Anse Dr. Tamara Gray
Executive Director

Anse Dr. Tamara Gray is the founder of Rabata, an organization dedicated to promoting positive cultural change through creative educational experiences. She holds a doctorate in leadership from the University of St. Thomas, a master’s degree in Curriculum Theory and Instruction from Temple University, and spent twenty years studying traditional and classical Islamic sciences, Quran, and Arabic in Damascus, Syria.

Dr. Gray worked in the field of education for twenty-five years before moving into the non-profit world. She is now both the Executive Director of Rabata and its Chief Spirituality Officer. Her work includes the daily nitty gritty of project design as well as the support and mentorship of hundreds of women around the world.

Dr. Gray is also an author, translator, and public speaker. Her publications range from several culturally appropriate English language curriculum programs to translations of sacred texts. Dr. Tamara’s most recent work is the translation of Mukhtasir al-Jami’ fi al-Sīra al-Nabawiyya by Samīra Zayid [Compendium of the Collection of Sources on al-Sīra al-Nabawiyya] (Co-translator). Her book, Joy Jots: Exercises for a Happy Heart, is in its second print. Dr. Gray is often engaged to speak about issues of gender, leadership, Islam, and spirituality; locally, nationally and globally. Some of her platforms have included the International Leadership Association, the World Parliament of Religions, the Islamic Society of North America and several universities, including Princeton, Virginia Tech and Oxford University.

She sits on the board of the Collegeville Institute’s Inter-religious Fellows Program, working to develop educational programming for faith leaders around social justice issues and on the academic council of The Islamic Seminary of America where she is also a faculty member. She serves as a council member at the Fiqh Council of North America and Senior Fellow at the Yaqeen Institute.

Dr. Gray lives in Minnesota where she enjoys coffee, the seasons, and her grandchildren.

Raghad Alsayd
Administrative Director

Raghad Alsayd serves as Rabata’s current Administrative Director, whose journey with the organization started in the Fall of 2012 when she joined the pilot Ribaat Academic Institute class, Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), as a student. She later joined Ribaat’s Arabic program as an Arabic conversation teacher in the Fall of 2013 until the launch of the new Arabic program in 2022. Since 2021 she has been working in partnership with the new Arabic program team to support the development and launch of the revamped program.

She has a BA in Arabic Literature and Ijaza (certification) in the 40 Hadith of Imam an-Nawawi. She was born in Damascus, Syria, where she spent 17 years of her youth and worked as an early years ESL teacher. In her free time, she completed various Islamic Studies subjects and shared her knowledge with children, youth, and young women. Her spontaneous move to Minnesota in 2014, led her to Daybreak Bookstore, where she became a loyal volunteer. After two years, she moved to Winnipeg, Canada, where she worked in social programming for 6 years serving newcomer children and families in schools, while maintaining her diligent involvement with Rabata. 

Raghad currently splits her time between Winnipeg, Minnesota, and places around the world that her work and family call her to. She loves starting her day off with a doughnut and a coffee, and keeps a busy social calendar connecting with family and friends. 


Eamaan Rabbat
Director of Education

Eamaan Rabbat was raised in the United States and in Syria, where she benefited from renowned female teachers of the Islamic sciences, including tajwid, sirah, hadith, fiqh, and aqīdah. After moving to the United Arab Emirates, she earned her Bachelor’s in Mass Communications with concentrations in Advertising and Journalism and later earned a Master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration.

Since graduating university, she has dedicated her time to the education and upbringing of children and adults. She has held various positions in educational institutions and schools, and volunteered at various educational centers. She has been honored to serve as director of the Ribaat Academic Institute since its inception in Fall 2013 and presently serves as Rabata’s Education Director.

Afshan Malik
Director of Development

Afshan Malik is a Chicago native turned southern belle who loves Dr. Pepper, afternoon naps, and historical novels. She holds a BA in English Language and Literature and an MA in Nonprofit Management. Afshan is excited to bring her interest in uplifting Muslim women to the work at the global nonprofit Rabata. She is currently the Director of Development at Rabata, working to amplify its mission of positive cultural change.

