Independent group launches new Muslim issues magazine


By Daniella Roseman
Senior Writer
Published: Friday, May 16th, 2008

Misbah, Princeton’s first magazine dedicated to exploring Muslim issues, was officially launched at a release party last night in Frist Campus Center 309.

The new student publication aims to be a “conversation in print,” editor-in-chief Babur Khwaja ’09 said. The magazine includes art, photography and translated poetry as well as commentary on current social and cultural issues, in an attempt to present a “holistic picture of [Muslim] civilizations,” Khwaja explained.

The idea for the magazine came in January to Khwaja, a former member of The Daily Princetonian Editorial Board. He said he frequently discussed Muslim political issues with friends and felt he could put together a magazine to present broader intellectual discussion.

“A lot of things out there are political,” Khwaja said. “We’re trying to look at the civilization here in a broader context.”

Fethi Mubin Ramazanoglu GS, a contributor to the magazine, agreed that people “can watch the news, but [with] Princeton people writing … [It’s a] closer perspective.”

The goal of the magazine, executive editor Joy Karugu ’09 said, is to present the history of Islam and the manner in which Islamic culture has “crisscrossed” with other cultures. The “only standard” for the magazine, Karugu added, is “reasoned argumentation.” Karugu is also a member of the ‘Prince’ Editorial Board.

Karugu said the magazine has no agenda and aims to be as diverse as possible. To foster this diversity, the editors said they hope to publish contributions from Muslim and non-Muslim communities on campus as well as occasional contributions from others not affiliated with the University. Ramazanoglu pointed out that he will probably disagree with some things that are published, and people will probably disagree with some of his pieces.

Senior editor Wasim Shiliwala ’09 said the magazine hopes to encourage submissions from the Near Eastern studies department and the religion department. “[Misbah] is not limited to a Muslim audience,” he said.

Karugu explained that though many of the editors and writers are involved with the Muslim Students Association — Shiliwala, for example, is the organization’s president — the magazine is an independent student group.

Shiliwala said he thought the magazine’s “very intellectual approach” will make it “an important contribution to ongoing discourse on campus.”

Many of the contributors to the magazine’s first issue are graduate students. Khwaja attributed this to their “experience,” citing an article written by a graduate student on scientific developments in the Islamic community and the trend of declining scientific innovation in the Muslim world.

Nabil Abdurehman ’11 said he hopes that his writing for the magazine will “promote awareness of Muslim life on campus.”

The Muslim community on campus has grown and become more active in recent years, and the magazine is a reflection of that increased activity, Ramazanoglu said.

Several students not associated with the magazine praised the initiative behind the new publication.

“It’s always good to see [students] doing things of this kind,” said Ilhan Sezer GS, who attended the launch party.

One of the main goals, Karugu said, is to establish Misbah as a fixture on campus in the years to come. The editors also said they hope to involve a broader academic community in the dialogue, Khwaja said, adding that students at Dartmouth have expressed interest in starting a similar publication on their campus. Similar magazines already exist at UCLA, Harvard and MIT.

The magazine received initial funding from the Office of the Dean of Religious Life, the Lewis Center for the Arts, the Center for Human Values Undergraduate Forum, the Council of the Humanities, and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies.

“The fact that the magazine has received such support has been amazing,” Karugu said. “People are so supportive on this campus of new initiatives.”


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