A new magazine hit newsstands across the United States and Canada last month. Muslim Girl is a glossy new lifestyle magazine that reflects the diversity among Muslim teens, inspires them and gives them a face and a voice.
The target audience for the new publication is Muslim women in North America aged 14 to 18..
"We know from our research that that market is about 400,000 to 500,000 teen girls," Muslim Girl Magazine editor Ausma Khan says.
Muslim American teens share common ground with their non-Muslim peers. "We know that they tend to go to public school, they watch television, they read teen magazines, they are very Internet savvy, they play video games, they shop and talk on the phone a lot," Khan says. "Those are things that they have in common with their American peers. What's different about them is that they are very proud of their identity as Muslims, and that informs their daily life. So, for example, they do things like Qura'an Study or they may go to Islamic school. They have aspects of their lives wherein they celebrate their Islamic values."
And, Khan says, they have to deal with many challenges on an almost daily basis because of their faith."The American Muslim teen is maybe feeling alienated on questions such as boyfriends, relationships, drinking and having certain types of freedoms," she says. "We know that they have to reconcile their own personal religious values with the largely secular society that they live within. But we think that America is such a wonderful country because it's a place that allows you to really negotiate these differences and to speak up for your own individuality as long as you respect the rights of others."Muslim Girl's main goal is to give these teens a voice, and encourage them to talk openly about what concerns them."We have a regular column called 'Relationship Reality Check' where we have girls write in and talk to us about what they see as their relationship dilemmas," says Khan. "This might just be between parents and children, or between siblings, or it could be about a girl and a boy, how she fits in or how she resists certain pressures in American society. We're also going to tackle issues like dating from the Muslim perspective - what do the girls really think about it? What their parents think about it? How do parents and children communication on these issues?"
The magazine also spotlights girls who are making a difference. Khan says those unsung heroes can inspire others and dispel the notion that Muslim women conform to one particular model. "In our launch issue we have these two amazing stories about two Muslim girls," she says. "One is a young woman by the name of Arshia Khan, who joined the Peace Corps and worked in Malawi for two years as an environmental worker. The other is our Muslim Girl of the Month. Her name is Khadija Taufique. After the 2004 Indonesia tsunami, she worked very hard with other Muslim youth in her community to raise funds for the victims of the tsunami in Indonesia. Then she went there personally to deliver that aid."
January's premiere issue also includes a feature by Inas Younis, an Iraqi American from Kansas. She wrote about the diversity of the Muslim American population in her story, 'Growing up American.'
"'Growing up American' is really a profile of six different girls from across the country, from different background, different ages and different points of view," Younis says. "All of them talking about what's important to them being a Muslim girl." The group includes African Americans, Arabs subjects, and girls who are half American, half Pakistani. "In spite of the fact that they come from different backgrounds, and were raised in different circumstances, some in very strict religious schools, some in public schools, some were home schooled," Younis says, "they still have a lot in common."
Younis believes Muslim girls need to hear about Muslim women who are successfully pursuing unconventional dreams. She has written an article about one such role model for an up-coming issue. "I did an interview with Baroness Uddin," she says. "I met her in New York at a conference that was an initiative to empower Muslim women worldwide. She is the first Bengali Muslim woman to ever be appointed to the House of Lords [in the British Parliament]. She is an amazing role model. She married young, had 5 children, was very socially active and rose in the political arena."
Like other teen magazines, Muslim Girl also includes regular features about pop culture, music, sports and international travel. Editor Ausma Khan hopes the magazine will soon be distributed outside the United States and become a bridge between young Muslim women all around the world.