She is also in the first graduating class from the Ribaat Academic Program and continues to pursue additional Islamic studies certifications under the tutelage of Dr. Tamara Gray. Afshan is the calm eye of the storm in much of what life tosses her way and enjoys soaking up the Texas sun with her husband and five children. She is the author of Pieces, a story of a close-knit family dealing with the struggles of adolescence, mental illness, and change.

Leila Anwar Pačariz
Operations Manager

Anse Leila Anwar Pačariz was born and raised in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she lives and works today. She is a student of knowledge within the traditional circles of Bosnia’s rich heritage and currently studies at the Faculty of Islamic Sciences in Sarajevo.

After more than 15 years of work in the humanitarian field, she now serves as the Operations Manager at Rabata. Anse Leila also runs Rabata’s affiliate in Bosnia, a women’s association called Halka – which means a circle or the traditional Bosnian door opener. The name itself signifies the goals and priorities of Halka: Bringing people together and opening the door for everyone with good intention.

Since 2004, Anse Leila has run Quran classes and has students that she is extremely proud of. Anse Leila began teaching Sira at Ribaat in 2023.

Najiyah Maxfield
Head of Publishing

Najiyah Maxfield is the author of many articles, poems and short stories. Her young adult novel, Sophia’s Journal, is an award-winningtime-travel adventure. Anse Najiyah has taught English and history in the US and the Middle East.

Najiyah is head of publishing at Daybreak Press, Rabata’s non-profit publishing company. She holds a Ribaat Teaching Certificate and a Dare to Lead Certificate. Najiyah teaches two courses with Ribaat: Creative Writing and Public Speaking, in addition to leading Project Lina workshops for convert Muslim women and seminars on the writing craft.

Michelle Sekusky
Rabata Cultural Center Manager

Michelle Sekusky is an Ohio native who came to Islam nine years ago when a World Religions class led her to seek deeper knowledge. Soon after, facing some difficult life trials, she found peace in Islam and eventually embraced the faith. Michelle has been a student of Islamic knowledge under the tutelage of Anse Tamara Gray since 2013 with the Ribaat Academic Institute.

Michelle is also an accomplished songwriter and vocalist. Growing up in Akron, OH, she attended performing arts middle and high schools. From there she continued her studies in Virginia, where she toured the east coast performing classical repertoires. She not only loves to perform, but is an advocate and consumer of the arts. She enjoys traveling, spending time outdoors, reading, writing, and just spending time with people that she loves. Currently she serves as the Editorial Assistant for Daybreak Press Publishing, while also studying Arabic and Quran in Egypt.

Umeda Islamova
Communications Manager

Umeda Islamova was born in Tajikistan and immigrated to Nebraska with her family in 1997. She received her Bachelor’s in Finance and Master’s in Business Administration with a focus on Business Strategy from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Umeda grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and has extensive experience in business ranging from university commercialization where she marketed university researchers’ innovative technologies; a software tech startup which she managed and implemented all across the US; two retail businesses she owned, and business consulting which she had the honor of coaching over 300 businesses.

Umeda founded The Dua Journal, a global Islamic stationery brand as well as an Instagram community in 2017 where she created over 10 types of journals – and sold over 20,000 – geared towards mindfulness and spiritual growth for Muslims. Her work here led her to the discovery of female scholarship and Anse Tamara Gray. Umeda joined the Ribaat Academic Institute in 2018 and became a Rabata volunteer in 2019. In 2021, she joined Rabata full-time as a Communications Manager. She also teaches Rabateens classes and leads planning and journaling sessions for women. She serves on a board of directors for a non-profit providing entrepreneurship education and network for immigrant and refugee women.

Umeda and her husband have twin daughters and a son. She enjoys creative projects, reading, writing, traveling, being out in nature, and spending time with family and friends.

