Staff

Consultants

Anse Dr. Tamara Gray
Executive Director

Dr. Tamara Gray is a founder of Rabata, an organization dedicated to promoting positive cultural change through creative educational experiences. As executive director, faculty, and chief spirituality officer, she focuses on uplifting Muslim women within community and without. She has a special interest in digital spaces in faith communities.

Dr. Gray 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 in traditional learning spaces studying Islamic sciences, Quran, and Arabic in Damascus, Syria.

Dr. Gray is also an author and translator. Her publications range from several culturally appropriate English language curriculum programs to translations of sacred texts. She has authored two books: Joy Jots: Exercises for a happy heart & Project Lina: Bringing our whole selves to Islam and co-translated the Mukhtasir al-Jami’ fi al-Sīra al-Nabawiyya by Samīra Zayid [Compendium of the Collection of Sources on al-Sīra al-Nabawiyya]. Her third book – about theology and creed – is due out in 2024.

In addition to her work at Rabata, Dr. Gray also serves as both faculty and an academic council member for The Islamic Seminary of America, is a Senior Fellow at the Yaqeen Institute and is a member of the Fiqh council of North America. She has recently taken on the position of Board Chair for the Minnesota Multifaith Network Council.

She is a mother of three, grandmother of two, an avid reader and a lover of cultures, coffee, and road trips.
Raghad Alsayd
Administrative Director

Raghad Alsayd serves as Rabata’s current Administrative Director. She received her bachelor’s in Arabic Literature and an ijāza (certification) in the 40 Hadith of Imam an-Nawawi and the 40 Hadith of Palestine. She has been a dedicated student of Islamic knowledge and Arabic throughout the years, sharing her knowledge with children, youth, and young women.

Born in Damascus, Syria, Raghad spent 17 years of her youth there and worked as an early years ESL teacher. 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.

Her journey with Rabata started in the Fall of 2012 after she joined the pilot Ribaat Academic Institute class, “Companions of the Prophet ﷺ”, 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 currently oversees the Ribaat Arabic Conversation department.

She 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 presently serves as Rabata’s Education Director and previously served as Director of the Ribaat Academic Institute since its inception in Fall 2013. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications with concentrations in Advertising and Journalism and a master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration. For over twenty years, she has dedicated her time to the education and upbringing of children and adults.

Eamaan was raised in the United States and Syria, where she benefited from renowned female teachers of the Islamic fields of study, including tajwīd, sīra, hadīth, fiqh, and ‘aqīda. She currently lives between Minnesota, USA and Dubai.

Over the years, Eamaan held various positions in educational institutions and schools, both as a staff member and volunteer. When Anse Dr. Tamara Gray approached Eamaan about a developing mission to spread positive cultural change through promoting female scholarship, Eamaan did not hesitate. From Rabata’s onset, Eamaan contributed in any and every space to drive the mission forward, and now can be seen carrying it forward in each of the educational initiatives she leads to promote positive cultural change. 

Eamaan also contributes as an Islamic Studies instructor with the Ribaat Academic Institute as well as an instructor with RabaTEENS and leads a Rabata halaqa.

Afshan Malik
Director of Development

Afshan Malik currently serves as Rabata’s Director of Development, and previously as Program Manager from 2017 – 2019. She holds a BA in English Language and Literature from Northeastern Illinois University and an MA in Nonprofit Management from the University of Houston-Downtown. She graduated in 2020 as part of the first Ribaat Academic Institute cohort for the Islamic Studies Teacher Certificate.

In nonprofit work, Afshan always seeks opportunities to expand her skillset, through which she benefits and leads Rabata’s fundraising strategies. With this objective in mind, she received certificates in social media marketing management and in Fundraising Management from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

When not researching grant proposals and writing reports, Afshan likes to indulge in Dr. Pepper, afternoon naps, and historical fiction. She is a Chicago native but currently resides in Houston, Texas with her husband and five children. She is the author of a young adult novel titled Pieces, which tells the story of a close-knit family dealing with the struggles of adolescence, mental illness, and change, published by Daybreak Press. 

