Written by Jabriel Modaresi-Alam
Some people find it in this, some people find it in that, and well some people don’t find it at all. That is of course if you don’t have a copy of this month’s issue of Ummah Times. With over 1 million YouTube views and still counting, we sat down with none other than Brother Boona Mohammed who is best known for his poetry performances and shows. Actually it was more to the effect of a, “We call you, please answer these questions, okay Jazakum’Allahu khair,” so essentially we got the same result as we would if we did a sit down. In this issue of Ummah Times question and answer session, we are pleased and excited to present to our wonderful readers a question and answer session with brother Boona Mohamed, so enjoy.
Who is Boona Mohammed?
Well I was born in downtown Toronto. I attended Oakwood Collegiate Institute which was a very popular high school, especially in its arts program. I was very involved with my school culture; I was Valedictorian of my school’s graduating class. I was always really interested in theatrical and creative works. I didn’t excel too much while I was in school, but I had a knack (strong interest) for writing. In my younger days I was heavily influenced by Hip Hop and Hip Hop Culture, when I was younger I actually wanted to be a rapper. So even today in my poetry there is an influence from my past experiences, but I was able to take that energy and put it into something more positive and work for the deen of Allah subhana hu’ Atala.
What has been your most accomplished work so far?
I don’t know, I can’t really say, I guess I am not the one to really decide that. Ultimately if your goal is to please Allah subhana hu’ Atala, then you will find out on the Day of Judgement what really worked and what didn’t. I was actually fortunate enough to be a winner of the ‘2007 CBC Poetry Faceoff’ which is a major poetry competition that takes place nationally across Canada. It was really cool and I got national exposure. More recently I was actually a speaker at TEDx Toronto event which was a big deal. I was invited by the Toronto committee to come out and represent Toronto as a regular Torontonian.
What are some the obstacles you faced in your endeavor?
One thing that I always struggle with and maybe a lot of others struggle with is my intention. You always want to try to purify your intention and I think it’s really easy to get caught up in the hype and what people are saying about you and thinking about you as opposed to what Allah subhana hu’ Atala thinks. So I find myself constantly battling with myself and making sure I have pure intentions. It is definitely something very difficult to do, especially when you hear the praises or people who praise you to your face. When they say these things, you know they don’t really realize, but they plant this little seed in your heart, right!? And well it’s always important to say masha’Allah when you see something you like, because that means you acknowledge that this good is something that Allah has decreed and something that Allah has willed.
What advice would you give to others who are seeking similar paths to dawah and live performances?
I can’t stress enough the importance of purifying your intentions. It’s very easy to get caught off track; it’s very easy to go to hell. It’s easy enough to fall into the traps of shaytaan when you don’t have a strong and pure intention. No matter which aspect of Dawah you get into, always make sure you have pure intentions, always bend your intention to something positive and pleasing to Allah no matter the situation.
What would you like to say to the Ummah at large?
I would say to the Ummah to come back to the teachings of Muhammad salallahu alayhi wa salam and recognize that his example is the best example. It’s not until people start reading the Seerah (biography) of Prophet Muhammad salallahu alayhi wa salam that they start understanding him. You know the Prophet salallahu alayhi wa salam said that this deen (Islam) started as something strange and will return as something strange, the irony is that even amongst the Muslims there are different levels of strangeness. So people who are usually on the Sunnah (traditions) of the Prophet salallahu alayhi wa salam are out casted and perceived to be strange amongst the Muslims. So we need to look at the examples of the Prophet salallahu alayhi wa salam and go about handling and solving our daily issues. So I would advise for us to return to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad salallahu alayhi wa salam and get away from our cultural baggage and backwardness which has somehow taken over many parts of the Muslim world. It’s unfortunate to see brothers whose name is Muhammad, but have no idea who Muhammad salallahu alayhi wa salam was. We should unite under the banner of La ilaha il Allah Muhammad rasool Allah and put away our tribal and racial differences.
Facebook question from sister Lanise Umm Hanif from the UK,
“Do you find that poetry interferes with making yourself busy with the remembrance of Allah and Seeking Beneficial Knowledge? If so how do you balance the two?”
People are probably surprised to know that I don’t really spend that much time on poetry. That assumption that I go home and sit on my bed and I write all day and all night, it’s not true at all. I write very infrequently. I don’t really take the time to sit down and write these new ideas, if they come to me (ideas) I take a note. So it has never been a struggle for me because it does not comprise too much of my life, even though that is what the people know me for, but that’s like two percent of my daily activity. I am a regular guy, working at a Masjid, I went to school, I have a degree and so I don’t really think there is much more passed that. So it has never been an issue at all.
What does the future of Boonaa hold (plans, ambitions)?
I am doing a poetry album called Memoirs of a Slave. I am really excited about this album and it features most of my poetry that can be found online, with really cool sound and really pushing the boundaries of what people consider spoken word poetry in general. It is something that I am really proud of and a project that I have been working really hard on, insha’Allah, it should be released sometime in February on ITunes, online download and also hard copy. As well, I was given a playwrite residency at a theatre in Toronto, so I am actually about to launch my first play, called ‘Purples Don’t Cry’ and it’s about two brothers who are from east Africa battling deen and dunya, which is based on a true story of a friend of mine.
We thank our brother for his time and for answering our questions. May Allah keep him steadfast and firm upon the deen. May Allah raise others who are like him and better, ameen. If you wish to contact Brother Boonaa Mohammed for bookings and other related matters you can contact him at