Early life

Jehan Nia Al-Amina Muhammad (born December 3, 1985), better known as Jehania, is an American rapper, poet, songwriter, video director and designer from Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. She was born in Kinston, North Carolina, USA. Her mother named her after former First Lady of Egypt, Jehan Sadat, the wife of Egyptian Prime Minister Anwar Sadat. Often mistaken as being African, foreign or from the Islands, Jehania is a black American and was born to a black American father and a black American mother with lineage to the Tuscaroran tribe of eastern North Carolina. Jehania expressed an interest in music, art and fashion at a young age when she began writing poetry at the age of six, sketching pictures of models wearing her original designs and painting. Her mother was a nursing assistant and an elementary/middle school special needs teacher. Her father was an artist and jazz musician, a drummer and flute player. He played the drums on Billy Stewart’s “Summertime”. Both of her parents converted to Sunni Islam in the 1970s in Washington, DC.

Jehania was born a Muslim and raised in a very strict Muslim household that consisted of praying five times a day, fasting during Ramadan, dressing modest and studying the Qur’an. She attended Wiley International Magnet Elementary School where she studied French briefly and was exposed to several different cultures, religions, international cuisines, traditions, music and arts. She also attended Al-Iman Muslim Private School in Raleigh, North Carolina where she started studying Arabic at age eleven. Her mother eventually withdrew her from the private school because she could no longer afford the tuition and began to homeschool her. She speaks Spanish and some Arabic but has stated that she has no desire to record music in Spanish.

 

Her father was acquainted with El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, also known as Malcolm X and studied a lot of his teachings. He’s mainly known for his black American acrylic on canvas paintings and murals displayed in galleries, restaurants, boutiques and museums throughout Kinston, North Carolina and murals in Washington, DC, and for his work in the Smithsonian Institute in the 1960s. Her father taught her how to play chess when she was thirteen years old. She became so good that she ended up beating him.

Her mother was very strict on her and her siblings growing up. She was not allowed to be in the presence of boys, wear makeup and weave, go to parties, hang out late or listen to music during Ramadan.

"Both of my parents are my heroes but my father was just profound. He inspired me so much. I am literally the female version of him. I always wanted to be just like him. I have so many amazing memories of my father, from us going to the beach, painting together, playing chess, taking pictures, going out to eat and him cooking for me. He was kind of like small town famous in the town I was born in, Kinston, North Carolina because he had paintings all over the city. Everyone knew him. Neither one of my parents had a lot of money. I grew up in what is considered "the hood" and lower class. It’s not about the material things that you can buy your child. The greatest thing that a parent can invest in their child is solid values, confidence and their time. They’ll never forget what you instilled in them, taught them and the moments that you shared with them." – Jehania on her late father

Her father passed away in 2009 from old age. He was 76 years old. Jehania didn't get to attend his funeral services and did not find out about his death until six months later. She said his last words to her were "You can do anything if you put your mind to it."

At the age of ten her writing was featured in a published book called “From the Heart”. Jehania says that she doesn’t know exactly what she wrote, given that she has written so many things. She just recalls them mailing a plaque and certificate to her that read “Thanks for your contribution to our book.”