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TOKYO MODEST FASHION WEEK ALL THAT GLITTERS IS

GOLD

Soleil

DESERT COVE AUTUMN/ WINTER 2017

WHY ARE DARK-SKINNED WOMEN NOT REPRESENTED IN THE MODEST FASHION INDUSTRY?

BEING A MUSLIM WOMAN IN AMERICA In 2017


FA SH I O N 

DESERT COVE CLOSES DUBAI

LIVING 

MODEST FASHION WEEK 2017 

WOMEN THROUGH ART

TOKYO MODEST FASHION WEEK 2017

JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2018

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10 MINIMALIST TOP IDEAS FOR CULOTTE PANTS

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GOLD SOLEIL

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MIX PRINTS LIKE A PRO

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LAYER UP IN STYLE

FOOD 

VEGETARIAN PIE RECIPE

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PEANUT NOODLES RECIPE

H E A LTH 

BE A U T Y 

ESSKAYARR - HONOURING

GAYA TAKES BEAUTYCON LONDON

KEEPING IT CALM

TR AV E L 

ONCE UPON A TIME AT NEUSCHWANSTEIN

O PI N I O N 

BEING A MUSLIM WOMAN IN AMERICA IN 2017

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WHY ARE DARK-SKINNED WOMEN NOT REPRESENTED IN THE MODEST FASHION INDUSTRY?

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IS FASHION EMPOWERING WOMEN?

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COVER Photography: Faiz Khan

DOES MY FREEDOM BOTHER YOU?

Article: Gold Soleil Disclaimer: All rights reserved. No part of this magazine or content may be reproduced or used without the written permission of the publisher: C.A. Editorial Consultants. All information contained in this magazine is for information only, and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. The views, ideas, comments, and opinions expressed in this publication are solely of the writers, interviewees, press agencies, and manufacturers and do not represent the views of the editor or the publisher. Whilst every care is taken to ensure the accuracy and honesty in both editorial and advertising content at press time, the publisher will not be liable for any inaccuracies or losses incurred. Readers are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price of products/services referred to in this magazine. If you submit material to us, you automatically grant C.A. Editorial Consultants a license to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine, including licensed editions worldwide and in any physical or digital format throughout the world.


Editor’s MESSAGE Happy 2018, everybody! What a year 2017 was. It went by in a flash and to be honest, I don’t even remember half of it. Haha. Well I hope 2018 has begun on a good note for you and will be filled with lots more amazing adventures along the way, Insya’Allah. The new year brings lots of new and exciting changes for us starting with a brand new COVER! Hope you like the upgrade. Also our circulation has changed so this year we’re coming to you every fortnight (that’s once every two months). And with that comes more content. The 100-page issue this month is a testament to that. With more content comes better content too. I’ve realised that many of you out there have strong and powerful opinions about politics and society, and it certainly intrigues me. This issue we have powerful women, with powerful voices, tackling issues such as the misrepresentation of darkskinned women and how fashion (or lack thereof) empowers women. Truly thought-provoking. I have to thank these women for stepping out and putting their thoughts into words.

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For anyone interested in contributing a story or an opinion piece, we’re all ears. Drop us an email please at magazine@gayamagazine.com or you can reach me directly at juliana@gayamagazine.com. I would love to hear from you. In the meantime, enjoy our first issue of 2018 and have a great year ahead!

love & peace...

Juliana Iskandar

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OUR WRITERS Co-founder & CEO Editor-in-chief Juliana Iskandar juliana@gayamagazine.com

Beauty Editor Naira Ghanem Creative Content Producers Hanisah Maskon hani@gayamagazine.com Jessalynne Woo magazine@gayamagazine.com Marketing & Distribution Byte.ME Pte. Ltd. join our team of writers.

Aateka Samara Amal El Gharbi Amira Ben Abbes Ana Maria Aneesa Annie Mirza Anu Shukla Asma Toujani Asala Montaser Assil Taha Ayesha Khan Aylim Duran Azrina Naimuddin Aqeelah Lin Bushra Amjad Emma Khoo Faiza Murad Faizah Malik Fatumina Said Fizzah Rahman Hanna Begum Hajar Masri Heba Saeed Hira Ali Hasna B Idil Mohamed Ali Iqra Arif Lamaa Husseini Lamya Ayad Layla Rodrigues Lipa Hussain Madiha Ahmed Mahnoor Malik Malikah Aquil Malikah Ebrahim Mahvash Rehman Marium Khan Ahmad Marwa Samara

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Fashion

Desert Cove

Autumn/Winter 2017 6

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ubai Modest Fashion Week which took place at the magical Burj Park in Downtown Dubai, closed off with a show by local fashion house DESERT COVE - showcasing their new Autumn/Winter 2017 Collection labelled ASTIR. 7

An array of models wearing designs inspired by its literal translation Excitement, Motion and Awakening - beautifully dominated the runway during the final day of this leading global festival celebrating international modest fashion.

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Mosika Zeid, Founder of DESERT COVE, envisaged the collection as a fresh take on minimalistic chic with a modest twist and ultimate coverage. Undulating frills, floor length Modern Abayas and bell sleeves underscores the new collection featuring renowned Turkish high quality fabrics that are super fluid, airy and opaque. 8

The season’s colour palette features khaki green, neutral grey, intense purple, fierce red and a gorgeous amalgamation of monochrome. Astir reflects a sense of effortless and timeless elegance, focusing on luxurious quality and the perfect fit. The Dubai/Australian based brand fuses hijab-friendly aesthetics with Eastern influences.

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Mosika Zeid says “For me, Astir Collection represents the growth of the brand and our items, to meet our customer’s unique needs. Astir is the result of Desert Cove’s close connection and communication with our hijabi customers, influencers, bloggers to find out what they want. I am so thrilled to have debuted the collection at the prestigious DMFW and to have the collection be part of the movement of modest designers who really are taking centre stage internationally.”

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In addition to unveiling its Autumn/ Winter Collection 2017, DESERT COVE also showcased its collection in a pop-up store in the boutique area for the entire duration of the event, from 8th to 9th December 2017. The boutique was open to international press, influencers, celebrities and client prospects. It entertained buyers, who discovered and appreciated the current and upcoming DESERT COVE collections, and were quick to place their pre-launch orders of the items. Lawyer, Entrepreneur and a mother, Mosika wants her pieces to evoke conversation and contribute to the modesty movement - “My journey stems four years ago when I first moved to Dubai from Australia and started wearing hijab. Soon after I realized how difficult it was to find easy to wear clothing that was on trend but met my modesty needs. I ended up just buying things because they were long, or loose fitting - just so that I was meeting my modesty requirements. After I spoke to other hijabis and discovered most have the same issue, I thought, why not create Desert Cove to solve this problem! Today, Desert Cove is the only international brand that literally “hijabifies” current fashion trends - to make them suitable for women hailing from any background, any religion, any culture searching for a modest solution.” 10

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The DESERT COVE Autumn/Winter 2017-2018 Collection is a perfect blend between modesty, style and flair carrying a sense of elegance and sophistication in accordance with latest fashion trends designed for the young fashion divas, the entrepreneur, the professional and the ambitious woman that balances family and career A collection that is fashionable, qualitative, affordable and meets coverage requirements.

