About the Speakers: NaNoWriMo Webinars

About the Speakers: NaNoWriMo Webinars

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Anse Tamara Gray is the founder of Rabata, an organization dedicated to promoting positive cultural change through creative educational experiences.

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. As the Executive Director of Rabata, she brings together her training in the Islamic sciences and education to create numerous programs and projects that change lives and bring joyful faith to women around the world.

Her publications range from several culturally appropriate English language curriculum programs to translations of sacred texts. Her most recent publication is the translation of Mukhtasar al-Jāmiʿ fī-l-Sīra al-Nabawiyya (A Compendium of the Sources on the Prophetic Narrative-Abridged) due for release in September 2018. Her book, Joy Jots: Exercises for a Happy Heart, is now in its fourth print, and she has an upcoming Project Lina workbook due for publication in 2019.


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. 


Dr. 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.


Anna-Maria Ramzy is a PhD candidate at the University of Oxford, England. She has focused on Arabic teaching and curriculum development, determined to make the language of the Quran easy and accessible to all those wishing to learn it. She is an educator and researcher in the field of linguistic studies and is the curriculum developer for the Ribaat Arabic Program. Anna-Maria is the author of the cherished collection of spiritual poetry, Brewing Storms, and has toured internationally, offering poetry workshops, author readings, and academic insight on writing skills and styles of prose.


Khadijah Abdul-Haqq is a married, mother of five who loves reading, writing, and painting. She has written four books, although Naani's Hijab is the first to be published. Khadijah occasionally acts as a homeschooling Consultant. She has homeschooled all five of her children for the past twenty years. She is also a co-organizer and facilitator of the GEM program for teenage girls. Khadijah is currently pursuing her own Bachelor degree, as well as homeschooling her youngest children. She is originally from Philadelphia, PA, but presently living in Memphis, TN with her husband, and three of her five children.


Afshan Malik works for Rabata, an organization that aims to bring positive cultural change through creative educational experiences. She writes regularly for online and community publications on topics ranging from parenting to nonprofit work. Afshan is a graduate student at the University of Houston-Downtown Masters of Nonprofit Program. Her first novel is scheduled to release soon through Daybreak Press. Afshan helps organize the Daybreak Press Muslim Women's Literary Conference every year and promotes authentic narratives of Muslim women in the literary landscape. She was born in Chicago, raised in Atlanta, and has been a happy Houstonian for 4 hours with her husband and five children.