Ribaat is blessed with a dedicated and illuminated array of female scholars. These remarkable women are qualified in various Islamic sciences as well as secular studies. Our sincere teachers understand the dynamics of being a Muslim woman in today's world and, having studied traditional Islam, are able to bring together the best of both worlds. They are working professionals with many obligations within their families and communities, yet are diligently sharing their Islamic expertise and volunteering their time to make their knowledge accessible to women around the world through the Ribaat online academic program. May Allah continue to increase them and preserve them...
*Note on our Instructors' titles: Ustadha and Anse are both terms used in Arabic as titles for female scholars.
Islamic Sciences Instructors
Anse Dr. Tamara Gray
is the founder of Rabata, an organization dedicated to promoting positive cultural change through creative educational experiences. She is an Islamic scholar and holds multiple ijazas in Islamic sacred texts and subject matters. Anse Dr. Tamara completed her doctoral studies in the Leadership, Policy and Administration program at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. She also holds a master’s degree in Curriculum Theory and Instruction, and worked for twenty-five years in the field of education, before moving into the non-profit world.
Anse Dr. Tamara works as Executive Director for Rabata, building and sustaining its many and varied educational projects. Some of the projects of Rabata are: the Ribaat Academic Program; and online seminary for Muslim women, Daybreak Press publishing, Daybreak Bookshop and Community Gathering Space, Leadership and Legacy Curriculum Materials, etc.. She is also a community faculty member at Metropolitan State University in the Ethics and Religious Studies department, and Associate Chaplain at the University of St. Thomas.
Anse Dr. Tamara is also a public speaker, often engaged to speak about issues of gender, leadership, Islam, and spirituality; locally, nationally and globally. Some of her platforms have included, the International Leadership Association, the World Parliament of Religions, the Bonyaan conference on the Muslim woman (Sweden), the Islamic Society of North America and several universities, including Princeton, Virginia Tech and Oxford University.
Her publications range from several culturally appropriate English language curriculum programs to translations of sacred texts. Shaykha Dr. Tamara’s most recent work is the translation of Mukhtasir al-Jami’ fi al-Sīra al-Nabawiyya by Samīra Zayid [Compendium of the Collection of Sources on al-Sīra al-Nabawiyya] (Co-translator) scheduled for release in Fall 2017. Her book, Joy Jots: Exercises for a Happy Heart, is in its third print.
Anse Dr. Tamara is part of the ISNA task force for more inclusive and welcoming mosques, on the advisory board of Muslim Women’s Association of Chicago, and the Muslim Anti-Racism Committee. She also sits on the board of Sakana Community Resource, working with faith based financial tools and affordable housing, and on the board of the Collegeville Institute’s Interreligious Fellows Program, working to develop educational programming for faith leaders around social justice issues.
Anse 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 Marah has been teaching with Ribaat since its inception in 2013. She teaches the ever-popular entry-level course "Training the Tongue, Purifying the Heart", as well as the Level 2 history course "Mujaddidin: Crises and Cures of Muslim History".
Anse 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 usūl, tafsīr, hadith, andfiqh, 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.
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.
Anse Rydanah has been teaching with Ribaat since its inception in 2013. She specializes in fiqh but also teaches the level 2 hadith course "The Forty Hadith of Imam al-Nawawi".
Ustadha 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.
Usyadha Maha has been teaching with Ribaat since its inception in 2013. She teaches the Level 1 Tafsir course "Reflections from the Quran", which takes an in-depth look at a different surah each term.
Anse Raghad Bushnaq was born and raised in Syria. She studied with some of the best teachers in Syria, including those who have published works in the subjects of fiqh, comparative fiqh, tawḥīd, sīra, fiqh sīra, hadith, tafsīr, tajwīd, rijāl, and sciences of the Quran. She memorized the Quran in 1994 and later received ijāza to teach tajwīd in the recitation of Ḥafs. She is currently working on a ḥifẓ ijāza.
Additionally, Anse Raghad studied agricultural engineering at Damascus University and sharīʿa at Imam University in Saudi Arabia. In 2006, she returned to study Islamic Economics at Imam University.