To view the collections or watch the runway show from Dubai Modest Fashion Week, tap the icons:

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Fashion

modest fashion week

2017

The designs, the looks, the fashion...all from Tokyo Modest Fashion Week 2017... Photos by Moslema in Style

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ashion designers and enthusiasts descended on Tokyo once again at this year’s edition of Tokyo Modest Fashion Week 2017. The 3-day event, which began on 21st November 2017, saw a wider array of designers as compared to its first edition held the year before – a clear indication that modest fashion is growing rapidly in Japan. 13

Seeing the growing global momentum of the Muslim/Halal market, it is no surprise that 2017 has been a big year for modest fashion. From the launch of Nike’s Pro Hijab, to Mattel inducting Ibtihaj Muhammad into the Barbie line, it is a year for celebration as the hijab and modest fashion make its way into the mainstream sphere.

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GENERATION M DESIGN AWARD

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This year, organisers, Halal Expo Japan, joined forces once again with Moslema In Style in recreating a bigger and better Tokyo Modest Fashion Week.

These young minds put their creative limits to the test creating new designs that pushed the usual perception of modest fashion.

Designers wowed audiences with their latest collections and for the first time ever, the 3-day event included the Generation M Design Award – a competition amongst some of the youngest and brightest in the modest fashion industry.

As we relish the discovery of new talent, it is hard not to recognize how far the modest fashion industry has come since its early stages and as we look back on the accomplishments of 2017, we are certain 2018 will be spectacular.

The Generation M Design Award saw fierce competition between fashion students from Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan.

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For more information, tap the icons:

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Fashion

MINIMALIST TOP IDEAS FOR CULOTTE PANTS his season is all about the new, loose cropped trousers. Indeed, the cullote pants is one of the comfiest fashion item that can be worn for various occasions. Plus, the wide and loose cuts make the cullote pants very Hijabi friendly. Although very comfortable to wear, styling these pants can be tricky. Then, what kind of tops are suitable for Cullote pants? Here are tips for 10 tops style you can copy easily.

Written by Shayma Syukron 18

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Peplum cut tops are one suitable type for cullote pants. Keep it simple by choosing one that has a peplum shape with a clear ruffle accent.

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ZAHRA SIGNATURE CROSS TIED BLOUSE

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For those who want to hide an unsightly belly, you can pick an asymmetric top which will camouflage your body shape.

JUNIPERLANE - JAIDA TOP

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On the flip side, wear an elaborate ruffled top and mix it with your culotte pant, this taro-purple shade can be combined with any coloured pant like black, grey, white, or even brown.

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HOUSE OF KARTINA - BLOUSE RUBELLA

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Play with a combination of textures like this collared top. This modified peplum form combined with culotte pants can be perfect for work.

ECLEMIX CISTI TOP

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Want to go for a casual look? This printed blouse looks perfectly cute once mixed with denim culotte pants.

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ZAHRA SIGNATURE BLOUSE PRINT SEA BIRD

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You can even go crazy with a bold pattern culotte pants while keeping your shirt and accessories to classic neutrals.

RESTU ANGGRAINI -KEIRA SHIRT

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Lately it's all been about the flare sleeve, dare looking elegant by mixing it with your favorite culotte pants!

MAHAJINGGA KAIA BLOUSE

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Make yourself look taller when wearing culotte pants. You can choose a top with a simple vertical line motif, pair it with cold -colored pants like grey, navy or white.

KORINA ALRON TOP

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This kind of neutral shirt can actually be paired with any pant, including culottes. Go loco by wearing it with patterned accessories and scarf!

HIJUPXMAJA INDONESIA SAIDA BLOUSE

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Keep it chic and professional with solid culottes, and this Victorian vintage ruffled top!

COVERING STORY ZEFANYA TOP

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All the tops featured are available at hijup.com. Use the voucher below to enjoy an exclusive promotion.

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Fashion

GOLD C R E AT E W H AT ’ S T RU LY YO U R S Photos by Faiz Khan 30

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To take this small yet powerful item to the next level, Gold Soleil International customizes them to make it truly yours. Gold Soleil International is a Canadian start-up dedicated to developing highend customizable purses and accessories for a diverse market. Gold Soleil offers one-of-a-kind complete customization and personalization options to customers who want the best in quality and style made specifically for them. Gold Soleil International is famous for its glamorous clutches embellished with a personalized name in any language on a gold or silver-plated plaques.

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clutch, a handbag, a briefcase – each of these accessories that may seem insignificant actually make a statement a statement that defines an entire outfit. A clutch usually accompanies a delicate evening gown and makes any woman feel like a princess.

We speak to the founder and creative mind behind Gold Soleil - Fatima Sarah Allibhai – on the brand, her vision and the future.

A handbag usually holds all our everyday items that we can’t live without – lipstick, powder, wallet, maybe even a book for us bookworms. A briefcase exudes confidence, power, strength – like we can take over the world (and we usually do). 31

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Gold Soleil customized clutch in black.

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How did Gold Soleil begin? What started out as designing and making personalized gift items for friends and family, turned into Gold Soleil International. Unlike most people in this industry, fashion is not a hobby, neither my passion. I was never fond of brands but wore whatever I felt just looked good. Being a teacher in an international school, my first vision of Gold Soleil was creating a clutch that anyone could wear. The goal was to create something that promoted diversity and was unique, which is why all products can be made with any name in any language. Personalized items also give people the opportunity to add something special to their gifts, which make them a popular alternative to off-the-shelf gifts. Fatima, we understand that you were an elementary school teacher. What made you decide to change paths and start Gold Soleil? So not many people know this, but I continued my passion in teaching and run Gold Soleil at the same time. It was definitely challenging at first balancing both; however, I didn’t want to give up my love for teaching and kids. I actually have my international teaching and 33

experience to be thankful for, as a lot of my ideas and inspirations come from the different people I am surrounded by. Being born in a multicultural country such as Canada, diversity is one of Canada’s strengths. I grew up in schools where hearing five or six different languages spoken on the playground was normal. This also surprises many, however, I am an elementary teacher and had no background experience in designing or branding or marketing. However, business was always an inner passion that I got from one of my biggest inspirations, my father. I always took the top business awards in my high school because when I enjoy something, I give it 110%. What is your main source of inspiration when designing? Creativity is an enigmatic aspect of human experience; it is often difficult to identify what it is that drives this impulse and the elements that inspire any artist’s work. For me, I would have to say my inspiration was art, specifically Arabic art and calligraphy. Being a teacher in the Middle East where there is a lot of apperception for art, that was my initial first push. When I started making my personalized items in Chinese, Armenian, Hindi, Bengali and other languages, the beauty of the different names and writing scripts have inspired some of my later designs.

