Hijabi of the Month October - Amanda Saab
Posted on Oct 14, 2015
It was only a matter of time before Amanda was nominated as Hijabi of the Month - you may have caught her on this past season of MasterChef on Fox, where she was a fierce competitor and her departure left us all in tears!
Amanda Saab completed her Masters Degree in Social Work at Wayne State University before moving to Seattle with her husband Hussein. She is a passionate social worker, practicing in a Seattle hospital. In her free time she is a food blogger at amandasplate.com. Her love for food led her to compete on MasterChef on Fox. Amanda's recipes have been featured on the Huffington Post, Seattle Magazine, Fox 2 Detroit, Q13 Seattle and The Detroit News. You can follow her on Facebook or on Instagram @amandasplate and be sure to check out her blog!
1) When did you start wearing hijab? Tell us a little about your journey.
I was sixteen years old, a sophomore in high school and I had been attending the nightly Ramadan programs at the Mosque. I had been thinking a lot about wearing hijab to be closer to Allah (S) for many years, but did not feel it was the “right time” or that I was still “too young.”
On Laylat Al Qadr, I made Dua all night for Allah (S) to give me the strength and courage to begin wearing hijab. I woke up the next morning and put on the hijab. I still remember going to school the next day and one of my teachers asking if I was a new student (LOL). I have been wearing hijab for ten years now. Al-hamdiAllah.
2) You were born and raised in Dearborn, MI and now live in Seattle. What was the transition like moving from a heavily populated Muslim/Arab area to a metropolitan city like Seattle?
I never realized what a bubble I lived in until I moved out of it. I definitely took for granted being able to enjoy halal food everywhere, greeting Muslims on the street, in the mall and at work, and being able to visit with family and friends on a weekly basis. The transition to life in Seattle was a challenge. I missed my mother and my sisters so very much. But once I got back to working full time, I was able to adjust, make some new friends, find the halal butcher, start using FaceTime to talk to mama and my sisters, and really enjoy the beauty of the Pacific North West.
3) Tell us about your experience on Master Chef! What made you decide to audition, what the process was like and finally what it was like to be on the show!
My husband, Hussein encouraged me to audition. We were watching Season 5 together when there was a call for open auditions. He half-jokingly said, “you should do it.” I got out the laptop and looked up the nearest audition city, which was LA. The auditions were the same weekend as our wedding anniversary, so we decided to make the trip down.
I can’t say too much about the process, but I can say it is a long process! The first day I was in LA for the filming of the show, I was so nervous and even more excited. I really didn’t know what to expect. I just wanted to do my best and cook the best food I possibly could! I think I was able to do that, until the birthday cake pressure test.
4) What's the biggest takeaway you learned from being on the show and what do you hope others will takeaway from your experience?
When you rely on Allah (S), you can do anything; you can break those glass ceilings, you can break the social constructs and you can prove everyone wrong, because Allah (S) is in control of ALL things. I hope that others were able to see my faith shine thru, because without Allah (S) I am weak, un-confident and unable to do any of the things I have been able to do in my life.
MasterChef taught me that I should take risks, that everything does not have to be perfectly planned and to enjoy the process of life instead of just waiting to enjoy the end goal.
5) Your farewell message about hijab brought me to tears. Did you feel like your hijab impacted the competition in any way - positively or negatively?
It was a heartfelt message delivered in a time of vulnerability and shock. I think I was still shaking as I spoke those words.
Hijab has always and will always impact my life in a positive way. Each morning, when I get up and pray and then get ready for my day, I make an effort to put my lord and my faith above all things. That is the most powerful thing I can do for myself. So, when I step into the MasterChef kitchen (or anywhere else) I feel empowered.
I too have my insecurities and days that I feel down, but if I make an effort to refocus, I get back to where I need and should be. And I really need to thank my mother for this. She constantly reminds me to be patient, to make dua and to just do my best!
6) If you could give one piece of advice to someone struggling with hijab, what would it be?
If you are struggling with hijab, do not give up. Allah (S) knows what you are feeling and dealing with. Allah (S) says in the Holy Quran in Surat Qaf, verse 16, “And verily We have created man and We know what his soul whispers to him. And we are closer to him than his jugular vein.”
Do your best to surround yourself with other hijab wearing women, who make you feel good about wearing hijab.
As discussed in your recent blog post, it is so important that we look, watch and read things that are beneficial to our souls and will take us closer to our creator. This sometimes means, we unfollow accounts on Instagram and Twitter and we not watch certain shows. Every single thing we see has an effect on us, so let us do our best to see only what is good.
And remember, Allah (S) says in the Holy Quran in Surah Inshirah, verses 5-6, “Then, surely with hardship comes ease. Surely, with hardship comes ease."
Is there someone you'd like to nominate as Hijabi of the Month? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org