Mary Schmidt is the Store Manager for Daybreak Bookstore in Minneapolis, MN. She brings to her work a life-long love of literature as well as a background in English, rhetoric, and writing. She can often be found pondering the nuances of life, petting cute critters, and munching on interesting snacks.
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. 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 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!”
Raghad built the Ribaat Arabic Conversation Program and continues to oversee this department. She has been teaching with Ribaat since its inception in 2013 and also serves as a full-time Settlement Worker in the Seven Oaks School Division in Winnipeg, Canada helping refugee and newcomer students and families.
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.
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. Najiyah teaches two courses with Ribaat: “Public Speaking and Community Outreach” and “Creative Writing: Raising Muslim Women’s Voices”, in addition to periodic webinars on the writing craft.