In 2009, NPR put out a call for essays. They wanted to know more about Muslim identity in America. What could I possibly write about? I went from being a …
In the throws of world-wide isolation, Dr. Aaisha Vawda felt this separation more poignantly as she migrated across the Atlantic, from South Africa to Canada. The loss of family, friends, and familiarity left the introverted Aaisha in search of something more, but still hesitant to venture out into her new community. After a few months, her mother, recognizing her loneliness, shared the Rabata instagram page with Aaisha, encouraging her to explore the organization. Dr. Aaisha obliged and soon found her spiritual and emotional lifeline, a family away from family, a much needed space.
To my dismay, I didn’t have another ready-made story idea burning a hole in my pocket. And when I thought of a few (really good ones, actually), a malicious voice always overrode my enthusiasm: This idea requires too much research… That one has a good premise but where would it go from there? And worst of all, You did it once, but you know you can’t do it again. The voice paralyzed me for years.
Then I remembered my red spiral notebook.
Covid-19 did not do us many favors but one of the best things to come out of that trying time was the proliferation of online methods of study. At Ribaat, we have been at the forefront of digital knowledge spaces even before that time and we find our numbers of students accessing our classes increasing every year. This is indeed a sign of more and more women seeking out knowledge and finding that online spaces to learn can be just as effective. As a teacher at Ribaat, teaching women on this online platform brings me joy. As Anse Najiyya pointed out last month, our students are of all ages, life stages and levels of knowledge.
With great joy and much confidence, the Ribaat Academic Institute announces the 2023 recipient of the Andrea Scholarship: Kori Majeed. Kori Majeed holds many titles and epithets, and soon hopes to add Ribaat Teacher, and insha’Allah one day, Ribaat Scholar to the list. Mrs. Majeed, self-proclaimed serial learner, considers education as a necessary tool in propelling all her ideas forward. She lives a life of beautiful intentionality and purpose, and as a result, she exudes faith in action. Kori works in multiple spaces, online and offline, public and personal, encouraging others to do the same.
Karima Traeger found her way to the Ribaat Academic Institute as many of her fellow classmates did – through a friend’s loving recommendation to attend Masjid Rabata programming. Soon after, in 2021, Karima registered for her first classes with Ribaat and continues now with a focus on Arabic, Tajwīd, and Tafsīr. Karima shares that Ribaat provided a space to learn her deen in comfort, joy, and community.
When I first began studying at the Ribaat Academic Institute, back before there even really was a Ribaat, I sat down and cried. Not because I was so overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to study seriously in my own home. Not because I was so spiritually moved by the Companions in the pilot class that I just couldn’t contain my tears. And not because I enjoyed the exercise of heart and mind that was the final exam. No. I cried because all the other students were in their twenties…maybe thirties…and I was the only one beginning my studies at 50 years old.
At the completion of the course Superwomen: Powers, Kryptonite, and Karamat, instructor Anse Tamara requested students complete a final reflection assignment. Student Sumayyah penned a letter to herself, reminding herself of the blessings Allah bestowed on her, and the need to use these blessings to live with purpose and conviction.