KARAMAH, which means “dignity” in Arabic, was founded in 1993 by Dr. Azizah al-Hibri, a law professor and Islamic scholar at the University of Richmond. The name KARAMAH comes from the Qur’anic verse 17:70, which reads: “We have given dignity to the Children of Adam.” This verse, which does not differentiate between male and female, establishes the fact that human dignity is bestowed upon all human beings by God, regardless of gender. Dr. al-Hibri wanted to make this idea known, especially to Muslim women, and advance the view that Islam does not require a choice between human rights and faith. She wanted to create an organization to support the rights of Muslim women worldwide through education programs, jurisprudential scholarship, and the development of a network of Muslim jurists and leaders.
In 1981, Dr. al-Hibri began producing Islamic jurisprudential research and writing as a philosophy professor at Texas A&M, and later as a law professor at the University of Richmond School of Law. At the time, she was concerned about the misunderstanding by Western women’s rights advocates about the status of women in Islam. Dr. al-Hibri understood that Muslim women would resist reforms that would conflict with their faith. She realized that a new avenue of reform was needed, founded in faith-based jurisprudence.
In creating KARAMAH, Dr. al-Hibri’s foremost goal was to advance Muslim women’s knowledge of their rights and to empower them in the march towards greater participation in their civil societies and the global community. What began in 1993 as a small group of dedicated individuals quickly grew into a vibrant and distinguished organization.
Since 2003, KARAMAH has developed a set of intensive and highly-esteemed educational workshops in the U.S. and abroad. These programs offer a core set of courses about the gender-equitable principles of Islamic law, and help participants develop leadership and conflict resolution skills. The training aims to equip women with the tools necessary to make a beneficial difference from within their own religious contexts. In addition to our educational programs, KARAMAH has built a network of Muslim women jurists, lawyers and leaders who contribute to equitable Islamic legal scholarship.
Throughout the years, KARAMAH’s views on legal issues related to Islam have been solicited by various audiences, including branches of the U.S. and other governments, the media, academicians and a host of other human rights organizations. Today, KARAMAH has a talented team based in Washington, D.C. focused on expanding both the educational programs and research endeavors in the U.S., as well as in Europe and the Middle East.