LAW & LEADERSHIP SUMMER PROGRAM

Since 2003, KARAMAH has worked to develop intensive and innovative educational programs that provide Muslim women with the tools and skills they need to become dynamic leaders in their communities.

Creating New Leaders

Founded in 2002, KARAMAH’s Law and Leadership Summer Program (LLSP) brings together a select group of Muslim women from around the world to study and to learn from each other and from top professors. KARAMAH’s LLSP is specifically designed to provide training that addresses the unique challenges facing Muslim women today, while, at the same time, emphasizing individual’s talents and opportunities available to participants.  LLSP courses provide participants with the fundamental understanding and essential skills needed to lead themselves, their peers, and the movements they are passionate about.  It is a unique program diverse in ideas and cultures but unified in its commitment to developing Muslim women’s understanding of Islamic Law, Leadership, and Conflict Resolution.

Read about KARAMAH'S LLSP "Strong Communities, Strong Voices" event in The Washington Post!

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Applications Closed For
Virtual LLSP 2020

July 2020

Our 2020 Virtual LLSP is underway and we are not accepting new applicants at this time. If you are interested in applying to one of our programs, leave your information with us and we will send updates regarding future programs.

Submit Information for Future Program Updates


Application Information

  • Application Form
  • Resume
  • Transcripts (if applicable)
  • Statement of Intent

Email, fax, or mail your completed application form and all application materials (resume, transcripts, statement of intent) to KARAMAH at:

E-mail: LLSP@Karamah.org

Mail: KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights 1684 East Gude Drive, Suite 300 Rockville, MD 20850

Fax: (202) 234-7304

Applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis. We will review all submitted applications. However, because spots fill up quickly, earlier applicants have a better chance of being accepted. We recommend that applicants submit applications as early as possible. International applicants should submit applications earlier to ensure time for acquiring a visa.

KARAMAH requires a $500 (USD) registration fee to help offset the costs of the three-week program. This fee is highly discounted from the actual costs of the program thanks to generous support from grantors and individual donors. In addition to the registration fee, participants are responsible for all of their travel and living expenses during the program. On average, living expenses range from $1500-$2000. When budgeting, be sure to take into account airfare, accommodations, meals, and some local travel costs. Excluding the cost of housing, many participants spend $30-$40 per day on living expenses. All payments must be received by KARAMAH at least 30 days before the program begins.

Program participants are responsible for making their own travel and living arrangements. Accommodations in Washington can be expensive and difficult to find over the summer. Should you wish to book a hotel or make other arrangements, it is highly recommended that you secure housing as early as possible.

KARAMAH is able to provide recommendations for accommodations, but participants will be required to make final arrangements. The housing that KARAMAH recommends and reserves costs approximately $1700 (USD) for the three weeks.

Additionally, we work with local universities to offer participants discounted rates on dormitory housing close to summer program classrooms. More information on housing is sent to participants upon their acceptance to the program.

All participants are responsible for securing their own visa and arranging their own travel.  Participants are encouraged to apply for a US visa no later than 60 days prior to the program, and it is recommended that they apply by the end of February.  If accepted, KARAMAH will be able to provide participants with invitations if requested for visa applications. It is also recommended that participants make travel arrangements as far in advance as possible.

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LLSP Courses

KARAMAH’s LLSP is specifically designed to provide training that addresses the unique challenges facing Muslim women today, while, at the same time, emphasizing individual’s talents and opportunities available to participants. Courses on Islamic Jurisprudence, Leadership, and Conflict Resolution provide participants with the fundamental understanding and essential skills needed to lead themselves, their peers, and the movements they are passionate about.  All courses are designed to incorporate and focus on one or of the following topics: Islamic Law, Leadership, and Conflict Resolution.

Below is a sample of courses offered in past LLSP programs:

KARAMAH recognizes that even leaders with the best of intentions will likely encounter opposition to their work at some point. Therefore, we educate participants on the Islamic principles of gradual change and the most recent academic works in conflict resolution and peace studies. Sessions incorporate role-playing exercises, during which participants analyze value systems and moral frameworks that influence personal and professional decisions. This training allows participants to understand the causes of conflict, and how to approach situations that may cause tension or conflict. LLSP courses combine lectures and interactive sessions, including debate simulations, leadership and teamwork exercises, and in-class discussions. This approach provides participants with a theoretical and hands-on approach to scholarly concepts.