Maha Gaafar
Higher Education Administrator

Anse Maha Gaafar was born in Egypt and grew up in Canada. She is a graduate of Concordia University with a Political Science degree. She also holds the Ribaat Teacher Certification from the Ribaat Academic Institute. Anse Maha studied for 7 years under the teaching and guidance of Anse Hazar Mahayni, quenching her thirst for Islamic knowledge and spiritual upbringing, while enthusiastically dedicating herself to the needs of her local community. In addition to being a Rabata halaqa teacher, Anse Maha regularly teaches at weekend Islamic schools, conducts youth halaqas for pre-teen and teenage girls, and co-leads a local Girl Scouts of America troop.

In 2012, Anse Maha began her journey with Rabata and continued her Islamic studies education at the Ribaat Academic Institute under the tutelage of Dr. Tamara Gray. She has the pleasure of being the Higher Education Administrator at the Ribaat Academic Institute, leading student services teams and supporting the education of thousands of Ribaat students across the globe.

Anse Maha currently resides in Houston, Texas with her husband and children. She is honored to bring Rabata’s mission of positive cultural change wherever she goes and hopes to uplift Muslim women and children to live with joy and faith.

May Gaafar
Ribaat Coordinator

May Gaafar was born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt. Her family immigrated to Canada while in her early teens. She holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Biochemistry. Her studies of the intricacies of nature sparked a deeper love for Allah and His creation. She began to deepen her Islamic knowledge and studied under Anse Hazar Mahayni and Anse Maissa Malki while in Canada.

Since 2013, May has been pursuing her Islamic studies education at the Ribaat Academic Institute under the tutelage of Dr. Tamara Gray. She is now the Registrar and Coordinator at Ribaat.

May now lives in Houston, TX with her husband and 4 children. She is an avid volunteer in her community, at her kid’s elementary school and her local masjid. She leads a local halaqa for middle school girls and Girl Scouts of America troop. She enjoys putting things together from lego sets, to 1000+ piece puzzles, to Ikea furniture.

Asma Alam
Arabic Program Coordinator

Asma Alam was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. She graduated at the top of her class with a Bachelors of Science in Biology from York University while concurrently completing a 2.5 year Arabic language curriculum at the Shariah Program. After moving to the US, Asma continued her pursuit of sacred knowledge at the Institute of Islamic Education in Elgin, Illinois, where she received merit awards in both Arabic and Hadith memorization.

Asma combined her interests in Science and Linguistics by recently completing a second Bachelors in Communication Disorders & Deaf Education with the intent to complete a Masters in Speech & Language Pathology.

Asma has been studying under the tutelage of Anse Dr. Tamara Gray since 2012, while continuing her Islamic Studies coursework at the Ribaat Academic Institute. The work and mission of Rabata is very close to Asma’s heart. She has been a dedicated volunteer and Arabic language instructor, and is grateful to contribute in this role as Arabic Program Coordinator.

Leanna Abdelmaged
RCC Education Administrator
Leanna Abdelmaged was raised in Indiana and has lived in several states and countries overseas. Leanna earned her B.B.A in Finance from Prairie View A & M University and later returned to school at the University of Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ campus for a M.A in Education. She has worked as an educator in both public and private schools for over 15 years in the U.S. and abroad.  She has two adult children and two grandsons.
Since converting to Islam as an adult, Leanna has studied Quran recitation and memorization, Arabic, fiqh, and tafsir. She has attended local masjids and centers in addition to institutes locally and globally including Zaytuna College, Bayyinah, and Ribaat. Leanna enjoys helping Muslim women learn to read the Quran, and she prays that Allah (swt) will bless us all with the Quran as a companion in this life and a witness to our benefit in the next.
Fara Rasiman
Youth Education Administrator

Fara Rasiman was born and mostly raised in beautiful Malaysia, having lived in Australia for a few years in her 20s, before moving back to her home country. Her past works include working in startups, tech, sustainable energy, nonprofit, creatives, and more, but her passion lies in volunteering or working on community projects. She has been volunteering for the past 15 years and started her journey with Rabata as a volunteer. Aside from leading the youth programs at RabaTEENS and Dragonflies, she also serves as the Social Media Coordinator at Rabata.

