Billboard critics named Mona Haydar’s debut song, Hijabi (Wrap My Hijab) one of 2017’s top protest songs and then later named it one of the 25 top feminist anthems of all time. Mona is a multidisciplinary artist, rapper and culture creator. Growing up in Flint, Michigan as a Syrian, American, Mona developed her sound which is deeply rooted in her intersectional identity and sensibilities.
Mona Haydar is a rapper, poet, activist, meditator, composting devotee, mountain girl, solar power lover and a tireless God-enthusiast. She practices a life of sacred activism, poetry, contemplation and advocacy for living gently upon the Earth. In addition to playing concerts and gigs, she continues to perform her poetry, offers workshops and leads retreats as well as gives lectures and teaches at universities all over the world.
Mona grew up in Flint, Michigan, graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a BA in English. She then traveled to Damascus, Syria where she studied at Jami’ Abun-Noor. Upon returning from Damascus she moved to the mountains of Northern New Mexico where she lived off grid at the Lama Foundation for two years continuing her personal studies of contemplation, meditation and ecology. Mona completed her Masters in Christian Ethics at Union Theological Theological Seminary in New York City in 2018, studying with the luminary founder of Black Liberation Theology, Rev. Dr. James Cone. She studied Post-Colonial Religion under Dr. Claudio Carvalhaes as well as Religion and Ecology with Dr. Larry Rasmussen. She chose Union after careful consideration after also being accepted to Harvard among other institutions in order to study specifically with Dr. Cone, one of the greatest voices against white supremacy and racism in recent history, because of her dedication to the inner and outer work of anti-racism and justice
Mona is the 7th of 8 siblings. Mona married Sebastian in 2012. Their elder son was born in 2014 and their younger son, in 2017. After leaving New York City upon the completion of her masters degree, the family moved to Marrakech, Morocco. In 2019, the family moved back to The United States and settled in Northern New Mexico. They live a quiet simple life of gardening, composting and home-schooling, where they enjoy eating fresh figs, apricots and plums, as well as an immense variety of vegetables that Sebastian grows. They have two cats.
Poetry, Music and other work:
Mona began writing poetry in her earliest journals. At six years old, Mona wrote:
“I am mood.
I am dude.
I am cool
I am mona.”
Mona transitioned from writing and performing her poetry to rapping in 2015. Her single “Hijabi” was a ground breaking debut with millions of views which featured Mona, 8 months pregnant with her second child, surrounded by an intersectional group of dynamic women as Mona sang “all around the world love women every shade” calling out racism, colorism and tribalism Proclaiming her pride and personal freedom the song continues, “So even if you hate it, I still wrap my hijab.” Mona’s second single, Dog took on violence against women with lyrics which call out men in positions of religious authority who use their power to harm.
Her EP, Barbarican was met with critical acclaim upon its release in 2018. The lead single, Lifted is a visual glory telling the story of what it is to lose and then find yourself. The song was written at a time when Mona was suffering from postpartum depression after the birth of her second child. The EP was named after the emerging identity of people waking up to the colonial inversion of realities where “savagery” and “barbarism” are actually badges of honor in light of the history of the evil inhumanity of “western” civilization.
Mona works as a chaplain and spiritual director and has had many people come to Islam through her love and care. She is a founding member of The Seed School. She is a staunch advocate for simple living, sustainability and walking gently upon grandmother Earth and speaking and working towards Peace.
She has been featured in Billboard, Marie Claire, Glamour, PAPER, NYLON, Vogue, ELLE, and on PBS, The BBC, CNN, BuzzFeed, AJ+, PRI, NPR, Mic, Psychology Today, Refinery 29, Milk, The Huffington Post, Ms Magazine, Fusion/Splinter and many others.
In 2018 Mona appeared in Marcus Samuelsson’s PBS series, “No Passport Required.”
In 2017 Mona and Sebastian were featured in the Emmy nominated series: “The Secret Life of Muslims.”
In 2015, Mona and Sebastian were surprised to go viral for their Ask A Muslim project:
Mona and her husband, Sebastian set up a stand in Cambridge, Massachusetts with signs that read ‘Talk to a Muslim’ ‘free coffee and donuts’ ‘free conversation’ and ‘Ask a Muslim’ encouraging open and loving dialogue which garnered the attention of NPR, People Magazine, Al Jazeera, AJ+, The Boston Globe among other media outlets.