Sumbul Ali-Karamali grew up in Southern California in an ethnically South Asian family. She earned her undergraduate degree in English, with Distinction, from Stanford University. After working as an editor in a publishing company, she attended law school and graduated with her J.D. from the University of California at Davis. She practiced corporate law in San Francisco for several years.
Although always a practicing Muslim, Sumbul began the formal study of Islam when she attended the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). She graduated from SOAS with her L.L.M. in Islamic Law, with Distinction. She has taught Islamic law as a teaching assistant at the University of London, worked as a research associate at the Centre of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law in London, and lectured on Islam and Islamic law. She has had many articles published, both in mainstream news publications and legal journals. Her first book, an accessible yet scholarly, anecdote-filled introduction to Islam and Islamic law written for the lay reader, was published by White Cloud Press in September of 2008 and is called The Muslim Next Door: the Qur’an, the Media, and that Veil Thing.
Sumbul is currently spending her time on speaking engagements, radio and television interviews, writing, raising her two children, and volunteering her time to various causes. She serves on the board of trustees of a nonprofit educational institution that teaches multicultural education and environmental education to children and youth. She also serves on the steering committee of Women in Islamic Spirituality and Equality (WISE), an initiative dedicated to mobilizing a movement for social justice.
For enjoyment, Sumbul plays her violin, teaches the occasional Indian cooking class, and watches Star Trek reruns with her family.