Dr. Amr Abdalla presents an introduction to Conflict Resolution theory and practices through his multiple-day class. He covers topics including defining conflict, causes of conflicts, and tactics for addressing conflicts and avoiding unnecessary conflicts. Dr. Abdalla’s courses are intended to provide participants with practical skills for understanding and addressing conflict.

KARAMAH has developed an intensive leadership component to its educational programs providing a mixture of academic and application-based modules that develop the knowledge and skills leaders require. Additionally, KARAMAH utilizes the latest leadership assessment tools available to measure the leadership styles of participants. These assessment tools allow KARAMAH to provide personalized courses that develop participants’ unique strengths and address their weaknesses. Leadership training increases participants’ confidence and ability to lead themselves and their peers and, eventually, entire communities.

KARAMAH’s highly-educated instructors provide participants with lessons tailored to their level of expertise – everything from an introduction to Islamic legal sources to an advanced analysis of Islamic jurisprudence and international law. Islamic law courses aim to provide participants with the technical competency necessary to understand Islamic law and analyze legal opinions and statements based on the authoritative of classical Islamic jurisprudential sources. This allows participants to better understand and advocate for gender-equitable rights within the context of their religion and respective communities.

Raheemah Abdulaleem, Chair of KARAMAH’s board of directors, discusses traits common to women in the workplace and highlights important elements of success in any environment, discussing with participants challenges that they have faced in making their voices heard. Participants practice exchanging “elevator pitches” with one another, describing their jobs, passions, and workplace responsibilities in less than 15 seconds.

Imam Mohamed Magid speaks about the values of Islam and how they can inspire better leaders. He encourages participants to empower themselves by having a personal relationship with the Qur’an

Former Executive Director leads the participants in a bonding exercise where they share their journeys down the so-called “rivers” of their lives that brought them to LLSP. Participants acknowledge similar events, mentors, and obstacles in their lives that have somehow contributed to their journeys.

Professor Fadel discusses the modern philosopher John Rawls and his concept of “Public Reason,” as it pertains to Islam. Mr. Fadel encourages participants to contemplate what it means to have an individual reason vs. a public reason, which is a thought representative of an “aggregate body of citizens.”

Jamiah Adams discusses various social media platforms, why social media is important in advocacy and justice work, and how participants can transform themselves into stronger leaders through their social media presence.

Farhan Latif, president of the El Hibri Foundation speaks about ways to hone professional goals and personal talents to maximize outcomes. A Theory of Change (TOC) can help individuals or organizations refocus to make their end goal a reality.

Lynn Kunkle, Director of Grants and Peace Education at the El-Hibri Foundation talks about methods of effective fundraising and grant-writing. Recognizing how overwhelming grant-writing and fundraising can seem, Ms. Kunkle seeks to “de-mystify the grant-making process” so participants could be more effective fundraisers for their organizations and causes in the future.

Dean Okianer Dark talks about the qualities that constitute effective leadership, leaders who serve as examples to participants, and how leadership qualities may differ between men and women.

Ieasha Prime works with participants to break down the everyday act of speaking into its elementary components, walking through the basics to rebuild participants’ speaking skills.

Dr. Azizah al-Hibri discusses taa’a (obedience) and draws a parallel between a wife to a husband in the family and citizens to the state. She encourages her students to stand up for justice with God as their wali, like the Qur’anic story of Zainab speaking against the tyrannous Yazeed, who was responsible for her family’s murder.

Abed Awad, Esq. discusses how Islamic family law can, and cannot, be used in American courts. Focusing on cases of divorce, Mr. Awad introduces participants to key cases that have established how the Islamic marriage contract can be used in American courts. Mr. Awad is especially knowledgeable about enforcement of mahr in American courts, having argued a landmark case in New Jersey which concluded in the first enforcement of the mahr provision in a New Jersey court.

