Many Divithana readers are familiar with the voice of Alma Hadžić, editor of radio „BIR“. Many times I wondered who is this pleasant-voiced woman who regularly informs us of events in our community and beyond and who introduces us to many interesting guests. When I finally got a chance to meet her, she made such a strong impression on me with her modesty and her inspiring life story. Alma is one of the most inspiring Muslim women in our country. Find out why from the interview we are presenting you.
Divithana: Many Divithana readers are familiar with the voice of Alma Hadžić, editor of radio „BIR“. Who is, actually, Alma? Can you briefly introduce yourself to the readers of Divithana?
Well, thank you for your interest. For those of you who ask that question we are starting this conversation with, I can say I was born in Tešanj. I completed elementary and high school in my hometown, and the Faculty of Political Science in Sarajevo. My professional orientation was influenced by my love towards the radio. Radio sound was always magical for me. It used to be very popular during my childhood and my youth. Beside books, my favourite magazines and travels, radio has also helped me to develop my imagination and to release myself to the magic of broadcast.
The turning-point was the aggression. Although I worked as a part-time radio journalist when I was in high school, during the aggression which I spent in my hometown I completely committed myself to the radio.
During the aggression, for two war years I was employed as a high school professor. I am very proud of that fact. My students used to be in the frontlines for two or three days and came to classes when they were free. That period of direct connecting with those brave young people is unforgettable and always inspiring for me.
For a while I worked as a correspondent of Radio BiH from Tešanj. Then the marriage came and my coming to Sarajevo, where I worked as a member of editorial staff for culture of Radio BiH. Unfortunately, when I graduated in 1997 there wasn’t place for a pregnant woman, later a young mother in Radio BiH so I didn’t get a steady job. After that, I gave birth to three daughters: Nusejba, Nusrah and Senijja and a son, Muharrem –Ibrahim. I have been working at radio BIR since 2008.
Divithana: Muslim women and women in general make balance between their jobs and families in different ways. You have made your career after you had given birth to your four children. What is your story? Who was your biggest support?
My experience in career is from the time I wasn’t married and wasn’t a mother. That is the period of my youth, especially the experience of work during the aggression. I was only dedicated to my education and work. Marrying and children had changed everything; above all my priorities. Earlier I said that in 1997 I had to stop my career because I couldn’t get employed in Radio BiH because I was highly pregnant with my daughter Nusejba. I came to Sarajevo in 1996 when Mr DževadKučukalić, editor of news correspondence at the time, called me. After I gave birth to my eldest daughter I tried to work again. However, circumstances led me to other things. My four children were born in the period of five years. It wasn’t possible to organize taking care of my children at the time among other things. I was consent. I dedicated myself to my children. However, I didn’t ‘give up. With the help of Allah s.w.t. I knew and felt that somewhere a radio oasis is waiting for me. That’s how it was. I found it when I came to radio BIR.
I wouldn’t want to give advice to anyone; I would only say that it is necessary to rank priorities. These days I look at young mums struggling to keep their jobs, leaving small children to others to take care. I wasn’t that resourceful and didn’t have anyone nearby to take care of my four children, and I also couldn’t give money for kindergarten. I can only thank to Allah s.w.t. for the time I committed to them and for opportunity to fulfil my ideas and thoughts in my work.
My biggest support is my husband Muharem. His understanding for extreme dynamics and constant changes in this work is unique. It would be very hard if there weren’t for his support, help and my husband’s encouraging me to move on through conversation and advice. I pray to Allah s.w.t to reward him for everything. My children, who are exceptional with their character and interests, also give me the strength. DaughterNusejba is an excellent student of GaziHusrevBey Madrasah, this year, inshaAllah, she is graduating. Nusrah is in the third grade of the same madrasah, successful in the debate club, trains athletics and loves journalism, and we shall see, inshaAllah if that is her choice, I will be glad to help her. Senijja is in the eighth grade of the primary school, also trains athletics. Muharem-Ibrahim is in the seventh grade and practices shooting. Besides relying on Allah s.w.t. and looking upon His Messenger, my family and our home are my greatest resort.
Divithana: Radio BIR was established in 2008 and has become a recognizable brand among the Muslims in our country and abroad. What is the position of media in the Islamic Community? Have the potentials of the media been used to serve the Islamic Community and Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina?
The Islamic Community is making a huge step forward by establishing the radio and, inshaAllah, by developing some other media. We have had ‘Preporod’ since the 1970s, and it is, beside some other publications, an evident proof that there are people in our community looking for the way to communicate with the membership via media. I don’t know if there is anybody, and even if there is he won’t say it out loud, that is against the Islamic Community media, as prof. FahiraFejzic once told me.