Najiyah Maxfield
Head of Publishing

Najiyah Maxfield serves as the Head of Publishing at Daybreak Press, Rabata’s non-profit publishing house. She brings to this role years of experience in editing for Discover: The Magazine for Curious Muslim Kids, as well as experience teaching English and history in the US and the Middle East. Najiyah holds a Ribaat Teaching Certificate and a Dare to Lead Certificate.

Najiyah has authored many articles, poems, and short stories. Her young adult novel, “Sophia’s Journal”, is an award-winning time-travel adventure, for which Daybreak Press also produced a companion curriculum.

Najiyah serves as an instructor at the Ribaat Academic Institute in the areas of writing and public speaking and leads a Rabata halaqa. She also leads workshops and seminars on writing and developing your craft, as well as facilitating Project Lina workshops.

Outside of teaching, writing, and publishing, Najiyah can be found kayaking in the summer, crocheting in the winter, and playing “The Floor is Lava” with her delightful grandkids year-round.

Leila Anwar Pačariz
Operations Manager

Leila Anwar Pačariz serves as the Operations Manager at Rabata, a role she took on after fifteen years of work in the humanitarian field. She graduated from First Bosniak High School and currently studies at the Faculty of Islamic Sciences in Sarajevo. Leila holds an ijāza in Qur’an recitation Hafs ‘an ‘Asim and an ijāza in 40 hadith of Imam Nawawi. 

Leila’s introduction to Rabata came during the Pilgrims at Home competition many years ago. Now, she runs Rabata’s affiliate in Bosnia, a women’s association named Halka – which means circle and is the name for the traditional Bosnian door opener. The word Halka signifies the importance of bringing people together and opening the door for everyone with good intentions. Since 2004, she has continuously run Quran classes in Bosnia, welcoming students who are tremendously passionate about learning the Quran. Together with fellow Rabata and Ribaat enthusiasts, she hosted Anse Dr. Tamara Gray and a few of her students in Sarajevo in 2018.

Leila was born and raised in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she still lives and works today. She is a single mother of two young women. Her eldest is studying to become an agricultural engineer and is planning to help build back the economy of Bosnia. Her younger daughter is in school, working hard and dreaming of becoming a doctor of Sharīʿa, to stand strong with Muslim women on the path of knowledge and independence. Leila enjoys making colorful spreadsheets and reading reports. 

Leila also teaches sīra with the Ribaat Academic Institute, along with leading a Rabata Halaqa.

Maha Gaafar
Higher Education Administrator

Maha Gaafar serves as 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. She graduated from Concordia University with a Political Science degree and studied Islamic science and spiritual tarbiya for 7 years under the tutelage of Anse Hazar Mahayni. 

Maha began her journey with Rabata in 2012 and continued her Islamic studies education at the Ribaat Academic Institute under the guidance of Dr. Tamara Gray, graduating with the first cohort of Islamic Studies Teachers in 2020. Over the years, she put her learning in action by teaching at weekend Islamic schools and currently conducts youth halaqas for pre-teen and teenage girls.

Maha was born in Egypt and grew up in Canada. She currently resides in Houston, Texas with her husband and children, and co-leads a local Girl Scouts of America troop. She enjoys bringing people together over great food and conversation, and uplifting Muslim women wherever she goes.

Michelle Sekusky
Rabata Cultural Center Manager

Michelle Sekusky, an Ohio native, embraced Islam in 2011. In 2013, she enrolled in the Ribaat Academic Institute, studying traditional Islamic education under the guidance of Shaykha Dr. Tamara Gray. Her dedication to the Quran and Arabic led her to reside and study in Egypt for two years. Within the Columbus, Ohio community, Michelle served on the board of the Noor Islamic Cultural Center for four years and actively volunteered with local masjid committees, focusing on religious council, outreach, Islam 101, and youth. There, she also developed a support system for and worked closely with converts for eight years.
As an accomplished songwriter and vocalist, Michelle is known for writing, performing, and conducting workshops across the nation. Her foundation in the performing arts, cultivated during her time in middle and high school, was further enriched by touring during her college years. She is passionate about using music to connect women of all ages to their faith through nasheed and singing. Currently, she is a proud member of the Twin City Women’s Choir and serves on the board of Her Voice Productions.

