"I had so many Muslim family members and friends tell me that no one would hire me." She explains this two days before Mnar Muhawesh starts her first day at UTVS, a local Minnesota TV station as a special reporter. Defying those very words and ideas, Muhawesh has become not only a representative for UTVS, rather a representative for Muslims and in particular Shias throughout the country. She has become a role model, being the first Hijabi to be on a local TV station as a special-reporter journalist in the entire United States, if not North America.
Every child at one point in their life fantasizes about who they want to be, what career they wish to pursue, and how they want to live their life – it's only natural. Muhawesh explains how, as a little child, she enjoyed watching the news with her parents. Throughout her high school life, she describes herself as a "news girl", someone who enjoyed debating politics and any other issues that were of importance to her. Living up to her dreams and presenting herself "in a modest yet friendly manner," Muhawesh has accomplished her childhood dream.
Being an individual who only recently (three years ago) started to observe the Hijab, the Muslim dress code, Muhawesh found her life changing in all directions. Upon adopting the Hijab, she says: "Allah has been the main driving force in me to do this because ever since I started to wear Hijab three years ago, I feel as if a million doors have opened for me." The Hijab – commonly misrepresented as a sign of oppression – has enabled Muhawesh to prove not only to herself, but also to many other people, that the Hijab is not a barrier.
Explaining what the purpose of her job is, Muhawesh says she feels "as though work in journalism is almost essential to the survival of a good Muslim representation." Through various propaganda and actions by so-called 'Muslims', the image of Islam has been much deteriorated in the western media.
"Many non-Muslims don’t even know Muslim sisters like me even exist," Muhawesh explains. She says she feels that the need for Muslims to take on a career in which they will be able to propagate the true Islam and the ideals that Islam really stands for is imperative.
Taking this opportunity, as the first Hijabi news anchor in the country, Muhawesh has a lot to say to those considering the career.
"If you know what you are doing is going to make a difference for Muslims, then do it," she says. The need for Muslim, especially Shia, journalists has become crucial in the Western world, Muhawesh feels. "[We] as Muslims are not represented equally as we should be, and as long as Muslims avoid journalist careers, then the voice of the Muslims will rarely be heard or even understood," she adds.
Many Shia scholars, including the prominent Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi of Toronto, have stressed the need to enter the world of journalism. Being the mainstream source of media, journalists are gifted with that ability to let the world know what Islam and Shi'ism really stand for. As Muhawesh puts it "Alhamdullila I feel like God has given me a mission in life to represent Muslims in the one country that is fighting a war against Islam, yet the one country that is giving opportunity to everyone. I am taking advantage of this opportunity and will Insha'Allah help Muslims everywhere."