Asma Uddin

Uddin

Asma Uddin

Expert

Areas of Expertise: Law and Religion (Church/State relations), International human rights law on religious freedom, Islam and religious freedom, American Muslims and conversations about gender relations

Disclaimer: the work linked below reflects the view of the author and does not necessarily reflect the view of ISPU.

Asma T. Uddin is the Director of Strategy for the Center on Islam and Religious Freedom (CIRF), a DC-based non-profit engaging and connecting domestic and international religious freedom matters concerning Muslims. CIRF works in academic, public education, and advocacy arenas.

Ms. Uddin is a graduate of The University of Chicago Law School, where she was a staff editor at The University of Chicago Law Review. Before taking on her role at CIRF, she was Counsel for over six years at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. At The Becket Fund, she helped protect the religious expression of people of all different faiths, in both the U.S. and abroad.

Ms. Uddin spent her first two years at The Becket Fund serving as the primary attorney for Becket’s Legal Training Institute (LTI), which was devoted to working with local partners around the world to train advocates, lawyers, judges, religious leaders, journalists and students in religious freedom law and principles. In this capacity, she helped litigate against Indonesia’s Blasphemy Act. In 2013, Ms. Uddin leveraged her on-the-ground experiences into a global convening in Doha, Qatar, where she worked with activists and academics from Europe, the U.S., and Muslim-majority countries on theoretical and practical steps to broaden religious liberty protections. In 2014-15, Ms. Uddin wrote and judged the competition case for Oxford University’s international Price Media Law Moot Court Programme.

Ms. Uddin has four years experience working on U.S. religious liberty matters, defending the free exercise rights of groups as diverse as Muslim Americans and Native Americans. She has been involved in advocacy and litigation related to religious land use, prisoner rights, religious garb, Blaine Amendments, and more. In this capacity, she has developed a careful understanding of Free Exercise Clause jurisprudence and key religious liberty statutes, such as the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and federal and state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA), and their application across a wide range of majority and minority religious practices.

Ms. Uddin is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of altmuslimah.com, a web magazine dedicated to issues on gender and Islam. Her work at altmuslimah has earned the praise of many, including Dr. Robert George of Princeton University, who calls Ms. Uddin “an exceptionally gifted young Muslim woman writer.” The Huffington Post’s Senior Religion Editor, Paul Brandeis Raushenbush has noted, “AltMuslimah.com is important because it gives a specific platform to the intersections between gender, belief and well-being in Islam — all with superior levels of intellect and writing. The internet would be the poorer without AltMuslimah as a destination and font of knowledge for seekers of all religious backgrounds.”

Ms. Uddin speaks and publishes widely on issues of national and international religious freedom, as well as gender and faith. Her work has been published by numerous law reviews and prominent university presses. She guest-editeda special issue of The Review of Faith & International Affairs and is co-editing a forthcoming book of essays by women who have faced religious persecution.  Ms. Uddin receives frequent speaking invitations from think tanks, universities, NGOs, and the U.S. State Department. She also serves on the Advisory Council for The Institute for Global Engagement’s Center for Women, Faith & Leadership.

Education

University of Chicago, JD

Areas of Expertise

  1. Law and Religion (Church/State relations)
  2. International human rights law on religious freedom
  3. Islam and religious freedom
  4. American Muslims and conversations about gender relations

