Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting human rights globally, especially gender equity, religious freedom and civil rights in the United States. It pursues its mission through education, legal outreach and advocacy.
KARAMAH | كرامة
Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights
KARAMAH is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting human rights globally, especially gender equity, religious freedom and civil rights in the United States. It pursues its mission through education, legal outreach and advocacy.
KARAMAH’s mission is to educate all people on the just, gender equitable foundation of Islam. We produce, promote and publish Islamic scholarship, from a non-patriarchal perspective, through our programs and publications. We contribute to social and legal discourse by emphasizing core Islamic principles of civil and human rights. We challenge and inspire Muslim women to become leaders in their communities and throughout the world.
“We have given dignity (karamah) to the Children of Adam.” (Qur’an 17:70). Inspired by this verse, we strive toward the day when every person can reach his or her full potential and we all treat one another with respect and compassion.
Our highly-qualified team brings a broad range of skills and experiences that have enabled KARAMAH to reach, and often exceed, its goals. The staff is made up of passionate professionals committed to advancing the human rights of Muslim women around the world. Biographies of our DC and EU based staff are below.
KARAMAH'S EU TEAM
After KARAMAH’s Global Law and Leadership Program in Europe in November 2009, participants in this inaugural program met and decided to establish a permanent KARAMAH presence in Europe. Since its founding in 2009, KARAMAH-EU has held multiple workshops on Islamic law and community leadership, lectures to raise awareness about KARAMAH’s work in Europe, and translated KARAMAH’s scholarship into Dutch and French, making it readily accessible to many more Muslim European women.
HOW WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE
KARAMAH seeks to create a global network of advocates for the rights of Muslim women, who are knowledgeable about the gender-equitable principles of Islam, possess the capacity to share this information with others, and are able to advance the cause of Muslim women’s rights in legal and social environments. KARAMAH works to build this global network of informed, empowered advocates in two ways – first, by creating and sharing knowledge about the rights Islamic law grants to women, and second, by educating Muslim women in Islamic jurisprudence, leadership, and conflict resolution, so that they may become the leading agents of change within their communities.
Our Research Department serves as the central source of original and gathered scholarship on Islamic jurisprudence. Through the development of original articles and presentation of lectures, our highly trained scholars educate Muslim women and the general public about the rights afforded to women within Islam. Additionally, the Department gathers and disseminates the scholarship of Muslim jurists and other scholars and leaders from around the world, creating a strong body of knowledge from which our Programs Department creates the curricula of our unparalleled educational programs.
The Programs Department implements our goal of empowering Muslim women to become their own advocates in diverse situations and environments. With our extensive, authoritative scholarship on gender-equitable Islamic jurisprudence, as well as our expert knowledge of leadership and conflict resolution, KARAMAH conducts powerful workshops and programs in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. Our programs equip participants with knowledge of Islamic law and the rights Islam grants to women and provide training and experience in applying that knowledge in a variety of practical settings. Alumnae leave our programs able to share this knowledge of Islamic law in their homes, communities, and societies, and to assume advocacy for their rights and the rights of all Muslim women.
While our research and programs are the platform on which KARAMAH stands, it is our networks of scholars, alumnae, and leaders who extend the reach of KARAMAH’s knowledge to a global scale. Our alumnae become educators and advocates for the rights of Muslim women, and collectively we build a global community rooted in respect and dignity.
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.