She has also taught English as second language at Al Rowad International Schools and developed curriculum for Jewels of Knowledge International Schools in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
She is the founder of Mozaic, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing the Syrian refugees in the DMV area with the necessary support to settle, adjust, and adapt. It is also an effort to provide women and children with educational and material support to motivate and empower them.
Anse Raghad has been an instructor and an active member in the Muslim community of the DC Metro area since 1989 and is an instructor and member at the Fawakih Institute. She teaches Arabic language at Ribaat as well as courses taught completely in Arabic, such as Companions of the Prophet (s).
Anse Randa Mardini has studied the 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 sira of the Prophet (s), in which she has done research extensively since the 1990’s. She has been part of many efforts to teach and spread knowledge of the Prophet’s life and lessons learned from it, including curriculum programs, an Arabic and English software “Prophets & Messengers in the Shade of Islam”, and the translation of A Compendium of the Sources on the Prophetic Narrative (newly released by Daybreak Press at bitly.com/propheticnarrative). She has taught in schools and masjids in Damascus for many years. She is now joining us in the online platform with the Ribaat Academic Program.
In addition to her studies in the Islamic Sciences, Anse Randa holds a degree in electronic engineering from Damascus University, Quran Ijaza in the Hafs recitation, and is an accredited and experienced educator.
Anse Randa began teaching with Ribaat in 2018. She teaches the Ribaat Level 3 sira course "Sira: An Academic Study of the Life of Prophet Muhammad (s)".
Ustadha Zaynab Ansari spent a decade studying Farsi, Arabic, and traditional Islam in the Middle East. Upon her return to the U.S., she volunteered, wrote, and taught for SunniPath Academy (now Qibla for the Islamic Sciences). Since 2009, she has been a contributor to SeekersGuidance, an online educational portal founded by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani. Since 2010, she has taught at the Appalachian Retreat, organized by the Muslim Community of Knoxville and Tayseer Foundation. She recently relocated from Atlanta, GA to Knoxville, TN to join the Tayseer Foundation as a scholar-in-residence.
Ustadha Zaynab has been teaching with Ribaat since 2015. She teaches the Level 2 course, "Understanding the Muslim World".
Anse Dahlia Kaswani was born in Syria and has lived in Egypt, the USA and Canada. She is currently married with three grown children and lives in Dubai, UAE. As an English Literature graduate, Anse Dahlia pursued her passion for English through courses, communicating with native speakers, reading, and teaching. As an adult, she studied Early Childhood Development and pursued her Islamic education in Damascus, including in-depth studies of Tafsīr, Sīra, Fiqh, and ʿAqīda. She is extremely proficient in Tajwīd, gaining certification in memorization and recitation of the last two ajzāʾ from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs in Damascus. For the last 10 years she has taught English in schools, supervised youth groups, and has provided young adult programs for Muslim girls. She also works closely with young women at her local Masjid.
Anse Dahlia has been teaching with Ribaat since 2015. She teaches the Level 1 Quran course "Explanation and Recitation: Juzu Amma".
Anse Sana Mohiuddin, born in Canada and raised in Texas, attended Texas A&M University, graduating with a History degree and a minor in Religious Studies. Soon after graduating she moved to Chicago, where she worked simultaneously on her Islamic studies degree and graduate school. In 2013, she graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a graduate degree in Marital and Family Therapy. In 2015 she graduated from Jamia Zainab lil Banaat, Lusaka Zambia, with a degree in Islamic Studies (ijāza in hadith, tafsīr, fiqh, and sīra).
Along with her educational pursuits, Anse Sana has volunteered from a young age with various local and national organizations. She worked closely with the Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA) during high school in both her hometown and on a national level, and chaired the national MYNA conference at ISNA at the age of 17. In college, she worked with the Muslim Students Association (MSA) and was the sisters’ coordinator for her university in her final year of undergraduate studies. Since moving to Chicago, she has taught Quran classes and volunteered with Sisters Steppin' Up (SSU).
Ustadha Sana has taught Arabic with Ribaat since 2015 and also teaches the Level 2 aqida elective, "The 99 Names of Allah (swt)".
