (USA)

4 Hashim Amla, cricket (South Africa)

5 Ma Yue, wushu (China

- NZ Herald

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