Who is Alaa Awad?
An early morning in Indiana, a young girl would run downstairs and out the front door of her grandmother’s house. It had enormous windows, and the sun would come through them just right; it was perfect enough to become one of Alaa Awad’s favorite memories. She is now 18 years old and still visits that house often. A resident of Indiana, she’s been to three MYNA camps within the state. It was an opportunity she wanted to take advantage of as frequently as she could to get to know new people and make new friends in an Islamic environment. Keeping to her motive, she keeps in touch with most of the people she meets at camp even after the short week is over.
Outside of camp, Alaa is still young and focusing on her studies. She is one semester away from graduating high school and, as many of you may know, this is when the strongest case of 'senioritis' will hit a student. She says she tries to be productive, but this usually only occurs in the midst of night. In the time between then and when she gets back from school, she has several simple hobbies that she’ll take part in. When asked what her favorite book or movie is, she answered with neither. She binges The Office in her free time because the TV show is, “so awkward it's funny”. Painting with watercolors or gouache with a good cup of tea from the huge variety of flavors that she keeps, is the activity that encapsulates her minimalistic, radiant demeanor that anyone who knows her will recognize.
All of these aspects about her day to day life add up to clearly depict Alaa as the person she is. Philosophically and spiritually, she has values that she holds high and tries to implement in her lifestyle. “Once you begin something, finish it to your fullest potential”. Her father gave her this advice when she was thinking about giving up on a difficult assignment back in middle school, and it's stuck with her ever since. She says it is the one piece of advice she’s gotten that she can confidently say she lives by. Success to Alaa, as it is to many Muslims, is doing what she loves and pleasing Allah (SWT) at the same time. She says, “I hope that every Muslim family is allowed to practice their religion freely and safely. I hope that I will be able to have a successful job and support my family”. Her aspirations for both herself and the world in the future encompass all the traits of simplistic joy and drowning in the beauty of Islam that we’ve learned from her so far.