Ribaat Program Instructors
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 living in the West and, having studied traditional Islam in the Middle East, 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.
Anse 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 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 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, 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 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.
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.
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.
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 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 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, Israel, 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.
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.
Ustadha Kouthar Muttardy was born and grew up in Northern Virginia, the daughter of an American convert and a Libyan immigrant. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Child Development from George Mason University and has completed a Masters Degree in Elementary Education from Marymount University. Ustadha Kouthar has worked with multiple age groups as a preschool, high school special education, 2nd grade, and middle school history and civics teacher. Ustadha Kouthar has also served as an Islamic Sunday school curriculum coordinator, developing curriculum for over 300 students in grades K-12. She is currently homeschooling her three adolescent children while working part time, coaching, and leading Girl Scouts. Ustadha Kouthar has formal training in tajwīd, tafsīr, ʿaqīda, sīra, hadith, and Hanbali fiqh. She is currently pursuing her Murabbiya ʿĀlima certificate through Ribaat. Ustadha Kouthar is passionate about education, feeling most happy when she is learning or teaching. She is honored and excited to join Ribaat’s instructional team.
Quran Program Instructors
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 Falak Alnass grew up in Dearborn, Michigan but received her high school diploma in Islamic Studies in Syria. Her undergraduate degree is in English Literature, and she successfully completed training in Qāʿida al-Nūrāniyya, so she can successfully teach reading of the Quran to non-Arabic speakers. Anse Falak has been studying tajwīd for 25 years and has been providing private lessons in tajwīd to both adults and children. Anse Falak also currently teaches Fiqh and the Shamāʾil (Characteristics) of the Prophet Muhammad (s) to women locally where she lives in Ontario, Canada. She is the proud mother of three young children, and in her spare time, she enjoys reading books on education, child-rearing, and self-improvement, while also performing in an all-female nasheed band. When asked what she hopes to achieve while teaching at Ribaat, she responded, “I hope to present tajwīd and the makhārij (proper articulation) in a simpler way to better help people understand.”
Anse Eamaan Rabbat was raised in the United States and in Syria, where she benefited from renowned female teachers of the Islamic sciences, including tajwīd, sīra, hadith, fiqh, and ʿaqīda. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications with concentrations in Advertising and Journalism and a Master’s in Educational Leadership. She resides in the UAE and dedicates her time to the education and upbringing of children and adults. She has held various positions in educational institutions and presently works as an elementary school teacher. She has been honored to serve as director for the Ribaat Academic Institute since its inception, working on building, maintaining, and improving the program. She also serves on Rabata’s board. Anse Eamaan started teaching at Ribaat in the Fall of 2016 and said, “I am proud and honored to be a part of the Ribaat team because I see it as bringing sacred knowledge to women across the world who otherwise would not be able to access it… We have a fun, loveable, lively, unique group of amazing women that never cease to amaze me.”
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. 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 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 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 Rima Kuzbari Azem was born and raised in Damascus, Syria and has lived in Northern Virginia for over 40 years. Anse Rima earned a degree in elementary school education and taught grade school for several years. For the last 5 years, she has tutored and taught children Arabic and Quran, after being certified in al-Qāʿida al-Nūrāniyya. She has taught at local Islamic schools, homeschool children, and one-on-one tutoring for children of all ages. She has also taught through al-Fawakih Institute. In her spare time, Anse Rima loves to read and spend time with her grandchildren. She is currently completing her certification in tajwīd and memorization of the Quran. Teaching with Ribaat will be Anse Rima’s first formal opportunity to bestow her knowledge of Quran and Arabic onto adults, which she is greatly looking forward to.
Ustadha 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, Ustadha 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) and Rabata as an Arabic teacher.
Ustadha Sana is married and has 2 sons and 2 daughters and currently resides in Milwaukee, WI.
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 Samar Sultan teaches Quran and Arabic full-time at a local Islamic school in Tampa, Florida. Ustadha Samar has her ijāza in both Quran and Qāʿida al-Nūrāniyya as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. After meeting Anse Tamara in Tampa and hearing good things about Ribaat from friends, she chose to teach at Ribaat because she found the institution very organized and run by a dedicated group of women who she feels honored to work with. She hopes to accomplish helping Muslim women at Ribaat to read and understand the Quran. In her spare time, Ustadha Samar enjoys spending time with her family, walking, and exploring parks with her four children.