ABOUT US

Mission

 

The American Muslim Bar Association (AMBA) is a representative body of U.S. lawyers, legal professionals, and aspiring attorneys committed to the practice of law and the pursuit of justice in both the public and private spheres. Our mission is to carry out the following goals through the work of five robust committees:

  • To facilitate pro bono legal resources to anyone who is in search of legal support

  • To mentor and secure dream legal jobs for our next generation of Muslim lawyers

  • To educate our community on knowing their rights and obligations in the U.S.

  • To advocate for justice on behalf of the society's most vulnerable populations

  • To provide policymakers with legal analyses on our nation's most pressing issues

Vision

“Respect the rights of God and the rights of people, and likewise, persuade your companions and kin to do likewise. Otherwise, you will be committing injustice against yourself and injustice to humanity… Verily, God listens to the voice of the oppressed and comes down on the oppressor.” — Excerpt from letter to Governor Malik Al-Ashtar from Imam Ali, kin & successor to Prophet Muhammad, 658 AD.

AMBA’s work is motivated by the principles of the Ahlul Bayt, the family of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them). These principles include love, justice, compassion, and mercy. Our legal activism comes from the inspiration that we manifest the joy and beauty of the Ahlul Bayt, despite the pain and many challenges that they encountered. This courage to be dedicated to speaking truth to power at any cost is what drives our mission.

Love – AMBA strives to manifest the loving nature and nuance of God in our everyday work as legal practitioners. To be loving and affectionate is an attribute of our Creator (11:90), which all humans must seek to manifest. This is especially true for Muslims, for "what is religion except love?" It is our love for God which drives us to serve creation & causes and leads us to our beloved Holy Messenger of Islam, as well as the men and women of his family. “Say, if you love Allah, then follow me…” (3:31). Indeed, all justice is rooted in one's spiritual quest to love God and be God's beloved. But justice requires that Divine love have limits, so God withholds his affection from those who are unjust and transgress Divine bounds (3:32, 3:57).
 
Justice – AMBA is committed to tirelessly defending the natural rights God has assigned to humanity and opposing hatred, injustice, and oppression in all forms. In the Holy Qur'an, God reminds us to be adjudicators of fairness, (4:58), and to eradicate hatred that leads to injustice (5:8); these are essential traits of God-consciousness. The heavens and earth are maintained with justice, which can be defined as giving every holder of rights, their rights. God is the true owner of humankind, as "to Allah belong whatever is in the heaven and whatever is in the earth," (3:109), and only the true owner can delegate and designate rights. Accordingly, justice exists in both our legal systems and in a metaphysical realm.


Mercy – AMBA advocates for a legal system which embraces mercy, clemency over severity, and longs for transitional justice as a means to recover from the pain and anguish suffered by both survivors and perpetrators. Muslims begin each action in the name of God, “the Merciful.” The gnosis of God’s mercy eradicates most ills of the heart and the hands. God’s mercy precedes all forms of retaliation. God asks humankind to never despair and to always remember that divine mercy is all-forgiving. (39:53). Forgiveness from the Ultimate Source leads to forgiveness in our hearts for both ourselves and for others. God further promises that if one “repents after iniquity and reforms” herself, God will embrace her in mercy, (5:39), even if she has committed evil deeds. (25:70). And so, no crime is beyond the reach of God’s mercy.
 
Compassion – AMBA pushes attorneys toward compassionate pro bono and public service, and its leaders volunteer endless hours each week to this end. Cultivating empathy for others through the principle of compassion is integral to the life of a Muslim and the work of a lawyer. God prescribes methods for cultivating compassion, each of which inspires lawyers – i.e., assisting refugees, keeping promises, being steadfast in adversity, and liberating those in bondage. (2:178). God is on the side of those who strive to live as compassionate human beings on earth by serving others. (29:70). Public service results from the inculcation of the compassionate heart. Compassion work essentially leads to “goodness,” the reward for which is “nothing but [more] goodness.” (55:61).

