Meet Naima Ali, the editor hoping to inspire Muslim women through SAKINA magazine.
How many magazines for Muslim women that have gone mainstream do we know? Not enough. I spoke to the editor of SAKINA magazine, Naima Ali, who stated that growing up with magazines like Vogue, ELLE and Seventeen- “you, yourself, feel as if you don’t belong because you’re not represented on those platforms”. Therefore the creation of SAKINA Magazine was in hopes to give young Muslim women more of a platform for expression, a place to discuss their personal issues and inner thoughts.
Naima Ali grew up in London, England and now resides in Malmö, Sweden. She’s a student studying international relations at Malmö University. Naima and her fellow editors started from scratch and came up with a vision. The creation of SAKINA magazine is a way of taking a proactive approach in what they believe it. Instead of dwelling on the past and questioning why mainstream magazines don’t feature Muslim women, they decided to create their own space for Muslim women. SAKINA is a word derived from the Quran and means “spirit of tranquility” and peace. With a compelling word like that as the name of the magazine, it invokes readers to understand what the concept of the magazine it.
The creation of the first issue took a lot of time and planning. Naima insisted that the magazine should be published differently from others. So instead of using a website or a blog, the group launched their magazine on a site called “ISSUU”. This is a interactive platform where you can upload magazines and flip through the pages as if it was a hard copy- exposing yourself to online communities. Anyone can access it. Naima describes the experience- “we thought that was really cool but it did take a lot planning, In-design and Photoshop. But regardless it was a fun experience. We would obviously want to try other things instead of limiting our issues to online.”
For the editors of the magazine, starting it from scratch not only meant needing skills required for different softwares but deeply thinking about what content to include. Therefore there was trials and tribulations to overcome in order to have a successful first issue. Learning the rudiments of a magazine meant understanding your audience and what they would like to read. Naima explained to me over the phone that the team wanted to make sure “it wasn’t a religious magazine” instead saying that “we wanted to give our viewpoints on various topics from a Islamic perspective”. That includes dividing the magazines into five categories: beauty, lifestyle: mental health, entertainment: arts and culture, fashion as well as interviewing influential people. Therefore the basis of the magazine is valued by what their consumers want to read.
Naima says that her and her team think to themselves “if we had the magazine growing up, what would we want it to include?” So that’s how they determine the content of the magazine. By touching upon topics that young Muslim women would want to know about so they can look at it and say “yes this is me, and i need this”. Overall it is important to “take inspiration from our audience and craft something that is as realistic as possible”. Currently the magazine only has one issue but the team said they would like to have a theme behind each issue in the future. Already drawing upon new ideas.
I asked Naima what makes SAKINA different from other upcoming magazines on the market. She replied that the main difference is that it is “entirely for Muslim women and we are sticking to a specific age group: 18 to 25”. As well as the demographic being for young women, Naima stressed on the importance of giving more representation to Muslim women of colour, especially black Muslim women. Saying “that is not to exclude anybody else, but we know in the media black Muslim women get the least amount of coverage”. This is essential as the magazine gives the readers a voice. Naima describes SAKINA magazine for their audience as a “safe space”, adding on that it’s “something that can make Muslim women feel like they belong considering most of the time they don’t feel included in society”. That being so, SAKINA is something that can “unite us all”.
So what’s the next mission for the team behind the magazine? Personally for Naima, she writes in the mental health column and her goal is help their readers speak out about issues – “I want them to know that if they feel like they can’t get the help they need because of stigmas in their community, here in SAKINA we know what you’re going through, we understand so don’t hesitate to reach out to us”. For the magazine as a whole, the main goal is to continue making Muslim women feel great about themselves. So instead of feeling like young girls/women have to pick out a bigger mainstream magazines, they can pick out SAKINA instead and see that it caters towards them.