SOS! Marriage Workshop ~ About the Instructors

SOS! Marriage Workshop ~ About the Instructors

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Anse Tamara GrayAnse Tamara Gray is the founder of Rabata, an organization dedicated to promoting positive cultural change through individual empowerment, spiritual upbringing of women by women, and the revival of the female voice in scholarship

She lived in Syria for twenty years, studying sacred knowledge and traveling along the road of tarbiya (spiritual upbringing). Anse Tamara studied a full curriculum of Islamic sacred texts and subjects including: Shāfiʿī jurisprudence (fiqh), Islamic theology (ʿaqīda), Quranic sciences (tafsīr and tajwīd), Arabic grammar (naḥū), geography of the Muslim world, Islamic civilization and culture, Islamic history and classical methods of spiritual growth (tazkiya). Her specialty area is the life of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him (sīra), which she studied in-depth with the foremost sīra scholar of our time. She is fluent in both spoken and classical Arabic and received her ijāza in the recitation of Quran from the late Shaikh Muḥyī al-Dīn al-Kurdī in 1997.

Anse Tamara is a doctoral student in the Leadership, Policy and Administration program at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. She holds a master’s degree in Curriculum Theory and Instruction, and works in the field of education, focusing on instruction, curriculum design and implementation, administration, and teacher training.

Her publications range from several culturally appropriate English language curriculum programs to translations of sacred texts. Her most recent publication is an interactive journal called Joy Jots: Exercises for a Happy Heart, which takes the reader through 52 weeks of growth, discovery and  joyful outreach

Some of the projects that she has initiated through Rabata include: The Lina Project, a two-day workshop that addresses the unique needs of female converts; Circles of Light, group and individual activities that foster a strong habit of worship; Daybreak a publishing company and third space in Minnesota and Ribaat, an online academic program that brings college-level Islamic learning to women across the world, offering certifications in the Islamic sciences as well as teaching certifications.

Anse Marah DahmanAnse Marah Dahman grew up in Syria, where she studied Tafsir, Hadith, Tajweed and other Islamic sciences. She now lives in Tampa, FL, where in addition to working as a mom of three and a dentist, she teaches at her local masjid. Anse Marah was greatly influenced by her teachers in Syria, who she remembers as open, kind, patient and wise. "My teacher made things easy on us and put the world into perspective," she said. "All our teachers spent so much time bringing us up. I am excited to be able to pay that debt forward by teaching at Ribaat."  


anse rydanahAnse Rydanah Dahman has dedicated her life to teaching Islam, leading weekly halaqas in her community in Tampa Bay, Florida for the past 20 years, and has taught with Ribaat since its inception in 2013. Anse Rydanah received traditional Islamic knowledge from her teachers in Syria and teaches a variety of subjects including usūltafsīr, hadith, and fiqh, and is frequently invited as a guest speaker at local colleges and universities. Anse Rydanah states about teaching at Ribaat, “I love the idea of providing a taste of what Allah (swt) allowed us to get from our teachers, and to be part of a safe, reliable, and effective teaching institution.”

Besides being a committed educator of Islam, Anse Rydanah is a certified IRS Enrolled Agent and has been helping individuals and businesses with their taxes since 1990. She also has an AS in Computer Programming and Applications and studied pharmacy in Syria for 3 years before she moved to the United States. She is also the president of Minaret Management Group, a partnership providing management services. Anse Rydanah comes from a large and loving family with many siblings, children of her own, one of whom she describes as “a true angel” due to being diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome, and three grandchildren. With the little time she has left in between working, family, and teaching, she enjoys reading, writing, and needlework. 


Ustadha Maha HamouiUstadha Maha Hamoui was born and raised in the Middle East. She holds a degree in Education and has studied Islam under many prominent scholars in the Middle East. An activist and lecturer for the last 35 years, Ustadha Maha has taught throughout California and lectured on Islam at various conferences. Her classes are conducted in English and Arabic and include students of various ages and ethnicities. Many youth on the West Coast consider Ustadha Maha to be their teacher, Islamic role model, and inspiration to live as a devoted servant to Allah. She is the founder and president of the Islamic Outreach Foundation (IOF), which runs a weekly school. 

Ustdha SafiyyahUstadha Safiyyah Salaam was born to convert parents in New York State and raised in Alabama, USA. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Spanish and a Master’s degree in Collaborative Education K-6 with an English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsement. She began her career in Special Education, and currently teaches ESL grades 4-5 at an urban public school. In addition, she leads a bi-monthly club for Muslim girls ages 6-11. She has been a student and volunteer with Ribaat since its inception. Ustadha Safiyyah is a wife and mother of three children. 