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What sets Gold Soleil apart from the rest of the players in the market? The beauty of Gold Soleil is each item reflects the personal style of the buyer, so it has nothing to do with me. What color, name, plating even shapes all reflects each individual.

We live in a world where many things are massproduced. Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with that. But it’s also wonderful that more people everywhere are beginning to embrace things that are made by hand in small quantities and custom made...

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We live in a world where many things are mass-produced. Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with that. It’s great that some things are manufactured in massive quantities in order to fill a worldwide demand for them. But it’s also wonderful that more people everywhere are beginning to embrace things that are made by hand in small quantities and custom made. Finally, no two handmade items are exactly alike. Variations in color, shading, texture, shape and grain are inherent in a handmade item so that every single one is one-of-a-kind. This means that every handmade item you purchase is also one-of-a-kind. What’s not to like about that?

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Gold Soleil customized clutch in white.

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Each bag and piece of accessory is intricately designed and customized. How much work goes into each piece and how long does it take to create a piece? Each item takes about 2-3 weeks from make to delivery. As each item is handmade, we have to make sure that quality is not compromised. Whether it is making the mold of the purse, to the calligraphy, plating or inserting crystals one-by-one, Gold Soleil wants to ensure every piece received is well loved.

As Gold Soleil has been growing, we are now working on the new website that will allow customers to easily choose their item, plating, name language and proceed to checkout. Since there are over 100 items and many ways of having an item personalized, it does get tricky. It is very interesting to know that proceeds from the sales go to charities that provide education to underprivileged children in rural areas. Could you tell us more about that?

EDUCATION IS THE ROAD THAT CHILDREN FOLLOW TO REACH THEIR FULL POTENTIAL IN LIFE. YET MANY CHILDREN IN NEED AROUND THE WORLD DO NOT GET A QUALITY EDUCATION WHERE THEY CAN LEARN AND DEVELOP.

How can we go about purchasing an item? We are currently working on our new website that will allow customers to easily select how to personalize their items, and select which language they want their item made in. Customers are also able to order through our current temporary website: www.goldsoleil.com and a lot of customers even send orders via instagram and Facebook: GOLDSOLEIL and direct email, goldsoleil@gmail.com.

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Education is the road that children follow to reach their full potential in life. Yet many children in need around the world do not get a quality education where they can learn and develop. To advance learning, there are a few charities I have linked up with that support education programs for children in the classroom and at home. As the new website is being launched, customers will have an option to choose which charity they want to directly donate too.

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Are there any future plans for Gold Soleil? The beauty of my work that as soon as I finish one product concept, there is no time to sit back and enjoy the ride. I have to keep moving onto what's next, always creating something new that no one else has thought of. In this coming year there will be a change in packaging, and new products and items will be added to our list, so remember to follow us to be up to date with all the latest products!

To view the Gold Soleil collection or make your purchase, tap the icons below:

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Fashion

5 simple ways to mix, match and clash prints like a pro! Written by Amira Ben Abbes Photos by Chady Ben Abbes

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ave you ever been told "Your bag and shoes must match!" or that your jewelry metals must match? Believe it or not, most of those fashion rules are completely outdated and totally irrelevant in 2017. "Don't mix your prints" is one of those old fashion rules that you need to ignore. However if you still hesitate in placing two different graphics together, here are 5 simple ways to mix, match and clash prints like a pro...

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01 Mix patterns not colours.

02 Keep your fabrics in the same colour family.

03 The simpler and more graphic the prints, the easier they are to mix: stripes, plaid, polka dots, Vichy and hounds tooth print go with everything, believe me.

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04 If you want to use the same pattern, invert the colours.

05 Pick two different prints that share a single colour.

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Pomegranite luxury chiffon hijab from Voile chic

Black and white coat from Zara

Polka dot blouse from Forever21

White pants from Zara

THE WRITER: AMIRA BEN ABBES Hi! My name is Amira, a Muslim engineer who used to struggle looking for some trendy chic outfits, yet modest. Fortunately, as I've grown up, I learned what style suites me better without making compromise on wearing my hijab. Through my OOTDs and fashion related posts, I hope I can inspire some of you, ignite your imagination and spread positivity.

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Fashion

Written by Zainab Onuh-Yahaya 43

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rowing up, one of my most dreaded sentences was ‘grab your coat’, ‘get your shawl’, ‘wear a sweater over that’. I would always grumble and mumble when my mother and other wellmeaning relatives made me layer my clothing. I mean why wear a coat over a turtleneck, right? I’m just going to look clumsy and stuffed-up. Literally.

forecast the night before, they have opened my eyes to how chic layering could be, without a dent on modesty. So, whether you pile it on for style or for warmth, it never hurts to have brilliant and modest new ways to wear old clothes.

Fast-forward eighteen years later; a hijabi, and I am firmly convinced that the adage ‘Age is wisdom’ is completely apt. And also that ‘mama knows best’ isn’t just a nursery school rhyme, it is a statement of fact! Layering doesn’t just involve keeping warm during cooler weather. It is also a way of combining patterns, textures and lengths and of course, looking stylish. Have you ever gone shopping with the girls and everything you find is so unsatisfactory? And just when you find a beautiful dress you absolutely cannot live without, it turns out to be a sleeveless ensemble! The absolute horror! Well, I have a solution, garnered directly from an unbroken line of wise old aunts and an overly watchful mother. And while they might have given these tips out of concern for their favourite niece who did not listen to the weather 44

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Long sleeves under short sleeves Get that summery dress or top out of your closet because why not! You can absolutely rock your sleeveless dress by pairing it with a long sleeved shirt. You can mix colours by settling for a subtler tone if the dress has got a colour mix. However, a plain black longsleeved shirt never goes out of style and can be paired with almost anything. Pair your sleeveless cut out top with a plain white or black long sleeve worn inside. 45

For me, my black long-sleeved shirt is the best thing that has ever been created...after sliced bread. To keep warm during cooler weathers, you can pair your dress with a thick, chunky sweater of an even tone. And if you’re wearing a darker shade dress, you can add a more colourful cardigan for a brighter -look.

