Imam Zaid Shakir
Imam Zaid is amongst the most respected and influential Islamic scholars in the West. As an American Muslim who came of age during the civil rights struggles, he has brought both sensitivity about race and poverty issues and scholarly discipline to his faith-based work.
Born in Berkeley, California, he accepted Islam in 1977 while serving in the United States Air Force. He obtained a BA with honors in International Relations at American University in Washington D.C. and later earned his MA in Political Science at Rutgers University. While at Rutgers, he led a successful campaign for disinvestment from South Africa, and co-founded a local Islamic center, Masjid al-Huda.
After a year of studying Arabic in Cairo, Egypt, he settled in New Haven, Connecticut and continued his community activism, co-founding Masjid al-Islam, the Tri-State Muslim Education Initiative, and the Connecticut Muslim Coordinating Committee. As Imam of Masjid al-Islam from 1988 to 1994 he spearheaded a community renewal and grassroots anti-drug effort, and also taught political science and Arabic at Southern Connecticut State University. He then left for Syria to pursue his studies in the traditional Islamic sciences.
For seven years in Syria, and briefly in Morocco, he immersed himself in an intense study of Arabic, Islamic law, Quranic studies, and spirituality with some of the top Muslim scholars of our age. In 2001, he graduated from Syria’s prestigious Abu Noor University and returned to Connecticut, serving again as the Imam of Masjid al-Islam, and writing and speaking frequently on a host of issues. That same year, his translation from Arabic into English of The Heirs of the Prophets was published by Starlatch Press.
In 2003, he moved to Hayward, California to serve as a scholar-in-residence and lecturer at Zaytuna Institute, where he now teaches courses on Arabic, Islamic law, history, and Islamic spirituality. In 2005, Zaytuna Institute published Scattered Pictures, an anthology of diverse essays penned by Zaid Shakir.
He is a frequent speaker at local and national Muslim events and has emerged as one of the nation’s top Islamic scholars and a voice of conscience for American Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Shaykh Talal Ahdab
Profile coming soon.
Shaykh Ramzy Ajem
Shaykh Abu Shamsudin Ramzy ibn Mahmoud Ajem is of Tunisian descent and was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. In 1995, he left Canada to begin his Islamic studies in Damascus, Syria. He completed the two year pre-college program with honors at Abu-Nur Islamic Institute of Syria. While in Damascus, he had the honor to meet and study with a number of scholars including Sh. Ramadan al-Bouti, Sh. Muhammad al-Yaqoubi, Sh. Abd al-Rahman Kharsa, Sh. Nur al-din Ittir, Sh. Adib Kallas, Sh. Farid al-Jazairi, Sh. Abdul Mu`iz al-Nafti, Sh. Muhammad Kaylash, Sh. Mu’min Al-Annan, and Sh. Jihad Hashim Brown.
In pursuit of the classical Islamic education, Shaykh Ramzy traveled to west Africa, where he was amongst the first westerners to be accepted by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Endowments of Morocco to study at the Ancient Madrasah of Tanalat in the Atlas Mountains of Southern Morocco (Madrassat al-Hajj Muhammad al-Habib). As a full-time student at the school, he studied some of the known texts of the various Islamic sciences under its current director and teacher, Sidi Sheikh al-Haj Muhammad al-Ghali, who is one of the foremost students of its very founder: the famous Shaykh, al-Zahid, al-Wali, and Mujahid Sidi Muhammad al-Habib al-Susi (Allah have mercy on him). After completing basic texts in Grammar, Morphology, Aqida, and Fiqh, he received permission from his teacher Sidi Shaykh al-Haj Muhammad al-Ghali to teach in these fundamental fields of sacred knowledge.
Since his return to Toronto, Canada in 2001, Shaykh Ramzy has been deeply involved in serving the Muslim community. He teaches regularly at Risalah Foundation and at Dar al-Marifa, a program that offers homeschooled children weekday classes in Arabic and Islamic studies. He currently resides in Toronto with his wife and children.
