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Sara Bokker January 2, 2010

Posted by Salim Boss in People Who Changed.
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“I could never dress like that.”

~ Sara Bokker (before embracing Islam) commenting on veiled Muslim women.

Sara Bokker is a former actress, model, fitness instructor, and (and now) an activist. She is an American woman, who had lived in Florida and on the South Beach of Miami. She abandoned her bikini, a symbol of her liberty as she used to perceive it, for niqab (face veil).

Despite being raised as a Lutheran, Sara didn’t believe in the “church stuff” such as singing, worshiping pictures of crosses and Jesus, and eating “the body and blood of Christ.” As she says, “It just did not make any sense to me.” As years passed by, she found herself on the wrong side of history. Stress and confusion were her two best companions. Sara had much disgust and hatred for herself. She turned to alcohol, dropped out of college and at the age of 19 she left South Dakota, where she grew up, for Florida by herself. Still, sadness followed her while in Florida, and she turned to psychology, self-help books and tapes, and exercise.

Trying to conform with the Florida lifestyle, Sara found herself a slave of her looks. Her money was mostly consumed by hairdresser, manicurist, gym, mall, and other beauty-making expenses. “It cost a lot of time and money to look good.” She says. Even falling in love did not alleviate sadness and stress. Then she began looking into all types and kinds of religions. She came to be interested mostly in metaphysical studies, and some sort of Eastern-type meditation and yoga. She adhered to those but she found herself craving for more than that. Eventually she went back to college, where she developed a passion for International Relations.  It was in college where she learnt the ugly truth about “American History” and “US Foreign Policy.”  She says, “I was horrified with all the injustice, racism, and oppression. It broke my heart. I was so saddened by the suffering in the world. I decided I must do something about it.” She embarked on a self-appointed duty to educate the local high school and college students about the injustice in the Middle East. She went as far as organizing local activists to travel to Washington, DC, to protest the upcoming war in Iraq.

During this process, she met a Muslim man who had dedicated his life to fight for justice and human rights. The man had started his own organization, to which Sara worked as a volunteer so that she could learn more and help in the struggle. As they worked together, the Muslim guy taught Sara stories of Prophet Muhammad, his disciples, and the civilization of Islam. “I was shocked to hear these stories, as I knew nothing about this history. I became enchanted with Islam and read all I could about it, eventually reading the Qur’an.” She said.

Finally she found the truth in Islam.  To all her queries about Islam, she got the answers which, according to her, were “very logical and amazingly functional.” She discovered that Islam is a complete way of life possessing guidance and answers to even the smallest of details, like how to eat and sleep.

In January 2003, at the age of 29, Sara reverted to Islam. “A blanket of comforting peace embraced me.” She explains the experience, “I felt so calm and sure and full of joy.  All of a sudden I had a purpose in life, a reason to exist.” Sara pronounced her Shahadah (testimony of faith) at a public groundbreaking for a new mosque. And as soon as she said the testimony, two rainbows appeared in the sky! The Muslim sisters present went to hug her. “I was crying from so much joy,” She says. The following day, eager to show the world her new religion, she went to a local Middle Eastern store to buy hijabs (headscarves) and dresses appropriate for a Muslim woman. From that day forward, Sara dressed decently. She walked down the same streets and neighborhoods where, days earlier, she had walked in shorts, bikini, and other indecent western attires. ”Free at last!” she said. “I had broken the chains of fashion and physical enslavement enforced by a superficial society. Honestly, I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I no longer felt the pressure to dress and look better than everyone else.” This is what she advices women who wish to have true liberation:

As an ex non-Muslim, I insist on women’s right to equally know about hijab, its virtues, and the peace and happiness it brings to a woman’s life as it did to mine. Yesterday, the bikini was the symbol of my liberty, when in actuality it only liberated me from my spirituality and true value as a respectable human being. I couldn’t be happier to shed my bikini in South Beach and the “glamorous” Western lifestyle to live in peace with my Creator and enjoy living among fellow humans as a worthy person. It is why I choose to wear niqab (face veil), and why I will die defending my inalienable right to wear it. Today, niqab is the new symbol of woman’s liberation to find who she is, what her purpose is, and the type of relation she chooses to have with her Creator. To women who surrender to the ugly stereotype against the Islamic modesty of Hijab, I say: You don’t know what you are missing.

Sara was married by the man who introduced her to Islam exactly one month after her reversion. As a couple, they continue to work against injustice throughout the world. They have been travelling throughout the Middle East and they have now moved from America to Egypt to live in an Islamic environment. “My heart is complete. The sadness and loneliness are gone. I now feel I belong. I am somebody.” She says.

Currently, Sara is the Director of Communications at The March For Justice, a co-founder of The Global Sisters Network, and producer of Shock & Awe Gallery, a historical documentation and evidence of the U.S./British Crime of the Century.