Residing in Minnesota with her husband, Michelle is the Rabata Cultural Center Manager. She remains an enthusiastic student of the Ribaat Academic Institute and actively teaches for Rabata’s Dragonflies and Rabateens youth programs. She also contributes by supporting Rabata’s Convert Care program, reaching over 2,500 women worldwide. In 2022, she obtained her ijaza (certification) in the 40 Hadith of Imam an-Nawawi. Recently, Michelle joined the speakers of the Islamic Resource Group (IRG), where she educates the wider community about Islam.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Michelle enjoys travel, reading, writing, and cherishing moments with loved ones, particularly in the great outdoors.

 

Umeda Islamova
Communications Manager
Umeda Islamova serves as the current Communications Manager for Rabata. She completed a Bachelor’s in Finance and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Raised in a family of entrepreneurs, Umeda has extensive experience in business, ranging from university commercialization and tech startup to retail and business consulting.

Born in Khujand, Tajikistan, Umeda immigrated to Lincoln, Nebraska with her family in 1997. After exploring different entrepreneurial endeavors, she founded The Dua Journal in 2017, a global Islamic stationery brand as well as an Instagram community. Upon building her brand, she discovered the rich world of Muslim female scholarship and Dr. Anse Tamara Gray. She later joined the Ribaat Academic Institute in 2018 and became a Rabata volunteer in 2019. Umeda joined as a staff member in 2021.

In addition to her full-time responsibilities in Communication, she also serves as a RabaTEENS instructor and Rabata Padawans halaqa teacher. Locally, Umeda can be found running halaqa for Muslim women from the masjid and university community. Her mentorship services are not limited to spiritual spaces. As a fellow at the Center of Entrepreneurship at her local university, she mentors student entrepreneurs.

When she is not working on her brand or devising Rabata’s communications strategies, she likes to indulge in hot drinks, reading, deep conversations, nature walks, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. She and her husband have twin daughters and a son.
May Gaafar
Ribaat Academic Institute 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.

Nawar Taleb-Agha
Ribaat Tajwid Coordinator

Nawar Taleb-Agha serves as Tajwīd Coordinator for the Ribaat Academic Institute. She holds a bachelor’s in Linguistics from University of California at Berkeley and a master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) from San Francisco State University. She has been teaching ESL at local language centers and community colleges since 2013. She also holds multiple certifications in tajwīd.

Born and raised in the Bay Area, California, Nawar was introduced to a tajwīd teacher during her first visit to Syria. She worked swiftly through to receive an ijāza in the Hafs recitation from the late Shaykh Abu Al-Hassan Al-Kurdi (may Allah have mercy on him). While studying tajwīd, she fell in love with Damascus and began to visit more frequently until she moved there for three years to study Arabic, tafsīr, fiqh, hadith sciences, and more.

During her time in Damascus, Nawar also memorized the Quran and received an ijāza from Shaykh Muhammad Nizar al-Kurdi. Nawar has been teaching tajwīd since her first ijāza in 2003. She currently lives in California with her husband and enjoys indoor gardening and crochet.

Emmanuelle Manigat
Convert Care Coordinator

Emmanuelle (Eman) Manigat serves as Rabata’s Convert Care Coordinator. She completed her degree in Languages and Literature from Champlain College, Saint-Lambert in 1997. She then went on to study at the Ribaat Academic Institute where she earned her Ribaat Islamic Studies Teaching Certification in 2022, and continues additional studies presently. Currently, she is pursuing her Masters in Pastoral Studies with a Certification in Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy, from the University of Toronto.

Born and raised in Montreal, Canada, but now calls the city of Toronto home. Emmanuelle is a proud child of Haitian immigrants. Eman is one of the mentors on the popular Muslim Women Convert Circle Facebook page, an exclusive space for convert women of all backgrounds from across the globe. Currently, this virtual space serves over 2,500 convert women.

She also currently serves as 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.

Moreover she is working part time for Ruhcare and Nisa Foundation where she provides counseling and psychotherapy. Eman is a caring friend, dedicated mother, and loving wife who is appreciated by all who know her.

