Muslim dolls a change from Barbie

She's smart, she's professional - and she won't leave young girls with warped expectations about their appearance.

Her name is Razanne, and for many American Muslim parents, she's an antidote to a culture that measures women with the numbers 36-24-34.

"My husband and I used to watch with dismay when the girls in our community all received Barbie dolls as gifts for the holidays," says Sherrie Saadeh, an opera singer who's a convert to Islam. "We thought, 'This is not the right role model for our girls.' "

So she and her husband, Ammar, created Razanne, a Muslim doll, three years ago. Their Livonia, Mich.-based company, NoorArt (www.noorart. com), sells a variety of Muslim toys and books, but the most popular is Razanne.

Just ask Yunna and Imaan Patel. Between them, the sisters now have six Razanne dolls: the original Razanne, Teacher Razanne, Praying Razanne, and several Playing Razannes, wearing the casual Muslim dress of girls in Asia.

"My favorite is Teacher Razanne, because she's an Islamic teacher ...," says Yunna, who attends a Muslim school in Sharon, Mass. "She has nice clothes and a laptop."

For their mother, Fiona, a doctor, the dolls reinforce values she is trying to instill in her daughters.

"You'd go to the store, and what do you see? A blonde Barbie, or an African-American Barbie," she says, noting that her daughters also have Barbie dolls. "But there was nothing that my girls could identify with ... nothing that had the head scarf they see me wearing."

For Mrs. Patel, it's important that the dolls portray women doing professional things. "They didn't just make her a mom that stays home.... Not just the typical, supposedly repressed Muslim woman."

In fact, in one Muslim home, Razanne gives the orders. "Razanne talks to the Barbie doll and tells her she should wear hijab," a Razanne fan wrote to NoorArt.

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