A native of New Jersey and graduate of Rutgers University, Anse Kiashe Pugh converted from Christianity to Islam in 1990. Since then, she has lived abroad in a number of countries, studying the sciences of Islam and ultimately earning the high honor of accreditation in formal Quranic recitation from world renowned Quranic scholar, Shaykh Abu Hasan al Kurdi, in 2003.
Returning to the U.S. in 2013, after 19 year abroad, her passion for service has compelled her work for a multinational humanitarian organization. From her training Islamic Studies, she teaches and mentors youth and adults through an international women’s educational non-profit – Rabata, Inc. At Rabata, Anse Kiashe also teaches for the RabaTEENS and Dragonflies youth programs.
She most enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, and hosting guests. She is a lifelong learner and teacher who encourages others to continually learn and reflect, especially on the Quran.
Sabriyya Shaw is the founder of The Nafisa Project, an organization dedicated to the spiritual and personal development of young Muslim Women based in Memphis, Tennessee. She works as an Islamic Studies teacher at Pleasant View School, and a coordinator of ALIM’S FRAMES program. She is pursuing a Masters of Divinity in Islamic Chaplaincy from Bayan Islamic Graduate School. She holds a bachelors in Psychology from the University of Memphis, and graduated from Tayseer Seminary in 2021. From a young age, her interest in learning Deen pushed her to study with local teachers and attend Deen intensives across the country. Her love for community service led her to cofound the Midtown Mosque mobile food pantry at 16, serve on youth and community service projects, and volunteer with Muslim nonprofits locally and nationally.
Dedicated to the pillars of service and education, Soofia Ahmed has led teaching initiatives for street children in India, taught in UK Islamic schools, and has taught in both public and private schools in the USA. She has also spoken at Amnesty International, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and Islamic Society of North America conferences. She was one in sixteen American students to receive an internship regarding the promotion of religiously pluralistic mentalities through Interfaith Youth Core and was invited to the White House by Hillary Clinton as part of the Generation Change youth initiative. She was both volunteer and program coordinator for Indian Muslim Relief and Charities’ Summer Volunteer Program. She also facilitated “Humari Dunya,” an interfaith service initiative to India through Worldfaith. She was invited to Oprah Winfrey and Good Morning America shows to speak regarding issues of faith. Through her college, she received the prestigious Founder’s Day Medal of Honor and the Niebuhr Center’s Gandhi Internship for International Justice. In Scotland, she worked as the Black and minority ethnic lead support worker at Inverness Women’s Aid. She was Inverness Masjid’s coordinator of women’s, children’s and new Muslim affairs and outreach.
She graduated from Elmhurst College with honors, majoring in secondary education, English literature, and intercultural studies with a social justice focus and a middle school history teaching certification. She is pursuing an M.S. in project management. Soofia is currently a curriculum developer at Rabata and is the project lead for Rabata’s Leadership and Legacy educational campaign. She teaches the next generation of positive cultural change makers through Rabata’s Dragonflies and Rabateens youth programs.
Dr. Mona Islam has been deeply engaged with the American Muslim community on various levels for the past thirty years. Her greatest passions and areas of contribution lie in developing Muslim women and youth. She is an avid advocate of female scholarship. A committed lifelong learner, Islamic Studies teacher, and tarbiyya facilitator, she has studied under Dr. Yusuf Zia Kavaci and with Shaikha Dr. Hanaa Gamal closely, among many others.
She currently serves as vice president of the Multicultural Center in Houston, a leading humanitarian center, where she leads the Education Department. She has founded a girl scout troop which grew to over 160 members, and a co-founder of a boy scout troop which now has over 320 members in Southeast Houston. She regularly contributes to and publishes Islamic Studies books for high school and middle school level youth. During COVID she offered over 200 online sessions for youth which included teaching the Quran cover to cover twice, seerah, hadith sciences, and purification of the heart.
