On just about every cover of Azizah, the first of a recent crop of American Muslim women’s magazines, is a woman who wears the hijab, or head scarf.

The practice has drawn criticisms that Tayyibah Taylor, Azizah’s publisher and editor, is perpetuating stereotypes that she herself wants eliminated.

But Taylor is unapologetic: she wants the magazine to be instantly recognisable as a Muslim magazine and sees it as a platform for rehabilitating the hijab as well as redefining Muslim women at a time when many feel misrepresented.

Azizah, which means “dear” or “strong” in Arabic, was launched in 2000 and blends profiles of prominent Muslim women with articles on fashion, food, health, travel and spirituality. And it may be coming to Australia, with discussions under way for an international edition incorporating stories on local Muslim women.

The current edition of the quarterly glossy, which has a US circulation of about 40,000, features the world’s first private female space tourist, Anousheh Ansari, as well as articles on Muslim women lawyers, domestic violence (or ways to achieve domestic bliss) and “womb wellness”.

“For centuries, particularly within Muslim majority countries, women have been defined by men ”¦” said Taylor, who is visiting Sydney as part of the US consulate’s speakers program.

“Here is an opportunity to define ourselves.”


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