Paying Tribute to American Muslim Trailblazer, Tayyibah Taylor

Paying Tribute to American Muslim Trailblazer, Tayyibah Taylor September 8, 2014

Tayyibah TaylorCompiled by Altmuslim Editors

The Muslim American and larger American community lost a beloved soul last week — Tayyibah Taylor, founder and editor-in-chief of Azizah Magazine passed away. The outpouring of love and grief was immediate, as news spread quickly. Tributes came pouring in on Facebook, Twitter and in letters sent to Azizah Magazine. Ms. Taylor touched the lives of countless many and was a tireless advocate for Muslim women and interfaith dialogue, as well as a mentor to so many. Here, we are sharing just a few of the many tributes written to her on social media. Please share your memories of her in the comments section below.

Mariam Abdul-Aziz, daughter of Tayyibah Taylor

Thank you Allah! Thank you for the gift of Tayyibah Felicity Taylor as my mother. My heart is overflowing with the love she gave me and continues to give me. Inshallah we will meet again in paradise. I love you sweet mother. Your legacy will continue … My mother was a true peace advocate. She believed in the human intellect, reasoning, solutions, and compromise. She used to say…..”if we can figure out how to put people on the moon and how to program complex computers, then surely leaders of nations can sit down and figure out ways to solve conflicts without war and violence.”

Sumayya Allen

With the passing of one of my greatest mentors and inspirations, Tayyibah Taylor, whom I was blessed to work with over the past 10 years, I am reminded of how short our time on this earth is. Let those who inspire you know this now while they walk this earth, for you may not have a chance to tell them later. I feel at peace that it came to my heart to send Sister Tayyibah such a note about three years ago. This beautiful and classy lady, a queen among women of these times, has truly taught us what it means to work hard for something you believe in. She exposed the world to so many great Muslim women doing great things. Her legacy continues on a global scale – (re-reading some of our messages to each other, every time we tried to get together she was always travelling to or from somewhere!) Tayyibah’s presence on this earth was truly a gift for us sent down as a sign and inspiration from the Most High. May Allah keep her near and with the company of the righteous. Ameen!

Haris Tarin

Tayyibah Taylor there are so many words that can describe your beautiful soul, yet here are a few: poise, class, humility, radiant, healer, intelligence and of course strong! You were a trailblazer in the American Muslim community and you put into action what many people talked about. We travelled to Europe together several times and you represented the best of Muslim America actually the best of America. I remember at the home of the US Ambassador to Belgium how you were the guest of honor and your words were so simple yet powerful and how you schooled all of us on the art that hung around the house. May God shower his mercy on you, you will be missed!

Palwashar L. Kakar

I have been struggling to comprehend the passing of my dear teacher and mentor Sr. Tayyibah Taylor. It was only last year at the ISNA convention I heard her beautiful reflections on panels and had such inspirational discussions with her. As my teacher at the Islamic School of Seattle, she was a beautiful role model as a strong successful intelligent articulate practicing Muslim woman who took her faith seriously balancing her career and a family beautifully. As a visionary leader she was not afraid to take on difficult topics the community was dealing with both in her speeches and her magazine, Azizah Magazine which was a breath of fresh air. She taught me to write, encouraged me to think analytically about my faith and the world and encouraged me to use Azizah Magazine as a platform to write about women’s issues. I don’t think I would be where I am if she hadn’t taught me … I am thankful to Allah for having been blessed with such an amazing teacher and mentor in my life. May Allah bless her in jannatul firdos … she is truly blessed for all the good that she has done in this world that keeps on impacting the lives of so many. She is a loss to all of us, her place is empty but in her memory so much continues. Innalillahi was inna ilaihi rajiun. May Allah give her family, her colleagues and students and all our lives she has touch so dramatically the patience and strength to deal with the ache of her loss. Amen”

Imam Abdullah T. Antelpli

Lets hold up her name in our thoughts and prayers now. In her late moments Tayyibah told to her loved ones: “ I think I am ready to meet with my Lord. I have always been happy with Him, hope He is happy with me too. I am ready to enjoy what He has planned for me in the here after…” Not sure how many people can welcome death in this joyful and content way… She will be missed … Let us pray Fatiha as many times as we can for this amazing soul and let us try to live up to her legacy … Inna Lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un  My Beloved Sister We’ve traveled the World together.

Precious Rasheeda Muhammad

I woke up this morning and still could not believe it. How is it possible that you could no longer be with us, beautiful Sister Tayyibah? How is it possible that you could be gone? In a recommendation for me, much earlier this year, you wrote that you considered me to be more focused and determined than many other women my age. If that is true, it is because of great women leaders like you who have inspired me. I love you so much. Inna Lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un.

Dilshad D. Ali

I can’t get over it today. I’m going back over my pictures and can feel Tayyibah’s arm around my shoulder, hear her sincere and spot-on words of advice. … The first time I ever presented at a conference – at the WISE conference in Malaysia — knowing Tayyibah was the moderator put me at ease. Four years ago when I decided to start sharing about our autism life, I ran into Tayyibah, who encouraged me as I struggled to find the line between public and private, between hope and fear, between being real and presenting the best of ourselves.

Last year she gave me a platform at the 50th Annual ISNA convention for all I was struggling to say on behalf of our family and so many others like us — about what our Muslim community owes to special needs families, about how we must raise our voices and how individuals living with special needs must be heard. If there are two people who have impacted me in my career and how I want to be as a professional and as a friend, it is Tayyibah Taylor and Deborah Kovach Caldwell.