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THE KIMONO CASUAL This is one of my favourite ways to layer up. For this look, pair your jeans and dressy shirt with a kimono for simple and chic. The fabulous thing about this ensemble is that it can be worn in any season and in a thousand different ways. I even custom-made my kimono and matching palazzo pants for dressy and chic. For warmer weathers, the kimono can be paired with a light dress or a skirt. It is also a modest way of wearing the skinny jeans. For the less warmer days, the kimono can be worn on a lightweight sweater or even a turtleneck. For versatility, the kimono comes in different shapes and textures which makes it a trend that works all year round. Also most kimonos serve as abayas, as well and is setting the trend as one of the most preferred item in modest wear and Islamic clothing. 46

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Jackets under jackets For the life of me, I was always perplexed whenever I was asked to wear a jacket, especially and even when I had on my denim jacket! Like my mother would always say, that was the beginning of something great. Piling has never been better, neither has the muslimah lifestyle. There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t wear your leather jacket over your denim jacket, especially during the colder days. Yes, winter is coming and this is one look you just have to try out. Wear a fall coat or trench over your blazer to stay professional, warm and chic. You can also pair a lightweight coat over your smart blazer during warmer days as opposed to a wool overcoat for the cool days. Also pair your blazer with a subtle or much more colourful top, depending on your mood! 47

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The turtleneck and the boxy top look If there is one word for the turtleneck, it would be: lifesaver. Pair a turtleneck with your dressy tops for a playful yet elegant look. I have a knitted turtleneck sweaterlike ensemble my grandma gave me for my last birthday and it is unbelievably versatile! I wear it over my dresses, maxi skirts and even pants. A turtleneck, knitted or not, is simply a must-have for layering. Pair your full button dress shirt with a turtleneck worn below it for chic and effortless. For that summery look, a plain chiffon summery top worn with your turtleneck takes you from hijabi to hijabista in an instant! Swag it up by loosely tying down the long ends, especially when worn over a maxi skirt. 48

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Dresses over trousers This one is for my fellow hijabis who sometimes find that perfect dress. Only‌it’s short. I come with glad tidings. Pair that beauty with a pair of trousers; jeans or pants. It just depends on the look you want to achieve. For lighter dresses, a longsleeved top can be worn beneath, especially during colder days. Add a bomber jacket to take modesty up a classy notch. This melange embroidery modest top worn over plain washed jeans gives the laidback, casual vibe. You can also wear your evening dresses over thicker leggings for the sophisticated, glam look!

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Dress shirts Dress shirts are the rage this season of modest fashion and believe me, you can’t afford to be left out on this trend. The gathered modest dress shirt, especially in soothed tones have proven to be quite versatile and can be paired with almost anything. For the denim on denim look, pair your denim modest dress shirt with jeans and some sneakers for casual chic. 50

Pair your pleated shirtdress with plain pants and heels for that sophisticated look. One thing is certain, however, and that is; the dress shirt trend is here to stay and has made layering look effortless, but still fashionably fun.

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There are different ways you can achieve the layering look with different seasons, so do not be afraid to experiment. You can liven up your outfit by wearing bright colours underneath. Do not shy away from patterns and prints, but do not go overboard either. When wearing patterns and prints, you can wear a neutral hijab for a comforting finish. Always remember that there are no clear-cut rules to styling, so wear those layers with elegance and live your modest fashion dream!

THE WRITER: ZAINAB ONUH-YAHAYA Zainab Onuh-Yahaya is a modest fashion enthusiast and college student. She enjoys reading, writing and dreaming up minimalistic fashion hacks. Blog is coming soon.

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Beauty

The event that started in America has gained so much success and popularity that they decided to bring it here to the UK. With this year's event stronger than ever, I decided that as a beauty lover myself, it was time to see what I was missing out on. Written by Naira Ghanem

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had the pleasure of attending BeautyCon London last December, and what a great event it was! Featuring global brands, Nyx, Makeup Revolution, Pixi by Petra, Nip & Fab as well as brilliant upcoming brands which I can't wait to tell you about! As a beauty blogger, this event was a dream, listening to brands showcase their best products, networking with other beauty

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addicts and more importantly taking lots of Instagram worthy photos! BeautyCon is extremely inclusive, with the year’s motto being ‘WE WELCOME’ all races, genders, sexual orientations and much more! BeautyCon is leading the virtual beauty community into real life which is a focus for many brands this year!

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Opening the event with the amazing Alesha Dixon, a British Celeb and hearing her talk about her makeup story was super interesting, have you seen her flawless makeup? The next chat was with Maria Hatzistefanis, who discussed her huge break into the beauty industry, starting with her passion with writing, working for magazines and completing beauty assignments and how she built an empire from scratch! She emphasised the gap in the market that offered targeted treatment for specific treatment concerns and how she exploited this into building her brand Rodial, now worth ÂŁ100 million!

The panel offered an opportunity for Q&A and it was really interesting to hear what people had to say! Most of the questions focused on the inclusiveness of shades and products and Maria expressed that the brand was moving towards this and a new project would be announced soon, how exciting! This year we saw many other beauty influencers from the likes of Maya Jama, Lottie Moss, Jordyn Woods, Sammi Maria, Sherlina, Lauren Pope and the list goes on, and we joined them for quick fireside chats. It was great to be able to hear everybody's experiences and views on the beauty industry, especially from the virtual side!

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This year BeautyCon featured both high street brands as well as upcoming brands, promoting inclusivity! Throughout the event there were queues everywhere at stalls with free giveaways and competitions for attendees to enter, as well as discounted prices on all products, so I had to grab myself a few bargains! Let's start with Pixi by Petra Beauty, such a successful brand with award-winning products both in makeup and skincare! What you notice with Pixi is the natural element of beauty with simplistic product packaging matched with their gorgeous flower wall at the event!

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Next, we have Beverly Hills formula, now listen up, if you want those pearly white teeth, this brand is for you! With the first formulation in the EU to contain hydrogen peroxide for teeth whitening, this is definitely a trusted brand! They showcased so many products on the day, but what I loved the most was their charcoal toothpaste which is definitely #GAYAapproved!

Masque Bar, a specialised brand that I had been dying to try out, with a huge range of masks containing the best active ingredients, check out some of their collection!

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Prismologie’s display stole the day, and not to mention the sensual fragrances. A body care brand dedicated to finding the unique scents that you didn't know you were in love with! A product I fell in love with was an oud scented candle that can also be used as a body oil, how cool does that sound? Their cute goodies to giveaway was baubles on a Christmas tree.

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Now although this year’s BeautyCon may not have been as huge as previous ones in America, it soon will be, the makeup industry is really moving towards these events where there is an interface with their buyers, and I can’t wait for next year! I hope you enjoyed reading about BeautyCon and loved the photos, I definitely had a great time! Can’t wait to try out the products I purchased on the day and stay tuned for upcoming beauty posts!

lots of love, Naira! xx

BEAUTY EDITOR: NAIRA GHANEM Hey I’m Naira, just an ordinary student with big dream! Whether its fashion, make up or daily life, join me on my journey. Whether big or small, we can take on the world, with a pretty face and a pretty heart.