In her free time, she loves learning about world history and culture, particularly Middle Eastern and Asian, and is fascinated by languages. Outside of Rabata, she also co-founded and runs a community project for Muslim women to gather and have weekly halaqa sessions together and more. All whilst pursuing lifelong-learning of ‘ilm with many amazing and supportive teachers including those at Ribaat Academic Institute. She believes that when it comes to knowledge, everyone should strive to be both student and teacher, which is why Rabata stood out to her, with the women of Rabata not only pursuing scholarly Islamic studies but also working on educating the next generation Muslims at the same time. To be a part of this beautiful team and organization, and to contribute to the work that is being done here is an honor and a blessing that she is very grateful to Allah SWT for.

Alimatunnisa Abdul Ghani
Assistant to Higher Education Administrator

Anse ‘Alimatunnisa Abdul Ghani was born and raised in Singapore. She studied Arabic and Islamic sciences at Madrasah Wak Tanjong Al-Islamiah for 12 years. Afterwards, she traveled to Damascus, Syria once completing her GCE A-Level to pursue her bachelor’s degree from Abu Al Nour University in the Faculty of Islamic Da’wa. Anse ‘Alimah spent four years in Damascus, Syria and one year in Beirut, Lebanon learning from various scholars, both male and female. She considers Damascus her hometown; a place where she found profound spirituality and amazing upbringing. She is now back in her home country Singapore and enjoys sharing the gems she has gained from her teachers with her community. She has experience in teaching Islam to students of various ages and backgrounds, including students with learning differences such as Autism, Down Syndrome and ADHD. She enjoys working with youth and adults alike – those who are new to Islam or learning more about the sacred sciences. Anse Alimah is one of the beloved instructors and tajwid teachers at Ribaat.

Emannuelle Manigat
Convert Care Coordinator

Emmannuelle (Eman) was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. She is a proud child of Haitian immigrants. Eman is the Convert Care Coordinator at Rabata and a graduate of Rabata’s Ribaat Academic Institute where she obtained her Ribaat Islamic Studies Teacher Certification in 2022 under the mentorship of Shayka Dr. Tamara Gray.

In addition to being a Ribaat graduation, she is the Chapter Lead for the Rabata Toronto Chapter where she strives to bring Rabata’s ethos of positive cultural change to her local community. Eman also serves in the steering committee for Black Canadian Muslims, a non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance the lives of Black Canadian Muslims of the African diaspora by reviving a sense of community based on Islamic principles, education, art, and support.

Eman resides in Toronto with her two beloved children and husband. She is currently working on completing her masters degree in Pastoral Studies with a Certification in Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy at the University of Toronto.

Fatima Salaam
Strategic Assistant to Executive Director
Fatima Salaam is a strategist and coach. Her diverse experiences living and working in different cultures and communities such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia have contributed to her ability to connect with people from various backgrounds and create safe spaces for personal and professional growth. Fatima possesses a profound commitment to fostering inclusivity and empowerment.
Fatima started her career in education. First, she was a teacher then a principal, and finally a development director. Later, she became a business owner in the sales and marketing industry. Currently, Fatima is the co-founder and CEO of the Nexus Experience which provides transformative growth experiences and coaching services for educators and schools.
She completed her Bachelor of Arts in English at Spelman College and earned her  Montessori Elementary Credential from the American Montessori Society. She is also certified in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Fatima is the mother of 5 and resides in Georgia. Her interests include reading, traveling, and word puzzles.
Ikram Farah Hussein
Assistant to Executive Director
Maryam Chahine
Daybreak Press Publishing Assistant

Maryam Chahine is a Wisconsin native who has lived in Florida and Oregon during her youth and around the world as an adult, including South Africa, Kuwait, and United Arab Emirates. She hails from an African-American and Palestinian background. She graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Arts and Science and studied some introductory level Islamic science courses online through Ribaat, SeekersGuidance and Qibla, and on the ground in Amman, Jordan where she lived for over 10 years.

