Our Teachers

Ustadha Eiman Sidky

Ustadha Eiman has studied under Al-Habib Umar bin Hafiz, Habib Ali Aljifri and the Haba’ib of Tarim. She has been actively engaged in dawah and educating Muslims in the United States for the past 15 years. Ustadha Eiman is loved by all those who meet her and has an amazing way of instilling the love of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the hearts. For twenty years, she taught Qur’an and Islamic Studies at the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, Virginia. She continues to teach Seerah and Qur’anic tafseer classes both in the United States and in Egypt.

Ustadha Rania Awaad

Raised in the U.S., Ustadha Rania Awaad began her formal study of the traditional Islamic sciences when her parents permitted her to travel to Damascus, Syria at the age of 14. Her desire to continue studying the Deen resulted in multiple trips back to Damascus, interspersed between her high school, college and medical studies. She was honored to receive Ijaazah (authorization to teach) several branches of the Shari’ah sciences at the hands of many renowned scholars, including many female scholars. She has received Ijaazah to teach Tajwid in both the Hafs and Warsh recitations from the late eminent Syrian scholar, Shaykh Abu Hassan al-Kurdi. In addition to completing several advanced texts of the Shafi’i madhhab, she is licensed to teach texts of Maliki fiqh, Adab and Ihsan. Currently, Ustadha Rania teaches online and local classes for The Rahmah Foundation, Rabata, and is on faculty of Zaytuna College where she teaches courses in Shafi’i fiqh, women’s issues in fiqh, and has helped develop and co-direct the Tajweed and Hifz progam.

Ustadha Rania also a medical doctor with a specialty in Psychiatry. She completed her Psychiatric residency and fellowship training at Stanford University where she is currently on the faculty as a Clinical Instructor in the Stanford Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences department. Her medical interests include addressing mental health care concerns in the Muslim community- particularly that of Muslim women and girls. She has been awarded grants from the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) to conduct research on this topic and has presented her findings at several medical conferences. Other on-going endeavors include the compilation of manuscripts addressing female-related mental health and medical issues from a fiqh-oriented perspective. She currently serves as the Director of the Rahmah Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching Muslim women and girls traditional Islamic knowledge. In this capacity she also heads the Murbbiyah Mentoring Program which trains young women how to teach and mentor Muslim girls and teens. Ustadha Rania is both a wife and a mother; she has been counseling and teaching women classes on Tajwid, Shafi’i Fiqh, Ihsan, marriage and raising children since 1999.

Ustadha Shamira Chothia Ahmed

Born to immigrant parents from South Africa and raised in California’s Central Valley, Shamira Chothia Ahmed is an emerging female scholar of the traditional Islamic sciences. Having graduated as valedictorian from a large public high school, her studies led her — following a brief soul-searching stint at Georgetown University — to seek sacred knowledge from scholars on three continents — Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Shamira attended Dar-ul-Uloom Mu’eenal Islam, a women’s seminary in South Africa, and Jamia Al-Imam Mohammed Zakariyya, one of Britain’s most renowned Islamic universities for women, where she completed the five-year, traditional, “Dars Nizami” curriculum. She studied the authentic ahadith collection of the Sihah Sittah and received her ijaazah (authorization) in Sahih al-Bukhari with experienced Hanafi scholars.

Thereafter, Shamira was able to continue her studies in Damascus, Syria where she obtained an ijaazah in tajwid (cantillation) of the Hafs recitation from the late eminent Syrian scholar, Shaykh Abu Hassan al-Kurdi. In addition, she furthered her Arabic studies at the Abu-Noor Institute and took classes in fiqh (jurisprudence), aqidah (creed) and sirah (prophetic history) at Damascus’s Masjid Zaid.

Since returning to the U.S. in 2005, Shamira has taught Hanafi fiqh for women at the Zaytuna Institute in California and other venues across North America. Privately, she has also held classes in fiqh, tajwid and Qur’anic tafsir (exegesis). In 2008, she earned a Master’s Degree in Demographics and Social Analysis from the University of California at Irvine, focusing on the identity formation of the Muslim-American population.

