The newest women's magazine on the rack is a slick, glossy publication from Al Qaeda called Al-Shamikha -- which translates to "The Majestic Woman" -- and has already been dubbed the "Jihad Cosmo." It features fluffy drivel of the sort that is typically found in Western women's magazines (beauty info, fashion tips, etc.) interspersed with more heavy topics including advice on suicide bombings.
The magazine's concept might be tempting to poke fun at -- if it wasn't so sad and frightening. But a bigger issue at play here is the intent behind it: Ordinarily, Al Qaeda is content to marginalize Muslim women and keep them on the sidelines of society. Is the fact that an entire magazine is now being focused on and geared toward them generally a good sign for Muslim women?
I would argue: Absolutely not!
Take a look at some of the articles in the publication and tell me whether this new women's magazine is a positive step for women:
- Interviews with martyrs' wives -- who praise their husbands' decisions to die in suicide attacks.
- Advice for singletons on "marrying a mujahideen."
- Tips on raising children to be mujahideen ready for jihad.
- Instructions on how to keep a "clear complexion" (stay indoors with their faces covered).
- Why readers should avoid "towelling too forcibly."
Now, I'm not going to act all high and mighty and pretend like our women's magazines here -- well, most of them anyway -- are more intellectually stimulating and empowering to women. Still, the intention behind magazines like Cosmo, Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping, etc. is to entertain women. This Al Qaeda magazine, on the other hand, is to actively recruit them in the war against the enemies of Islam. (Keep in mind this is the same group that puts out Inspire, a publication aimed at young Muslim extremists.)
Here's the goal of Al-Shamikha as stated in the first issue's editorial:
The nation of Islam needs women who know the truth about their religion and about the battle and its dimensions and know what is expected of them.
In other words, Al Qaeda can involve women in its war, but the articles are evidence enough that it's still intent on treating them like second-class citizens (or worse). And there's nothing good or inclusive about that.
Do you think Al-Shamikha is a good thing for women?