Professor Mohammed Fadel outlines the foundational information regarding Islamic Law: sources of Islamic Law, the schools of thought, acceptability norms for Sunnahs and the Sunni and Shi’a methods of reasoning. He emphasizes the point that Islamic Law is a system of plurality – this is reinforced through the Islamic principle that every effort if made in the right mind and with the best effort, whether correct or not, is rewarded.

Asifa Quraishi discusses the similarities between U.S. constitutional law and Islamic law. She provides an overview of the mechanics of Islamic Jurisprudence and explains that there are various methodologies for interpreting both types of law. Each system implements the separation of church and state and the separation of powers differently.

Linda Garrett and Dr. Patricia Scott instruct participants on delivering persuasive speeches and messages in public, focusing on the content and style of speaking to audiences. After this initial instruction, participants present short speeches they composed for the class. After everyone has presented, Ms. Garrett and Dr. Scott provide participants with constructive feedback, giving tips for improving speaking skills and encouraging the positive speaking habits shown by participants.

Dr. David Campbell asks participants to pick four postcards from his extensive collection: two of the groups they would like to spend a week with, and two of the groups they would not. He uses this exercise to demonstrate the power – and inaccuracy – of preconceived notions based purely on outward appearance.

Dean Leary Davis and Dr. David Campbell use the “Hollow Square” activity, a team-building exercise where ideally, groups of planners and implementers work together and are part of a joint process from the beginning. However, often groups fall victim to self-imposed limitations and try to complete the activity separately, with less success. The exercise emphasizes the importance of including implementers in the planning process, and how to navigate away from imposing limitations or restrictions upon themselves or others that do not actually exist.

Dean Susan Karamanian gives a brief overview of the types and sources of international law, noting the limitations of scope and enforcement on the system’s effectiveness. However, she emphasizes that international law has been essential in raising issues such as trafficking of women, child and family rights, workers’ rights and women in war to the forefront of the public mind.

Roberta Oster Sachs begins with tips on giving a good interview and maintaining control of the discussion. Giving examples of various other social media, Ms. Sachs demonstrates how such forums are amazing tools to facilitate public dialogue and spread the word about a message or cause.

Dr. Michael Useem explores the qualities that make a great leader and more importantly, how to translate these ideas and theories into action. He emphasizes the importance of personalizing one’s interactions with an audience and cautioned that leaders are always on a stage and must be conscious of everything they say and do.

Asifa Quraishi discusses challenges posed by the inclusion of rape in Zina laws in some Muslim communities. She notes the negative influence of the international human rights community’s uproar in response to two cases in Pakistan and Nigeria. While recognizing the good intentions of the international community, she proposes that a more effective means of change has come from within the Islamic community and within the context of Islamic law.

Dr. John Mansfield discusses the constitutional issues which surround discussions on headscarves and other religious garb. During the session, Dr. Mansfield seeks to provide participants with a more nuanced understanding of constitutional rights to religious expression by examining case-studies and discussion.

Khadija Moufid discusses the role of the family in eliminating gender discrimination and in promoting international development and social justice. She argues that the family is an essential foundation for building relationships and individual growth. She emphasizes the need for legal frameworks to promote family values and stress the necessarily equal participation of both husband and wife within the family unit.

Dr. Azizah al-Hibri and the participants examine Qur’anic verse 4:34, “the Chastisement Verse”. After analyzing credible Islamic scholarly, the course demonstrates that the verse prohibits hitting as the first act, prescribing that men go through a process through which communication is key – in the hope that anger and frustration will be dissipated. She deconstructs traditional gender roles by highlighting the credit the Qur’an gives women for the work they do. She also emphasizes that a marriage contract is an essential tool in crafting a man and woman’s relationship, because it can stipulate a woman’s right to continue her higher education, maintain her career and control her own wealth.

Dr. Azizah al-Hibri clarifies the meaning of sadaq, commonly mistranslated as dowry, and the circumstances under which women would and would not be entitled to it upon divorce. Dr. al-Hibri also clarified the differences between talaq, khula’, faskh and judicial divorce. Dr. al-Hibri also discusses the woman’s role in marriage, distinguishing between the duties expected of a wife by society as opposed to the duties expected of a wife by Islam.