Anse Shehnaz Karim has studied with the foremost scholars of Syria, including Anse Tamara Gray. She received her ijāza in the recitation of Quran from the late Shaikh Muḥyī al-Dīn al-Kurdī in 1999. Anse Shehnaz has a degree in education from the University of BC; her expertise includes curriculum design and pedagogy from a holistic spiritual perspective. Anse Shehnaz is one of the founding members of Sanad Collective, and she teaches weekly at the Rhoda Institute in Ottawa.
Ustadha 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.
Ustadha Safiyyah has been teaching "Teaching Skills and Methodology for Elementary" with Ribaat since 2017.
Ustadha Maryam Sharrieff is an educator, filmmaker, lecturer, linguist, researcher and student of the development of Islam in America. Her recent research projects have examined the African-American Shi’i Muslim Community, Latino Converts to Islam in America, the Legacy of Female Scholarship in Islam and Gender & Its Linguistic Implications in the Qur’an and Torah. Ustadha Maryam’s research interests also include the Muslim Contribution to Sicilian Society, the Representation of Faith In (& On) film, Homosexuality in Canonical Texts, American Muslim Women’s Leadership, Fundamentalism Across Faiths and America’s Founding Father’s Interactions with the Muslim World. Ustadha Maryam has studied and conducted research in Egypt, Jordan, Italy, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the United Arab Emirates. Most recently she presented on Muslim women’s leadership at the World Parliament of Religion’s conference in Sydney, Australia and at the annual international Shaykafest. From 2012-2014 she was a Muslim fellow for Hebrew College’s and Andover Newton Theological School’s CIRCLE (Center for Inter-Religious and Communal Leadership Education) program. She remains committed to developing a career as a scholar, educator and academic administrator and in working to establish a more balanced understanding of Islam in America today. Ustadha Maryam is dedicated to building and contributing to institutions conducive to the pursuit of human excellence. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies/Italian/TV & Film from Rutgers University and obtained her Master’s in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. She currently lives in the Boston area.
Ustadha Maryam teaches "Islam in America" with Ribaat.
Anse Najiyah Maxfield is the award-winning author of many articles, poems and short stories. Her young adult novel, Sophia's Journal, explores themes of inclusion and identity and is being taught in several middle and high schools across North America. She taught secondary level English and history in the States and university level English in Syria. She spent three years as the Managing Editor of Discover: The Magazine for Curious Muslim Kids and is now the Editorial Director of Daybreak Press, Rabata's non-profit publishing company. She lives in Canton, MI where she kayaks in the summer, knits in the winter, and divides her time between her six children, two granddaughters and studying and volunteering with Ribaat.
Anse Najiyah teaches two courses with Ribaat: "Public Speaking and Community Outreach" and "Creative Writing: Raising Muslim Women's Voices", in addition to periodic webinars on the writing craft.
Ustadha Rukayat Yakub is researcher and author. In 2017 she established Light Legacy Books, a children's publishing house dedicated to telling the stories of little-known heroes from across the globe. Rukayat is an AMI certified Montessori elementary teacher and she studied Arabic and traditional Islamic sciences in the UK, Morocco, Spain, Mauritania and the United States.She currently resides in New Jersey, USA and is a member of the advisory board for United We Create, a project that seeks to educate the community about Islamic cultures through the arts. She also volunteers with La Convivencia, a nonprofit organization dedicated to peace, social justice and community service.
Anse Hadia Zarzour is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who came to the US in 2009 on a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue her Masters in Community Counseling at Loyola University. Since then, she has been working with refugees, immigrants and the underserved from all parts of the globe. She is certified in Global Refugee Trauma from Harvard University and is currently a private practice owner and trainer. In 2012, Anse Hadia co-founded Insan, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to providing psychological support to Syrian refugee children and adults in Syria’s neighboring countries: Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. She is also a co-founder of Syrian Community Network, a nonprofit organization that focuses on supporting the Syrian refugees in their resettlement in the Chicagoland area. In 2017, Anse Hadia joined the training team at the Center for Children Resilience of Lurie Children’s Hospital. Anse Hadia received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and her Master’s degree in Education from Damascus University, Syria, after which she spent eight years teaching English as a Second Language and psychology at Arab International University.
