Over the past twenty years, KARAMAH has engaged in community-based advocacy. What does this mean? It means that KARAMAH makes careful, deliberate efforts to listen to our communities and then try to tackle issues. KARAMAH became involved in this work through our primary mission of education. We saw issues in the community that surfaced because of a lack of knowledge of Islam and/or the law. Through our quest for education, we talked to and learned from communities all over the world. Among the many things that we have learned along the way, one clear issue that we have noted is the lack of effective conflict resolution mechanisms in our communities.
Our community is no different than any other. We have conflict among individuals, among families, among organizations, and among boards. How should we resolve these conflicts? Too often, conflict resolution in our community escalate into mud-slinging, making accusations, and diminishing one another. These are not effective means of dealing with our problems and they are contrary to our Islamic tradition. We are reminded often at KARAMAH of the story of the Prophet Muhammad and the “conflict” over moving the black stone. All of the tribes wanted the distinct honor of moving the stone and taking it to the Kaa’ba. The Prophet Muhammad, in his infinite wisdom, resolved the conflict amicably by suggesting that the black stone be placed on a sheet and a member of each tribe would hold the sheet and collectively, the tribes would move the stone. This method of peacefully resolving conflict, among many other examples from our Islamic heritage, is what inspires KARAMAH to do our work.
With this in mind, KARAMAH is proud to announce its newest division: the Conflict Resolution Division. Over a decade ago, KARAMAH introduced an intensive 2-day conflict resolution course to our annual Law and Leadership Summer Program. Because KARAMAH knew that some of the approaches that were taught may be unfamiliar in some communities, KARAMAH wanted to arm its leaders with conflict resolution skills so that they could affect change in their communities—not create more division and schisms. Our approach is about lasting change and keeping the community together, just as the Prophet Muhammad did.
In the last year, KARAMAH expanded its conflict resolution work with the innovative Muslim Mediation Initiative (“MMI”). The MMI was a one-day workshop that KARAMAH conducted twice, training over 40 imams and leaders in the Muslim community. Because many in our community confer with imams and other leaders before seeking legal advice, KARAMAH honed a unique curriculum aimed at training imams and community leaders in the Islamic approach to conflict resolution, with mediation as one specific mechanism for resolving problems. MMI was very successful, and with our new division, KARAMAH envisions repeating MMI in various communities around the U.S. and the world.
We are pleased to welcome to our team a long-standing supporter, advisor and faculty member of LLSP, Amr Abdalla. Dr. Abdalla will head KARAMAH’s new Conflict Resolution Division as “Senior Advisor.” Click to see his scholarly work and biography.