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Memories of Tayyibah Taylor of Azizah Magazine

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[Ed Note] The Muslimmatter Family offers their condolences to the family of Sr Tayyibah and to the staff of Azizah Magazine. May Allah forgive her and grant her Jannah Firdaus. Inna lilahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon

It must have been 2002, a couple of years after the first Azizah Magazine was published, that I first became acquainted with Tayyibah Taylor, founder of Azizah. I had already left Atlanta, Georgia, where Tayyibah Taylor herself lived and where I had lived for four years while I attended Emory University.

At the time, I myself was just starting out with publishing. My first book If I Should Speak had been released a year before, and I was looking for ways to market the book. I really had no idea what I was doing or how it should be done. I’d never published a book before. There wasn’t even an official category for my novel at that time, as the genre of Islamic fiction was officially established some time later.

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Through mutual friends and family members in Atlanta who knew her, I learned of Tayyibah Taylor and the newly launched Azizah Magazine. Some of my friends and siblings encouraged me to connect with her. They told me about the magazine and what Tayyibah hoped to achieve through it. So I began researching Azizah and its goals to see if this was a project I’d like to be part of.

As I spoke to friends and acquaintances of Tayyibah, they shared with me information about the magazine. One particular goal that Tayyibah had that really resonated with me was her desire to make the magazine a voice for all Muslim women. She didn’t want the magazine limited to one geographical region, to one “type” of Muslim women, or to represent one particular masjid, ideology, or sect. When I heard this, I was impressed. This particular approach to Muslim publications (or Muslim anything, for that matter) was something that was quite rare. I myself sought to approach my own publications and readership similarly, and it was truly a blessing to realize that I wasn’t alone. At the time, I was being criticized by other Muslims for not aligning myself with any particular Muslim label, sect, or sheikh—personally and in my writing—so learning this about Tayyibah’s approach to her business made me feel immediately connected to her.

I reached out to Tayyibah herself shortly after that.

Not too long after that, I was contacted by Azizah Magazine to brainstorm ideas on how my work could be promoted in the magazine. And since then, Tayyibah Taylor and her team have been extremely supportive of my work. My books were promoted via ads and book reviews, and they even featured a piece in which I myself was interviewed. When I extended an invitation for Tayyibah herself to speak at an Umm Zakiyyah author event at Emory University for my work, though she herself was unable to come, she sent a representative on her behalf.

What has impressed me most with working with Tayyibah is her dedication to highlighting the good efforts of all Muslims. Through my travels and experiences (personally and in business), I must say, till this day, this remains a rarity amongst Muslims. If there was ever anything that Azizah Magazine and I appeared had different approaches to or different understandings of, Tayyibah and her team searched for ways to make our collective efforts work. And trust me, I’ve been through many phases of Islamic and personal sensitivities on everything from the face veil to pictures, but never once did Tayyibah or her team say “No, this isn’t going to work.”

Many people, laypeople and public figures, have posted their condolences and grief over the passing of Tayyibah Taylor after a battle with cancer, and I can honestly say that I can truly relate. Even as I write this, I’m overcome with emotion and tears because I know the place Tayyibah has in my heart for simply being amongst those rare people whom I could count on to be both positive and supportive, even when I myself didn’t feel that way about myself or my work. And though my work with Tayyibah and Azizah was mostly from afar, whenever I did see Tayyibah, I don’t recall ever seeing her without a smile on her face, maashaAllah.

My prayer is that she has that smile on her face on the Day of Judgment when she meets Al-Raheem, the Most Merciful. And I pray that, as she did for believers on earth, He overlooks any faults or sins she may have had, and highlights all the good she has done—and grants her Paradise without account.

 

Umm Zakiyyah is the internationally acclaimed author of the If I Should Speak trilogy. Her latest novel Muslim Girlis now available.

To learn more about the author, visit ummzakiyyah.com or subscribe to her YouTube channel.

