Kendyl Noor Aurora is a modest fashion model based out of New York. In her daily life she studies journalism and documentary filmmaking with aspirations of writing for Al-Jazeera. She entered the modest fashion world after reverting to Islam with the desire to show another layer of diversity within the Muslim community as a heavily tattooed woman. Advocating for tolerance and inclusivity, she shares her grungy, edgy aesthetic on Instagram and YouTube.
This story and photograph were created by Carlos Khalil Guzman, a photographer and activist currently based in NYC.
How has your life been different from what you imagined?
My whole childhood I only ever dreamed of working in the music industry. I wanted to tour the world; helping to bring the music that had so inspired me growing up with other young people. I accomplished that goal and began working in the music industry as a march girl, and eventually as a tour assistant. I had forged a path for myself in the industry when I became increasingly ill with my GI condition. I knew on that last tour, when my GI system was really going down hill that things were about to change, big time. I never thought that I’d go back to college or being creating videos, let alone find a faith that spoke to my heart so deeply. Much of my life stayed the same, I am still just as close with my tour friends and family as ever, but so much more has changed for the better. I’m grateful for the series of events that brought me to this wildly unexpected place.
If you could hold on to one memory from your life forever, what would that be?
There was this moment that was absolutely life changing for me… I was side stage working at a festival in Ohio when the band I worked for came out for their encore. Everything was completely dark, and when those lights came up on the crowd I just saw tens of thousands of kids singing, crying, and smiling. That was the moment that I felt like I had done it, I had contributed my small part to helping this show run *kind of* smoothly, and these kids got to have an incredible experience. I hold so tight to that memory and that feeling of fulfillment now that my career has gone in a new direction. Even though I couldn’t control my body and the consequences it had on my career in the music industry, I do know that I accomplished the one thing I set out to do at least once during my time on the road, and that allows me to be free to move on, to new and different things, things that feed new parts of my soul.
When in life have you felt most alone?
When I first reverted to Islam there was that classic wave of people who are excited to congratulate you and welcome you to the community, but that all quickly fades away. There were a few years after reverting where I felt stuck in an awkward place, like none of the various pieces of my life fit together quite right. I was completely accepted in the Muslim community because of my tattoos, apparel, lifestyle, etc, but I also was viewed a bit funny by all my old friends, who were slightly apprehensive about this massive change I had made in my life. That was a time where I lost a lot of old friends that didn’t support my choice to revert and I felt pretty dang lonely, but in retrospect it was all a part of a far greater plan. I can look back now and realize that Allah was cleansing my life of all the people who were no longer good for me, people who may have been great friends over the years, but it was now time for our paths to diverge. That cleansing made way for some incredible new relationships that are beyond what I ever could have imagined.
How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered for being unapologetically myself. Someone who advocated for tolerance and inclusivity within our Muslim community and who stood up for anyone and everyone to be able to nurture their connection regardless of our differences. We’ve created a lot of titles and labels that have built barriers around ourselves as individuals and our Muslim community as a whole. In an age where we are fighting against a “leader” here in the United States who wants to build walls, we need to start tearing down some walls of our own. Leave the judgments and start loving one another again.