Tajwid Program Instructors
Anse Ola Habbab was born in Syria, and spent her childhood and adolescence between the US, Lebanon, and Syria. She spent 10 years under the teaching and guidance of her teachers, with whom she learned Tajweed, Fiqh, Aqeedah, and Hadith, and earned an Ijaza in both Quran and al-Qaida al-Nuraniyyah. Additionally, Anse Ola studied Computer Engineering at Syrian Virtual University in Damascus, then completed a graduate program and took a Web Development Certificate at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. She currently resides in Connecticut.
Anse Ola has been teaching tajwid with Ribaat since 2015 and also works with tajwid students one-on-one as part of the Quran Program.
Anse Saadia Mian is board-certified in internal medicine and endocrinology. After completing an undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of Michigan, she went to medical school at Michigan State University. She works full-time at Metro Detroit Endocrinology Center in Dearborn, Michigan.
During this time she went to Syria to study Arabic, Quran and sacred knowledge. She received her Ijaza in the Hafs recitation from Shaykh Abu al-Hassan Al-Kurdi (May Allah swt be pleased with him) and also from Shaykh Krayyim Rajih. She completed the memorization of the Quran and is currently working on obtaining an ijaza al-ghaib (ijaza in memorization). She helped to launch the Ribaat Quran program and teaches tajwīd for Ribaat. She is author of The Crowning Venture, a book about women who have memorized the Quran.
She is a member of the founding board of Rabata and continues to serve while working full-time as an endocrinologist. She is also a member of AACE (American Association Clinical Endocrinologists), Endocrine Society, Syrian American Medical Society and Women Physicians for Humanity. In her free time she likes to volunteer for medical missions, walk outdoors, crochet, read and write.
Anse Saadia leads the level 4 Quran course at Ribaat, "The Crowning Venture: Quran Memorization" and also works with tajwid students one-on-one as part of the Quran Program..
Anse Maryam Salman spent an initial period of three years in Damascus during the late nineties studying Arabic and Shafi’i jurisprudence. She completed the memorization of the Qur’an and received an ijaza in Qur’anic recitation from the late Syrian scholar, Shaykh Abu al-Hasan al-Kurdi. She has been actively involved in teaching both privately and in classroom settings to women, teenagers and children. She continues her Islamic studies at the Ribaat Academic Institute. She graduated with a degree in early childhood and elementary education and resides in Chicago with her husband and three children.
Anse Maryam has been teaching tajwid with Ribaat since 2015 and also works with tajwid students one-on-one as part of the Quran Program.
Arabic Program Instructors
Anse Anna-Maria Ramzy has learned Arabic from scratch as a non-native speaker. Her relationship with this beautiful language took her to the University of Oxford, where she gained a First Class in her Arabic degree and is now working on her PhD. Her undergraduate studies led her to the lands of Syria, where she met Anse Tamara Gray, honed her Arabic skills through intense study, and embarked upon the journey to gain her ijaza in tajwīd. Since graduating, Anse Anna-Maria has focused on Arabic teaching and curriculum development, determined to make the language easy and accessible to all those wishing to learn it. Her firm belief is that Allah would not have revealed His words in a language some cannot learn. It is possible. You can do it. And she looks forward to accompanying you along this journey.
Anse Anna-Maria built the Ribaat Arabic Grammar Program and continues to oversee this department. She has been teaching with Ribaat since its inception in 2013.
Anse Raghad al-Sayyid moved to Canada in 2012, hailing from Damascus, where she spent 15 years teaching ESL and Islamic courses such as the sīra and companions of the Prophet (s). When she arrived in North America, she put her language skills to good use tutoring Arabic. Anse Raghad comes from a family that placed a high priority on learning about Arabic and developing beautiful character, and both of these traits make her the perfect fit for teaching Arabic.
Meeting Western Muslims in Canada and the US, and seeing their thirst for knowledge has inspired Anse Raghad. "I get inspired every time I begin a relationship with a new student," she says, "and I can't wait to meet women from all over the world through Ribaat!"
Anse Raghad built the Ribaat Arabic Conversation Program and continues to oversee this department. She has been teaching with Ribaat since its inception in 2013.
