How MLFA Moves Us

by Jeannine Sherman
Thursday 22, 2022

As salaam alaikum, dear ones,

 

I asked some of the kind people who work for MLFA to answer two questions. I believe that their heartfelt commitment to this work and the value they see it in will clarify our purpose and communicate our dedication to the struggle for equality and justice, insha Allah. 

 

Here’s what they said. 

 

  • What motivates you to do this work?

Establishing justice is the major purpose of sending all the messengers and sending the books. I am very passionate about it, especially when I see the impact that we have, defending the oppressed and the people who have no means or resources to fight injustices that big by themselves.” 

– Ayman Aishat, Director of Community Engagement and Stewardship

 

I am motivated to do the work for MLFA here at CLCMA because I am very passionate about immigration law and also about religious freedom. And there are too many people being treated by the U.S. government, and the Department of Homeland Security specifically, in a discriminatory way. And I know that I can use my passion and skills to help them to navigate this complex U.S. immigration system.” 

– Kathryn Brady, Immigration Department Head at the MLFA-funded Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America (CLCMA)

 

I find that MLFA has a very strategic and systemic approach to dismantling Islamophobia and fighting injustice in the States. And I find that very unique. We use information and statistics from previous cases and hard cold facts to build a sustainable strategy in combating Islamophobia. And that is what motivates me to do the work that we do.” 

– Ayse Aktas, Event Coordinator and Project Manager

 

Working at MLFA means for me to be part of a team who wants peace and justice for those who have been unfairly denied. I pray to be able to work every day for justice through integrity, and that’s love, and those values are part of the MLFA team. I feel so connected with a team who wants to be a voice for those who may feel they don’t have one.” 

– Lissette Moncayo, Operations Coordinator 

 

When I got to know a little bit – and I just mean a little bit, just the tip of the iceberg – of the kind of services that this kind of organization provides – it’s an essential need to the Muslim community. We hear so often of organizations that have been infected with corruption, or have been disenfranchised because they lack support, proper education, and access to resources. 

Not to mention that Muslims, as a whole in America tend to be immigrants, know immigrants, or descend from immigrants. There are very few second- or third- generation Muslims that I encounter. And immigrants tend to lack – again, vital education and knowledge that they need to conduct themselves in a happy way in this world, in this country especially. And when you don’t have access to justice and proper law enforcement, you can feel incredibly isolated and even victimized. Organizations like MLFA can close that discrepancy. 

And it almost feels like this is something that should almost be like a tax on us Muslims, that we should self-impose this tax to support an organization like this because you never know when this need is something that you will require.” 

– Faryall Tayyab, Administrative Assistant for the Field Fundraising Team

 

Being an ambassador of the mission and spreading the accomplishments of our lawyers in creating a better society for Muslims in America is a big challenge, as there is an exchange of values and feelings that were veiled from my reality as a Latina. I enjoy creating a relationship with the donors and thanking them for believing and supporting our work selflessly, as some of them just see a donation but not the reality of how this money is saving lives and families.

– Nataly Castaño, Donor Engagement Specialist

 

What motivates me to do the work is that I look at it from a sense of responsibility and an amana. Alhamdulillah, at Sunan we have a particular skillset that’s very needed in the marketplace, especially with our Islamic-based organizations, because many of us do not have the resources and strategy to realize how important marketing is, and the impact that can have. 

Honestly for me the reason why I really enjoy working with nonprofits, especially MLFA, is it just comes to the idea that tomorrow, on the Day of Judgment, when you’re standing in front of Allah S.W.T. – and He says, “Oh, Sajjad, I gave you this gift of creativity, this gift of marketing, this gift of marketing insight – what did you do with it? Did you help my organizations and people level up and amplify their mission, or did you just let it go to the wayside?”

 So, for me personally, it’s that amana that comes with it. And that’s why I really try to hone in on Islamic-based nonprofit organizations ‘cause there’s nothing more joyful than seeing these organizations level up and have a tremendious impact around the globe. I think it’s just so valuable and intangible.”

– Sajjad Husain, Founder and CEO at Sunan Designs

 

  • What do you wish people knew or understood about MLFA?

“I wish people realized and understood that this work is successful and has the largest impact when it comes to oppression and targeting of minorities in America. Minorities before us were targeted, and they initiated and established a legal defense team, to push injustices away from them and gain some freedom and more justice. That’s what I wish people to know, that our work is the most critical to defend and protect Muslim communities.” 

– Ayman Aishat, Director of Community Engagement and Stewardship

 

“What I wish people knew or understood about MLFA and CLCMA is that we are very precise with the cases that we take because we are trying to change law and policy. And we are not looking to make a media impact necessarily or be very splashy or flashy. But what we do is use the law and the courts and our knowledge to make those policy changes possible. And that takes real precision and an opportunity to have the right case to make the right law.” 

– Kathryn Brady, Immigration Department Head at the MLFA-funded Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America (CLCMA)

 

“We don’t just fund any case. We fund a lot of cases that have been rejected over and over and over again. And these are people who are in dire need of help. And we are there for them. And the fact that we take cases that everyone else has rejected is something that I wish people knew or understood more about MLFA because that is quite powerful and it’s beautiful and it really speaks to how much we practice our mission and vision.” 

– Ayse Aktas, Event Coordinator and Project Manager

 

“First, as a person who lives in a country with a different culture and principles, I want the community to know that they are not alone and they don’t need to hide or change their faith, values, and culture to be worthy of justice and peace. We all want to chase our dreams and create a better life for generations that unite us all as humans. With respect, love, and mercy, we are lighting up the world with truth.” 

– Lissette Moncayo, Operations Coordinator

 

“I wish more people knew about MLFA. I think the problem is that it is still not vastly well known. It should become a top organization in the country so that whenever you are in doubt, whenever you are in need, your ears should prick and turn to MLFA. You should feel – when you are disenfranchised – oh, I should turn to MLFA. And others who do not need MLFA should be turning to it and saying, we should support it because we were in need of legal justice and help and aid and assistance. 

We should all have already put into this organization to make it grow, to make it strong enough to withstand any of our lifetimes because this is something that’s not gonna change anytime soon. We are, as a community, still very new in this country, and even though our numbers grow with every day, our resources don’t necessarily multiply as quickly as our numbers. And that means that we are in ever more need to get help when dealing with law, when dealing with injustices, whether it’s an internal struggle, whether it’s against the government, with the government, whatever the case may be, all of us need to know about MLFA so that we are either able to turn to it when we need it or that we are ready to support it when we don’t.” 

– Faryall Tayyab, Administrative Assistant for the Field Fundraising Team

 

“I want our donors to understand all the process that it takes for a case to be taken and processed. Also, for them to visualize how these cases change clients’ lives and their family’s lives. I want them to know about our current cases, even if they are not resolved and the challenges we face.” 

– Nataly Castaño, Donor Engagement Specialist

 

“What I wish people knew is what really goes on behind the scenes in our court system, in the sense that we have a very blanket understanding or perspective that everything is so gravy – fair and it’s justice – if someone is being tried for something, then they must have done something wrong. 

You need someone to be able to stand against the biasness and be able to take on the responsibility and to fight for the truth truth, especially for minority groups like us, as Muslims living in America. 

I think it’s paramount. It’s the key to our success here and insha Allah if we want to be able to be a critical player in this wonderful country and to help it reach new heights as a nation, I think we have to play a bigger role and in that, I think MLFA is doing a tremendous job, and there’s a tremendous responsibility that’s there for us to understand what they do and understand why they do what they do and support!”

– Sajjad Husain, Founder and CEO at Sunan Designs