Magazines Put Muslim Culture on Display


They critique foreign policy, discuss teen fashion and deal with women's empowerment, just like so many other magazines fanned across the shelves of American newsstands.

These, however, have names like Islamica, Muslim Girl and Azizah. High-quality, with glossy covers, modern layouts and polished writing, the publications represent the rising voices of American Muslims eager to participate in Western society's media dialogue.

Observers say these new Muslim-American publications, both online and print, point to a maturity in the community and a desire to address what it views as imperfect representation in the mainstream media.

"There is a tendency on the part of non-Muslims to view Muslims as a monolithic 'other,' and the need to exhibit the many dimensions of Muslims was very important to me," said M. Salahuddin Khan, the Chicago area-based publisher of Islamica. "In so doing, we are communicating the essential humanity of Muslims."

The publications and Web sites, which also include Muslim Family and Islamic Horizons, are trying to discuss Muslim culture in the intellectual and social contexts of the West.

"I think there is a whole wave of new publications that are arriving from the second generation with a great urge to express themselves," said Ihsan Bagby, professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky. "They're trying to lay out a viewpoint that corresponds to that second-generation mentality: more moderate, more engaged in society."

A recent issue of Islamica, which is produced internationally and is available at Barnes and Noble and Borders, looks at the impact of Al Jazeera, the Middle Eastern TV news station, on the global media market. In the style of Atlantic Monthly, the quarterly magazine was launched as an academic journal at the London School of Economics before it was reinvented as a more mainstream publication in 2004.

"The goal is to take a multidimensional view of Muslims and Muslim culture and present it in a format that is appealing, to kind of broaden the way people think about issues related to Muslim culture, religion and thought," deputy editor Firas Ahmad said. "We are trying to do it in a holistic way ... and we try and balance the content of each issue with things like travel writing and pictorial essays." (MORE)

 


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