Anse Nishat Aisha Lal was raised in Cardiff, Wales. A born Muslim of Indian descent, she began studying Arabic at age 14, which was her springboard to receiving Bachelor’s degrees in Arabic and History from the University of London. She then traveled to Syria, where she met Anse Tamara Gray, earned her ijāza in tajwīd and studied at the University of Damascus for a year. Upon her return to England she earned a Master’s degree in Arabic Translation from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, after which she married her husband, who is from Jordan. Anse Nishat has taught tajwīd online extensively as well as in person. "Learning Arabic is the key to the vast treasures of Islam, and I'm excited to help students begin their journey into the Qur'an and other Islamic texts with confident foundations."
Anse Nishat has been teaching Arabic with Ribaat since 2014 and also works with tajwid students one-on-one as part of the Quran Program.
Anse Saimah Asghar was born in London and was raised in West Yorkshire, England. She currently resides in London and works as an an English teacher at a secondary school. Anse Saimah holds a BA in Arabic and Development Studies and an MA in Translation Studies from SOAS, University of London. She has extensively taught Arabic and Islamic studies at her local masjid. She has proven to be a popular instructor for Ribaat's Arabic class for beginner students as well as a grammar instructor for the higher level courses.
Anse Saimah has been teaching Arabic with Ribaat since 2015.
Ustadha Liana Reading, a native of Michigan, received her Bachelor’s degree in Economics and holds a Masters degree in Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language. In between her BA and MA, she spent a year in Syria, where she earned a certificate of completion for all levels of the Arabic language from the University of Damascus. In addition to teaching Arabic with Ribaat, Ustadha Liana has been teaching Arabic for ten years, eight of which as a lecturer of Arabic at a local Michigan university. While the Spring of 2017 is Ustadha Liana’s first semester teaching at Ribaat, she has been a Ribaat student since the beginning and continues to take classes while she teaches and raises her three children. She explains that she feels so blessed to finally be able to give back to a program that has enriched her life in so many ways. Ustadha Liana considers herself a student of Arabic for the rest of her life, as Arabic is not her native language. She sees this as a strength when teaching non-Arabic speakers the complex language because she knows firsthand the challenges to learning Arabic, the language of the Quran and traditional Islamic texts. Ustadha Liana looks forward to teaching Ribaat students and adds, “I hope to help my sisters learn and love what is, in my opinion, the most beautiful language in the world. I feel fortunate and honored to be able to give back to this beautiful community of women, and I pray that my class is beneficial.”
Ustadha Liana has been teaching Arabic Grammar with Ribaat since 2017.
Anse Ghufran Tiba graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Arabic from the Damascus University in 2003. She has taught Arabic for over 12 years and is licensed to teach several academic sciences to all grade levels. Her personal favorite subject is teaching grammar to middle and high school students. She has taught in several schools including Dar Al-Na'im Private School and Nour Al-Sham School. Anse Ghufran moved to London in 2014 and has lived there since.
Anse Ghufran has been teaching Arabic Conversation with Ribaat since 2017.
Ustadha F. Chowdhury is originally from Chicago. Throughout her life, she has been honored to study Islam thoroughly, including tutelage under four generations of scholars. She has traveled abroad for teaching and learning in South Asia and Africa. In addition, she graduated from a traditional Islamic seminary with ijazat in tajwid, Hanafi fiqh, 'aqidah, tafsir, and hadith. Ustadha Chowdhury also has completed her memorization of Quran and is currently studying the 10 variants of Quranic recitation. She was fortunate to teach Arabic and Islamic sciences over fifteen years at various Islamic institutions as well as online organizations.
Anse Abeer has received ijazas in the recitation of the Quran from the late Shaykh Muhyi al-Din al-Kurdi in 2001, after which time she memorized Imam Al-Nawawi's Riyadh Al-Salihin. In addition to her religious studies, she has a diploma in medical engineering from Damascus University.
Ustadha Urooj Shahid lives in Cambridgeshire, UK with her husband and family. Urooj graduated from the University of Oxford with a BA Hons in English Language and Literature and an MA. She started learning Arabic and about Islam whilst at university and thereafter continued with her passion for learning about her religion by enrolling onto the Aalimiyyah Programme at Ebrahim College. Having completed the 6 year course with a Distinction, Urooj now teaches in Cambridgeshire.
(Edited by Ribaat Team - original submission Thursday, August 22, 2019, 12:12 PM)