LEADERSHIP

 
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salmah Y. Rizvi

Salmah Y. Rizvi is an Associate at the law firm Ropes & Gray LLP in Washington DC. Her commercial practice centers on anti-corruption and antitrust law, and she has experience in federal class-action and appellate litigation. Her pro bono practice focuses on human rights and civil rights for prisoners, LGBTQ identifiers, and Shia asylum seekers. Salmah has also worked in the DOJ’s Civil Division of SDNY, as well as the New York Civil Liberties Union. Salmah has long been an organizer and leader in Muslim spaces. She is a former intern of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, and Al-Haq, the longest running legal rights organization for Palestinians. Before entering law school, Salmah worked for the U.S. Departments of State and Defense under President Barack Obama, where she was appointed the first Chairwoman of the government’s Islamic Cultural Employee Resource Group. She has been a featured speaker at national Islamic conferences, discussing civic engagement movements and the need to respect intra-faith pluralism. Salmah co-runs Fruits of Fridays (@fridaysfruits), a reflective feminist series which features minoritized voices in the Muslim community. Salmah also sits on the Board of Directors for Witness to Mass Incarceration, as well as the Idris School for the Blind and Sighted. Salmah is a Soros Fellow, Truman Scholar, and Rhodes Finalist. She holds a J.D. from the New York University School of Law (2016), an M.S. from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service (2010), and a B.A. in Anthropology from Johns Hopkins University (2008). She is honored to serve as AMBA's founding President.

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Mohammad Ali Naquvi

Mohammad Ali Naquvi has been a Muslim community activist in the tri-state area for over 20 years. His organizing work was instrumental in sparking a federal lawsuit which brought diverse Muslim communities together against NYPD spying on mosques in NJ, and resulted in a $1 million settlement for plaintiffs and attorneys. In 2013, he was the recipient of CAIR-NY’s Community Leadership Award and Muslim Advocates’ Courageous Advocate Award. He is most recently Founder and Advocacy Director of Husayn Center for Social Justice, a Muslim-run social services and advocacy center for the residents of Trenton, NJ. Mohammad Ali holds a JD in Health Law and Masters' degrees in Biology and Bioethics. Professionally, he works in the healthcare industry helping to expand access to medications for patients.

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Hassan Sheikh

Hassan is a solo practitioner focused on campaign finance and political law. He went to Creighton University School of Law for his Juris Doctor and a Masters in Science for Government Organization and Leadership.

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Zain abidi

Zain Abidi is an associate with Jackson Lewis, P.C., and focuses his practice on business and investor immigration. Originally from South Florida, Zain attended the University of Miami School of Law, where he earned his J.D. in 2019. Before law school, Zain attended the University of Georgia, where he obtained his B.A. in International Affairs. He has previously served as the Vice President of the North American South Asian Law Students Association, President of the UM Chapter of the South Asian Law Students Association, President of the Pakistani Students Association at the University of Georgia, and Vice President of the Nu Chapter of Sigma Beta Rho Fraternity, Inc.

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Kanza Jafri

Official Intern

Kanza is a Senior at the University of North Texas, majoring in Consumer Experience Management with a minor in Business in Legal Studies. She is currently a Program Advisor at the Texas Academy of Math and Science where she is also a Speech and Debate Coach. Previously she has also been President of the Muslim Students’Association. She is currently applying to law schools and wants to empower others through her words and actions inspired by the Ahlul-Bayt(Peace and Blessings be 

upon them).

Sakina Rizvi

Legal Resources Chair | resources@ambalegal.org

Sakina Rizvi is a consultant to, and formerly the Chief Program Officer of, Imamia Medics International (IMI), a global faith-based Muslim humanitarian organization. During that time, she managed multiple departments at IMI HQ and was also IMI’s Representative to the United Nations. She has worked in a number of international disaster relief and health missions, including in Iraq and Haiti. Sakina also served as the US Director for the American Institute of Pakistan Studies. She has also worked on interfaith engagement, coalition-building and advocacy training within the Muslim American community, and empowering Muslim women to lead and succeed. She graduated from the Washington College of Law, American University.

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Sajjad Soltan

Legal Resources Vice Chair

Mohammad Sajjad is native to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. He received his high school diploma at the age of 14 and began his undergraduate studies shortly after. At the University of Maryland - College Park he attained a Bachelor's of Science in General Biology with a focus on Biochemistry, a Bachelor's of Arts in Philosophy with a focus on Grecian Ethics and the Philosophy of Language, and a minor in International Studies. He also served as Vice President for the local Students for Justice in Palestine chapter. Currently, he is a student pursuing a Juris Doctorate at The Marshall–Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary.

