Sunday, 27 July 2008

Day 30: Choclit

I want to dedicate today's post to my roommate, Choclit Angel, who's a 23 year old African American who lives in Seattle and is studying journalism at the University of Washington (and yes, that is her real name).

Today, Choclit is celebrating her first anniversary of the day she took her shahada and became a Muslim. We're telling her happy birthday because it's almost as if she was reborn on this day. Just like we did with the Swedish sisters, we had a little pizza party for her, complete with the cheer welcome, just because mash'Allah this woman is incredible. We (actually it was just Sarah) also put together a slideshow of pictures of her and videos of all of us saying congratulations/ mabrouk etc.

Choclit's awe-inspiring story, when she told it to me, just blew me away. It left me gob smacked, impressed, and more than a little ashamed of myself.

Choclit was the most popular girl in school, with the weave and the makeup and the big earrings etc. She was a cheerleader, a model, an actress, a pageant girl, a bellydancer, and a Hooters girl, among other things (including being a Bible Studies leader). When you hear about how she literally gave up her life to become Muslim, it brings into sharp relief all the things we find so difficult to do and yet aren't a 10th as hard for us as they are for her.

A lot of what she told me I'm sure she doesn't want made public knowledge, but suffice to say she wasn't raised in the most fortunate of circumstances. When she became a Muslim, her parents and siblings didn't take her conversion to heart, and made life as miserable as they could for her.

She's only been Muslim for a year but Subhan Allah she has been gifted with two incredible gifts—knowledge and incredible humility. She learnt more about Islam in a year than many of us learn in a lifetime. From knowing that the person who doesn't wake up for fajr has the noor (light) removed from their faces, to the fact that a shooting star means a shaytan has just died, she knows a lot mash'Allah.

She wore hijab the weekend she took her shahada when a week earlier she was on stage dancing in a skimpy outfit. She's repeating some of her prayers because she says she was mixing up between madhabs [schools of thought]; something that definitely doesn't require you to repeat your prayers. She became the Public Relations Officer for MSA (Muslim Student Association) and wants to move to Berkley to study in the Zaytuna Institute.

She's a spoken word artist, and managed to turn that around into a way to defend Islam. She performed this incredible piece in last week's pizza party titled 'I love my hijab,' which she wrote herself. It's heart-warming, inspiring, and makes you feel like a piece of poo—if she, a 'brand-new' Muslim, can be brave enough to defend Islam in an audience which isn't exactly forthcoming, what's our excuse?

I filmed her performing it later, and I got her permission to upload it. Here it is again in case you didn't watch it in the pizza party post:

And mash' Allah she doesn't think that any of this is amazing. When you ask her to share her story she just shrugs and says "I was lost, and then I was found." She's incredibly brave and especially eloquent, and puts to words what so many of us may be too afraid to voice out. I quoted her earlier on in the blog as saying:
"The experience here makes me feel like the seven dwarves rolled into one. The heat makes me like grumpy and sleepy especially. I feel that you got stuck with me here, and that you're all so much better than I am. I'm scared to go back home and not have this aura of spirituality that everyone who comes here has when they go back to their homes, and to have people ask 'wait, wasn't she in Tarim?'"
You know what Lucas in One tree Hill (yes, I know) said about Peyton in his book? It went something like this: "Peyton has the potential for greatness, and she doesn't even know it."

Substitute Choclit for Peyton, and there you have it. I truly believe this woman is going to do great things, even if she herself doesn't believe that yet.

And although she can be grumpy and sleepy sometimes, as well as a scary antisocial 5'9 giantess (lol) I love her for the sake of Allah. And though I may never see her again in this life, I hope to meet her under the shade of Allah on the Day of Judgment as two sisters who "loved each other for [Allah's] sake."

Happy Birthday Choclit, may it be the first of many.

Today's Quote: If you have zuhd [renunciation of the world] you won't care about what people have, and will be able to look at what you have that others don't have, rather than look at what you don't have and someone else has. Sheikh Imaad


Anonymous said...

Assalaam alaykum warahmatullah wabarakatuhu sis

Jazakallah khayr for sharing your time in Tarim with us, mashaAllah its a lovely blog :)

Please give salaams and love to my dearest Lara, your roomie! Tell her its from her 2007 Dowra mate.

blessed be
sis s

Anonymous said...

May Allah protect her and keep her firm on the deen. I was blessed to have known her really closely. She has a beautiful heart and a desire to learn and gain knowledge. May Allah increase her in rank and knowledge.