Oral History Interview with Hanifa Rahman on July 21, 2020

Oral History Interview with Hanifa Rahman on July 21, 2020



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Rahman, Hanifa


Bills, Zoie; Perkins, Dr. Alisa (Research Director)


Oral history interview with Hanifa Rahman conducted by Zoie Bills on July 21, 2020. Interview written by Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director) and Zoie Bills. Hanifa Rahman was born on September 1st, 1956 in Detroit to a family with roots in the Southern Baptist tradition. Rahman’s parents were born in Virginia and Georgia, and moved to Detroit in the mid-1950s, motivated partly by a desire to leave behind the racism they experienced in the South. Encouraged by her father to find her own religious path, Rahman converted to Islam when she was twenty-nine years old. She became an active member of the Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center, where she has served as the soup kitchen manager for more than ten years. In this capacity, Rahman prepares food, supervises inventory, and creates menus, providing nourishing meals to members of the surrounding community. Rahman frequently volunteers at the annual Day of Dignity, where she works with other Muslim Center members to distribute new clothes and other resources to people in need. Rahman is an expert in urban gardening and maintains her own garden, Making Shade Farms, on five acres of land connected to her home. Here, Rahman cultivates various vegetables, fruits, and herbs while also raising chickens and a goat. She also maintains beehives, earning her the nickname “Queen Bee.” Rahman contributes to the community by offering fresh produce from her garden to her neighbors and others in need, especially the elderly, and teaching gardening classes. In the interview, Rahman reflects on the importance of food sovereignty in Detroit and the potential of urban farming and organizations such as Keep Growing Detroit to help achieve this goal. She also discusses how, by participating in urban farming, Detroit residents can develop a sense of pride and an understanding of the community they live in while also developing skills to provide healthy and nutritious food for themselves and their families.

Date of Interview


Location of Interview

Detroit, MI (Interview conducted over Zoom)


African-American history, African-American Muslims, Animal husbandry, Baptist Christianity, Bean soup, Beekeeping, Christianity, Clothing drive, Community building, Community development, Community partnerships, Conversion to Islam, COVID-19 pandemic, Crop walk, Day of Dignity, Detroit, Zarinah El-Amin, Food desert, Food distribution, Food donations, Food sovereignty, Fort Benning, Garden consultations, Gardening classes, Georgia, Great Migration, Headwrap Expo, Honey, Hoop Houses, Housing rehabilitation, HUDA Clinic, Islam, Islam in America, Keep Growing Detroit, Kitchen manager, Making Shade Farms, Michigan, Muslim Americans, Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center, Muslims, Racism, Raised beds, Ramadan, Reversion to Islam, Serving the elderly, Soil health, Soup kitchen, Soup kitchen manager, Tool loaning, Urban farming, Urban gardening, Volunteering, Volunteerism, Water containment system


African American Studies | Africana Studies | Agriculture | American Studies | Animal Sciences | Apiculture | Civic and Community Engagement | Community-Based Research | Digital Humanities | Ethics in Religion | Inequality and Stratification | Islamic Studies | Nonprofit Administration and Management | Politics and Social Change | Race and Ethnicity | Religion | Urban Studies and Planning


Interview conducted online over Zoom by Zoie Bills. Written by Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director) and Zoie Bills. Facilitated by Dr. Alisa Perkins and Ismaeel Dhul-Quarnayn. Video Edited by: Rebecca Kyser. Transcribed by: Meghana Srinivasa. Transcription edited by: Dr. Alisa Perkins. Metadata by: Tristan Draper. Metadata edited by Dr. Alisa Perkins and Sophia Wimberley.



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Dream of Detroit Interviews were made possible by funding from the Pillars Grant and Whiting Foundation. Content is for educational purposes only and non-reproducible; interviews are not to be duplicated, but may be linked through ScholarWorks with appropriate attribution. Please direct any questions about copyright to scholarworks@wmich.edu.


Funder Pillars Fund and Whiting Foundation


Dream of Detroit

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Oral History Interview with Hanifa Rahman on July 21, 2020