Sarah Olesky
Development Coordinator
Sarah Olesky serves as the Development Coordinator for Rabata. She completed her Bachelor’s in Communications/Professional Writing and is currently pursuing a Master’s in English/Professional Writing and Rhetoric. She also plans to pursue a Teacher Certification through Ribaat.
Sarah lives in NW Ohio with her husband, three children, and cat. When she is not working, studying, or parenting, she enjoys crocheting/knitting, writing stories, and baking bread and other goodies to share with her family.

 

 

 

 

 

Kate Sadeghpour
Publishing Coordinator

Kate Sadeghpour serves as the Publishing Coordinator for Rabata’s Daybreak Press. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Wayne State University and a Master of Arts in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from Eastern Michigan University. 

Originally from a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, Kate now lives in Tampa, Florida, with her husband and two children. Her journey with Rabata began in 2022, shortly after she converted to Islam, when she joined a ‘newcomer’s halaqa’ led by Anse Rydanah Dahman. This experience introduced her to Anse Dr. Marah Dahman, dhikr, qiyams, nasheeds, Anse Dr. Tamara Gray, Ribaat academic courses, the Pilgrims at Home competition—and as the cliché goes, the rest is history. 

Outside of her work at Daybreak Press, Kate can be found walking to the park with her kids, swimming laps at the gym, or listening to an audiobook while cooking dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fara Rasiman
Youth Program Education Administrator

Fara Rasiman serves as Rabata’s Youth Program Education Administrator, which includes the RabaTEENS and Dragonflies programs. Born and raised in beautiful Malaysia, Fara lived in Australia for a few years in her 20s, before moving back to her home country. Seeing herself as a global citizen, Fara has worked in startups, tech, sustainable energy, nonprofits, creatives, and more, with projects across various countries spanning APAC, EU, and North American markets. But her passion lies in volunteering and working on community projects.

In the past 15 years, she has developed and led several youth volunteering programs for the communities she serves in Australia and Malaysia, including for the Cancer Council New South Wales and Habitat for Humanity Australia. She has also done pro-bono work for community groups empowering women and girls through education, including Dr. Bilal Philips’ IOU Sisters Students Community. She also began her journey with Rabata as a volunteer.

Fara studies Islamic studies at the Ribaat Academic Institute and the United Muslims of Australia (UMA)’s Sydney Islamic College. At Rabata, she also volunteers as the Social Media Coordinator and a Ribaat Course Admin. Fara also hosts a halaqah group for Muslim women to gather weekly to learn about the Sira, Tafsir, and Al-Nawawi’s 40 Hadith and Riyad as-Salihin. Today, the group has served more than 100 sisters in Islam globally.

Leanna Abdelmaged
Administrative Coordinator

Leanna Abdelmaged serves as the Administrative Coordinator for Daybreak Press. She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration 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.

Raised in Indiana, Leanna has lived in several states and countries overseas over the years. Since converting to Islam as an adult, Leanna has studied Quran recitation and memorization, Arabic, fiqh, and tafsir. She has attended local mosques and centers in addition to institutes locally and globally including Zaytuna College, Bayyinah, and Ribaat. 

Leanna has two adult children and two grandsons. She enjoys helping Muslim women learn to read the Quran, and she prays that Allah (swt) will bless us all wnith the Quran as a companion in this life and a witness to our benefit in the next.

‘Alimatunnisa Abdul Ghani
Assistant to Higher Education Administrator

‘Alimatunnisa Abdul Ghani serves as Rabata’s Assistance to the Higher Education Administrator. 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.

Born and raised in Singapore, she moved to Damascus for deeper Islamic learning. She 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.

In 2017, upon Anse Tamara’s visit to Singapore,‘Alimatunnisa met Anse Tamara and, soon after, started volunteering with Rabata and Ribaat. She found herself captivated by the supportive sisterhood, the access to female scholarship, and the beautiful Anisaat (teachers). She joined the Rabata staff in 2019.

‘Alimatunnisa 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. ‘Alimatunnisa is one of the beloved instructors and tajwid teachers at Ribaat.

Fatima Salaam
Strategic Assistant to Executive Director

Fatima Salaam serves as Rabata’s Strategic Assistant to the Executive Director. 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 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.

