Transforming the Legal Landscape for American Muslims
Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) is a 501 (c ) 3 nonprofit organization that funds legal work and programming to defend Muslims and Muslim organizations against injustice in American courtrooms, prisons, and communities. Muslim Legal Fund of America is the ONLY national tax-exempt nonprofit legal fund dedicated to defending Muslims’ civil rights and liberties at the federal level.
Muslim Legal Fund of America believes that if Muslim individuals, families, and organizations know their legal and civil rights, there would be less injustice because of their beliefs and less violations of their civil liberties. This is formed on the basis of two things:
Religious freedom is one of America’s most fundamental liberties and a principle upon which our nation was founded. Unfortunately, America’s history has shown almost every religious group has been the target of discrimination at one point or another. Especially since 9/11, Muslim communities in the U.S. have faced a disturbing wave of bigotry and outright hostility. Muslims in America are being unfairly targeted simply for exercising their basic constitutional right to religious liberty. When we violate one group’s freedom, everyone’s liberty is at stake
The number of Muslims affected by criminal justice is growing with new offences created every day and increasing numbers being jailed. The “war on terror” to make us safer has had a corrosive effect. The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to a fair trial, and we consider this a fundamental human right. Fair trials are the only way to prevent miscarriages of justice and are an essential part of a just society. Despite this, it is being abused with devastating human and social consequences. Without fair trials Muslims in the U.S. can have no confidence or trust in government and the rule of law collapses.
In order to ensure our religious freedom and right to fair trials, Muslim Legal Fund of America supports the following initiatives:
Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) is a charity that funds legal work and programs to defend Muslims against injustice in American courtrooms, prisons, and communities. Muslim Legal Fund of America is the ONLY national tax-exempt nonprofit legal fund dedicated to defending Muslims’ civil rights and liberties at the federal level. Legal Defense Fund
A coalition of civil rights activists, united in their shared passion for justice, joined together almost 20 years ago to seek solutions to the systemic discrimination against Arabs, Muslims, and South Asians after the horrific events of September 11, 2001. Within a few months, the Muslim Legal Fund of America was established to develop strategies and pursue constructive solutions countering discrimination against American Muslims in the legal justice system.
While our community had not been immune from discrimination, the tragic attacks of 9/11 caused a surge in hate crimes and unlawful profiling. Islamophobia dominated politics and media, affecting Muslims from the classroom to the courtroom. Law enforcement questioned Muslims about expressions of constitutionally protected rights of free speech, association, and religion. A “Muslim” registry was formed (National Security Entry-Exit Registration System), targeting Arabs and South Asians for deportation.
Equally troubling was a targeted campaign against the American Muslim community smearing over 300 organizations and nonprofit workers as “un-indicted co-conspirators” in the shocking and unjust 2006 criminal trial of the Holy Land Foundation where, for example, providing clean drinking water to an underserved population was equated with participating in terrorism. Such unprecedented and overreaching actions harmed the reputations of individuals and organizations who were left with no way to defend themselves.
MLFA’s strategy evolved to focus on proactive engagement of Muslim charities, schools, and mosques; while also supporting numerous public interest cases concerning national security. We funded a strategically focused, specialized law center, the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America (CLCMA), in order to retain the best counsel to defend individuals and organizations. And we engaged the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative in the Lilly School of Philanthropy at the University of Indiana to educate nonprofits on best practices for legal compliance to empower and protect our communities, from the inside out.
Twenty years later, Muslim communities continue to face denaturalization programs, the Muslim ban, terror watchlists that disproportionately affect minorities, and fear of retaliation for supporting Muslim charitable organizations. We are especially concerned with the chilling effect on religious liberty as a result of the government’s closure of many Muslim charities in the US, including the deportation and prosecution of donors.
Today, MLFA continues to fund efforts aimed at restoring fundamental American principles of fairness and equality, and we’re proud to share that our main grantee CLCMA has a 90% success rate. MLFA enjoys the support of thousands of Americans of diverse backgrounds who believe that the ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice for all apply equally to Muslims in America.
ONE OF AMERICA’S TRUSTED MUSLIM CHARITIES
MLFA is a national 501(c)(3) charity that is registered with the IRS (Federal Tax ID: 01-0548371). IRS Form 990 tax filings and a financial breakdown of funds usage are available > Download
Donations to Muslim Legal Fund of America are tax-deductible and zakat-eligible.
Our Principles at the Muslim Legal Fund of America
Why MLFA? Why Now?
The Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) is a 501C3 charity that funds legal work and programs to defend Muslim against injustice in America courtrooms, prisons, and communities.
The MLFA concept: Turning charitable donations into legal services for select cases with potential civil liberties impact, sometimes known as impact litigation.
MLFA is the only nonprofit legal fund dedicated to defending Muslims’ civil rights and liberties at the federal level.
In the guise of national security, MLFA is addressing unwarranted actions towards Muslims, such as:
The National Legal Fund Concept
The Muslim Legal Fund of America provides funding for cases impacting the civil rights and liberties of Muslims in America. A charitable legal fund may be a new concept for some donors, but it operates much in the same way a humanitarian aid organization operates. Where humanitarian aid organizations take donations and turn those funds into food, shelter, education and healthcare, a charitable legal fund turns donations into legal services for select cases with potential civil liberties impact. This is sometimes referred to as impact litigation.
Legal Defense Fund, funds projects that increase the legal community’s capacity to defend justice in issues of concern to the Muslim community.
Conducts informational programs in hundreds of community centers across the nation to spread awareness of specific issues and cases impacting the Muslim community in America.
The Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America (CLCMA)
MLFA-funded boutique law firm, the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America (CLCMA).
The Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America (CLCMA), was founded in 2014, with funding from Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA). CLCMA has grown into the largest strategically focused, nonprofit law center dedicated to defending constitutional rights for Muslims in America. CLCMA’s Director and Counsel, Charles Swift, leads a team of bright and committed attorneys, fellows, and staff concentrating in immigration, civil, criminal, and nonprofit compliance matters. CLCMA provides all of its services pro bono.