The title debuted last week on February 22nd. When you read and talk to any member of the team you soon realize that it was launched out of frustration, a frustration with the image of Muslims in the U.S.
Sarah Malaika, a managing editor of Elan, says there is a lot of negative news about Muslims and it’s easy to understand why she and many other Muslims don’t feel represented. “That is why Elan was launched. We feel that there is more out there. We want America to see us as we are: teachers, musicians, physicians, artists.”
E’lan in Arabic, Urdu and Farsi means “announcement” and Sarah Malaika explains that the magazine wants to deliver positive announcements about Muslim-American communities. She also believes the Muslim-Americans are ready for the magazine. “We had a photo shoot last week and people that came were totally excited. We see they are ready for us.”
Elan is written by, for and about young 20-35 year-olds, professional Muslims of both sexes. The magazine subtitle is “Rethink Muslim.” It wants non-Muslims to reconsider their stereotypes about Muslims, “We want them to rethink what they think,” Malaika says.
It is not, however, only about American public opinion, it is also about Muslims themselves. “We also want Muslims to rethink their identity,” Sarah Malaika said. She noticed that since Muslims are such a diverse group, often they don’t know about others from outside their ethnic group.
Starting a new magazine is never easy. Elan already received criticism from more conservative Muslims who accused the magazine of not being religious and modest enough. The magazine is still setting its boundaries. “We have many discussions in the news room about how far we can push boundaries, “ she says in terms of appropriate clothing and writing, but she immediately added, “What we are trying to do has never been done before. We are a magazine for both secular and religious Muslims.”
Sarah Malaika complains that many people, both Muslims and non-Muslims, don’t understand that Elan does recognizes religion and is not necessarily trying to declare itself as a secular magazine. “Islam influenced our culture and we don’t condemn any religious representations. Elan is all-inclusive. We don’t tell people how they should practice their religion,” Malaika says. The magazine ambition is to create an open space for discussion to everyone.
The publisher, Wahid Media Venture, describes its publication as, “a magazine of contemporary Muslim culture”- and it is. The first cover story in the glossy magazine is about Reza Aslan, the Teheran born Muslim American author of “No God but God: The origin, evolution, and future of Islam”. It expresses his vision for the new Muslim American identity.
Elan is produced quarterly and is available at the biggest bookstore chains.