Professor Mohamed Mattar discusses how Islam addresses the issue of trafficking differently in accordance with its definition. As slavery, Islam is clearly against trafficking, but as exploitation, the crime would be discretionary. The Qur’an regards spying, bribery, gambling, and monopoly similarly.

Dr. Azizah al-Hibri discusses the treatment of the Islamic marriage contract in American courts, where concepts such as mahr have been harmfully misinterpreted to mean “bride price.” She also details the four different kinds of Islamic divorce and a woman’s role in each.

Dr. Zainab Alwani stresses the seamlessness of the Qur’an and the importance of active, critical reading of the text. She provides participants guidance on how to read and understand complex verses.

Mais Abousy, Esq. introduces articles and scholarly works covering current events. After this, she leads discussions about the issues introduced in the articles and leads a discussion with participants about how these issues affect them and possible solutions. Participants learn various means to moderate and guide discussions given complex topics and issues, as well as develop visual aides.

Dr. Azizah al-Hibri links the development of the United States government to Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton’s understanding of early civilizations, especially the Ottoman Empire. She stresses that democracy and Islam are compatible. The course also examines the positive influences of Islam on the Founding Fathers.

Prof. Mohammed Fadel examines the notion of wali (guardian) during a marriage contract. He claims that the ways in which the major schools of thought have dealt with the legal capacity of men and women have been very disparate. However, he later points out that the existing disparity is not a result of the Qur’anic passages themselves, but rather, of social perceptions. Change can be made through the inclusion of contractual conditions that can be enforced in court.

Dr. Azizah al-Hibri focuses on gender-specific verses in the Qur’an and carefully studies the root of the words or language used in order to understand what the verse actually says, and not what patriarchal society has interpreted it to mean over time. Verses are analyzed through contextual examination of diverse Islamic legal sources, such as the Sunnah and various jurisprudence.

Imam Mohamed Magid focuses on the sources of, revelation of, transmission of, and later interpretation of the Qur’an. From the beginning, the Qur’an has promoted reading and understanding and contemplation – it was not just meant for memorization. Diversity and pluralism exist within the Qur’an – the occurrence of verses on gender diversity implies that there is, in fact, a place for women in scholarship.

Dr. Zainab Alwani gives an introduction to the development of Islamic legal theory, usul al-fiqh. She emphasizes the general values and principles that scholars derived from the Shari‘a, known as themaqasid al-shari‘a, highlighting the importance of family and family law as a fundamental institution of society.

Dr. Azizah al-Hibri promotes a holistic understanding of Islam and of the Qur’an, noting that many misinterpretations are rooted in quoting sources out of context. She explains that the central principle of Islam – tawhid, or divine unity – is the basis for the inherent equality of humankind emphasized in the Qur’an.

Dr. David Campbell discusses how to use the results of the Campbell Interest and Skills Survey in making career choices, as well as the importance, in any field, of academic focus and professional skills.

Program FAQ's

Since all lectures are conducted in English, proficiency in English is required.

There is no Arabic language requirement for this program.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old.

The average day consists of lectures beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m., including breaks after class session, during prayer times, and for meals. However, some days will begin earlier and/or end later. You will receive a schedule at the beginning of the program.

Each program includes 20-25 participants.

Participants are paired at random in 2-person dorm rooms. However, KARAMAH staff will attempt to honor reasonable requests regarding roommate selection. In order to do so, we ask participants to contact us with special requests at least two months prior to the program.

Most destinations in DC are easily accessible by Metro and Metrobus. Public transportation prices vary by destination, but most trips cost between $3-$5. Taxis are readily available in and around the city, but they are more expensive, averaging $10 or more for rides within the DC metro area.

Of course, classes are intensive and the focal point of your visit. However, Washington, DC is one of the most cosmopolitan and exciting cities in the world, and there is always something to do after class, whether you enjoy shopping, sightseeing, or fine dining.

Participants must attend all courses and complete all assignments, or receive an excused absence from the Director of Programs, in order to receive a graduation certificate.

ASK KARAMAH

Do you have questions about Islam or Islamic law?   View previously asked questions


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