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Opinion

BEING A MUSLIM WOMAN IN AMERICA In 2017 As we welcome 2018 and I look back on the events of the past year, it is impossible not to acknowledge the adversity that Muslims faced last year, not just in America but around the world. Written by Malikah Aquil

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Being born a Muslim and living in a nonMuslim country where the holidays and traditions are ones I don’t celebrate and most of my neighbors and friends are of different religions than me and have little idea about my beliefs, can sometimes be challenging. Differences can lead to bullying and exclusion, that’s why it’s necessary to educate people about our differences in a positive way. Such is the state of being a Muslim in America today. As an adult, I have learned that we are all ambassadors of ourselves, and what we represent, which in this case is religion. What we put out there and the examples that we show are what people see and relate to our religion. Islam is a religion that has taken a beating in past years due to world events that honestly has little to do with Islam and everything to do with misguided individuals. So the more good examples we show to the people we interact with on a regular basis, the more others will realize that we are no different than them.

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Muslim women are easy to identify by our attire and that of course can make us a target, and in Donald Trump’s America it has been even more difficult. For the past year that he has been president, his careless tweets and nonchalant stance on equality has given license to all forms of bigotry and racism. And Muslim women have faced the brunt of the backlash. In April of 2017 a Muslim woman in Milwaukee, WI was beaten walking home from the mosque by a man who was driving alongside her. Also last year, according to the Huffington Post, another Muslim woman wearing hijab was attacked on August 19th in Barcelona, Spain by a group of young men. The attack came days after the terrorist attack in Catalonia, which killed several people and was claimed by ISIS. Again, the misguided efforts of people I refuse to acknowledge as Muslims. These rashes of hate crimes have been proving that people are becoming bolder in their efforts to humiliate and condemn Muslims. Incidents like these have been a cause for concern for many, including me. Living in a city like New York, it’s hard to look over your shoulder when you’re surrounded by eight million other people. 61

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It’s also impossible to know the thoughts and motives of the person sitting next to you on the train that is where your faith comes in. Islam is that faith for me and 54 million other Muslims that live in America. This is why even with the state of the country today and the risk that some people think is involved by being easily recognized as a Muslim, I still will not change. In this world we need something to hold onto, to ground us, belief does that. That is what I have in common

with the 54 million American Muslims, despite the fact that simply practicing our faith makes us a target; we continue to do so because of that faith. That is what takes away the fear and makes everything else worth it. So even though I may get mean looks from strangers and have people think the worst of me without even knowing me, I hold on with both hands to my Islam, because in the end that is all there will be.

THE WRITER: MALIKAH AQUIL I am a Caribbean American Muslim girl from Trinidad. I have lived in Brooklyn, NY for the past 20 years and I studied journalism at the University at Buffalo. I am currently a social worker and I love to write anything from poetry, to short stories to opinion pieces. Any form of creativity sparks my interest.

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Opinion

WHY ARE DARK-SKINNED WOMEN NOT REPRESENTED IN THE MODEST FASHION INDUSTRY

Written by Sara Ahmed

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Last year was a great year for women of colour. Rihanna released her Fenty Beauty line offering an impressive 40 colour shades in her foundation collection, using a diverse group of models for her campaign and pushing the boundaries of the beauty industry. We also saw the modest fashion industry grow considerably with Halima Aden, a black Muslim model, taking the mainstream fashion industry by storm whilst sporting the hijab. To top this off, London had its first ever Modest Fashion Week earlier in the year with over 40 labels showcasing their collections and many hijab-wearing models walking down the catwalk. Despite these successes, the lack of inclusivity of black Muslim females reared its ugly head with the recent Dubai Modest Fashion Week (DMFW) reigniting this issue further and causing widespread frustration. I have seen the Muslim community vocalise their disappointment about the mainstream fashion industry due to their lack of inclusivity of hijab wearing Muslim females for many years, yet the Muslim community has also failed black women in the modest fashion industry.

blogger Hodan Yusuf, shared a statement on Instagram explaining that darkskinned women are underrepresented in the modest fashion and beauty world. Hodan voiced her concerns about the racism dark-skinned women face in Western societies, to only face it again within the Muslim community; a community which fails to practice the Islamic principles of equality and oneness. This post received great attention and started a muchneeded dialogue on social media regarding the anti-blackness within the Muslim community.

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Dina Tokio, a well-known YouTuber and fashion blogger further added to the outrage. “The Muslim community is one of the most racist in the world,” she said, “keep speaking out because sooner or later these organisations won’t be able to get away with it.” Although, this issue of racism within the Muslim community is not a new phenomenon, today this dialogue is important because just like the ‘Oscars So White’ movement, it is with persistence that progress can come about.

This clearly echoes the anti-blackness within the Muslim community where Eurocentric features are deemed to be more desirable and in accordance with mainstream beauty standards... 65

This made me question why black Muslim females who have championed and raised the bar for modest street fashion and beauty, including Basma K, Shahd Batal and Aysha Harun have not been given the recognition they deserve in the modest fashion industry compared to their lighter skinned or non-black counterparts. This clearly echoes the anti-blackness within the Muslim community where Eurocentric features are deemed to be more desirable and in accordance with mainstream beauty standards.

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Time and time again, I have seen black women being exploited in the modest fashion industry as their styles, thoughts and ideas are taken without recognition or a seat at the table which they have created. As a black Muslim female, it is undeniable that I am at the intersection of many marginalised identities so I am all too familiar with this issue. As a young girl growing up, I did not see someone who shared my identity in the mainstream fashion industry and although we are now seeing more black women walking the catwalks for huge designers, we are unfortunately not seeing the same progress in the Muslim fashion community.

female representation in the modest fashion industry, it has also led Najwa, the founder of female Muslim creatives, to start a movement using the hashtag #BlackMuslimahExcellence. This movement has already taken off and found its support by Shahd Batal. This clearly shows that the black Muslim community is now taking initiative to begin its own movement to represent the underrepresented. Ultimately, one wonders why black Muslim women should push for representation in the modest fashion industry, when this recognition is merely a quota for diversity?

As highlighted by the YouTuber Asha, the black people Dubai Modest Fashion Week (DMFW) hosted were the likes of Halima Aden who had a significant global success, again sending the message that black women should work twice as hard for equal representation. Finally, not only has Dubai Modest Fashion Week (DMFW) opened the dialogue on the lack of black Muslim

THE WRITER: SARA AHMED I was born in the Netherlands but raised in the UK. I am a medical scientist, an activist and a modest fashion enthusiast. I have always enjoyed fashion as I feel like it is an expressive form of art. I am passionate about advocating for equal representation of dark-skinned Muslim females in the fashion industry.

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Opinion

IS FASHION EMPOWERING WOMEN? Written by Amal El Gharbi

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ell, it all depends on what you call Fashion actually.