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Kulsoom Ijaz

Advocacy Chair | advocacy@ambalegal.org

Kulsoom Ijaz is a civil rights attorney based in Brooklyn, New York. Her professional experience encompasses human rights work in Palestine, and criminal defense and immigrants’ rights work in New York. She currently serves as a Senior Staff Attorney at Legal Services NYC (“LSNYC”), a non-profit organization that provides free legal services to underserved communities in New York City. During her time at LSNYC, Kulsoom has served as lead counsel on a fair housing case at the Southern District of New York, built a federal and state qui tam case, and represented tenants in multiple state court proceedings against abusive and predatory landlords. Taking a holistic approach in her legal practice, Kulsoom uses advocacy campaigns, capacity building training, and community education  to amplify a cross-section of issues that directly impact the communities she serves including gentrification, displacement, structural racism, deportation, surveillance and policing. Kulsoom has devoted her professional career to issues that directly impact the Muslim community, and she extends this work in her role as AMBA Advocacy Chair.

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Insiya Aziz

Advocacy Vice Chair

Insiya is a 2L at Texas Law with experience in state legislatures and a passion for international human rights. She's excited to be a part of building AMBA's advocacy arm to speak out against oppression and promote the values of justice that the Ahlul Bayt (AS) stand for. 

Asad Hussain

Mentorship Chair | mentorship@ambalegal.org

Asad Hussain is an associate specializing in mergers and acquisitions at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP in New York City. He graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 2015, where he served as the Vice President of the Muslim Law Student Association. He received his bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Richmond, magna cum laude, in 2011.

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Mahmud Rizvi

Mentorship Vice Chair

Born to Pakistani American Shia Muslim immigrants, at the age of 5 Mahmud was diagnosed with juvenile macular degeneration which rendered him blind. From early on, Mahmud faced arbitrary barriers preventing him from full participation in mainstream society, cultural spaces, and religious institutions. This fueled Mahmud’s passion for advocacy. Currently, Mahmud serves as the vice president of the National Association of Blind Students, a proud division of the National Federation of the Blind, the largest blindness advocacy organization in the world. Mahmud also sits on the federation’s national diversity and inclusion committee. This work takes him from the halls of Congress to rural Alabama to develop and implement innovative strategies to empower blind youth to overcome society’s arbitrary barriers. His passion lies in empowering intersectional youth who are not only disenfranchised due to their disability but also due to additional stigmatized characteristics they may possess. Mahmud has worked for the Muslim PAC eMgage during the 2018 midterms and he led Imamia Medics International’s Young Professionals’ COVID19 initial response. Mahmud recently graduated from UT Austin and will start his JD at Harvard Law next fall.

Sayyid Ali Tofigh

Education Chair | education@ambalegal.org

Sayyid Ali is a resident of the Washington D.C. area. After receiving his high school diploma at the age of 14, he pursued his studies in the international Hawza of Qom under Al-Mustafa International University where he received his degree in Islamic Studies and Jurisprudence after six years of study. Prior to starting kharij courses, he then returned to the USA and graduated with a Juris Doctorate from the George Washington University Law School in 2019.

Nabil ANSARI

Education Vice Chair 

Nabil is an Associate at O'Melveny & Myers LLP, where his practice focuses on financial services and healthcare law.  He also maintains a significant pro bono practice, including civil rights litigation that helped Muslim federal inmates obtain halal meals while incarcerated.  He holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law, where he was a Furman Academic Scholar and an Institute for International Law & Justice Scholar, as well as an M.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, where he is a doctoral candidate, and a B.A. with High Honors from the College of Letters at Wesleyan University.  He served as co-chair of the Muslim Law Students Association at New York University School of Law and co-chair of the Muslim Students Association at Wesleyan University. 

NATALIA LATIF

Policy Chair

Natalia is a legislative aide at the U.S. House of Representatives, where she has been working for the last two years. During this time, she has worked on a wide range of policy issues encompassing everything from foreign policy and LGBTQ rights to housing and environmental policy. While managing these legislative issues, Natalia also maintains an active outreach program for her office and is a co-founder and executive board member of the Middle East and North African Staff Association in Congress. Prior to her time on the Hill, Natalia worked on electoral policy at the National Democratic Institute and was an Obama Fellow focused on international humanitarian law and atrocity prevention initiatives at the U.S. Department of Defense. In addition to her full time work, Natalia collaborates with progressive grassroots organizations such as the Justice For Muslims Collective to help organize Get Out The Vote efforts and was a 2020 Rising Organizers Fellow. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Biomolecular Science and International Studies from the University of Michigan. Natalia has spent her entire professional career working in policy, advocacy, and government to serve the greater public good and looks forward to continuing this mission with AMBA.

