Business Name: WOW Publishing Inc BDA Azizah Magazine, a magazine that reflects the experiences and perspectives of Muslim women in America
Type of Business: Media
Business Location: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Reason for starting
The idea of Azizah Magazine first came to me when I attended a conference for Muslim American women in 1992. The energy, expertise, style and spirituality of the women in the hall mesmerized me. What I experienced there was incongruent with the stereotypical mainstream media images of Muslim women. Those portrayals usually depict Muslim women as oppressed, victimized, silenced non-entities. I was motivated to launch Azizah Magazine to fill the void of the Muslim woman’s voice in the media and to provide an accurate portrayal of Muslim women. My business partner, Marlina Soerakoesomah and I see Azizah as a vehicle for the voices of Muslim American women and an active space where their ambitions, accomplishments and issues are highlighted. It is a lifestyle magazine reflects Muslim American women in their rich diversity. Azizah empowers Muslim women to forge their own agenda instead of being defined by others.
How do you define success?
In general, I define success as the actualization of the aims and goals one sets, when the accomplishment of those objectives result in harmonious, beneficial experiences for all who are touched by them. Specifically, I define success for Azizah Magazine as being known as the premier lifestyle magazine for Muslim American women in the world. It is success when people hear the words “Muslim women” and they envision the women profiled and celebrated in Azizah. It is success to influence minds and hearts, both inside the Muslim community and outside, to view Muslim women as potent spiritual and social agents, and not as disenfranchised, disempowered beings.
It is difficult to define just one success that we see as the “biggest” one because there are different faucets to our success. The fact that we have won three industry awards could certainly be considered our biggest success. We won one New America Media Award and two Folio Eddie Awards. The three prestigious awards revealed Azizah’s excellence and worth to the industry, the nation and our target market. These awards announced our successes and our accomplishments. Spiritually, we are grateful for the many accolades we receive from readers who express their sincere thanks for having a magazine that reflects their lifestyle. They often say Azizah Magazine is the only women’s serial publication they can read in which they don’t have to censor or modify the information to fit their way of life.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Azizah is the first publication for Muslim American women and such a unique product was met with some suspicion and some resistance within our target market, as well as from some potential advertisers. Those who had defined the good, pious Muslim woman as the silent, invisible one were hesitant to accept a publication that not only celebrated the voices of Muslim women, but also promoted their images as empowered autonomous agents. There were people who doubted our ability to accurately reflect the vast spiritual and ethnic diversity of the Muslim American community and there were potential advertisers who wondered we had a political agenda. To allay the fears, we defined the Azizah woman and the one who makes no apology for being a woman and makes no apology for being a Muslim. We worked hard to make Azizah a publication known for its integrity, high editorial and artistic standards.
Who is your most important role model?
My parents have been my most important role models. Though now deceased, their powerful examples and lessons remain with me and guide me daily. They demonstrated the value of determination, resiliency, hard work, honesty and integrity. While giving me the priceless gift of unconditional love, they instilled in me the importance of seeing inherent value in every human being. From my parents, I inherited a courageous sense of adventure and an ardent love of travel.