Halima Hagi-Mohamed: Finding “Amilah”

Halima Hagi-Mohamed is a Somali-American writer. She was born in Nairobi, Kenya and raised in Fresno, California. Her writing deals with themes of family, mental health, identity, and religion.

My name is Halima Hagi-Mohamed and I’m a Somali-American Muslim residing in California.

I was born in Nairobi, Kenya, and came to America with my family when I was only a few months old. Many years of my life were spent living in Fresno, California. It was there where I developed a love for books and the written word.

I turned to writing at a time in my life where I was experiencing a lot of pain, whether that was bearing the brunt of bullying, racism, depression, loneliness, or Islamaphobia. A lot of these things happened to me in quick succession and I found sweet peace in the written word. I could escape to worlds all my own with characters I wholly created. That’s not to say I would create them without fault or trouble. I suppose it was just the freedom of choosing when the bad things would happen.

I found a sense of belonging from the people who read my stories, the loyal group who ate them up on Wattpad, Facebook, my blogs and more. I treasured my role as storyteller. Now as an adult I continue to write even when it feels like the words don’t love me back. Even when my stories are rejected. I fight myself to create characters with depth and stories with meaning. The stories are what kept me pushing through painful and lonely times. I write because it fills my life with purpose and my journey with richness. A hobby that had its roots in pain is a difficult one to discard and I plan to never do away with it. Each character in my stories is my responsibility and I must do them justice by telling their story.

As a Black, Muslim and female I’m faced with so much. The blatant racism and nasty Islamaphobia I regularly experienced have taken new forms now. They disguise themselves as cute things called macroaggressions, condescension, rudeness and passive aggressive behavior. Still I write and turn my frustration and imagination into stories for others to enjoy. I hope to never abandon the words because they were there for me when no one else was.

Last year I published my first book of short stories titled, Amilah. It’s an anthology of fictional short stories dealing with the lives of Somali-Americans. The stories focus on various difficult issues, with an underlining of hope or amilah. I’m thankful for all the success my book has had thus far. I hope to publish another book in the near future.

I believe that pursuing your passions is a must. If you love to do something, don’t stop. Keep going and watch as it takes you places you would have never expected to reach.

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