Shanan was born in 1960 in the northern Druze village Hurfeish. In the late 1970's, Shanan volunteered for the IDF and served in the Herev Infantry Battalion. After his service he completed his academic studies in general studies, oriental studies and pre-law studies at Tel Aviv University. Shnaan then returned to his home town, working between 1989-1995 as a teacher and acting principal of the local six-years post-elementary school.
Throughout the years Shnaan was active with the Histadrut. He was appointed as an advisor to Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Saleh Tarif. Following the elections to the 14th Knesset he was a senior advisor to the Minister responsible for Minorities Affairs within the Prime Minister's Office. He held this position between 1997 and 2001, and was later appointed as the administrator of the northern district for the Ministry of Labor and Welfare. Shnaan was also director of the district's branch of the Ministry of Welfare. In 2005 he was appointed by Minister of Internal Affairs Ophir Pines-Paz as his senior advisor, maintaining the post for one year.
In 2006, Shnaan nominated himself for the Labor Party's list of candidates for the 2006 elections. He was elected to the slot reserved to a Druze representative, 20th on the party's list, and entered the Knesset in May 2008, following the resignation of Efraim Sneh. At that time he became a member of the Education, Culture and Sports Committee. Prior to his entry to the Knesset, Shnaan was considered by party chairman Amir Peretz as his candidate for a ministerial post, though it was eventually given to Raleb Majadele.
In February 2012, Shanan was chosen to replace former Homeland Security Minister Matan Vilnai who was appointed Israeli ambassador to China. Upon taking the post, Shanan officially joined Ehud Barak's Independence Party, an off-shoot of the Labor Party formed in 2011 as a result of internal dissatisfaction.
Shnaan resides in Hurfeish, is married and a father of five.