On the day after the President signed executive order 37496, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” KARAMAH joined over 100 Muslim lawyers in New York at the National Association of Muslim Lawyers (“NAML”) Legal Strategy Retreat. During this retreat, Muslim lawyers from all over the country convened to discuss evolving strategies as we address the immediate and long-term needs of the Muslim American community. The attendees included those in academia, government, advocacy groups, private practice, and educational organizations.
This meeting struck at the core of how KARAMAH intends to serve the American Muslim community in 2017 and beyond.
Recently, there is heightened visibility of anti-Muslim sentiment. This is exhibited in wide-ranging policies including, but not limited to, immigration, hate crimes, profiling, and surveillance. The 2002 NSEERS (National Security Entry-Exit System), which resulted in hundreds of Muslims living in the U.S. registering with the Department of Homeland Security, began as heightened scrutiny for immigrants from certain countries. Through a collaborative effort of numerous American Muslim organizations, we were able to work with the Obama administration to dismantle the framework around NSEERS. However, even that dismantling did not strike to the root of these issues, that is, the vilification of Muslims and distortion of Islam.
Indeed, the strategies to address disparities in our communities are multi-faceted. There is a role for all individuals and institutions in these unsettling times. KARAMAH’s role has become increasingly clear. We are working towards changing the perception of Islam in America through reasoned scholarship and educational programs. In our nearly 25-year history, KARAMAH notes that these current immigration trends reflect ongoing and systemic oppression, racism, and xenophobia. These ideas have deep roots right to the inception of our country. The way to address hate is through providing a counter-narrative that is strong, nuanced, and grounded in authentic research.
To that end, KARAMAH will work in the following capacities going forward. First, we will leverage the vast scholarship we have already completed due to the support of world leading scholars. This scholarship demonstrates that the concept of justice, equity, pluralism, and compassion are not new to Islam, but ingrained in authentic Islamic jurisprudence. Next, we will use our current talent pool of scholars and lawyers to apply Islamic principles to contemporary issues such as gender equity, privacy rights, the seeming conflict between religion and nationality, and race matters.
This is no small task, and indeed it is an ongoing journey. But as we have been for our nearly 25 year existence, KARAMAH is up to the challenge. We will communicate next steps through our listserv, social media, and subsequent white papers. We invite the greater community to join our efforts by attending our events, providing feedback, and supporting our causes with your volunteer time and donations.
We have a long road ahead of us. Together, we can ensure that the concepts of justice, equity, and pluralism, which are ingrained in the Qur’an and sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad, are recognized, practiced, and celebrated for the personal and public benefit of all involved.