Maryam has joined Rabata as a Publishing Assistant and feels blessed to be a part of a beautiful global community of uplifting and inspiring women from diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Besides a passion for traveling, nature, animals and her favorite Turkish historical series Ertugrul, Maryam loves words and has published some of her poems and a flash fiction short story through online literary journals. She currently resides in a lovely small town in Bursa, Turkey with her husband and many plants.

Walaa Abas
Development Assistant

Walaa Abas was born in Damascus Syria, where she earned her degree in chemistry from the university of Damascus. She later moved to Istanbul with her husband and two children where she started a career in teaching English and science. She enjoys learning languages, coffee, and spending time with her friends and family .

Taouba Khelifa
Video Content Specialist

Taouba is an Algerian-born, Saskatchewan-raised community activist, documentary photographer, and filmmaker, of Berber Indigenous descent. Through her camera lens, she has had the opportunity of witnessing human struggle, strength, and spirit. Her interest lies in using storytelling to enrich communities and engage citizens. She currently lives in Canada, but her heart lives around the world.

Hagar Diab
Graphic Designer

Hagar was born in Alexandria, Egypt and immigrated to Columbus, Ohio with her family in 2000. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Design with a major in Industrial Design from The Ohio State University, a Teaching Certification from Ohio Department of Education, as well as TESOL/TESL/TEFL Certification from Oxford Seminars. In 2011, she had the opportunity to study in Hong Kong, China for two months for IDO (International Design Opportunity) with The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. In addition, she has nine years of professional design experience and has been volunteering and teaching (primarily Islamic Studies) for about 13 years. She had the honor to work with students from early elementary to high school age in formal and non-formal teaching settings.

Hagar has launched her own Graphic Design business to help business owners and organizations bring their visions to life. She is extremely passionate about serving the greater Muslim community with the skills she possess.

Besides her passion for teaching and graphic design, she also pursues freelance photography whenever she gets a chance. Hagar enjoys hiking, trying out diverse dishes, reading self help books, and spending quality time with family and friends.

Salma Ali
Rabata Cultural Center Assistant Manager

Salma was born and raised in Minnesota, and is an alumnus of the University of Minnesota where she studied African American & African Studies. After graduating in 2020, she enrolled at Qalam and is now in the Ālamiyyah program. She also serves on the board of Strive Sisterhood as the Executive Assistant. In her free time, Salma enjoys reading, exploring nature, and scrapbooking.

Fartun A Elmi-Jelow
Rabata Cultural Center Store Clerk
Samantha F Sanchez
Rabata Cultural Center Store Clerk
Roda Bile
Rabata Cultural Center Store Clerk
Aisha Sheikhnoor
Rabata Cultural Center Intern

Aisha Sheikhnoor, an 11th-grade student from Higher Ground, is a Somali woman hailing from Minnesota. At the age of 15, she has already developed a profound love and connection with her religion, which led her to join Rabata, an all-Muslim women organization, as her first job. Prior to Rabata, Aisha gained valuable skills through various volunteer experiences.

Within Rabata, Aisha diligently engages with customers and assists in setting up the store for the day. Her ultimate aspiration is to become an optometrist and establish her own clinic in the future. Aisha’s proficiency in social skills and a hint of marketing knowledge will prove beneficial in pursuing her dream career.

During her 9th and 10th years of high school, Aisha excelled academically, achieving the prestigious “A” honor roll for her outstanding performance. In addition to her academic achievements, she actively participates in numerous extracurricular activities and programs such as Youth in Government, Women’s Leadership, and Model UN. Aisha is also a hafidah of the Quran and is currently studying tafsir in Somali.

