The incredible Salma Hindy likes to refer to herself as a clinical engineer by day and stand-up comedian by night. Mixing both business and pleasure, she can take the stage by storm. Growing up she was raised in a very strict Egyptian-Muslim household, she has spoken up about her parent’s worst fear which was if their children became too open-minded.
As life takes a toll on everyone, it took one on for Hindy as well. She was put in certain situations, has gone through various phases, and met different people that helped her grow and become the open-minded individual that she is today.
We got the pleasure to sit down with her and talk about everything from mental health, parent’s approval, happiness, comedy, and how to live your most authentic life.
Being raised in a traditional Arab-Muslim household
Salma Hindy: I grew up in a very religious, Muslim, Arab household, and because of that when people ask me to give them tips on moving out I always say that it was not an overnight thing. My family made sure that their kids were very sheltered, I only went to Islamic school growing up, I was not allowed to have any non-Muslim friends, we did not have minimum wage jobs and we even did not talk to our neighbors. My baba was really scared we would be influenced by this western society and to him, that was the ultimate level of corruption.
Convincing parents for wanting to pursue comdey, live alone before marriage, and be in two male-dominated fields
Salma Hindy: I will say that being in male-dominated fields was never a huge issue because my parents both come from educated backgrounds… I mean my mom did engineering in Egypt. This was not an issue because they went through it, my dad is also big on education and professionalism. To this day I never say that I was able to successfully convince my parents to allow me to do comedy and let me move out. That is the biggest distinction; the let me. No one allowed me to do anything, I just did it. The only thing that they didn’t do was stop me. It’s surprising because I thought they were going to stage an intervention. My parents gave me the silent treatment both times when I moved out, and when I told them I wanted to pursue comedy. It is difficult for my parents to see eye-to-eye with me, and I'm sure that is the same with a lot of Arab children and their parents. Salma Hindy: I will say that as far as comedy goes once my mom was at one of my shows but she didn’t think she was going to see me perform. That one night she actually got to see me perform, and I saw her laugh, and that is one I sort of got the approval of. She got to see it first hand that it was nothing like what she thought. My parents eased into me doing comedy after that. They are still upset about comedy bars, and people drinking in the audience. As of now, it is kind of like out of sight, out of mind As far as moving out goes, there was a lot of drama, and people living in my parent's house. It all got too much for me so I had to take action, and I told them straight up that I could no longer live with them anymore. That was a whole other argument and silent treatment. Eventually, they have gotten used to it, and I will even say my relationship with my parents has gotten better. Now they ask my other younger siblings when they will move out which is funny to me.
Salma Hindy discusses dating in the Muslim and Arab world and her experience being an Arab-Muslim woman
Salma Hindy: I would argue when people say Muslims marry, and not date because everyone I know now is dating. The word dating really upsets Muslims because it implies sexual relationships, but there is obviously more to it. I was actually really naive entering the dating world, I thought no one was sexually active but you would be surprised. I would say it is 50/50. I only really had one serious relationship, and after that, I started dating like going on the apps and seeing what was out there. I would say just not have a checklist and go exactly off of that. You never know who you are going to find. Before dating I had a checklist of what I wanted in an ideal man until I actually was in my first relationship and that was a whole shit show. Salma Hindy: So, yeah I would say just go with the flow, but dating in the Muslim, and the Arab world is not as different more and more people are realizing the misogyny behind virginity. Muslims have a checklist that they want their partner to be a virgin, pray 5 times a day, etc, but that does not make a difference at all. What does make a difference is an empathy, emotional stability, kindness, and understanding. I really understood that after my relationship.
Seeking therapy and why do you feel it is so important for the Muslim and/or Arab women?
Salma Hindy: I completely know that there is a stigma around therapy, but thank God people are starting to finally understand that they need to get help. They realize that they are unhappy, and they want to stop lying to themselves. There is also a huge wave of therapy advocacy on social media so people are gaining knowledge off of that. I think now there is a little less stigma around therapy especially after the pandemic. A lot of my friends have sought therapy during the pandemic. Salma Hindy: I started going to therapy 3 years ago and I go there religiously like once a week or more if needed. Therapy is great, and it has taught me a lot about myself, so I always recommend it to everyone. When I first went it was word vomit, I don't even think the therapist had the chance to get two words in, but it was in a time of crisis. After my first, it was like the puzzle pieces fit, when someone puts a name to what you are feeling or gives you an observation that no one previously noticed, it makes you feel less alone. In therapy now I'm in a state of enlightenment, and wisdom.
Salma Hindy gives one advice to someone in their 20’s
Salma Hindy: I feel like the decade of the ’20s is so different. In the beginning, you never know what is going on, and towards the end, you have accepted a lot of reality. I would probably emphasize being the main character of their life, and live their life more proactively. Savor every bit of life, and enjoy every second. Life is too short.
That concludes the brief discussion we had with the amazing Salma Hindy. Her final wish is that when anyone listens to her or sees her perform on stage that they see her as a smart and outspoken individual, and realize that she is far from being oppressed. She hates the stereotypes that are everywhere surrounding the oppression of Muslim women, she hopes that when individuals see that she is very opinionated, open-minded a lot of those stereotypes are shattered right there.
We would say that she is not only smart and outspoken, but also very courageous, brave, and has paved a stepping stone for a lot of young Arab girls to live their life more authentically, and take action. We look forward to continuing to see her work.