Mohammad Pathan 

Law Firm Network (LFN) Chair

Mohammad is an associate at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, where his practice focuses on commercial litigation and white-collar defense.  In Mohammad’s active pro bono practice, he has litigated a number of matters touching upon American Civil Rights.  Most recently, he litigated a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act on behalf of both the Legal Aid Society and LatinoJustice PRLDEF to obtain documents on the White House’s influence on the Department of Housing and Urban Development in promulgating a proposed rule that seeks to tear apart mixed-status families in public housing.  He has also successfully litigated a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lawsuit to settlement against a New Jersey police officer for applying excessive force on a New Jersey resident in the course of an arrest.  Mohammad graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2015.  He received his bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Rutgers University, magna cum laude in 2012.   

Board of AdvisorS

 

Abed A. Ayoub

Abed A. Ayoub serves as the National Legal & Policy Director of the American -Arab Anti- Discrimination Committee (ADC), the country's largest Arab American civil rights organization.  Throughout his career Ayoub has worked to address issues impacting Arabs and Muslims in the United States, including matters related to discrimination, immigration, hate crimes, surveillance and profiling. Under his leadership the ADC Legal Department has successfully assisted and provided support to thousands of impacted community members. Ayoub regularly advocates on behalf of the community with lawmakers and government agencies.  

 

Ayoub also works to enhance the community’s economic empowerment, and access to education. 

 

Throughout his career Ayoub has worked on preserving the rich culture and heritage of the Arab and Muslim communities. He has represented the community on both national and international media and is a regular commentator on community issues. Ayoub works with private and public institutions to help them better the image of Arabs and Muslims, including working with Hollywood production companies. Ayoub also works with a number of organizations on interfaith projects and has participated in numerous diversity training programs throughout the country. 

 

Ayoub is a native of Dearborn, Michigan, which is home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans. Outside of his professional capacity Ayoub works to tackle the issue of hunger and homelessness in the Metro Detroit and Washington, D.C. Areas. He is co-founder of Third Pillar Charities, which provides relief and opportunity for the less fortunate.  

Rashida James-Saadiya

Rashida James-Saadiya is an artist, writer, and racial justice educator and trainer. At Muslim Power Building Project, she facilitates social justice workshops supporting emerging Muslim community organizers through leadership and racial equity programs. She is deeply committed to utilizing arts-based civic engagement initiatives to address harmful ideas about race, class, sexuality, ability, and gender. As an artist-organizer, she uses cultural strategies and curated public programming to address the intersections of race, gender, class, and media and is committed to producing stories that create healing, justice, and power for communities of color. Her latest project, "Betraying the Spectacle," utilized intimate photographs and personal narratives to explore migration, spirituality, the constructs of race, and the role of cultural memory amongst Black Muslim women in the American South. 

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JIHAD F. SALEH

Jihad F. Saleh is a humanitarian, anti-poverty activist based in Washington, DC. His activism & organizing focuses on amplifying the voices and building the political power of targeted, vulnerable populations in the U.S. who are subjected to poverty, hunger, and social marginalization. He also works to expand the advocacy and community organizing capacity of the Muslim American community, particularly among Black Muslim and Shia Muslim networks.In his professional capacity, Jihad is the Senior Advocacy & Government Affairs Advisor for Islamic Relief USA. Currently,

 

He is the Co-Chair of the Inter religious Working Group for Domestic Human Needs (DHN) and a Board member of the Coalition on Human Needs (CHN).  Previously, Jihad worked in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Legislative Assistant focused on education and anti-poverty policies. During his time on Capitol Hill, he served as the Programs & Outreach Coordinator for the Congressional Muslim Staff Association (CMSA). Jihad has earned graduate degrees from both the Stanford Graduate School of Education and Princeton University School of Public & International Affairs. 

Sayyid Sulayman Hassan Abidi

Sayyid Sulayman Hassan Abidi is an Islamic legal scholar who was born in Medina, New York and grew up attending religious classes at the Hawza Ilmiyya Wali al-Asr in the same city. After graduating from the University of Buffalo with a degree in business administration, he proceeded to the Seminary at Qum, Iran, in 1997. In Qum, Sayyid Sulayman specialized in fiqh and history, and returned to the US after 10 years in 2007, after rising to the level of mujtahid. Since then, he has served as Religious Director at the Baitul Ilm Academy and as the President of the Ahl al-Bayt Islamic Seminary in Streamwood, Illinois, which aims to train Islamic scholars who are fully conversant with both traditional Islamic and modern scholarship, and who can provide effective leadership and guidance to today’s Muslim communities. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Mufid Academic Seminary based in Fairfax, Virginia and as the Religious Director of the Imam-e Asr Islamic Seminary close by in Alexandria. Sayyid Sulayman holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago.

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