Outside of her professional and academic pursuits, Aisha finds joy in swimming, playing football, basketball, and other sports-related activities. She also nurtures her hobbies, such as reading books and baking, to fill her leisure time.

Emira Saleh
Rabata Cultural Center Intern

Emira Saleh is a student with a Somali background who is currently in 11th grade, preparing to enter 12th grade at Johnson High School. Alongside her academic endeavors, she actively participates in the Johnson badminton team, where she has cultivated valuable qualities such as teamwork and discipline.

In terms of volunteer experiences, Emira has dedicated her time to assisting students at Farnsworth Elementary School through programs like Pencil Pals and Story Times. She found it deeply fulfilling to support these students in improving their reading and writing skills.

Emira has also secured an internship as an event coordinator at Rabata, an organization committed to empowering women and fostering community. This opportunity perfectly aligns with her aspiration to pursue a career that makes a positive impact on society. She eagerly anticipates contributing to meaningful events and leaving a lasting impression through her work.

Outside of her academic and professional pursuits, Emira finds joy in engaging in various outdoor physical activities. While badminton holds a special place in her heart as her favorite sport, she also enjoys hiking, swimming, and dancing.

Receiving the MVP award in badminton holds immense significance for Emira. She expresses deep gratitude to her teammates for their votes, as their support and recognition fuel her motivation to continue giving her utmost dedication to the sport.

Ridwan Abdisalam
Rabata Cultural Center Intern
Ridwan Abdisalam, originally from South Africa, currently resides in the United States. At 15 years old, she has spent a significant portion of her life in Cape Town before moving to the US when she was 7-8 years old.

Ridwan is currently enrolled in the Minnesota Math and Science Academy, where she is preparing to enter the 11th grade. In the previous academic year, she actively participated in the Student Council, demonstrating her commitment to representing the student body. Additionally, Ridwan dedicated her time and skills to the yearbook committee.

Last year, Ridwan gained valuable experience working at the CommonBonds Youth Program through RightTrack. Her involvement allowed her to improve her communication skills while interacting with children of various age groups. Furthermore, holding a leadership position within the program, Ridwan honed her leadership abilities.

As an upcoming intern, Ridwan is enthusiastic about her role as a store clerk, aiming to enhance her confidence in communicating with unfamiliar individuals. She aspires to develop strong management skills, which will contribute to her personal growth and overall character development.

Throughout her academic journey, Ridwan has achieved notable milestones. She consistently earned a place on the Honor Roll throughout middle school and the first two years of high school. Ridwan’s dedication to environmental awareness earned her an Environment Awareness certificate from the Minnesota Africa Women’s Association (MAWA). Additionally, she was recognized with the Civic Engagement certificate.

Outside of her studies, Ridwan finds joy in reading books and writing poetry. She also enjoys organizing tasks and providing assistance to her family. Ridwan actively participates in various programs offered by her local library, and her passion for photography allows her to capture meaningful moments through her lens.

Hajara Abduljebar
Rabata Cultural Center Intern
Hajara Abduljebar is an American-born individual of Oromo descent, with a passion for her faith and community. Currently attending Higher Ground Academy, Hajara recently completed 8th grade and will be entering 9th grade next year, inshaAllah. While not involved in any extracurricular activities at the moment, she is eager to explore new opportunities.

At the age of 14, this internship marks Hajara’s first professional experience. She is excited to have the opportunity to work on tasks related to her religion and beliefs. As a store clerk, she looks forward to meeting Muslim women from around the world who visit Rabata and is particularly excited about the upcoming events.

Outside of her academic pursuits, Hajara indulges in various personal hobbies. She enjoys playing soccer and takes pleasure in cooking meals for her family. Additionally, she has a deep love for reading and often immerses herself in books.

Through this internship, Hajara aims to contribute her skills and learn from others, while also deepening her connection with her faith and the global Muslim community. Her Oromo heritage is an important part of her identity and influences her perspective on life and her interactions with others.

