“I surely know that one of the main reasons why Islam has been interpreted and negatively used, is due to the socio-cultural association. Predominately Muslim countries have each taken their own cultural and traditional values, and equate it with their faith in order to cater to both. I will speak for myself as an Arab and Muslim woman, and say that the more I read into the Qur’an, the more I notice how much culture has been playing a big part into the way many view and interpret the Qur’an and its messages. I am also sure that religions are not the problem, it is the way some believers choose to use religion to their own liking, and to suit their own agenda.”
Zena is a 19 year old journalism student. She originally wanted to major in political science, but after looking at her country’s socio-economic and overall political and social circumstances, she knew being a journalist would give her the real power to change, and to give a voice to the voiceless, whether she lived in Egypt (her nationality), the Middle East, or in a Western country. For fun Zena likes to read, watch documentaries about anything surrounding social justice issues, culture, or psychology, do photography, and any sort of creative work (especially if it gets her outside.)When I asked Zena what made her laugh so much it hurts she responded, “When I am put in a super uncomfortable or embarrassing situation, I always can’t wait to go tell my friends about it, it always turns into a storytelling session that we end up laughing hysterically about.”
What is your favourite quality about yourself?
I am not afraid of letting go of anything that doesn’t encourage my personal growth. If anything in my life feels like a burden, if I see no way in making it better, I let it go knowing I will be upset for a while, but the feeling passes and most of the time it ends up being for the better.
What is the best quality in someone else?
Humbleness. I highly admire those who do good and want good for others. If someone is humble, every other “bad” quality in them becomes minuscule small, because how you are towards others certainly says more about how you are as a person.
How do you think you are perceived?
I think I am perceived as a “stand-up woman”, which is basically someone who stands up for others without hesitation, while doing the same for myself as well. I am upfront, I tell things as they are without sugar coating, but I ensure that I am being respectful in the process.
Why did you choose the location you did for the photoshoot?
I chose the newsroom for several reasons. Besides being a journalist, I aspire to be a news reporter/news anchor as well, so the newsroom was the one place I can portray this. Moreover, I see the newsroom, and the media industry as a whole, as a place where I get to break barriers as to how much power and impact women actually have. I don’t believe in just using words to express or portray your faith, it takes actions as well to portray and represent your faith. Your values don’t mean much if you have an unpleasant heart.