Ribaat Blog - by Anse Tamara Gray

Ribaat Blog - by Anse Tamara Gray

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Reaching Out and Reaching Inribaat logo

by Anse Tamara Gray


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

She walks down streets that curve and turn, balconies reach across the street and graze the vines of neighbor’s walls. These are old streets. Rūmī, Ibn Taymiyya and Imam Ghazālī walked up and down these streets. 

She turns the corner and finds wide black metal doors greeting her with a tiny doorbell. She pushes the bell and the doors open with a click. Inside it is cool and quiet. There is a hush and a hum. She puts her shoes in the cupboard, walks down three steps and up a winding staircase. She turns a corner and takes her place in a line of women waiting their turn to recite. 

Here is the only school in the world that offers advanced scholarly degrees to women. Women have graduated with official certification in the seven great hadith books (Bukhārī, Muslim, Aḥmad, Nasāʾī, Abī Dāwud, Tirmidhī, and Ibn Mājah) meaning they have memorized the text and sanad (chain of narrators). Students study Islamic law, history and philosophy. They work to become experts in Quran recitation, explanation, and memorization. Here at Madrasa al-Nūriyya, women become the Islamic scholars of tomorrow. 

She takes a break to get a sandwich, and then goes to the library. Here is the place wherein Imam Ghazālī wrote his Iḥyāʾ ʿUlūm al-Dīn – the very spot! She closes her eyes and imagines that she is studying atop the floor that held him as he wrote the first words of the volume that changed a generation of Muslims, balanced them, and united their thinking. She wonders the effect of the women studying between these walls on future generations. 

One of the blessings of modern life is that we have defined walls in a whole new way. And today this blessed place stretches its walls to encompass and shelter women all over the world through the Ribaat academic online program. Here women, sitting in their living rooms, caring for their children, and working in offices, can access this sacred knowledge and light. 

She turns back to her computer, a memory of days in Damascus files itself away as she types her name in the ‘guest’ box and sits back, steaming mug in hand, to continue the long line of female scholarship. She is standing in that line. 





by Anse Tamara Gray


Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

The Prophet (saws) said, “A single faqīh (learned one in religion) is more brutal to Shaytān than one thousand worshippers.”

And Allah (swt) says, {...God will raise those of you who believe and those of you have gained knowledge by degrees…} (al Mujādila: 11)

The rank of the learned is great.

One of the most distinctive characteristics of people who are knowledgeable on any subject, is that they claim to know very little. Knowing more always, without exception, opens doors that remind us of how little we actually know.

In schools, teachers know very well that the 8th grade girl and the 9th grade boy are the most difficult students along the spectrum, the reason being that they believe they know more than the adults around them. It will take them a couple of years, but soon they will realize that they too, know very little.

It is in ignorance that arrogance lurks.

And arrogance prevents us from Janna. The Prophet (saws) said, “He does not enter paradise, he who has an atom’s weight/a drop of arrogance in his heart.”

Thus we must place ourselves firmly on a path of learning. As women we often get sidetracked and allow our brains to become comfortably squishy with oatmeal and kitchen sponges. We must fight this very literal ‘brain drain’ (does it run out in the shower?) with a vigorous program of learning.

We must read new material every day. We must enroll in classes (one per semester is enough – even one a year is better than zero). We must discuss new ideas, read the newspaper, watch the news. We must learn about our religion and learn about the world around us.

Life is not going to get easier and less busy. Every year will bring new trials, and new blessings, all of which will fill our days and nights. We must set our sights firmly on a path of learning, and then take strides upon it.

How To’s of learning:

1-       Things we know nothing about and we know we know nothing about: Read children’s books. They are a wonderful resource for non-scientists to learn biology and the miracle of chemistry. If you are a scientist branching out into poetry, a book written for a fifth grader will give you plenty to start with. 

2-       Things we think we know everything about: Take a class from a professional teacher, or read an academic book or journal article. Surprise! You know very little. 

3-       Language learning: We need to increase our vocabulary every day. This includes English (or your native language). Words are thoughts. The more words we have, the better we will think and understand. With more understanding comes deeper faith. We also need to learn Arabic. This is a no-excuse subject. This is the language of the Quran. And if you think you already know it well enough, see #2. 

Our umma, our communities, our families need the blessing of knowledgeable people. Yaḥyā b. Muʿādh (may God have mercy on him) said, “The scholars are a greater mercy to the umma of Muhammad than their mothers and fathers.” It was asked, “How is that?” He said, “Because the fathers and mothers protect them from the fire of this world, but they protect them from the fire of the afterlife.”

Be a mercy to the umma of the Merciful one sent by the Most Merciful. Make a learning plan today.




Let Us Stand Together in Ribaat

by Anse Tamara Gray


Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

There is a whisper first.

Then the whisper grows into a quiet hum, the hum into an audible sound.

