South African Cricketer Converts to Islam

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of,

South African fast bowler Wayne Parnell announced this week that he converted to Islam this past January.

South African fast bowler Wayne Parnell announced this week that he converted to Islam this past January after a period of personal study and reflection and will celebrate his 22nd birthday on Friday as a Muslim.

He indicated in a statement to the press that he converted after a period of study and reflection, and is considering to change his name to Waleed, which means ‘Newborn Son’.

“While I have not yet decided on an Islamic name I have considered the name Waleed which means Newborn Son, but for now my name remains Wayne Dillon Parnell. I will continue to respect the team’s endorsement of alcoholic beverages. I am playing cricket in Sussex and this is my immediate focus,” said Parnell in his statement.

“As I am approaching my first period of fasting, I ask that this special time is treated with respect. I am a young man, a professional cricketer by trade, and while I can appreciate and am grateful for the public interest in my personal life, my faith choice is a matter which I would like to keep private,” said Parnell.

Proteas team manager Mohamed Moosajee, himself a Muslim, indicated that Parnell’s Muslim teammates Hashim Amla and Imran Tahir did not influence him in his decision to convert to Islam.

“Wayne already decided a few months ago to follow Islam,” Moosajee said to reporters. “The decision to convert was his own decision, but I know nothing of the name change,” he added.

Parnell’s teammates confided privately that Parnell was very serious about his conversion, and that he had not touched any alcohol since the recent Indian Premier League series. The players also reportedly confirmed that Hashim Amla never attempted to convert them to his religion, but they indicated that Parnell was impressed by the discipline and strict adherence that Amla showed to his religion, by refusing to participate in celebrations with them that involved liquor, staying regular with his daily prayers even while on tour, and refusing to wear the uniform sponsored by South African beer brand Castle Lager.

In his first two years with the team, beginning in 2009, Parnell developed a reputation as a partier. In October of 2009, he was kicked out of his provincial team following an incident in a night club in the city of Port Elizabeth in the early hours of the morning. How things have changed, as Parnell just turned 22 last Friday, and he celebrated his birthday, without alcohol, as a Muslim.