Publications

Executive Summary Ten years after September 11, 2001, the American Muslim community continues to be surrounded by a fear created and promoted mostly by a small group of anti-Muslim organizations and individuals. Collectively, these groups have spread their message in twenty-three states through books, reports, websites, and blogs. Other anti-Islam grassroots organizations have utilized this…
13Is 'hashtag activism' doing enough to stop bad speech about minority communities and affect social change? The tweet is mightier than the sword. Social media campaigns by members of minority communities are responding to racism and stereotyping in the media, and getting results. For instance, last week, Asian American activists launched #CancelColbert in response to…
In a way, it’s difficult to imagine this playing out any other way. Anyone who saw the apparently impromptu press conference in which a freshly disgraced Anthony Weiner stood in front of reporters and recited a fairly vanilla post-scandal statement couldn’t help but notice the interplay between the New York City mayoral candidate and his…
My legal and advocacy work both in the U.S. and abroad has given me the unique opportunity to view challenges faced by the Muslim community in multifarious socio-political settings. What is clear to me is that the challenges faced, and to be faced in the coming century, by the Muslim community require the utilization of…
Is 'hashtag activism' doing enough to stop bad speech about minority communities and affect social change? The tweet is mightier than the sword. Social media campaigns by members of minority communities are responding to racism and stereotyping in the media, and getting results. For instance, last week, Asian American activists launched #CancelColbert in response to…
Religious persecution in Muslim countries has gotten a lot of ink lately, but what's been mostly overlooked is that Muslims themselves are the most frequent victims of that persecution.   Members of minority religions are hurt disproportionately, owing largely to the government's failure to prosecute crimes committed against these individuals. But in terms of sheer numbers, it…
As Ramadan sets in, Muslims in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, are fighting for the right to celebrate as faithful Muslims. Yesterday, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed a request for a temporary restraining order on behalf of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. Becket's brief requested that the Islamic Center be permitted to use its newly built…
In his essay, “Islam and Constitutionalism,” Sohail H. Hashmi boldly confronts a difficult question: Are Islam and constitutionalism compatible? On his account, a functioning constitutional system has three essential features: (1) limited and accountable government; (2) adherence to the rule of law; and (3) protection of fundamental rights. While virtually all majority-Muslim states have embraced…
We all have important causes to which we are innately drawn. My cause has always been twofold: women’s equality and Islam. A few years ago I launched Altmuslimah.com, a website devoted to creating a forum for open and honest discussion about gender issues in Islam from all perspectives, Muslim and non-Muslim, female and male. My…
There are those who would learn that Catholic University of America, a private, Catholic institution, has doubled its Muslim student enrollment in just four years, and think happy thoughts about interfaith cooperation and growing religious harmony. Then there are those who see potential lawsuits, dollar signs, and fame. John Banzhaf is among the latter. Despite…
Another school year is in full swing. Frat houses around the country are once again swollen with partygoers and intoxicated youth. Sunday mornings once again mark the regret of thousands of young women who hooked-up the night prior and either cannot remember what they did, or do remember and are trying to forget. Another hook-up…
n Wednesday, Pakistan's Lahore High Court ordered the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) to ban Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia until May 31, when the court will conduct a hearing on whether to make the temporary ban permanent. The ban is a response to "growing sacrilegious content" on these sites, including most prominently the Facebook group "Everybody…
On March 10, a week after the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s minister for religious minorities, a bipartisan group of U.S. congressmen called on U.S. and international officials to formally oppose the draconian blasphemy laws that cost Bhatti his life by introducing a “Taseer-Bhatti resolution” in the U.N. Human Rights Council.The proposed resolution, named after…
In the anti-sharia laws being enacted today in states across the country, we see a modern-day example of laws targeting one group but ultimately affecting many others. In evaluating the significance of these laws and formulating solutions, it is important to place them in the broader context of American history and the struggles other religious…
Introduction The Qur’an 2:256 states: “There is no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error.” Countless scholars have translated these words over time according to their own linguistic and grammatical understandings, yet the main idea remains the same: People cannot be forced to believe or accept specific doctrines because genuine belief originates only…
“Mom, who is that man?” Zaynab, my 5-year-old daughter asks, inevitably both fascinated and a bit frightened every time we’re at a stoplight and a beggar approaches our car. “That man has no home or food. He wants us to help him.” The beggar at the street corner comes up often in my conversations with…
As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, Muslims and non-Muslims alike are reflecting on what we, as Americans, have achieved since that fateful day -- and all that is still left for us to do. For Muslims, this conversation is happening at multiple levels, as we struggle to make sense of not just the socio-political…
On the eve of Ramadan, the holiest month for Muslims, two major debates around Muslims rights are taking place in New York City. One about the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque", the other over whether to include Muslim holidays, including the post-Ramadan celebration, Eid-ul-Fitr, in the public school calendar. Last September, a broad coalition of religious,…
Since the capture of Anders Behring Breivik, the Oslo terrorist and murderer, at least two critical issues have emerged. The first is his sanity, or lack thereof. The second is that Breivik's assaults may have been ideologically motivated. According to Breivik's logic, the murder of 76 people was necessary to challenge the Muslim takeover of…
After two months of traveling abroad, Imam Rauf, the Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative and the leader of the Farah Mosque in Lower Manhattan, returned this week to the American mainland. His return and subsequent defense of the Initiative mark the unfolding of a new chapter in the ongoing saga surrounding the so-called "Ground Zero…