A voice forms words, and voices join together. Together they shout! They acclaim! They call.

Let the victory of Islam begin with your whisper.

Islam began with the verse, {Read, in the name of thy Lord who created...} Here the basis of the victory of individuals and societies is established. Success and victory must be based on two wings; the wing of knowledge (iqraʾ) and the wing of spirituality (bismi rabbika).

And indeed Islam began with a whisper that was quietly shared between a select few. It grew into a quiet and secret community, and when the order to go public came, the voices were audible. One event after another, and more and more people entered into this joyous faith until together they began to shout out the call to the love of Allah over all else, and the love of His beloved over all people.

Somewhere in our history, our voices got quieter, and today the voice of wisdom and knowledge as well as sacred and spiritual is but a whisper again.

Last fall the Ribaat program began as a place where we women could join together and grow in our knowledge and our spirituality. The whisper that was before became a hum as over 300 women registered for classes in Islamic sciences. Tomorrow, December 25th, registration will open for the spring semester.

Let your voice join the others, and let us be the beginning of change.

Register to learn about the lives of the companions, may Allah be pleased with them, and take them on as models and mentors. (RS 102)

Register to purify your heart and tongue and grow in ways you never imagined possible. (RP 101)

Register to study some of the origins of jurisprudence and fall in love with the intricacies of our legal system. (RF 101)

Register to read and understand the thirtieth part of the Quran, and grow in your ʿaqīda (belief system) and your relationship with the words of God. (RQ 101)

If you are newly returning to faith, register in Foundations, Flounderings and Faith (RE100) a back to basics course meant for anyone who would like to strengthen their basic foundation of faith.

Register to delve deeply into the meanings of part of Sūrat Āl ʿImrān and fall head over heels in love with the Quran. (RE 102)

Once you’ve chosen one of the above classes, register in Arabic as well.

We have made an agreement with the writer of a highly acclaimed Arabic curriculum, and will begin teaching these new books this spring semester.

Register in the Arabic program, (you will be given a placement exam) and start on the road to learning the language of our beloved Prophet (s), our Quran, our sacred texts, and the language of heaven itself.

Registration for the Ribaat Spring 2014 Term begins December 25th. Tell your sisters, your friends, your cousins, your aunts, your mothers, your (adult) daughters. Let us come together with loud voices of knowledge and love. Let us stand together in Ribaat.




Ribaat Blog

 by Anse Tamara Gray


Thursday, ‎August ‎01, ‎2013

The Arabic word “ribaat in its origin means to stand at the frontline of danger against the enemy of God and to stand in such a way as that there are no gaps in the line. (Lisān al Arab)

Today we face an enemy more dangerous than the enemy that carries sword and dagger – and that is the enemy of ignorance.

This plethora of ignorance is a danger to our communities, our families and our afterlives. Our rising divorce rates (50%), convert recidivation rates (70%), and low percentages of Muslim people’s at mosques (6%) all speak to this danger. In this fifteenth hijrī century we have the lowest number of female scholars ever in our history, and male as well. It is the post-colonial coma.

We need to become educated in our faith. We need to be able to access our own sources of information with Arabic, or at the very least be able to tell when something is ‘fishy’ in the translation. We need to be able to tell our families stories of the companions and demonstrate their lives in the way we live our lives. We need to be able to answer the questions put to us by cashiers, cousins and co-workers – not with pat answers, but with educated and well thought out discourse. Islam needs us to come alive with information and excitement about our faith. We need to stop the arguments based on ignorance that cause anger and rancor in our communities. We need to learn and live our faith.

We at rabata.org are thrilled, thankful and excited to announce the launch of Ribaat – the academic online program for Muslim women. It is the first of its kind anywhere in the world. Here Muslim women can learn Islamic sciences, grow spiritually, and develop community with classmates. Here we will join together to fill in the gaps and bring forth an educated generation; our own generation, and the upcoming generations that we are responsible for.

The program itself is academic and interactive. Students will not pay to view pre-recorded videos, but to engage in an on-line class that includes assignments and assessments. The curriculum is rooted in both classical learning and modern theories of curriculum and instruction. Students will find that both their knowledge base and their skill base grow and develop throughout the program. The female faculty brings both a lifetime of learning about Islamic subjects and a practical life experience to the classroom that the student body will be able to learn from and imitate. Perhaps most importantly, the program is designed to help students grow and develop through the schools of Islam, Imān, and Iḥsān.

Join us in this endeavor to learn and grow together. Register today for the Fall 2013 Term. Let us together stand in ribaat; let us stare down the monster of ignorance and bring forth the gentle breezes of knowledge. Together as women, let us close the gaps, protect ourselves, our families and the next generations. Let us bring the victory of Islam into our homes and hearts. Let us become learners, and teachers. Ameen.


 For inquiries, contact registration@rabata.org