Hijabi of the Month October - Zienab Fahs

Posted on Oct 27, 2014
Melanie Elturk


Meet Zienab Fahs, our Hijabi of the Month October - nominated by her friend who had this to say about her, "I nominate Zienab for many reasons. As the previous president of MYNA and now the VP of MSA at Oakland University, Zienab has always shown leadership skills. She's always helping others around her, emotionally and spiritually. As a soon to be social worker inshallah, I have no doubt that she will continue to change people's lives for the better."

My name is Zienab Fahs. I am 18 years old and a sophomore at Oakland University majoring in Social Work and minoring in Islamic Studies. My school is my second home and where you can find me 20 hours out of most days. I'm an active member in a variety of organizations on campus: Muslim Student Association, Lebanese Student Association, and the African Student Association. I was published many times in high school for my creative writing, which has always been a major part of my life. You'll never find me without a genuine smile on my face, which to this day is my best accomplishment. Alhamdulilah for everything, always. 

1) When did you start wearing hijab? Tell us a little about your journey.

I made the choice to put on hijab at the young age of nine. The date was August 8, 2005, exactly two months after my brother had passed away. I was in Lebanon and I remember watching my sisters buy hijabs and worried if I would ever get the chance to do the same. Something about the fear of not having enough time persuaded me to wear hijab. When I got back to school that fall, 5th grade show-and-tell became a question and answer session; it was then when I began to see myself as a principal of communicating knowledge and a leader in my faith.

2) As the previous president of MYNA and now the Vice President of the MSA at Oakland University, what have you learned about your community and what can we do to strengthen it, particularly for the girls in our community?

Working with the youth of my community, I’ve learned much about the type of Muslim everyone wants to be; the issue is we cannot all be the same Muslim. I see a great amount of motivation and eagerness in the youth to learn and perfect their actions to please Allah (S), but the problem begins when we force ourselves into these ideal images rather than naturally mold into imperfect but determined humans and worshipers. The product of this is atypical actions that we are taught to be and are known as “good deeds,” but are perceived by others and Allah (S) as compulsory and insincere. Rather than acting out of whim or for the impression of being flawless, each of us has to renew our intentions on a daily basis to act firstly for the purpose of pleasing Allah (S).

3) You are a woman of great strength, tell us where you get your strength from.

The strength I carry with me each day comes from the cycle of struggle I overcame as a child. My father passed away when I was 8 years old, and the following year my eldest brother. Now being out of the depression I was caught up in, all I can say is alhamdulilah. Hitting rock bottom and floating my way back up gave me a different perspective of the world I hadn’t seen on my way down; sometimes it takes living two opposite extremes to rest at a happy medium. There is no amount of pain Allah (S) doesn’t recognize, and with each wound eventually comes bliss. (Read Zienab's beautiful creative writing piece about her struggles of loss here).

4) What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you? 

Make time for yourself. Whether it’s spending nights at the library to wrap my head around the subject at hand, standing for hours in front of the register at work, or planning a wide range of cultural events, none of my responsibilities ever included making sure I was okay. Unfortunately this notion is commonly overlooked; just as we pencil in our friends and family, school, work, and other duties that of course must be added to our resume, the most crucial time is the amount we give to ourselves. I imagine saving the world, but the only way I can get close to that is by saving myself first, because I am useless drowning in stress to anyone that needs my help.

5) If you could give one piece of advice to someone struggling with hijab, what would it be?

Stick with it. Never lose faith in Allah (S) or think reverting to clear your mind will help. Everything good comes with a struggle, and to truly embrace that good we must equally embrace that struggle. We initially think when something bad happens it is because we deserved it or have disappointed Allah (S). Although that may seem humble, seeing events in a negative light makes the lesson difficult to overcome and learn from. We fight for a reason. Allah (S) conceals the outcome of our battles, the future of our choices, and the reason why we were sent down this path purposely; if we were to know that the end meant becoming renewed and stronger after the strife, we would be thanking Allah (S) and begging for more. Do not have any pain or doubt consume your thoughts with hatred towards hijab; always say alhamdulilah and be thankful you were blessed with not a battle, but preparation.

Is there someone you'd like to nominate for Hijabi of the Month? E-mail us at blog@hautehijab.com!