Hijabi of the Month September - Mahnoor Samana
Posted on Sep 10, 2013
This months Hijabi of the month is Mahnoor Samana. Mahnoor is a 19-year old Spoken Word artist. She is passionate about writing and spends most her free time doing so. She has also been featured on a local Fox channel and Amy Poehler's youtube channel for her poetry. Mahnoor has interned at an NPR sister station, KUHF and currently works as the web editor for her University newspaper. She is also an ambassador for the University of Houston. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @mahnoorsamana!
1) When did you start wearing hijab?
It was in the middle of ninth grade. I remember that I was still adjusting to high school at that time but there was always a drive in me to start. So I did, one Ramadan morning I asked myself, "if not today, then when?" I had no answer. I did think about waiting until I fixed my million other imperfections. When we are young, we don't realize, "the path to maturity begins backwards," as my college professor once said. To become better, I had to believe I could. To become better, I had to start at the end and work my way backwards. I made a change in my life and since then I have been able to improve in ways I would have never imagined. Alhamdulillah.
2) Tell us how you got started performing spoken word.
I have been a poet for as long as I can remember but I started performing during my freshmen year. I was involved in poetry and prose through Speech and Debate. The first time I tried Spoken Word I fell in love with it and I have been performing ever since.
3) How has hijab impacted your journey as a spoken word poet, if at all?
Being a hijabi has allowed me to be more confident. That has definitly factored into my poetry. I feel more comfortable sharing and talking about my religion. To be honest, it has allowed me to feel more like myself.
4) What was it like to be featured on Amy Poehler's Smart Girls At The Party?
It was the coolest experience I have ever had! I have to give kudos to that show, they stand for empowerment of all women. They truly speak equality, so all-in-all it was an honor. I was humbled that they would want to feature my poetry. It was a mix of emotions, I was nervous and excited and it was definitely a huge step for me. I am glad I was able to experience it though because the piece I shared was something a lot of us can relate to. It was about a few experiences I had after I started wearing a hijab. It was nice to be able to share that story and to know that I would be able to connect with a wider range of audience than I was used to.
5) What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you?
The best piece of advice that I have ever received is that "no matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world," quoted from the movie Dead Poets Society. It can, you just have to have faith. I have realized that if I keep speaking, someone is bound to hear me. So for all those struggling with their talents, all I have to say is – keep going. There is room for all of us, trust me. We can change the world, we can influence people, you and I can make a difference. For those still testing the waters, there is no such thing as being born with a passion. Yes, we can be born with talent but passion, its something you pick up during your walk through life. Passion fuels talent, so do not be discouraged when you see someone else doing something you want to do. For those of you that don't know how to change the world, start. Start with anything you want, everything else will fall into place.
6) If you could give one piece of advice to someone struggling with hijab, what would it be?
There is a motto I live by, 10 percent of the people you know will always love you, no matter what. 10 percent of the people will hate you no matter what, the remaining 80 don't care at all. Focus on the 10 percent that love you and want the best for you. My advice is that if you are looking for a push, take a look at the thousands of hijabis in this world that have made a difference. Wearing a hijab is not a limiting factor, in fact it the absolute opposite. If you are looking for a reason to start wearing a hijab, look up.
Is there someone you'd like to nominate for HOTM? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.