We are about to witness a revolution where Muslim women are bringing the power of iqra into the 21st century. No longer sitting back waiting for someone else to produce a medium by which their voices can be heard.
In fact Muslim women have become pioneers in the magazine business, bridging the void between Islaam and the West, creating glossy magazines by which words convey the needs of today’s Muslim Woman. Islaam is being presented for the world to see, from the U.S.A. to the U.K. where there are no skimpy clad girls, or advertising for non-halaal products; just the good stuff makes it to publication.
The Muslim woman is presently being seen in a light that at long last gives her a voice in Western society’s media discussing everything from fashion to what’s cooking, but the appeal goes further and draws in non-Muslims who are now able to see Muslim women in a new vein, one that dispels the stereotype and gives her attributes, character and emotion.
So, the doors have been opened by the pioneer Muslim women who have become editors and publishers of great Muslim magazines. Such magazines already exist on racks in shops such as Azizah (U.S.), Muslim Girl Magazine (U.S.A.), Sisters Magazine (U.K.), and Emel (U.K.). Every Muslim magazine mentioned is designed on par with their Western counterparts with full colour, eye-catching designs and complimented with high-quality photographs that express the views of thinking Muslim women.
Azizah magazine which originates in the U.S.A. was created in 2002 by founding Editor Tayyibah Taylor. The magazine is designed for the contemporary, educated Muslim woman who is confident about her Islaamic faith and continually seeks to improve all aspects of her life. Topics such as special reports, lifestyle and departments grace the pages of this magazine.
For founding editor Ausma Khan’s of Muslim Girl Magazine which is published in the U.S.A., the content was not so rigid and more of a challenge in putting together as she says, “Our target audience is 18-24 year old Muslim women. Essentially, we hope to enlighten, celebrate and inspire our audience by telling their stories, celebrating their values and providing information, guidance and entertainment within the parameters of values they hold dear.”
At Muslim Girl Magazine given that the audience is impressionable young Muslims whose interests are very diverse including fashion, peer pressure and consist of American teenagers who have lots of questions they want answered. Ausma says, “We want to engage with young women and hear them speak, rather than preaching at them. And we want them to know that our magazine is a place where they can ask any question or share any problem that is on their minds without fear of criticism or dismissal.”
This is visible through the content of the magazine which features local and international Muslim girls who do extraordinary things. Ausma goes onto to say that, “We were inspired to start the magazine as a result of Muslim Girl’s desire to share the positive contributions they make in their society and communities every day.”
Did You Know?
The total Muslim population in the U.K. is 1.6 million of which 48 per cent are female (Office of National Statistics ,U.K., 2004)
Across the Atlantic Ocean “Emel” named to sound like the letters M and L, as in Muslim Life, as well as the Arabic word for “hope” is a lifestyle magazine that celebrates contemporary British Muslim culture. Created in 2003 by founding Editor Sarah Joseph, it is designed with both females and males in mind and features Muslim-inspired inventions and personality profiles.
Sisters Magazine which also originates from the U.K. was inspired by founding editor Nai’ma Roberts who is also author of the book “From My Sisters’ Lips”, says her inspiration for starting Sisters Magazine derived from the response she got from her book “I wanted to continue the inspiration and connections between my sisters in Islaam. I wanted to publish a magazine that reflected a confident Islaamic ethos and one that I would be proud to represent.”
The content of Sisters Magazine began as an online only magazine but, but due to popular demand a printed magazine was made possible. Na’ima says, “We cover every aspect of a woman’s life, from her relationship with Allaah to her relationship with herself as a woman and with her family, community and the outside world. And we have great fashion, food and décor ideas too!”
One theme that runs in all of the said magazines is the topic of fashion as it relates to the Muslim woman. Assuming that just under 50 percent of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are females these magazines are promoting a unique trend in clothing under the heading of modest fashion, showcasing ideas and creations put together by the mix and match process of store bought clothes to highlighting clothing lines by Muslim designers. This is not to say that da‘wah is not a feature in these magazines. They actively invite all to the way of Islaam, be it through poetry, real life stories or direct quotes and references to the ’Qura~n.
Ausma, of Muslim Girl Magazine states that they feature inspirational stories about real-life girls who are wonderful exemplars of Islaam, “we have several columns where we answer questions on ethical or moral dilemmas from a faith-based perspective, for those who are seeking information on how Islaamic values translate into real-world choices.”
Na’ima of Sisters Magazine says, “Our da‘wah is subtle but it is definitelythere:we only quote authentic sources and we encourage the Sunnah, always. We address the realities of living Islaam but always in an encouraging, hopeful way.”
Conveying the message is in fact a responsibility of each and every Muslim, according to his or her ability and with a magazine at their disposal these founding editors aim to spread the word of Islaam. For a long time the world of Muslim women has been largely misunderstood and misinterpreted, but through the changing times and pioneer Muslim women such as Ausma Khan and Na’ima Roberts the birth of Muslim magazines is set to become the empowerment tool for the 21st century
The very words that grace the pages show the elegance of modest behaviour and dress, strengthening faith and empowering the Muslim woman in a worldwide Islaamic network of Muslim women. The knowledge-based glossy Muslim magazines encourages proper Islaamic belief and behaviour encouraging a surge of interest from non-Islaamic readers breaking down cultural borders and changing the negative image of Islaam in the Western press. So, get ready, for the Mainstream Modest Muslimah has arrived in glossy magazines created by Muslims, written for Muslims, featuring Muslims that you can have delivered to your post box or in-box. All of which are bringing a better understanding of what Muslim women are really about to an audience who are ready to read.
Muslim Girl Magazine, U.S.A.
Editor: Ausma Khan
Sisters Magazine, U.K.
Editor: Na’ima Roberts
Azizah Magazine, U.S.A.
Editor: Tayyibah Taylor
Emel Magazine, U.K.
Editor: Sarah Joseph
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