Student of the Month – December

Dorene Alama was born in Minnesota, but has spent most of her life living on the East Coast. She has been in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the past 14 years with her husband and three grown children. She works part time as a high school English teacher and as a registered nurse. Dorene has also been active with da’wah work for the past 10 years and has conducted a weekly group for convert women. She partakes in interfaith work and currently serves on the board of the Mecklenberg Metropolitan Interfaith Network, which represents over 100 houses of faith. Additionally, Dorene is part of a halaqa and outreach committee at her local mosque.

For more than three years now, Dorene has been a student with Ribaat. She was introduced to the program by a local sister in Charlotte, and they both happened to later attend the Ribaat Retreat in New Mexico. 

“I took it as a sign that this was the organization I had been searching for,” Dorene shares. “Ribaat has been truly life-changing for me. I was at a low point in my spiritual life prior to the New Mexico retreat. I was feeling depleted. Additionally, even though I had been a convert for over 20 years, I still did not have the confidence in myself as a Muslim. When I attended the retreat, my soul was overfilled with sisterhood, positivity, prayer, laughter, supplications, tahajjud, and God-consciousness.”

Upon returning home, Dorene felt different inside. She shares that her continued association with Ribaat has only deepened her connection with Allah and Prophet Muhammad (s) as well as with the sisters she has met online and in person in Charlotte. 

“I have also learned so much from each Ribaat teacher that I have encountered in every single class and workshop,” says Dorene. “The level of sincerity and spirituality of these sisters is truly stunning. I look forward to the texts, emails, and WhatsApp postings I read throughout my day. Ribaat acts as my spiritual shield to keep me on the straight path. It elevates me as a Muslim and pushes me to do more by providing spaces that foster growth.”

Dorene is working towards earning her Ribaat Scholar Certification and continuing to further her Arabic studies each semester. 

“I think I have retaken the beginning Arabic classes three times,” Dorene says. “I appreciate that there is no negative judgement from the Ribaat education team, and I get a little more out of it every time.” 

Dorene enjoys spending time with family and friends, sharing a cup of tea with her Muslim sisters, sitting on her porch reading Quran, and exchanging rich ideas and discussions as a teacher or a student. Some of her hobbies include reading, writing, traveling, walking, swimming, and crocheting. She dislikes social injustices, substandard spaces for women in mosques, snakes, and most green vegetables except peas.

“I am a strong believer in intergenerational spaces,” states Dorene. “As I am getting older and entering the last third of my life [God-willing], I want to continue to be a valued member of the sisterhood and not feel as if I am not relevant because of my age. One area that is overlooked in the Muslim community are the seniors. Many faith traditions have phenomenal programming for this age group, but we don’t have this at most of the mosques in the United States. I think this is going to be a focus of mine in the coming years.”

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