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 is the mother of 5 and resides in Georgia. Her interests include reading, traveling, and word puzzles.

Jessica Hassan
Editorial Assistant

Jessica Hassan serves as Editorial Assistant for Daybreak Press, Rabata’s publishing arm. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Minnesota and an editing certificate from the University of Chicago. She has more than nine years of experience in editing and has worked with Cambridge University Press, Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, Claritas Books, Ruqaya’s Bookshelf, and Qalam Research.

Jessica lives in Minnesota with her husband and two children. When not working, she can be found learning about Islam, reading, or fostering kittens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ikram Farah Hussein
Assistant to Executive Director

Ikram Farah Hussein serves as the Assistant to the Executive Director at Rabata. After a brief hiatus from her academic journey, Ikram aspires to resume her studies at Metro State University, aiming to complete her degree in Business and align her education with her fervor for entrepreneurial ventures. Additionally, Ikram currently is working towards obtaining a Ribaat Teacher Certification with the Ribaat Academic Institute, showcasing her dedication to both educational and community-oriented goals.

A first-generation Somali-American from Saint Paul, Minnesota, Ikram stands as a cornerstone within the team at the Rabata Cultural Center. With a rich background, she has served as the lead store clerk for a commendable two years. Ikram’s multifaceted interests and unwavering commitment make her a valuable asset to our community and a source of inspiration for those around her. Her role as Assistant to the Executive Director underscores her capabilities and dedication to the organization, further enhancing her impact on the local Minnesota community and greater Rabata community.

Outside of her professional roles, Ikram finds joy in exploring the diverse landscapes of the great state of Minnesota. An avid journaler and travel enthusiast, she embraces the opportunity to experience new cultures and perspectives.

Taouba Khelifa
Video Content Specialist

Taouba Khelifa 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.

Lena Zohny
Communications Assistant

Lena Zohny serves as Rabata’s Communications Assistant. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, specialization in International Relations in 2009 from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. During her college years, she dipped her toes into the wide expanse of Islamic knowledge and hoped to continue her studies more seriously one day.

Born and raised in New York, Lena moved to Austin, Texas after marriage. Soon after her move, she worked at a private, non-profit Islamic school for several years in different capacities, where she served as an administrative assistant , taught, and assisted in communications and marketing.

In 2018, while on a tour spreading joyful faith, Anse Tamara and her group stopped in Austin, TX. Pregnant with her third child, and first daughter at the time, Lena knew she wanted Rabata and this joy-filled faith as part of her and her daughter’s future experience of Islam. She enrolled in her first Ribaat class the next month, and now hopes to complete her Ribaat Teacher Certification.

Home-educating mom to three, Lena loves spending time in community and contributing where she can. She serves on the board of her local masjid and volunteers with Rabata.

Wasima Farah
Graphic Designer

Wasima Farah serves as a Graphic Designer with Rabata’s Communications Department. She earned her Bachelor’s in Business and Marketing Education from CEHD (College of Education and Human Development) at the University of Minnesota. Since graduation, she has dedicated herself to her crafts and expanded her skill set.

Born and raised in Minnesota, Wasima is not only a graphic designer, but also explores different mediums as a digital artist, painter and filmmaker. With her love for art and film, she started her freelance career as a Graphic Designer in 2017 working with local brands and organizations. She also worked as Creative Director at The Digital Sisterhood and Graphic Designer and Creative Strategist at Soomaal House of Art. Always on the search for opportunities to use her skill set to support Muslim women organizations, Wasima found her way to Rabata.

Wasima’s work is rooted in creating vibrant art centering Muslim women with Islamic core values and perspectives and inspired by our everyday stories. Outside from work, she is an avid fan of sunsets, films, oceans, martial arts, sports and spending time with family and friends.

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 .

Amina F. Sanchez
Rabata Cultural Center Retail Coordinator

Amina Sanchez serves as Rabata Cultural Center’s Retail Coordinator. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Justice and Human Rights from Arizona State University.