Our community is respectable and very important for our society with its activities. It has grown in strength so much that treating some topics of primary importance cannot be covered in 2-3 minutes of a report in an informative show or periodic shows on some events, jubilees or occasions on public broadcasting service, some private TV stations or in the press. Numerous events, processes of such a dynamic community as ours demand their own media. That kind of media needs to be able to follow such dynamics and need to convey clear stand to the members of the community and the public. We can do so much better, there are no quick solutions. We keep searching. We cannot afford the luxury to leave the things as they are. Our society and our community have been inevitably changing, but the values we treasure must stay preserved. Media of the Islamic Community aren’t excluded of the work.
Divithana: What is the most memorable moment of your work for Radio BIR? What is your favourite interview? How do you cope with those moments where you don’t feel like talking to your guests? Not everyone can cheer and open up the people, bring outside what’s best in them to share with others. How do you manage to do that?
I especially like this ‘cheer people up’. When I set up a meeting or bring a guest to our programme, I try to be informed as much as I can about my guest. Of course the preparations are necessary and it’s nice to have a few things written down, as my guests often ask for. But, you see, the studio and the air, as I said before, are the places of unique magic so the conversation can often go to other direction, especially if we include listeners in our conversation. All of that needs to be directed, our collocutor needs to get time to finish his thoughts, hospitality needs to be shown to him and listeners must be told not to speak for too long without being offended. There is no schooling for this, this skill is achieved through years’ work, practice and listening to our guest. Listening -that is the answer. It is essential to listen to what your guest is speaking, register what he is saying, remind him of that, bring him back on track if he goes aside. I don’t like eccentricity; there is no room for that on the radio. I have extreme respect for my audience. Their trust is built for long time and imprudence and disrespect can easily ruin it. Certain stage fright and incertitude are always there. When they are gone, it’s not worth continuing this job.
Sometimes I have my own difficult moments. I leave ill child at home, or I am annoyed because of something, even sick, but this job is my choice. Listeners don’t need to know a word about my condition. It is my duty to find a way to keep up with my difficulties, find strength and warmth in my voice and with God’s help say: ” As-Salamu ‘alaikum, this is Radio Bir, welcome.”
Divithana: Can you tell us, as an employee of an institution of the Islamic Community, what is the position of women in institutions of the Islamic Community?
When I came to job interview to Radio Bir in 2008 I thought that the fact that I was the mother of four would mean something and that it would be a bonus for me. However, I was asked how it would be possible for me to work as a journalist with family engagements that I had. I wasn’t happy about it; at first I was bothered that they didn’t respect the fact. And then I got myself together and said: With the help of Allah I will show that I can do it. So no one makes any space for you. Perhaps that is possible in some segments of the Islamic Community, but in media space of incessant communication, struggle for a story, material, programme and contents, only the endurable, persistent and capable stay. For the fifth anniversary of Radio Bir I got acknowledgement for extraordinary contribution to radio development, which makes me very proud. In the past couple of years I have met fabulous, unique and diligent Muslim women. There is a huge number of those who work every day, battle for their space and overcoming visible and invisible barriers that exist in our community as well.
Divithana: How much space do women in the Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina have for their action and how much to they use the opportunities that come across their way for their own and for the sake of the community? Are there any women initiatives, projects or something similar?
There has been a recent initiative that gathered women in the Islamic Community and showed that we are here, capable, but we must still fight for the place that Allah s.w.t. has guaranteed us. Soon we expect the new Council of the Islamic Community to be formed and according to unofficial information, more women have been selected than there were in the previous council, only 4.
When she shows her skills and ability, only then can a woman in the Islamic Community build her place, but somehow we lack sisterly support and rejoicing over the success of any one of us. Unfortunately, I have witnessed many examples of lack of support and even most despicable acts and reactions. That isn’t the picture of a civilized and ethical person. A Muslim woman must go beyond this and beat this lowliness.
Divithana: You have been one of those persons that supported us most heartily in our work and we are so grateful to you for that. What would be your message to the Muslim girls and women with ideas to contribute to the society?
Divithana is extraordinary. It is my pleasure that I have met you. You have been thrilling me with your enthusiasm and the way you work, always being precise, steady and at up-to-date beautiful young persons changing our reality for better.
If some punch-line needs to be drawn, here are a few words.
Don’t mind the negative comments. Move away from the persons pumping out your energy. Allah s.w.t knows about everybody and if He has gifted you with a talent, ability or some skill seize the chance to use it in your best strength and inspiration for doing good and distracting from evil.
Translator: E. Hodžić
This interview was originally published here: Alma Hadžić