Upon interviewing Halimah DeOliveira, I discovered a woman on a spiritual quest to guiding other women in addition to girls on discovering themselves and their most inner strength:
Rumki Chowdhury: Tell us about Not Without My Hijab. I understand that it is not only your published book, but also a play? It deals with the inner-struggle that Muslim women face when conflicted between hijab and the peer pressure of assimilation?
Halimah DeOliveira: Actually, Not Without My Hijab started as a one day interfaith workshop in Philadelphia, open to women and girls of ALL faiths to come together, ask questions, share stories and leave empowered through faith. The feedback from my workshops in 2017 made it clear that women and girls wanted a guide that would help them beyond the one day workshops or weekend retreats they have become accustomed to attending. I began writing Not Without My Hijab: 11 Steps to Reclaiming Your Faith in March of 2017 and the book was released November 2017. The book covers a portion of my life story as a visible Muslim growing up in New York City, navigating college and Corporate America and the steps I used to reclaim faith after leaving it for a time. The Not Without My Hijab play covers my teenage years; when I made the decision to diminish and denounce faith by removing my hijab. The goal of the play is to help spark the conversation between students and parents on some of the barriers in current times. I chose this part of my story partially based on the statistic by Pew Research that says that 53% of Muslim youth no longer wish to identify as Muslim as they feel Islam holds them back. The other half is I wanted to give the youth a voice.
Often we are told what we need to do, but are not given the why or given a choice on how or when we will implement what we have learned.
RC: That’s inspiring! What inspired you to write Not Without My Hijab?
HD: Believe it or not, the idea of Not Without My Hijab first came the Friday after the election of the current administration. There was a somber mood in the mosque that Friday after the election. I sat watching everyone some visibly weeping and others quiet and processing how life was going to look moving forward. I knew that I had to do something. Many of the girls and women who I had come to know for years had removed or were contemplating removing their hijabs. As I had spent twenty years diminishing my faith for some of the same reasons, I knew that was not the answer either. How could I help these women and girls feel more empowered in their identities.
RC: Is your target audience women and girls of ALL backgrounds? How would you like Not Without My Hijab to impact your target audience?
HD: My target audience are girls and women of faith looking to make a positive impact on the world without diminishing or denouncing their faith or beliefs. I would like visibly Muslim women to feel empowered by their decision to be obedient to their Creator and inspired to become the best version of themselves. The Not Without My Hijab platform also offers an educational aspect to non-Muslims who are curious about hijab and understanding the Muslim experience.
RC:How can we purchase the book and where can we see the play (if still ongoing)?
HD: The book and the play can be purchased on our website www.beyouinhd.com; the goal is to tour the fifty states of the USA. We have debuted in four states so far. All my books also available on Amazon.
My social Media Links are :
IG: https://www.instagram.com/beyouinhd/?hl=enFB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/116841215707775/LinkedIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/halimahdeoliveira/