The origins of AMWA
In a pre-9/11 United States, religion for Muslims was more or less a private matter. Many people did not know about Islam. They did not know for example, that Muslims have been part of the American fabric since the days of Thomas Jefferson who had a copy of the Quran, the Muslim holy book in his own library.
When 9/11 happened, Muslims were immediately viewed by many people as the enemy; hate crimes skyrocketed and Muslims were dubbed terrorists. The ideals and teachings of the religion were reviled, and completely twisted, while the general public made no attempt to learn about Islam.
Around this time, America went to war in Afghanistan and we started to hear a lot about the plight of Muslim women, specifically Afghani women. Americans were told that the United States was going to war to liberate them, to free them from this so-called “oppressive” religion that granted women no rights. Needless to say, there was a lot of confusion surrounding Islam and the status of women in Islam.
So a group of highly educated Muslim women in Westchester County, New York, felt compelled to speak up to explain the religion and the status of women in the religion. The world needed to know that Islam does not condone violence and that it grants women many rights. These rights were given to women 1400 years ago: the right to be educated, the right to inherit property and to be judged accordingly for their actions. There was a dire need for the voices of American Muslim women to be heard and these voices were essential then, and are still essential today.