These days, glossy magazines for young Muslim women are big sellers in Indonesia. While fashion is their main focus, they also help readers learn about their faith and raise awareness about living a lifestyle based on Islam.
Recently two new Muslimah magazines have entered the fray, Laiqa and Hijabella, mixing fashion and faith, beauty and brains, and pastel-hued femininity with stories of women who are strong and brave.
The September 2012 debut issue of Laiqa – which means "intelligent" in Arabic – headlined the theme, "Are you a leader or a follower?" The second issue of Hijabella featured a profile of glamorous young race car driver Alexandra Asmasoebrata.
The magazine, which has run three issues thus far, carries articles on "do it yourself" projects, beauty, women entrepreneurs, Muslim fashion, food, and question-and-answers on finance, religion, health, and style.
Editor-in-chief Fifi Alvianto, 28, and editor-at-large Hanna Faridl, 30, got their start with the Hijab Scarf blog, which reached 4 million people. "Laiqa adds more Islamic values for the readers, based on Islamic teaching and values," Hanna told Khabar Southeast Asia.
"For example, our second edition, with the theme of 'Wonder Womenpreneur', encourages businesswomen to share their knowledge and experience. Don't be stingy sharing knowledge with other Muslims. This is one of the values in Islam that we want to convey."
Hijabella has published three issues since March 2013 with a target audience of Muslim girls and women aged 13 to 25.
The magazine shows "a friendly face of Muslimah," according to 22-year-old fashion designer Dian Pelangi, who answers readers' fashion questions for the magazine.
"I like the idea on how they want to gather all Muslimah, not only Muslimah with hijab but also muslimah who haven't worn hijab... Together we put the same intention to be a better Muslim, inside and out," she said.
The rapid growth of the Indonesia's Muslim fashion sector has driven the proliferation of Muslim fashion magazines. Fashion content is approximately 60% of each edition.
The magazines' tone is soft – not monotonous, extreme, or patronizing – which is welcomed by young readers.
"I like to read Muslimah magazines," Ayu Wulandari, 21, told Khabar during Jakarta Islamic Fashion Week 2013. "The first one I read was Hijabella. The 'hijab tutorial' inspired me to improve my hijab style. I also like inspiring stories about Muslim women."
For Ramadan, Hijabella published an article about Imane Asry, a Muslim woman who wears the hijab while living in Sweden, Ayu said.
"I was inspired by her decision to continue to use the hijab and how she copes with the situation if there are negative assumptions about Islam. From her I learned that with a smile and being nice to others, negative opinions of Muslims will be annihilated as a whole," Ayu explained.
"Muslimah magazines instill Islamic values in every article," said Ninik Rahma, 28, who reads them to learn about fashion trends and styles. "For example, the article 'Syari' but Stylish' in Hijabella, which discusses a Muslimah who is stylish and living in accordance with the Qur'an."
A way to explore your faith
Endang Purwaningsih, a 40 year-old Islamic leader, said that Muslimah magazines are good for Indonesian youth.
"Thank God, I feel grateful about the self-awareness of our young generation today. Starting with the use of hijab and then continuing with the science of Islam – it is a good first step to follow God's command. Muslimah magazines are not the only way to encourage Muslimah to study Islam. But it can be a way to appeal to young people to explore Islam," she told Khabar.
According to Endang, a good Muslimah magazine is a magazine whose content aligns with the teachings of the Qur'an and Hadith.
"It should inspire young people to become a better person," she added.