I was having this conversation with friends about the place fashion has or could or should have (that’s a lot of possibilities, I know) in what we generally call women's empowerment. One of them asked: “Has fashion really anything to do with empowering women, with their freedom, their ability to stand for themselves, their body, their role in society and the way it evolves?” And…in a certain way, those questions – the way they were raised – found a certain echo on me. So yes, what is fashion actually? Is that only the reflection and expression of people in a specific context? Fashion tells so much about people indeed, about how they live, how they conceive life and society, how they perceive themselves, their philosophy and beliefs, too. On the other hand, we also need to take all the economic impact, the branding and manufacturing process of the fashion industry into account. And there is so much to talk about, good and bad. When it's used to impose a one and only canon of beauty, when it exploits poor workers (mainly uneducated women) in unsafe factories, when it dictates what looks good and what doesn’t when it causes 68

ecological calamities, - that Fashion -, indeed, has nothing to do with women’s empowerment nor any positive impact on society. Then, while we still witness total disasters from the fast Fashion industry, let’s face it, we can on the reverse see the emergence of positive initiatives for a slow, more ethical, inclusive and green fashion, empowering women and respecting the environment, redefining thus the whole concept of Fashion. That being said, I would like to focus on Fashion as a way of personal perception and expression, and how it could contribute to a positive change and empower them.

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Yes to Fashion for more inclusion and representation. Because #representationmatters‌ We were all surprised by the latest fashion shows, didn't we? Covered, and more colored models walking on the runways, bringing something totally new in the catwalks. Designers finally start to realize the importance and the beauty lying in diversity. Even more, how richer we all are in making Fashion more representative of all the women, of all the people in fact. We can see more and more ethical and modest wearing (faith based or not) brands selling not only pieces of fabrics to women and men feeling more comfortable in them, but also ideas, building communities, bringing and connecting people (especially women) together. We can also see badass entrepreneurs and inspirational men and women, working together to bring in such a creative way added value in the Fashion world and at the same time in our society. Finally, we can see more and more mainstream brands, luxury brands and fashion shows starting to include minorities, which is always positive in a certain way, at least for the representation.

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If the definition of Fashion is constantly evolving, it certainly means that its social and economical correlations, in this case with women, will change too. Society has still a lot to do to cope the negative impact of Fast Fashion, and for now Fashion doesn’t empower all the women, that’s a reality. But when Fashion brings new colors to that monochromatic scene we used to watch before, when Fashion contributes

in shaping an inclusive society, when Fashion builds bridges, we can be more optimistic and still hope for a better future, don’t we?

lots of love, Amal! xx

THE WRITER: AMAL EL GHARBI Editor, translator, writer for Peace, born and raised in Brussels, Belgium, Aamaly - alias Amal El Gharbi, is passionate about modest fashion and interested in social and women issues. Aamaly mag is a bilingual online space created after an inspirational trip to Canada to share passion for modest fashion, but also insights on women’s conditions, education and society.

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Opinion

DOES MY

FREEDOM BOTHER YOU?

Written by Faiza Murad

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he word Hijab – which in Arabic means “Barrier” or “Protection” - many of us associate with the head scarf, or the Abaya/Jilbab. For a very long time, I believed I didn’t look nice or good enough with it. Thanks to perfectly blow-dried hair, flawless makeup and size zero figures, many like me start disrespecting our bodies. To don the hijab was my decision and mine alone. I started donning it when I was living in the UK. Surprisingly, not once did I encounter any racism or anyone blurting “Oppression!” See, I started donning it when I was 24. The older you are, the harder it gets to adapt yourself to it. Alhamdulillah (Praise be to God), I’ve done well so far, I think! There are times when you envy those who don’t cover especially in the summers! But then that’s the part where I feel it’s important to explore different styles so you actually enjoy wearing it. So coming back to my story, we moved back to Pakistan and I decided to do the impossible…join the fashion industry! When I say join, it’s not like it’s an exclusive club that you pay millions to be a member of. However, It’s a whole different world altogether. I remember walking into a meeting with a leading Lawn Brand in Pakistan.

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I met the Marketing Manager who after the usual greetings took me to the CEO’s office. I was pregnant at that time with my second one. Now to be fair, I had just moved back so my lack of fashionable (read DESIGNER) eastern wear was apparent. However, I was in my comfortable yet smart western maternity wear, which was doing its job very well, covering up the cow I was slowly becoming! LOL. I sat down, he asked me about my portfolio which I had arranged to show on my laptop. He looked at me and went, “Your work is nice...” but then he gave me a long, silent and a pretty weird look. “Are you sure you will be able to sustain yourself like this?”

I DOUBT HOW I CHOOSE TO DRESS WOULD BOTHER ANYONE ESPECIALLY IN AN INDUSTRY WHERE WE ENCOURAGE WOMEN TO DRESS AS WE PLEASE. MY WORK SHOULD BE OF RELEVANCE TO YOU, NOT HOW I DRESS. 73

Before I could start babbling about how supportive my family is and how I plan to juggle my newborn, my older son and my work as a freelancer, he blurted out, “With this scarf” ……… It took me a while to establish what he had just said. Did I hear him correctly? Are we not flipping living in a Muslim country? Why would my scarf get in the way? How would that even happen?! I did feel like punching him, I’m not going to lie!

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But I couldn’t let the hormones get the best of me. I took a deep breath and managed to reply, “I doubt how I choose to dress would bother anyone especially in an industry where we encourage women to dress as we please. My work should be of relevance to you, not how I dress.” The problem is, fashion is very superficial. It’s a modern chivalry, a hidden form of bigotry. As apparently when hair shows and body is flaunted, only then you are considered to be fashion worthy. We are mere pawns in society’s beauty game. If you are not wearing makeup, if your hair style is not glossy enough you are not considered beautiful. I, on the other hand, feel privileged to have the freedom, to show only what I want others to see. It gives me the freedom to reject the social structure. If you want to work in fashion, the hijab is not for the faint hearted. The irony is, there are little to no influencers around in my country, who are in the hijab. We have somehow led ourselves to believe that modest is not fashion worthy.

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Fashion conscious Muslim women in the form of bloggers, designers and stylists have been taking centre stage for a good few years in several countries, showing the world that modesty and style can coincide with faith. My dream is to see mainstream brands catering to us.

please thanks to the ‘unstitched’ revolution, I would love to see the same brands representing women who cover and including them when they market.

Making those hemlines a little long and fittings a bit loose. While we in Pakistan are fortunate to be able to design as we

Does my freedom bother you?

My Hijab liberates me from society’s expectations of women.

THE WRITER: FAIZA MURAD Hi, I'm Faiza! Pakistan's first Hijab wearing Fashion Photographer / Blogger. Journey with me as I discover what it means to be modest and fashion conscious at the same time.

