Karamah EU : Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights is a non-profit organization committed to promoting human rights globally, especially equal rights and opportunities as well as gender equity in Europe. It pursues its mission through education, legal outreach, and advocacy.
VISION & MISSION
KARAMAH EU envisions a world in which all human beings, regardless of gender or other differences, enjoy their God-given right of dignity (‘karamah’ in Arabic). We believe that through education and dialogue, Muslims will be empowered to transform archaic, culture-based interpretations of Islamic sources, to the betterment of themselves and their communities. This will enable them to develop critical thinking without undermining the attachment to their faith. We trust this will allow Muslims to actively contribute to their communities and civil societies and also give them the confidence they need to question and oppose any infringements of their rights in civil society.
KARAMAH EU’s vision and mission are inspired by the idea that a just society values the participation of all its members, in the pursuit of knowledge and the granting of equal opportunities and access to justice, regardless of gender or other differences. At KARAMAH EU, we are particularly interested in the challenges faced by European Muslim women and men in their respective countries and communities.
Through our education programs, legal advocacy, and dialogue, we contribute to the understanding and promotion of human rights and empower European Muslims, young women in particular, to fully realize their potential as citizens of their respective societies.
KARAMAH EU aims in particular to:
- empower European Muslims, especially women, by providing them with tools necessary to address the challenged they face in their communities, respectful of their faith and multiple identities ;
- support the struggle of Muslims for equal rights and opportunities both inside their communities and in society at large, through legal advocacy and dialogue ;
- increase understanding of Islam and promote a multi-disciplinary approach reflecting the diversity of Islamic law and scholarship, as well as the gender-equitable principles of Islam.
Empowerment through education
KARAMAH EU empowers Muslim women and the broader community by providing lectures and workshops, interactive debates and legal outreach, all emanating from an educational core. In our interdisciplinary approach we work together with experts and professionals in various fields, including but not limited to, theologians, lawyers, psychologists, and social anthropologists. Our central mission is to develop meaningful and substantive programs, that allow Muslims to learn from and have discussions with Islamic and other scholars, about the questions they have and challenges they face in their communities.
KARAMAH EU relies on the wider KARAMAH-network to develop thoughtful and comprehensive scholarship in Islamic jurisprudence. Diversity in Islamic scholarship is facilitated by mobilizing Muslim women jurists and raising voices that are seldom heard in the realm of serious Islamic scholarship. This scholarly work is made available through publications but also through lectures given by the respective authors.
HOW DO WE WORK?
KARAMAH EU has no intention to promote one particular Islamic view or legal opinion. Instead, it is our aim to educate Muslims and the broader public about the whole range of views contained in classical and contemporary Islamic legal opinions.
To reach our objectives, KARAMAH EU invites speakers who are knowledgeable about Islam and the European context to give lectures and workshops and discuss openly with the audience the questions and concerns they have. The goal is to do this in a way that emphasizes the diversity and richness of past and contemporary Islamic scholarship, and that engages Muslim women scholars whose work has yet to be given the attention it deserves.
We also hold discussion circles where participants can share ideas and thoughts in a more intimate setting, so as to allow for in-depth reflection and exchange.
In the future, we aspire to provide intensive summer programs for participants from European and neighbouring countries.
KARAMAH EU emerged from a group of Law and Leadership Summer Program (LLSP) alumni. The content and depth of the courses on Islamic jurisprudence, and the discussions with Muslim women and Islamic scholars from Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Turkey, Senegal, Nigeria, and many other parts of the world, made a lasting impression on them. They felt that Muslims, from all over Europe and its neighboring countries, could benefit from a gathering in a similar, intellectually, and spiritually stimulating, setting to learn, discuss and exchange experiences with one another.
Consequently, this group of Belgian LLSP alumni decided to set up a ‘Steering Committee’ with the aim of working on a network in Europe and eventually establishing a non-profit which specifically focuses on the needs of European Muslims. The Belgian Steering Committee organized its first workshops for Muslim women in March 2009. KARAMAH EU was officially launched in March 2013.
KARAMAH EU has built upon the expertise of our privileged partner KARAMAH, the renowned, U.S. based organization, which was founded in 1993 by Professor Dr. Azizah al-Hibri. Dr. Azizah al-Hibri the descendant of a long line of Lebanese Sheikhs started producing Islamic jurisprudential research in 1981. In june 2011, she was appointed by the President Obama to serve as a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
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. The KARAMAH network of Muslim jurists and leaders has now spread from North America to the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.
Every year since 2002, the U.S. based KARAMAH organizes a Law and Leadership Summer Program (LLSP) in Washington, D.C. 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 Muslim women faced today, while, at the same time, emphasizing individual’s talents and opportunities. 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. Since 2005, this programme has had several participants from Belgium.