They gave me opportunities, they encouraged me, they supported me. Tayyibah has done that for countless many. Her life’s work is something so profound that I cannot sum it up. I cannot comment. She made everyone she spoke with, everyone she helped feel so very special. Such poise, dignity, intelligence and grace. As I told my husband, she was one of my ideal Muslimahs.

May Allah swt raise you amongst his highest, my dear sister.

Shahed Amanullah

Utterly heartbroken at the passing of Tayyibah Taylor, founder of Azizah Magazine and a pioneer in the American Muslim media space. I have long looked up to her vision, energy, and positive attitude. May she be granted Paradise and may she continue to inspire us to tell our stories.

Tayyibah Taylor (in white) ascending the steps of the Dome of the Rock.
Tayyibah Taylor (in white) ascending the steps of the Dome of the Rock. Photo courtesy of Rabia Chaudry.

Yossi Klein Halevi

One can begin telling about Tayyibah Taylor, who died on September 4 at age 64, by citing her remarkable accomplishments: founder and editor of the first Muslim American women’s magazine, Azizah, repeatedly cited as one of the most influential Muslims not only in America but worldwide. But what was most remarkable about Tayyibah, and what those of us who loved her will miss most, was her quiet strength, her deep faith and love of God, her courage in trying to bring peace among those of different faiths who express their love of God in different ways.

I met Tayyibah as part of the program called Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI)–which teaches Muslim American leaders about the meaning of Israel for Judaism and the Jewish people–which I co-direct with Imam Abdullah Antepli, the Muslim chaplain of Duke University. Tayyibah was a passionate advocate of Muslim-Jewish reconciliation. Up until her final days, she spoke enthusiastically about MLI’s work with her visitors in the hospital.

Here is Tayyibah in her own words, written shortly before her passing: “If we live our lives with faith, integrity and consciousness, we can hand a spiritual legacy to our children, one that will benefit them in their earthly lives, as well as in the hereafter… Perhaps one of the most powerful ways of leaving a spiritual legacy is to live a life of unwavering faith, empowering self-discipline and remarkable professional and personal accomplishments. In doing so one leaves a glowing example of spiritual light to all.” May her memory be a blessing.

Rabia Chaudry

Inna lillahi wa inna illaihi rajiun. I am heartsick at the passing of one of our great leaders, a pioneer, and incredible sister Tayyibah Taylor. A deeply kind, peaceful soul who I was blessed to get to know and worship with. Her labor of love, Azizah Magazine, will continue her legacy of love, faith, and community. I pray for her family and make dua that she is raised in ranks in Jannah.

Karamah (Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights)

Today we grieve the loss of our sister Tayyibah Taylor. She is one of our own, a pioneer in the Muslim American community, and a dear friend. Tayyibah was founder, editor-in-chief and publisher of Azizah Magazine, the first mainstream publication for Muslim women in the United States. As a visionary, she recognized the urgent need to raise the voices and profiles of Muslim women in the media. Tayyibah fought for and achieved a change in the narrative about Muslims around the world, especially women. She has left an incredible legacy that we pray will continue to reward her in the next life. Beyond her professional accolades, of which there are many, we remember her today for who she was. Tayyibah Taylor was a woman of deep faith, a warrior for women’s rights, an adventurous spirit, and constant friend and supporter of KARAMAH. We pray for her and for her family and friends. Her life’s work remains and its impact will continue to reverberate throughout the world. We at KARAMAH are privileged to have known her. She will be sorely missed. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioun.

From Editors at Azizah Magazine

Dear Subscribers and Supporters of Azizah Magazine,

We regret to announce the passing of Tayyibah Taylor, the founder, publisher, and editor in chief of Azizah Magazine. She has returned to Allah. Please join the Azizah Magazine family in praying for her soul, forgiveness of her sins and shortcomings, and her entrance to paradise. Ms. Taylor is survived by her 5 children and several grandchildren. May Allah grant them sabr for their tragic loss.

She was a tireless advocate for Muslim women, a mentor and role model to countless Muslims in America and abroad. A learned and spiritual woman, she was a firm believer in Allah’s mercy, she was a pioneer woman who spoke and wrote about Islam and spirituality, often when the only prominent voices in the American Muslim community were of men. Among the most well traveled Muslim women of the world, Ms. Taylor logged millions of miles in visits to countries on six continents, advocating for peace, constructive interfaith relations, and Muslim women’s empowerment.

The most notable part of her life’s work is founding the institution of Azizah Magazine. She leaves behind not just a publication that is a vehicle for Muslim women’s voices or catalyst for empowerment, but a legacy of pure intentions and faith in Allah that have become the core values of the Azizah Family. Before her illness, Ms. Taylor had taken steps to ensure the longevity of Azizah Magazine. She mentored and prepared Azizah team members to take on leadership roles and trained staff at the task of producing the Magazine. We pray that we can deliver on the promise of Azizah Magazine, by and for Muslim women, for years to come with the same rigorous standards of excellence and purity of intention that Ms. Tayyibah Taylor instituted.

Support Azizah Magazine by purchasing a subscription here. In remembrance of Sister Tayyibah Taylor, the family has requested donations be made to the Back to Basics Kids Foundation, where she was a board member and advocate. Donors can ask for an acknowledgement to be sent to the family via the email address: Donate here:

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