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Living

HONOURING WOMEN THROUGH ART

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few months ago, we were introduced to a local brand called Esskayarr (pronounced Ess-KayArr). This little shop of dreams create some of the most amazing artwork in the form of calendars and notebooks. We had the pleasure of meeting the creative brain behind the local brand, Nisa. A lovely and inspirational person who we are blessed to now call a friend. Read on to discover her personal journey from madrasah to Art school to creating Esskayarr.

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Tell us how Esskayarr began? I grew up as a Madrasah student for twelve years. Learning Islamic studies and, Quran reading and memorization. As a primary and secondary school student, I always enjoyed art. After my GCE ‘O’ Levels, I made a change in my educational path to learn management studies in Singapore Institute of Management even though I did not know what was it all about. I had to study numbers which was my number one enemy. haha. I graduated with a diploma at the age of 20 and I started a Quran Academy that is now known as Yameen Quran Academy, together with my then fiancé (now husband) focusing on Quran reading for working adults. Also, with the encouragement of my father, I furthered my studies in University of London taking Business Management (in SIM University). I flunked, twice. Although the cut of point was 34%, I did not make it. My father asked me what was it that I wanted to learn since I have already flunked twice. I knew at that point of time, numbers and I did not click. I was searching for something that was very “relatable and applicable”.

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So I applied for Social Work courses. I went for the admission interview with the Dean and got through. I excelled in my studies and I enjoyed going to school and my favourite module was Psychology. In Yameen, my role was to teach and manage the backend of the company. My main job was to teach, plan courses and events which included designing marketing collaterals. When people asked what I did, my official profession would be a Quran teacher in short. But not for long. One day as I was designing an upcoming course for Yameen, my husband asked me a question, “Have you ever thought of becoming a graphic designer?” I was stunned by that question. It felt like a huge ball in my throat. I did not know how to react. I have always had major love for art and design. But, I didn’t know that I had a choice in making it as a career because all this time my father had always been the main reference to my career and educational path. A very big part of me pushed me to pursue and there was this small part telling me to stay put and just continue doing what I had been doing. I gave myself a chance to try. At the very least, I knew that if it didn’t work out, I can safely say that I have tried.

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I went online to ask my friends if anyone needed logo designing service and offered them as low as $100. I received 20 clients in a month. This included designing collaterals for the first Muslimah Marathon in Singapore. The result was very promising and I had a grip with the journey that I had embarked on. I still had not told my father about the “career switch” that I made. One day, I collated all the logos and posters and put them nicely in an album. That was when I decided to finally inform my father. I knew that I did not have to since my responsibility was to my husband.

From a Madrasah background to this? Why the change and how has it been? Being in Madrasah was a foundation for myself by my parents. By nature, I am a very curious person. I always have questions in my head. I was even labelled “weird” for having “different” thoughts from others. In the initial stages, I did have plans to further my Islamic studies after my PreUniversity level in Syria or Egypt. The moment I successfully got into Pre-University 1, I had this sudden urge to explore a different route. I did not know what it was. But I told my father that I wanted to go into the mainstream line.

But being the main supporter and contributor in my education, I knew that I needed to seek his blessings before I continued further. It was nerve wrecking. I called him and there was dead silence. After explaining (while crying) to my father, he then said, “Okay.” I felt a weight was lifted off me and I could feel myself flying. That’s when Esskayarr officially began.

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I must say that the journey was not easy at first. Being introduced to “new” things and people. In Madrasah, we were guided by Islamic rules like taking care of our dressing, speech, action and there is a time assigned for everyone to Solat Jama’ah. So when you’re out there, there is no one to remind you but yourself. You learn to answer questions from people from other groups of faith pertaining to your hijab, your dietary preference or your Ibadah.

There were moments when I experienced social challenges or “peer pressure”. Today, I appreciate every conversation with friends from different groups of faith and one of my best friends is one of them. So could we say that you’re now doing da’wah through art? Today, I enjoy meeting people from different backgrounds, cultures and faiths. Along the way, I believe that my form of da’wah is when I dedicate each and every artwork to them.

The angle I am approaching is mainly to assist women to be more kind to themselves. God has put women in a very high level. Yet, at times, we find ourselves at the lowest point. We need to learn to give and forgive. It was a 180˚-turn. I experienced a culture shock when I entered the mainstream education. I guess it was due to the fact that I had spent twelve years and I felt safe and comfortable under the wings of my Asatizah. You know they are always there to answer your spiritual curiosity. Silly thinking about it, I had difficulty at first and kept saying “Because we were told to do so”. Slowly, I learn to pick up social skills and take every opportunity to spread love and share with them the beauty of Islam. 80

Personally, da’wah should not be only to our “kind” of people. You do not go to Masjid and do your da’wah. You go out, meet people and have conversations with them, be friends with them and foster a relationship with them. The myth about doing Da’wah is when you try to talk about your religion on the first conversation you have with a person and EXPECT them to accept whatever you say. I believe that Hidayah is from God. He is the one who triggers or moves the heart of mankind.

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The angle I am approaching is mainly to assist women to be more kind to themselves. God has put women in a very high level. Yet, at times, we find ourselves at the lowest point. We need to learn to give and forgive. Not just to the people around us, but to ourselves, too. We cannot possibly give others when inside we are empty ourselves. We need to nourish ourselves emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. They say the best project to work on is ourselves. I hope through what I am doing today, I am able to help more people in achieving confidence through art and colours. More importantly, what we need today is more love and kindness. I also realise slowly, when my view on certain aspects evolve, so does my artwork. How has the response been so far? Alhamdulillah, I am honoured and humbled by the response received by supporters. It’s heartwarming when customers use our products and they feel inspired or it gives them a moment to reflect. There were times when some even were facing challenges and the moment they see the Calendar artwork, it inspires them to stay strong or have faith in God.

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Esskayarr also takes part in offline events to launch new products or spread awareness of our movement. Customers from different countries and faiths also come out to support us. We are grateful that our products have reached countries like Belgium, London, Australia, Qatar, Brunei, Malaysia and New Zealand. Through your own experience, what advice would you give young people who may want to make that difficult career change? Firstly, find out the cause or the reason as to why you would like to embark on the journey. Know what you can do to help the society through your talent or passion. Because at the end of the day, it is not all about you. For as long as we live, we live to serve God and mankind. Secondly, learn to meet people. That is when you learn and discover the needs of people. Thirdly, seek a mentor in your industry. You’ll learn from real life experience from the experts.

To get your hands on some of Esskayarr’s products, tap the icons below. International shipping available.

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Food

VEGETARIAN ALTERNATIVES I was having the family over for Christmas Day and it hit me only two days before that I had some guests who were vegetarian. Imagine my panic when my menu consisted of the usual roast turkey with stuffing and Shepard’s Pie. So I scrambled to find some vegetarian recipes. Thank God for Google. Fortunately my vegetarian guests were treated to my vegetarian alternative to Shepard’s Pie and stir-fry Peanut Noodles! I figured I’d share these recipes with you in case you find yourself in the same predicament as I did. Enjoy!

