Arwa Ghabra is a thirty-five-year old pharmacist currently residing in Elkridge, Maryland, with her husband and two children. She grew up in the small town of Princeton, West Virginia, but travelled often with her family to Syria, where she studied Arabic, Quran, Hadith and Fiqh. At age 17, she received her ijaza in Quranic recitation from Sheikh Al-Kurdi (may Allah have mercy on him). Arwa also studied in the Nuriya School of Hadith while in Damascus. She currently volunteers as a tajwid teacher in the Ribaat Academic Institute and leads the Rabata DMV Chapter.
In 2012, Arwa was one of the first Ribaat students to join the pilot Companions course. She was living in Dubai, UAE, at that time with a newborn. “I was struggling to find places where I could continue my Islamic learning,” recalls Arwa. “Most places were not very welcoming of women bringing their children with them, and I didn’t really feel like I belonged in most gatherings. I immediately felt like I found a place where I could continue my learning at my own pace and on my own time. I also met Anse Eamaan Rabbat in Dubai, where she recruited me to be a tajwid teacher and pushed me to keep working hard in my classes.”
Thus far, Arwa has taken almost 20 Ribaat classes and workshops and attended 3 retreats. All of these experiences have been enlightening and spiritually-uplifting for her. Arwa appreciates the knowledge and passion that Ribaat teachers share with their students.
“The Ribaat teachers have taught me so many valuable lessons, and I’ve learned and grown with my Ribaat sisters,” Arwa shares. “As an American Muslim who grew up in rural America, I never felt like I belonged anywhere. However, I am learning and growing together with this community of Ribaat women. The classes, workshops and retreats have given me so much knowledge, have helped me grow spiritually, and have given me lifelong sisters and friends, who I love with all my heart.”
Arwa shares that she sometimes finds it easy to forget her goal in life when there are family and work responsibilities, but that Ribaat has kept her grounded.
“Some semesters I’m only able to take one class and may not even end up finishing it,” says Arwa, “but that knowledge and connection with a teacher has kept me on track when I start to drift. My advice to my Ribaat sisters is to take some time for yourself, no matter how busy you are. Try to focus on your own knowledge and spiritual growth, because you can’t pour from an empty cup.”
With this goal in mind, Arwa hopes to eventually graduate with the Ribaat Teacher Certification and use it to serve her community. She is a lover of coffee, chocolate, the beach, and the fall season with all its beautiful colors. In her free time, Arwa enjoys nature walks, spending time with family and friends, reading, and watching movies.