MenahalMenahal Begawala is a licensed mental health counselor who provides services for individuals and families as well as substance abuse counseling.  Menahal has received clinical training from the Gottman Institute and uses this to work with couples to enhance their marriages.  Most recently, she worked with Dr. Dave Penner of the Gottman Institute to compile the Islamic Reference Guide for the Gottman Method.  Additionally, Menahal has a background in Islamic studies through the Al-Huda Institute, Bayyinah, and other organizations.

Nuriddeen KnightNuriddeen Knight is an interdisciplinary instructor, writer and counselor. She completed an MA in psychology with a focus on child and family from Columbia University. Alongside her academic degree, she studied traditional Islamic knowledge including Islamic law, theology, spirituality and prophetic biography with local scholars and in the majalis in Amman, Jordan.

In 2015 she created, a holistic initiative  focused on human development through education, research and counseling.

Her written work has been featured in,, and She compiled a collection of 40 sayings from the prophet Muhammad's life through the narration of his wife Aisha, and is currently working on its second edition.

In 2013 she gave a lecture entitled 'A middle ground: An Islamic and Psychological Perspective on the Divided Self', combining Islamic wisdom and psychoanalytical theory. In 2014 she taught the New Muslims Program and Perfecting the Prayer classes for new Muslims in the M.E.C.C.A. center. In the summer of 2015 she conducted a class on tradition Islamic theology in Masjid At Taqwa in  Brooklyn, NY. She currently resides in Fez, Morocco, with her husband Ustadh Abu Bakr.


Andrea CluckAndrea Cluck accepted Islam in 2005 while completing an undergraduate degree in English from Truman State University. She graduated with an M.A. in Religion (Islamic Studies) from the University of Georgia in 2012, where she wrote her Master’s thesis “Islamophobia in the post-9/11 United States: Causes, Manifestations, and Solutions.” Andrea also holds an M.S. in Information (Library Science) from the University of Michigan (2014). Currently, she volunteers for Rabata and takes classes through Ribaat. She is also active in her local community, volunteering with the Muslim community as well as the local public schools and library. In her hypothetical free time, she enjoys knitting, reading, drinking coffee, and playing with a small army of pet cats, birds, and fish. She happily resides in Springfield, Illinois, with her husband and three stepchildren.

sadia jalaliSadia Jalali is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Houston, TX.  She has worked in private practice since 2006, providing family/couple, individual, and group therapy services.

As a Muslim-American with Pakistani heritage, she is able to understand and be effective in working through cultural issues in families with 2nd generation immigrant children.  She is a mother of four young children and understands issues such as effective communication in families including the parent-child relationship and marital relationship. She has also led several group therapy services including anger management and parenting classes. She has had an active role in the Houston Muslim community for the last 20 years.

Sadia currently posts relevant issues to Muslim women on her FB page, The Muslimah Experience. She is also developing the first Muslim premarital education program, which should be ready soon inshaAllah.

afshan malikAfshan Malik holds a bachelor's degree in English Language & Literature and writes regularly for online and community publications on topics ranging from parenting to race relations. Her first YA novel, Picking up the Pieces, is scheduled to release in 2017. Afshan also enjoys volunteering extensively for nonprofit organizations that promote the empowerment, activism and education of young girls and women. Afshan began her journey studying traditional religious sciences at the age of 14 at the Georgia Islamic Institute and has diligently continued her spiritual education under the direction of dedicated scholars. She is currently a student of the Ribaat Academic Program under the tutelage of Anse Tamara Gray. Afshan is also the project manager at Daybreak Press Publishing company and organizes the annual Daybreak Press Muslim Women's Literary Conference at the University of Houston. She is enjoying life in the Lone Star State with her husband, five children and frequently rotating extended family.

Zainab bint Younus is a Canadian Muslim woman who has been writing about grassroots da'wah, women's rights, and taboo topics in the Muslim community for over ten years.

A founding member, editor, and writer for the renowned website, Zainab went on to write for SISTERS Magazine, Al Jumuah Magazine, and She also writes regularly on her social media page, The Salafi Feminist, as well as her blog

Zainab is well known for her series, Forgotten Heroines, which rediscovers women of Islamic history through a revivalist lens and draws parallels between their stories and the lives of Muslim women and men today. In addition, she has focused on discussing and investigating common misconceptions and misinterpretations of Qur'anic ayaat, ahadith, and attitudes in the Muslim community that have often been used to marginalize and abuse Muslim women.

