Anisa Abd el Fattah


United States

Known for

Founder the National Association of Muslim American Women


Hijri 1374-Present (AH); Common Era 1955-Present (CE)

Anisa Abd el Fattah


Anisa Abd el Fattah was born in 1955 into a “family of Baptist ministers.”1 When her parents divorced, she began attending Catholic schools. She credits this experience with fostering in her “an interest in religion and particularly how religions impact people and the world that we live in and share.”2 She converted to Islam in the 1980s and began her career in Muslim community work in 1989 as the business director for the Jamaat Ibad el Rahman private school in Jersey City, New Jersey. Prior to joining the school, she had worked as an independent local community activist, working with immigrant Muslim women and families in the New York metro area. It was while employed at the Jammat Ibad el Rahman that Anisa founded the National Association of Muslim Women which became the National Association of Muslim American Women (NAMAW) in 1994. Anisa says of the organization:

We began as a self-help Muslim woman's organization that was mostly Muslim women raising money to help other, mostly single and divorced Muslim women to pay rent, purchase food, and keep their lights on. That was in 1989. Now we are a UN-accredited NGO, that is also a political action committee. Our goal is to bring the political voices of Muslim American women into the mainstream political dialogue in the U.S., where we can use our unique perspectives and experiences to make a positive difference in the lives of others.3
Later, Anisa was invited by the International Right to Life Organization to join its delegation to the Beijing Conference as an observer but the Chinese government repeatedly refused her application for a visa. Unable to attend the conference, she continued efforts to lobby for the pro-life position in the US and was quoted by many leading newspapers in the US on the topic. She also appeared on NPR, the USA Radio Charlie Butts Show, and CNN International. Following the Beijing conference, she established the International Association for Muslim Women and Children, an accredited NGO with the UN Habitat Conference, and also the UN Division on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinians. Most recently, through the International Association for Muslim Women and Children, Anisa along with Ethiopian human and women’s rights activists established the Al-Falah project, an HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment project in Ethiopia. Anisa has been credited with developing the blueprint for what later became the American Muslim Council and served for nearly 10 years as an unofficial advisor. She was also a founding member of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). In 1996, she founded Muslim Women for America and initiated a national Muslim voter’s registration campaign. That same year she wrote, Islam and the Veiling of Women and co-authored The Agent: Truth Behind the Anti-Muslim Campaign in America. In 1998, she served as director of community outreach for a pro-life senatorial candidate in northern Virginia. She has also served as the editor-in-chief of Al-Jathiya, the newsletter for the National Association of Muslim American Women. She has also published many op-eds in The Washington Times and The New York Times. Many of her articles and essays are archived at Media Monitors. In 1998, she attended the eleventh International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran and was one of only two women ever to address the international body of Muslim dignitaries and academicians gathered for the annual conference. [1] “First Person: Your Voices, Your Stories,” American Public Radio. [2] ibid. [3] ibid.