Shaykh Abdullah bin Hamid Ali
Shaykh Abdullah bin Hamid Ali serves as a resident scholar for Zaytuna Institute in Berkeley, California and is the first American to attend and graduate (2001) from the University of Qarawiyyin’s faculty of Shariah in Morocco. He specializes in the Islamic sciences of Fiqh (Jurisprudence), Usul-ul Fiqh (Legal Theory) and Aqeeda (Islamic Doctrine). His intimate knowledge of the Islamic Law has earned him the respect of many of today’s most prominent Eastern and Western scholars of Islam. Prior to traveling overseas to study, he studied in the United States with Imam Aberra of Eritrea, Ustadh Anwar bin Nafea Muhaimin, Ustadh Anas bin Nafea Muhaimin, Dr. Khalid Blankinshiip, The Institute of the Arabic and Islamic Sciences of Fairfax, Virginia, and with other locals of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
During his time in Morocco, he had the good fortune to study with Shaykh Muhammad Al-Ta’wil (Mufti of Fez), Dr. Muhammad Al-Rugi, Shaykh Ghazi al-Husayni (Grand Mufti of Morocco), Shaykh Ahmed Zwietin, Dr. Abdullah Ghaziwi, Ustadh Muhammad Al-‘Alami, Dr. Hasan ‘Azuzi, Ustadh Muhammad Al-Sarrar, Dr. Muhammad ben Jebbour, Dr. Muhammad Abd al-Wahhab Abyat, Ustadh ‘Ashur La’shash, Ustadha Rashida Nasir, Ustadha Na’ima Bennis, and many others.
He is the author of the Muslim Funeral Guide (Lamp Post Productions), The Attributes of God (Amalpress), and over 40 research papers and articles. He served as full-time Islamic chaplain for the State Correctional Institution of Chester, Pennsylvania for five years.
Shaykh Zahir Bacchus
Shaykh Zahir was raised in Toronto and completed a degree in Zoology with a minor in history at the University of Toronto. During his years on campus he was actively involved with the Muslim Student Association assisting in organizing many important events such as hosting the Mayor of Sarajevo during the tumultuous years of genocide against Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovinia. Upon graduation In 1996 he left for Amman, Jordan to study Arabic. The following year he enrolled in the Arabic program at the University of Damascus and it is in Damascus that he would spend the next six years of uninterrupted study. In the years he spent in Damascus, Shaykh Zahir had the blessing of meeting and sitting in the company of some of the premier scholars of Damascus, learning Hanafi fiqh, aqida (science of beliefs), mantiq (logic), usul (critical intellectualism), hadith, and tafsir. Shaykh Zahir is a co-founder/director of the Lote Tree Foundation (an educational initiative). He is also the director of professional development at Razi Inc., a company he co-founded that develops specialized curriculum and professional programs to suit the needs of society.
Ustadha Saiema Syed Din
Ustadha Saiema was born in Toronto, Canada to parents of Pakistani origin. She attended, while doing her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto, fiqh classes taught by Shaykh Talal Ahdab and attended the first Deen Intensive program in Toronto in 1997. She graduated in 1997 from the University of Toronto with an Honours degree in Psychology.
She then left for Damascus to study Arabic and the Islamic Sciences along with her husband, Shaikh Zahir Bacchus. Over the course of six years, she studied the science of Tajweed, Shaf’i fiqh, Arabic grammar, ’Aqeeda, and Methodology of Hadith. She studied under some of the distinguished scholars of Damascus attaining written permission to teach the Islamic sciences.
After completing her studies, she returned back to the University of Toronto and completed the Bachelor of Education program, while teaching various halaqahs in the city. She is currently residing in Brampton with her family where she continues to teach the Islamic Sciences as well as being a full-time teacher in the public school board.
Ustadh Abdul Aziz Pippin
Abdul Aziz Pippin was born and raised in Georgia, where he embraced Islam at the age of fourteen. In 1996, after learning Arabic with local teachers, he left the United States to pursue further Islamic studies in Pakistan, Yemen, Mauritania, and Morocco, covering basic and intermediate texts in grammar, morphology, rhetoric, jurisprudence, legal theory (Usul al-Fiqh), and theology. In 2001, Abdul Aziz returned permenantly to the United States to teach Arabic and Islamic studies at a private school, after which he founded the Salik Institute, a night school program in the Washington, DC area offering multi-layered and holistic Arabic courses for adults. Since 2005, Abdul Aziz has been translating classical and contemporary Arabic texts on theology, jurisprudence, spirituality, Quranic exegesis, and hadith, and has eight translations published and many more forthcoming. He currently resides in Toronto with his wife and two children and continues to teach at Risalah Foundation and Dar al-Ma’rifa.
Shaykh Jawad Qureshi
Shaykh Jawad holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Religious Studies. After completing his MA from the University of Georgia-Athens, he studied shariah sciences in Syria (Damascus and Aleppo) for four years before settling in Chicago where he continues his studies. Shaykh Jawad is also a doctoral student in Islamic Studies at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School.