Dr. Islam holds a Masters in Educational Administration and a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction. She lives with her family and five children in Houston, Texas.
Hazel Gomez is a faith-based community organizer and student of the Islamic sciences. She is a Puerto Rican and Mexican Muslim convert of nearly 20 years hailing from Chicago’s westside and currently living in Detroit. Hazel’s passion for studying Islam was heightened while at Al-Azhar University with a delegation of Latino and Latin American Muslim students where they studied a myriad of the foundational Islamic sciences. She began volunteering at Rabata shortly thereafter and has been a Ribaat Academic Institute student since its inception. She teaches in the Rabata Dragonflies and RabaTEENS programs. She also has an ijazah in the Forty Hadith of Imam an-Nawawi.
Hazel is an avid reader of all things about Muslims in America and is interested in the research and creation of an authentic Latino Muslim experience. She also dedicates her time as a convert mentor, non-profit board member, and social justice trainer. Hazel graduated from Loyola University Chicago with double Bachelor’s degrees in Forensic Science and Biology. In 2021, she was named by the Center of American Progress as one of 21 faith leaders to watch: https://www.americanprogress.org/article/21-faith-leaders-watch-2021/
Tayyaba Syed is a multiple award-winning author, journalist, keynote speaker, and performer, and thus far, has conducted 150+ literary and faith-based presentations for a variety of schools, communities, and organizations both online and in-person.
She has written 20+ book titles for kids including Encyclopedia Britannica and has had bylines in numerous publications such as NPR, Chicago Parent, and Chicago Crescent. Her most recently published works include The Blessed Bananas, a children’s picture book, which has won 3 gold literary awards, and her newest board book Hafsa’s Kisses, winner of the Daybreak Book Award.
Tayyaba has traveled extensively sharing her love for reading and writing. She is known to be a fun storyteller, weaving great lessons and hearts into everything she does.
She has been a student and volunteer with Rabata since its inception in 2012. Tayyaba is the first graduating class to receive a teacher certification through the Ribaat Academic Institute in 2020 and offers many diverse classes online. For the last decade, Tayyaba has been leading a local women’s halaqah to bring traditional knowledge and a sense of belonging to over 100 moms just like her. In 2021, Tayyaba was elected with the most votes as a member of her local public school district’s Board of Education. She works as a curriculum writer for Monarch Academy and lives with her husband and three children in Illinois, where she enjoys being outdoors, exploring nature, and volunteering in her free time.
Sonia Cader is a practicing Surgical Oncologist in Vancouver, Canada. She has an undergraduate degree in kinesiology, and received her medical training in Vancouver, Edmonton and Chapel Hill.
She studied intermittently in Syria from 2001-2005 and obtained an ijaza in the Hafs recitation from the late Shaykh Abu Hassan Al-Kurdi in 2005. She currently teaches Tajwid for the Ribaat Qur’an program in addition to heading the marketing division of Rabata, and serving on the board.
She enjoys traveling, fiction, movies and taking Ribaat classes.
Born to convert parents, Safiyyah Salaam was raised in Alabama, where her family and Muslim community instilled in her a thirst for community development and social justice. She is a graduate of the University of Alabama in Birmingham where she was fortunate to study abroad in Mexico and eventually earned her Bachelor’s in Spanish. After briefly teaching abroad, she returned to the States and obtained her Master’s in Education (Collaborative Teaching) from Auburn University Montgomery.
She has taught Special Education in Georgia and Alabama and currently teaches English as a Second Language to students from over 10 different countries in one of the largest urban school districts in America. She has been a Ribaat student and volunteer since its inception in 2013. In addition, she has coordinated and led a local upbringing program for Muslim girls ages 6-9. Currently, she serves as an instructor for Ribaat while she aspires to complete her ijaza in tajwid, her studies with Ribaat, and further da’wa in America. She is a wife and proud mother of three daughters who she hopes will carry on in the tradition of learning and disseminating Islam.