 

Copyright © 2014 by Al-Walaa Publications. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Daughter of American converts to Islam, Umm Zakiyyah, also known by her birth name Ruby Moore and her "Muslim" name Baiyinah Siddeeq, is the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of more than twenty-five books, including novels, short stories, and self-help. Her books are used in high schools and universities in the United States and worldwide, and her work has been translated into multiple languages. Her work has earned praise from writers, professors, and filmmakers. Her novel His Other Wife is now a short film. Umm Zakiyyah has traveled the world training both first-time authors and published writers in story writing. Her clients include journalists, professional athletes, educators, and entertainers. Dr. Robert D. Crane, advisor to former US President Nixon, said of Umm Zakiyyah, “…no amount of training can bring a person without superb, natural talent to captivate the reader as she does and exert a permanent intellectual and emotional impact.” Professor K. Bryant of Howard University said of If I Should Speak, “The novel belongs to…a genre worthy of scholarly study.” Umm Zakiyyah has a BA degree in Elementary Education, an MA in English Language Learning, and Cambridge’s CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults). She has more than fifteen years experience teaching writing in the United States and abroad and has worked as a consultant for Macmillan Education. Umm Zakiyyah studied Arabic, Qur’an, Islamic sciences, ‘aqeedah, and tafseer in America, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia for more than fifteen years. She currently teaches tajweed (rules of reciting Qur’an) and tafseer. In 2020, Umm Zakiyyah started the UZ Heart & Soul Care community in which she shares lessons she learned on her emotional and spiritual healing journey at uzhearthub.com Follow her online: Website: uzauthor.com Instagram: @uzauthor Twitter: @uzauthor YouTube: uzreflections

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Maryam

    September 10, 2014 at 4:24 PM

    May Allah forgive her shortcomings and grant her Jannah. May we all meet there. Ameen.

  2. Yasir Qadhi

    September 10, 2014 at 5:14 PM

    May Allah have mercy on Sr. Tayyibah! She and her family were actually my neighbors in Jeddah – we lived in the exact same building for a year (1980-81). I grew up playing with her sons and daughters, and eating cookies at her house!

    I actually did not recognize her as an adult. During one ISNA conference 4 years ago, I was talking to Imam Zayd, and she was staring at me and smirking. I was wondering, ‘Why is she looking at me like that?!’ I knew she was the editor of Azizah magazine, but had no clue that it was *her*.

    When I finished my conversation, she came up to me and said, ‘We’re really proud of you Yasir! How’s your mother and father doing (and she mentioned them by name)?’ I said, “How do you know my parents?” She looked surprised and said, ‘Don’t you recognize me? I’m Auntie Tayyibah from Jeddah…’ and all of a sudden it clicked! All those memories came flooding back to me.

    Subhan Allah… how strange life is.

    May Allah forgive her sins, exalt her ranks, and bestow patience on her family!

    PS. If her kids are reading this, please reach out to me! We haven’t seen each other for more than thirty years :)

    • Ibn Adnan

      September 10, 2014 at 5:49 PM

      It would be a really happy reunion if you met her kids again!

    • Sajid Rasheed

      October 28, 2015 at 1:42 AM

      May forgive her sins and grant her jannathul firdaus.

  3. Dr. Dona

    October 16, 2014 at 9:27 AM

    Inna illahi wa inna illayhi raji’un. May Allah forgive her shortcomings and grant her Firdousul Jannah.
    Thanks for writing this article Umm Zakiyyah – I did not hear of her passing until reading this article. I did not know she was battling cancer.
    Although I interacted with Azizah magazine staff, I met Sis. Tayyibah only once – last year after she spoke at a small Sisters’ conference in Murfreesboro, TN. Masha’Allah, she was quite inspiring and very gracious when I spoke to her after.
    Like you, I found her and her team at Azizah magazine quite supportive my efforts. They published a very nice article about our game, Allah’s Prophets, a couple of years ago.
    It seems quite clear that she helped others, both personally and through her magazine. We have lost a true gem in our Ummah.

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