Zainab bint Younus has a Diploma in Islamic Studies from Arees University; and a Diploma in the History of Female Islamic Scholarship from the Cambridge Islamic College, under Sheikh Muhammad Akram Nadwi.

Olivia Kompier has been a Muslim for 16 years.  Originally from the American midwest, she has written for numerous Muslim blogs and magazines and is a certified Screamfree Parenting leader. In recent years she has owned and operated her own business and is currently studying website development and computer programming.  

Rima MakhiawalaRima Makhiawala is an Ob/Gyn at Integrated Health Associates - Associates in Gynecology & Obstetrics in Brighton, Michigan. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School. She completed her Obstetrics & Gynecology residency at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her professional interests include preventive health, reproductive health, teen health and health disparities. She has been a student of Rabata for the last 5 years, and has volunteered on medical missions to Haiti, Jordan, Greece, and Lebanon. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Religion and Sociology from the University of Michigan.

Megan Wyatt is the founder of Wives of Jannah, where she offers training programs and relationship coaching for wives and couples. She is a certified Strategic Intervention coach with special certifications for working with women and marital relationships and has been coaching and mentoring Muslims globally since 2008. She published a book with her daughter Aisha called How to Get Hijab Ready in 2015, and also has been teaching single women how to find a spouse without compromising their values in her Find Your Mr. Right program since 2009. She's a homeschooling mother of four who converted to Islam in 1998.

Dr. Zaynab AlwaniDr. Zainab Alwani is the Founding Director of the Islamic Studies at the Howard University School of Divinity (HUSD). She is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and the chair of Master of Arts (Religious Studies) program at HUSD. She is an Islamic scholar, researcher, and community activist. Dr. Alwani is the first female jurist to serve on the board of the Fiqh Council of North America and currently serves as the Council’s Vice-Chair. Her research focuses on Quranic studies, Islamic jurisprudence, the relationship between civil and religious law in the area of family, women and gender, and inter-religious relations.

She is an educator with over 20 years of teaching. She has been involved in curriculum development, departmental communication, program design and implementation. Prior to joining the School of Divinity, Dr. Alwani was the Program Director and Adjunct Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Northern Virginia Community College. She was also an Adjunct Professor of Arabic Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. She developed courses in Arabic Studies that focused on the link between Islamic philosophy, language, and culture. She also taught Islamic history, inter-religious dialogue, and comparative religion at Wesley Theological Seminary and the Washington National Cathedral.

She has authored and co-authored a wide variety of publications ranging from textbooks, book chapters, to scholarly articles. Some of her latest publications include: Socioeconomic and Gender Justice in the Qur’ān: Modern Challenges in Poverty and Wealth in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Palgrave Macmillan US, July 2016. She co-edited a special issue of “The Muslim World journal published by Hartford Seminary, Judaism and Islam in America, October 2014 Volume 104, Issue 4.” Maqāṣid Qur᾽āniyya: A Methodology on Evaluating Modern Challenges and Fiqh al-Aqalliyyāt (p 465–487), The Quranic Model for Harmony in family relations, “Muslim Women as Religious Scholars: A Historical Survey,” in Muslima Theology: New Voices of Muslim Women Theologians,” “Alusra fi Maqasid al sharia: Qira’ fi Qadaya al zawaj waltalaq fi Amrika” The Objectives of Sharia and the family: Reading in Marriage and Divorce in American Muslim Family; and co-author "What Islam Says about Domestic Violence” and “Religion, Gender, And Family Law: Critical Perspectives On Integration for Western-Muslims” in Applying sharia in the West", Leiden University Press.

Dr. Alwani is currently working on a series of articles on Quranic studies and two book projects, “Orphan Care from an Islamic Perspective: Adoption, Kafala, Foster care & Beyond.” The second book is “Islamic Jurisprudence: Women Scholars and Islamic Family Law in Morocco,” investigate the influence and the dynamics of Muslim women religious scholarship and activism on the advancement of Islamic Jurisprudence, family and society in contemporary Morocco.

Dr. Alwani received her PhD in Islamic Sciences and Islamic Jurisprudence from the International Islamic University in Malaysia. Her PhD dissertation examined Maqāṣid/objectives of al Sahriah in the area of family, the book “The Family and Maqasid Al Shariah: Marriage and Divorce in American Muslim Family.”

Dr. Alwani is a mother of four, and a grandmother of four. Her hobbies include spending time with her family, reading, writing and traveling.

(Edited by Ribaat Team - original submission Tuesday, March 28, 2017, 9:47 AM)