Sumbul Ali-Karamali on Islamic Law


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In this episode of "Keen On", Andrew is joined by Sumbul Ali-Karamali, the author of "Demystifying Shari'ah: What It Is, How It Works, and Why It's Not Taking Over Our Country", to discuss shariah’s origins, central texts, methodologies, and schools of thought.

Sumbul Ali-Karamali an author and speaker. Sumbul's books, articles, blogs, and speaking events are her way of promoting intercultural understanding in the world. Since she is a Muslim American with an expertise is in Islamic law, that's largely -- but not solely -- what she writes and speaks about.

Sumbul grew up answering questions about Islam and Muslims, usually because she was the only Muslim her acquaintances knew. When the questions continued through her years as a corporate lawyer, she realized that books on Islam -- the kind that answered the questions she had been asked all her life -- were nonexistent. So Sumbul decided to write one.

When her husband's job took them to London, she earned a law degree (an LLM) in Islamic law from the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies. Since Sumbul already had a degree in English (from Stanford) and an American law degree (from the University of California at Davis), she felt like she finally had the tools to write that book.

Her first book, The Muslim Next Door: the Qur’an, the Media, and that Veil Thing, was published in 2008. In it, she addressed the kinds of questions she had always been asked but which were never answered in the media or even classrooms. While on her book tour, several teachers complained to Sumbul of the absence of age-appropriate books on Islam for middle-school and high-school students. As a result, she wrote Growing up Muslim: Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Islam (Delacorte/Random House 2012), a nonfiction chapter book for ages 10 & up.)

Aside from writing and speaking, she has been a fiction and nonfiction judge, a reviewer for a university press, a board member of nonprofits dedicated to multicultural education, and a member of both the steering committee of Women in Islamic Spirituality and Equality (WISE) and the Muslim Women’s Global Shura Council, both of which aim to promote women’s rights and human rights from an Islamic perspective.

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