Shaykh Omar Qureshi
Shaykh Omar completed his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Missouri – Columbia in Microbiology in 1995 and later obtained a M.Ed. in Science Education – Curriculum and Instruction from the same institution. As a teacher in Saudi Arabia, he also studied various Islamic Sciences with Shaykh Abdallah al-Kadi and Shaykh Salman Abu-Ghuddah. He continued his Islamic studies in Damascus, Syria at Ma’had al-Tahdhib wa-l-Ta’lim and privately with local Damascene scholars such as Shaykh Hussain Darwish. Currently Shaykh Omar is an upper school science teacher at Morgan Park Academy in Chicago. In addition to teaching, he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education and Comparative Education at Loyola University Chicago, where he is focusing on Muslim moral educational philosohy. He continues his studies in the Islamic sciences with Dr. Umar F. Abd-Allah and Shaykh Mohammad Amin.
Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Faraz describes himself as a “global nomad”, as he spent his childhood in Canada, England, Egypt, and Spain, before returning to Canada to complete his high school and university studies. Having come from so many places, when he began to reflect on who he was, he discovered the only clear answer was “a Muslim.”
And so began his journey as a student of knowledge. At university, he became active with the Muslim Students Association at a local and national level. He helped develop MSA National’s MSA Starter’s Guide and founded and ran The Muslim Voice, MSA University of Toronto’s magazine, now in its 17th year. He also founded and ran the first online African news service (Africa-N), and worked as an editor on his college paper, The Strand.
Even while completing his Bachelors in Economics and Commerce at the University of Toronto, Shaykh Faraz developed a deep interest in Islamic learning, studying with local scholars such as Shaykh Talal Ahdab and Shaykh Faisal Abdur-Razak. After graduating from the University of Toronto in 1997, he and his wife (Ustadha Shireen Ahmed) travelled to Damascus and then to Amman, where he studied with leading Islamic scholars, including Shaykh Adib Kallas (Allah have mercy upon him), Shaykh Hassaan al-Hindi, Shaykh Muhammad Jumuah, Shaykh Akram Abd al-Wahhab, and Shaykh Nuh Keller. In 2001, Shaykh Faraz began answering questions for his family and friends online; this grew into the Hanafi Fiqh list at Yahoo Groups. On the advice of his teachers, the SunniPath web site was created, which featured both a question/answer service and online Islamic courses.
After ten years overseas, Shaykh Faraz returned to Canada in the Summer of 2007. In May 2008 he founded SeekersGuidance to deal with the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge—both online and on the ground—in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner.
With fellow SeekersGuidance teachers Shaykh Yahya Rhodus and Shaykh Omar Qureshi, Shaykh Faraz hopes to establish a model Islamic seminary that will produce Islamic scholars of the highest caliber, through excellence in teaching, curriculum, spiritual training, and a deep spirit of service—with knowledge of both religion and contemporary social and intellectual realities. Shaykh Faraz also serves as a partner and legal advisor with StraightWay Ethical Advisory.
He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) In 2009, Shaykh Faraz was named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.
His personal interests include reading, both in English and Arabic. He is very interested in management, economics, environmental matters, international development, technology (especially in its social, human, and spiritual impact), law, theology, and spirituality. He loves classical Islamic poetry and singing—but cautions that moderation is needed in listening to even permissible music, as the Qur’an should be given primacy in one’s life over all other interests.
Shaykh Yahya Rhodus
Shaykh Yahya Rhodus was born in America’s Midwest. He became Muslim at the age of 19 in the San Francisco Bay Area and began studying with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and distinguished scholars visiting from Mauritania, Shaykh Khatry and Shaykh Abdullah Ould Ahmadna. In 1998, he left for Mauritania to further his studies of Islamic Sciences. There he spent over a year studying with some of Mauritania’s great scholars, including Shaykh Murabit al-Hajj, one the great scholars of our age. In 2000, he moved to Tarim, Yemen to continue his studies at the prestigious Dar al-Mustafa. There he studied with renowned scholars including Habib `Ali al-Jifry, Habib `Umar bin Hafiz, and other local scholars. In 2005, he returned to the US from his studies overseas to serve as a full-time teacher at Zaytuna Institute until the summer of 2007. To further his studies he then moved back to Tarim, where he currently resides with his family.