Born in Washington, D.C. to parents from Ethiopia and El Salvador, Amina moved to Minnesota at the age of 5. She first discovered RCC by attending a halaqa in 2021 and has been active since through volunteering and attending classes and events at the RCC. She started working as a store clerk in 2022. Before coming to Rabata, she worked at a Social Security Law firm helping people with disabilities and at a school tutoring children in preschool and kindergarten. She recently married and plans to move to Montreal, Canada. 

Her favorite things to do when she is not working at RCC are traveling, watching movies, trying new restaurants, exploring new experiences and reading books. She is a huge lover of animals, especially cats. She is passionate about activism and hopes to change the world for the better for future generations.

She enjoys the RCC book club which has encouraged her to do more reading. Some of her favorite books are With the Heart in Mind: The Moral and Emotional Intelligence of the Prophet , Better not Bitter, The Productive Muslim, Don’t Forget us Here, Beyond Bilal, and Healing the Emptiness.  She loves when people from other states and countries visit the RCC, and she hopes to meet more sisters who are passionate about Islam, activism and education. 

Roda Bile
Rabata Cultural Center Store Clerk
Jijee Ligdi
Rabata Cultural Center Store Clerk

Jijee Ligdi serves as a Rabata Cultural Center Store Clerk.  She is currently studying at the University of Minnesota, in her second year with a major in Philosophy and a minor in Art.

She first discovered Rabata in Ramadan 2022 when attending Tarawih. She instantly fell in love with the mission and community. Since then, she participated in different capacities and served as a volunteer. In August 2023, Jijee gracefully shifted into the Store Clerk role. Since discovering Rabata, she has had the opportunity and blessing to meet many inspirational and accomplished Muslim women.

She enjoys traveling and experiencing new places, reading, and spending time with family and friends. Her favorite book is The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. I have grown tremendously after being a part of Rabata and I hope to continue growing in my faith, community, and knowledge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nurah Muhammad
Rabata Cultural Center Store Clerk

Nurah Muhammad serves as a Rabata Cultural Center Store Clerk. She currently attends High School, and is in 11th Grade.

Nurah stated coming to Rabata with her mother at the age of 9 and has been a member of the community ever since. She enjoys baking, drawing, and playing tennis and couldn’t be more excited to join the RCC team!

 

 

 

Aisha Sheikhnoor
Rabata Cultural Center Store Clerk
Aisha Sheikhnoor serves as a store clerk at the Rabata Cultural Center. 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 her hint of marketing knowledge will prove beneficial in pursuing her dream career.
As a Somali woman hailing from Minnesota, Aisha currently attends Higher Ground Academy. During her time in high school, Aisha has 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.
At the age of 15, she has already developed a profound love and connection with her religion, which led her to join Rabata, an organization run by and for Muslim women, as her first job. Prior to Rabata, Aisha gained valuable skills through various volunteer experiences.
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.
Suad Abdi
Rabata Cultural Center Store Clerk

Suad Abdi serves as a store clerk at the Rabata Cultural Center. She currently attends college where she studies communication and business.

Suad considers it an honor and privilege to serve the community and be a part of the Rabata community. She shares, “I am really passionate about working in an organization that directly serves community needs by making a meaningful impact and a positive difference in the community.

Simultaneous to working at the RCC and studying at the university level, Suad appreciates the opportunities Rabata provides. She has a space to learn more about her religion and deepen her connection and relationship with her deen, improving her life daily.

Hajara Abduljebar
Rabata Cultural Center Intern

Hajara Abduljebar serves as an intern at the Rabata Cultural Center. 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. 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.

Hajera, an American-born individual of Oromo descent, holds 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.

Outside of her academic pursuits, Hajara indulges in various personal hobbies. Her Oromo heritage is an important part of her identity and influences her perspective on life and her interactions with others. She also 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.

Aminna Syed
Monthly Donor & Legacy Giving Program Officer

Aminna Syed 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 serves as Consultant for Arabic language instruction within the Ribaat Academic Institute, with the aim of producing an engaging, effective, and accessible curriculum for those wishing to use the language to access sacred sources. Dr. Anna-Maria 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.

Dr. Anna-Maria currently works in the University of Oxford’s Department of Education. She conducts a review of existing research on the teaching and learning of the Arabic language. She also produced research for the British Council and the AHRC Creative Multilingualism project.

She served as an Arabic instructor 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.

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