Contact Information:

Email:srae@marchforjustice.com

Website: http://www.marchforjustice.com

[References: Bokker, Sara. “The New Symbol of Women’s Liberation.” Marchforjustice.com <http://www.marchforjustice.com/showdetails.php?id=174&gt; ; Bokker, Sara. “Why I Shed Bikini for Niqab.” The Pak Tribune 4 Jan. 2007; Bokker, Sara. “From Darkness to Light.” Radiance Viewsweekly 28 Dec. 2006. Vol. XLIV No. 28; http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/1640/>%5D

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The following story has been excerpted from this Book: “They are either Extremely Smart or Extremely Ignorant” by Salim Boss. You can visit the authors blog http://www.extremelysmart.wordpress.com for a free downloadable copy of the book.

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Loon, the former Bad Boy artist December 17, 2009

Posted by Salim Boss in People Who Changed.
2 comments

“I need a girl”

~ Loon’s song before his conversion to Islam

His stage name is Loon, his birth name Chauncey Lamont Hawkins, and his Islamic name is Amir Junaid Muhadith. Loon was born on 20 June 1975 in Harlem, ‘The Home of hustlas and money makers’ and  attended the prestigious “Beverly Hills High School” where his classmates included Angelina Jolie, Monica Lewinsky, the Menendez brothers (Lyle and Erik who murdered both of their parents with a shotgun and were later sentenced to life in prison without parole). And of course, Loon was raised a Baptist.

Loon evolved from the ghettos of Harlem, to street-hustling and to the rap world where he became part of P. Diddy’s Bad Boy Records. In addition, he has performed songs with notable artists such as 50 Cent, Jermaine Dupri, Usher, Snoop Dogg, Missy Elliott, Jamie Foxx, Ginuwine, Busta Rhymes, Faith Evans, Toni Braxton, Alicia Keys, Lenny Kravitz among others. Loon enjoyed global audiences and there was no country he could go without people recognizing who he was. Loon has also involved himself in acting and has appeared in films like “Happy Hour,” “State Property 2” and “Death of a Dynasty.” This is a guy whose materialistic ambition is captured in his statement: “I’m gonna get money. I’m from Harlem. Ours is a 24/7 hustle. Gimme an inch, I’m taking a yard. Gimme a rope, I’m a cowboy. . . .” Some of his records are: “I Need A Girl (Part One)” P. Diddy featuring Usher & Loon); I Need A Girl (Part Two)” , P. Diddy & Ginuwine featuring Loon, Mario Winans & Tammy Ruggeri; “I Do Wanna Get Close To You”, 3LW featuring P. Diddy & Loon; “Hit The Freeway”, Toni Braxton featuring Loon. Indeed, bad boy is not for life, and as a matter of fact, all religious scriptures tell us that all bad boys will not enter the kingdom of heaven. In 2004, Loon ended his relationship with Bad Boy and founded his own label, Boss Up Entertainment. With all the fame and the bling bling, there was one thing that was abundantly elusive: loon could not purchase peace.

Loon left all those lifestyles and embraced Islam in December 2008 whilst on tour in Dubai, UAE. How did he come to Islam? The thing that drove him to Islam was just the adhan (Islamic call to prayer) he heard while touring in Dubai. He says that the adhan was more beautiful than any song he has ever written in his life. The call for prayer which was recited in the most beautiful, melodious and captivating way from Mosques’ loudspeakers made him study its background, meaning and significance. Studying about Islam, he would sometimes go to bookstores to buy books on Islam; sometimes he would ask questions to people of authority of Islam and at the end of it, Loon thought that it is the smartest decision to embrace Islam. Oh yes, the other thing that attracted Loon to Islam is the way Islamic acts of worship are consistently done in a unswerving formula. “Everyplace I went (in the Muslim world)” Loon says, “I could see one consistent practice and worship of one true God . . . this is something that I want to be part of,  because (in the non-Muslim world) there are a lot of inconsistencies in the way people practice and worship but what I saw in the Muslim (world) was very consistent.”

Since his reversion to Islam, Loon has appeared in various TV and Radio interviews such as on Al Jazeera TV, Al-Shahed T.V, Kuwaiti T.V, The Deenshow and on Talk Radio Show. “Islam brought peace that I couldn’t find in my life,” Loon vibrantly exclaimed in an interview with Eddie of the Deenshow. Fellow Muslims may tell this brother who needed a girl that if, he strictly adheres to Islam, God will not only give him numerous virgins in Heaven, but he can now have four wives on this transitory planet called Earth. In Islam, you are not restricted to just one marital partner, the ‘I-need-a-gal’ mentality is automatically supplanted with ‘I-need-wives’ mindset. Just before the end of an interview, Eddie of Deenshow submitted the following question to Loon: “What advice do you have for those who are trying to mimic the hip-hop phenomenons and the people in your positions?” Since Loon has been in that field, I think it is respectful for the music-lovers to heed the advice he gave:

If you trying to incorporate a love for music just be mindful that there is a lifestyle that comes with the music that kind like destroy the whole positive effort of trying to exercise the love for music … you can’t have one without the other, you do the music you are going to indulge in the lifestyle that come with the Music. And the lifestyle itself is definitely something you don’t want to get involved with. It draws the guts out of you, it draws everything that is pure inside of you, it removes the peace of mind that you might been having before coming into the business….Take my advice.