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Food

VEGETA R I A N PI E 84

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INGREDIENTS 2 tbsp olive oil 2 red onions, finely chopped 200g carrots, finely chopped 5 celery sticks, finely chopped 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes 250g pack cooked puy lentils 400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained 150g sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped Handful fresh oregano, leaves finely chopped 800g ready-made or leftover mashed potato TOPPING (OPTIONAL) Grated cheddar

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METHOD

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Heat the oven to 200˚C/180˚C fan/gas 6.

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Heat the oil in a large deep frying pan and fry the onions, carrots and celery over a medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes until softened.

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Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.

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Stir in the lentils, chickpeas, sundried tomatoes and oregano season, then take off the heat.

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Pour into the baking dish(es) and top with mashed potato.

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Swirl the mash on top into peaks and sprinkle over a handful of cheddar (if using).

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Bake for 30 minutes until lightly golden and bubbling.

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Food

P E A N U T NOODLES 87

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INGREDIENTS 8 ounces spaghetti 1 bunch green onions, sliced 2 tbsp sesame oil 1 tsp minced fresh ginger root 1/3 cup peanut butter 1/4 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup hot water 1 tbsp vinegar 1 tsp white sugar 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

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METHOD 

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until done. Drain and set aside.

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Combine oil and onions in a small skillet. Saute over low heat until tender.

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Add ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes.

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Mix in peanut butter, soy sauce, water, vinegar, sugar, and red pepper flakes.

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Remove from heat.

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Toss in spaghetti and combine, and serve.

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Health

KEEPING IT CALM

It’s the new year and we’re pretty sure some of you, if not, many of you have a list of new year’s resolutions. We’re also pretty sure that eating healthy and exercising more are somewhere on that list. As much as keeping the body fit and healthy is a good thing, let’s not forget to also take time to relax the mind and well….not sweat the small stuff. After all, a healthy mind is important too. So we figured what better way than to give you tips on staying calm and keeping stress at bay.

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Plan Ahead It’s the new year and many of us go full steam ahead in getting stuff done - things we want to achieve, stuff we want to learn, etc. But if we piled all this on one plate so soon stress with inevitably creep in and before you know it, you either crash and burn or you give up. So keep calm and plan ahead. Write everything down in a notebook, plan your time wisely (don’t rush) and always (always!) have a backup plan. Not to say that things will do wrong but if things don’t go according to plan, you know exactly what to do and not stress about it.

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Be grateful There’s a reason why, as Muslims, we are always advised to say “Alhamdullillah” no matter what happens - good, bad or in between cos whatever God gives us is a blessing. Even if it’s a bad thing (or so we think), God was probably saving you from something that would not be good for you. So no matter what comes your way, be grateful.

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Take a day off This tip might be the hardest to do but is so important in maintaining mental and emotional health. Even though you may not be ill in the traditional sense of the word, taking a mental health day to bring yourself some balance is not a bad thing. If taking a day off is hard (for those who have a thousand things to do) start by taking a few hours off in a day. Like taking the morning off one day a week for a nice breakfast at a quiet cafĂŠ alone with your thoughts (or a good book).

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DISTRACTIONS We mean good distractions. Do something that you love to take your mind off of whatever might be bothering you. A little bit of distance always helps put things into perspective. Hit the gym to work off the stress, or sit at a cafĂŠ with a good book, whatever you find is relaxing.

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Count to 10 This one has got to be our favourite and it works like a charm! When we feel like we’re getting bombarded from every angle, we stop, breathe and count to 10. When unexpected things happen it’s easy to let your mind thrust into the unknown world of “what-ifs” and then spiral into stress. But by focusing on your breathing and counting, it distracts the mind from wandering off and gives you a little perspective. Try it!

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Travel

once upon a time at… . NEUSCHWANSTEIN Written by Fizzah Rahman Photos by Danial Ismail

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euschwanstein, the castle oft associated with a fairy tale illustration. Having spent 6 days in Berlin learning German history, we decided to tone down the serious war stuff a notch in Munich, and settle for a day trip out to Neuschwanstein.

With the Bavarian Alps for a backdrop, the Neuschwanstein Castle is a sight to behold. No surprise that the castle is one of the most visited in Europe. Neuschwanstein was actually built for the eccentric King Ludwig II to withdraw from public life. Imagine all that space and privacy!...And not having to deal with people (okay, that’s just the anti-social part in me talking).

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The castle is a 2.5-hour journey to Fussen, from Munich’s central station. Given the endless possibilities of OOTD poses and Instagram-worthy snow landscapes (c’mmon, how can you not when you’re at the castle which inspired Cinderella, or was it Sleeping Beauty?), the journey was one we didn’t regret making. Have an early breakfast as there is barely enough time to sit down for a meal once you’re there.

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Because it is located on a hilltop, we walked 30 mins up the slopes. Sturdy boots are a must, and it helps if you’re relatively fit as the slopes were a tad muddy and steep. Sure, you can opt for the horse carts or shuttle service, but walking provides opportunities to immerse in the beauty of the season at your own pace. The fairy tale-like interiors and architecture were the work of theatrical artist, Christian Jank. It was a shame we were not allowed to photograph or record inside. So yes, walk those slopes and go trigger happy with the surrounding landscapes instead! Access within the castle grounds is restricted and the compulsory guided tour runs every 5 mins for only half an hour. Nonetheless, it was sufficient to get a glimpse of King Ludwig II’s living quarters along with his private reading collection, chapel, entertainment hall, and the servants’ kitchen. From huge, jewel-encrusted chandeliers to elaborately carved decor, the castle left us in awe. It was unfortunate the king only spent 11 nights at Neuschwanstein before his death in 1886. 98

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If you’re gunning for the picturesque panoramic view of Neuschwanstein, head to Queen Mary’s Bridge a.k.a Marienbrucke Bridge. Something we didn’t manage to do since it got dark rather early in winter. Do spend a night if you have time to spare; more so in winter when the daylight hours are short. Gives you the opportunity to take the time to appreciate Fussen, and tour the Hohenschewangau Castle and Museum of the Bavarian Kings nearby. Should you make the journey to the Neuschwanstein Castle? I’d say yes. And maybe, do it in winter when the snow intensifies its beauty. We had an amazing day out in sub-zero temperatures.

Tap the icon on the left to watch video snippets of our winter holiday (Berlin, Munich and Prague)…

THE WRITER: FIZZAH RAHMAN Fizzah is often asked for her travel itinerary, and that puts her on a spot because she usually just wings it. Having been to places like North Korea and Mexico, her friends and family associate her travelling style as "exotic". She now writes as a way to start sharing some of these experiences. Oh, and she's trying to hit 30 countries before 35.

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