The Muslim Law Students Association (MLSA) became official in the spring of 2011, making it the sixth religious organization at Miami Law.
On March 30, the organization launched with an in-depth panel discussion titled "Who's Afraid of Islamic Law?" The discussion was moderated by Miami Law Professor D. Marvin Jones and included panelists Nezar Hamze of CAIR-South Florida, Randall C. Marshall of the ACLU-Florida and Cyra Choudhury of FIU College of Law. The panel focused around state bills that are banning the use of Sharia in state courts. (Sharia is the law which guides Muslims in their faith and through life).
The event may not have happened if its four founders – Irma Khoja, Omer Subhani, Aamir Saeed and Nabeel Basit – did not keep to a promise they made during their first year in law school. The Muslim students wanted a place to intellectually discuss Sharia and its legal implication, as well as network with other Muslim legal professionals.
Though a long time coming, their timing could not be better given that the conversation about Sharia is being discussed everywhere from cable television to the courthouse.
The founders say the mainstream attention has been double-edged: It is good to have an increase in awareness, but it is unfortunate that a lot of the information has been tangled with fear mongering.
"These false accusations and myths are starting to enter the law," said Subhani. "When it's starting to be serious politicians and not this guy on a blog, you know it's getting pretty serious."
The ill-consequences are far reaching, he says. "Essentially, these state bills that are banning the use of Islamic law or international law are not only useless, but may actually cause problems on a variety of different levels such as for businesses that conduct operations overseas."
The student founders hope that as MLSA evolves, the organization will continue to add to the conversation and evolve into a law journal to assist in educating people within the legal community – a key to turning the tide with U.S. and Islamic relations.