Currently, Loon grasps any opportunity to learn more about Islam, on one interview with Sheikh Nabil Al-awadh in Kuwait, Loon could recite, from memory, the first chapter of the Qur’an. Being an experienced singer, Muslims anticipate that he may one day be one of the world’s Qur’an top reciters. One of his messages on Twitter was: “My quest for knowledge has just gone into overdrive. May Allah guide us all to seeking the knowledge of Islam!” His seriousness into Islam is manifested in his adoption of Prophet Muhammad’s model of life by keeping a full beard. In addition, he has already performed an important Islamic ritual known as Umrah (lesser Hajj) which is a visitation to Makkah to perform certain rituals of worship. But what’s amazing is that he has become ‘better in speech’ by taking an initiative of calling upon music addicts to abandon such a distressing  life, by calling upon non-Muslims to read about Islam, by calling  upon Muslims to strictly adhere to their religion, by calling people to the religion of Allah. And of course we may wonder if, by becoming a God’s spokesman, he is not better in speech then “who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah, and does righteousness and says, “I am one of the Muslims.”?”[Q 41:33] Or should he go back to the hip-hop world and glorify killing, violence and (pre-marital) sex? To those who are enslaved with music and its lifestyle, they got to hear Loon’s message which was aired by AlShahid TV:

The Music lifestyle was overbearing and overwhelming for me. To be removed from that lifestyle, I would be a fool to return back to the place which I was guided from. In that case, anyone who is involved in Music. . . to the Muslims knowing that the Qur’an teaches us that Music is Haram (i.e. Prohibited by God), I was saying to those who are struggling with this matter (i.e. Music) to try to refrain and invest more time and energy reading and extracting emotions from the speech of Allah which is in the Qur’an.

However much you are loved or revered, the moment you decide to change for the good, you will be sure of becoming a public enemy just in an overnight. Some of Loon’s fans were not an exception. But one big-picture thinker posted the following message on worldstarhiphop.com in order to silence the detractors and boast up Loon’s motivation “As-Salaamu Alaikum brother Amir (i.e. Loon)!” the comment read, “and Salaams to all the other brothers and sisters out there! There are alot of ignorant people on here bashing what they have no knowledge of! If you know nothing of Islam please don’t speak on it!”  Junaid Muhadith  (formerly Loon) is now writing a book whereby he would document his life and his transition to Islam. “[I’m] happy to be accepting Islam,” said Loon, “and finding the peace of mind I was always searching for in the music business . . . Thanks to Islam I was able to complete my search and now I’m very much at peace. Bad Boy days are over, I’m now what you call a good boy.”

Websites:

http://www.loon2amir.com

http://www.dawahinthewest.com/loonamir/?p=29

http://www.bossupentertainment.com

[Excerpted from Salim Boss’ book “They are either Extremely Smart or Extremely Ignorant” For more articles from this author, please visit his blog; [www.extremelysmart.wordpress.com]. Get your free eBook of “They are either Extremely Smart or Extremely Ignorant” from the author’s website.]

[References: “Interview with rap artist turned Muslim.” 5 July 2009.  YouTube.com. Online video clip. Accessed on 17 Dec. 2009. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZFueqQnops&gt;; “Interview Former Rap Artist Loon accepts Islam –TheDeenshow.” 13 Aug. 2009. YouTube.com. Online video clip. Accessed on 17 Dec. 2009. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhLWOXKlHys >; “Loon Converted to Islam.” 9 Dec. 2009. YouTube.com. Online video clip. Accessed on 17 Dec. 2009.  <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SZ6RTD1jXw&gt;; “Muhammad Awadh meets American Rap Artist who converted to Islam.” 13 Sept. 2009. YouTube.com. Online video clip. Accessed on 17 Dec. 2009.  <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trv5XeE8C6s&feature=related&gt;; AbduSalaam, Ismael. “Rapper Loon Converts to Islam, Changes Lifestyle.”  6 July 2009. allhiphop.com <http://allhiphop.com/stories/news/archive/2009/07/06/21748711.aspx&gt;; <http://www.bossupentertainment.com/article/buy-the-album-now-loon-no-friends&gt; retrieved 5 July 2009; Hall, Rashaun. “Loon Leaves Bad Boy ‘Amicably,’ Forms Own Label.” mtv.com. 14 Dec. 2004. <http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1494820/20041214/loon.jhtml&gt; ;<http://bossupentertainment.com/&gt;;“Amir Junaid Muhadith, formerly ‘Loon’ of Bad Boy Entertainment.” islaam.ca 6 May 2009. http://www.islaam.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=265:amir-junaid-muhadith-formerly-loon-of-bad-boy-entertainment-new-york-usa&catid=63:n-america&Itemid=181>%5D

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