Hamdi Aden
Rabata Cultural Center Intern

Hamdi Aden is a Somali-American student hailing from Minnesota, currently enrolled as a junior at Higher Ground Academy. Alongside academic pursuits, Hamdi actively engages in various extracurricular activities, including youth in government, model UN, and mock trial. Committed to making a positive impact outside the classroom, she is a dedicated member of the young women’s wellness initiative, striving to promote well-being among her peers.

Driven by a desire to contribute to society, Hamdi has dedicated her time to volunteer work, notably with organizations such as Feed My Starving Children, where she actively supports efforts to provide underprivileged children with access to nutritious meals. Eager to expand her horizons, Hamdi has embraced her first internship opportunity as a store clerk. She looks forward to forging new connections, cultivating leadership skills, and honing her ability to work effectively in a team. Recognizing the value of her internship at Rabata, she acknowledges that the experience will equip her with the essential skills required to pursue a future career in international relations and law.

Hamdi’s passion and commitment extend beyond her academic and professional pursuits. Adept at balancing her interests, she finds joy in swimming, reading books, and engaging in physical activities like running and walking, often in the company of loved ones. Embracing new experiences and exploring diverse interests are sources of inspiration and personal growth for Hamdi, shaping her well-rounded character.

Afnaan Dahir
Rabata Cultural Center Intern
Afnaan, a sophomore attending Como Park Senior High School, hails from Saint Paul, Minnesota, with roots tracing back to Somalia. With a passion for personal growth and cultural engagement, Afnaan has embarked on a new journey as a store clerk at Rabata Cultural Center & Bookshop.

In this pivotal role, Afnaan eagerly anticipates the opportunity to interact with Rabata customers, as it presents an invaluable chance to enhance their communication skills. As a dedicated intern, they are determined to leverage this experience to expand their knowledge and gain valuable insights into the operations of Rabata Cultural Center & Bookshop.

While academics remain a top priority for Afnaan, her interests extend beyond the classroom. She finds solace in the pages of books and enjoys solitary walks. However, Afnaan recognizes the importance of stepping outside her comfort zone and seeks to utilize her time at Rabata to develop the confidence and skills necessary to initiate meaningful conversations with others.

Driven by a desire to broaden her horizons, Afnaan is excited about the personal and professional growth that awaits her at Rabata Cultural Center & Bookshop. With an unwavering commitment to her aspirations, she is poised to make the most of this inaugural internship, embracing new experiences and building connections along the way.

Aminna Syed
Monthly Donor & Legacy Giving Program Officer

Aminna is a fundraising professional with nearly 10 years of experience fundraising in non-profit organizations of all sizes. She specializes in helping organizations diversify and grow revenue and currently works as a consultant for charities looking to increase donations from community fundraising. In her almost decade of work, she has worked at Islamic Relief, ISNA, United Way, and Amnesty International. Aminna is currently work with Rabata to grow their monthly donor program.

Aminna holds a bachelors degree from the University of Toronto and an MA from SOAS University. Outside of fundraising, Aminna enjoys learning languages. She is fluent in English, Arabic, and Pashto, and is working on her Turkish.

Dr. Anna-Maria Ramezanzadeh

Dr. Anna-Maria Ramezanzadeh is a language researcher and curriculum developer with a wealth of experience and expertise in the field of Arabic language studies. She received her doctorate in Education, specializing in Arabic Applied Linguistics, from the University of Oxford, along with her MSc in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition, and a Bachelor’s degree in Arabic and Persian. She is currently working at the University of Oxford’s Department of Education, conducting a review of existing research on the teaching and learning of the Arabic language, having also produced research for the British Council and the AHRC Creative Multilingualism project.

She has taught Arabic at undergraduate and graduate levels at the University of Oxford, as well as the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies and the Department for Continuing Education. Dr. Ramezanzadeh is currently working with Rabata to develop the Ribaat Arabic Language Program with the aim of producing an engaging, effective, and accessible curriculum for those wishing to use the language to access sacred sources.

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