Shamira is also one of the co-founders of the Rahmah Foundation, an empowering American-based women-to-women organization dedicated to providing qualified scholars to spread fardh al ‘ayn knowledge. Her latest endeavors include her popular “Blessed Birthings” seminar on natural childbirth in Islam, and “Nursing Your Baby Naturally”, a course based on her qualification as a certified lactation educator/counselor. Currently, Shamira is specializing in the detailed rulings of  menstruation, lochia, and abnormal discharge under the direction of Mufti Abdur Rahman Ibn Yusuf Mangera. Shamira is both a wife and mother, and she enjoys giving interactive and uplifting talks to sisters across the U.S.  READ MORE

Ustadha Nawar Taleb-Agha

Born and raised in the Bay Area, California, Nawar Taleb-Agha has always had a passion for the Deen. She graduated from the University of California- Berkeley with a BA in Linguistics. In 2003 she received her ijaza in Tajweed in the Hafs recitation from the late Shaykh Abu Al-Hassan Al-Kurdi (may Allah have Mercy on him.) This then opened the door for her to further her studies in the Islamic Sciences. She embarked on a three year journey to Damascus, Syria where she studied at the Nouriyah Hadith Institute (Madrasat al Hadith al Nooriyah) Uloom al-Hadith, Usool al-Fiqh, Inheritance law and Shamaail of the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam. In Damascus she was also able to study Arabic, Tafsir, and Shafi’i Fiqh at the hands of female scholars. By the Grace of Allah, she then received the prestigious ijaza for the memorization of Quran in the Hafs Recitation from Shaykh Muhammad Nizar al-Kurdi which requires having a thorough understanding of Arabic grammar as well as memorization of the Jazariya Poem of Tajweed rules. Ust. Nawar has taught for the Zaytuna Institute Arabic Intensive and teaches Arabic and Tajweed classes locally. Currently, she is the head teacher for The Rahmah Foundation Girls’ and Women’s Hifdh (memorization) Program. Ustadha Nawar is one of our Qur’an Program teachers.


Past Rahmah Foundation Teachers

Ustadha Sumayyah Waheed

Sumayyah Waheed studied Tajwid in Damascus, Syria, and received her Ijaza to teach the Hafs recitation in 2002 from the late eminent Syrian scholar, Shaikh Abu Hassan al-Kurdi.  She also studied law at UC Berkeley, graduating in 2005.  She currently works at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland.

Ustadha Rana Chawla

Rana Chawla is a professionally trained Mental Health Therapist. She currently holds a position as a Mental Health Specialist where she provides individual and family therapy to children and adolescents. Rana has worked extensively with clients who have suffered from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and child abuse.  She holds a M.A in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver.  Prior to enrolling into the graduate program in Denver she studied Arabic and Tajweed in Syria where she received a license to teach Tajweed in the Hafs recitation from the late Shaykh Abu Hassan Al Kurdi in 2004.  Rana currently resides in the Silicon Valley with her husband and son.

Ustadha Zakiyya Bint Suleiman

Ustadha Zakiyya was born and raised in Zambia, where she completed her secondary education at the International School of Lusaka. Having harbored the quest for Islamic knowledge from a young age, she then traveled to South Africa where she undertook a five-year long intensive program in the traditional Islamic Sciences at Madrasah Mu’einul Islam, a renowned Islamic institute situated in Zakariyyah Park, a suburb approximately 30 kilometers south of Johannesburg. At the hands of many eminent scholars she completed several texts in Hanafi Fiqh, Usool  al fiqh, Aqidah, Hadeeth and Tafseer.  She graduated from the institute in October 2004, receiving ijaazah in Sahih Al Bukhari.  Since then she has taught Tafseer, Hadeeth, Arabic and Tajweed to older girls in the community, and has also been rendering her services to the community maktab (children’s madrasah) where she teaches girls aged from 9-12. Along with that she holds a weekly tafseer program for ladies and is a part of the Muftisays.com Q&A Ulamaa board.  From November 2009 she has been teaching at Jaamia Zainab, a girls institute for tertiary Islamic studies, established and administered under the direct guidance of Maulana Zulfiqar Naqshbandi.

Ustadha Safiyya Bint Ahmad

Ustadha Bint Ahmad is a young female Islamic scholar, teacher, and advisor, born in London, UK. After an intensive study of seven years in Islamic sciences (including Qur’anic exegesis, prophetic traditions, Islamic theology, Islamic jurisprudence) and Arabic language, in 2007 Ustadha completed the ‘ilmiyyah course under the guidance and instruction of Shaykh Muhammad Bilal ibn Isma’il of Madrasah al-Zahra, UK. Upon graduating, Ustadha Bint Ahmad continued studying receiving authorisations (ijazah) in the prophetic traditions (notably the sahih of Imam Bukhari) and Islamic theology. Since graduating Ustadha continues seeking knowledge from various prestigious scholars.

Ustadha delivers inspirational lectures and courses to a range of sisters in masajid, universities and conferences as well as offering advice to sisters. She regularly delivers many short courses, a few include: The Ideal Muslimah, The Path to Paradise, Muslimah Gems and The Wonders of the Heart. Her co-authored booklets include: ‘Al-‘ilm al-nafi’ (beneficial knowledge), A Handbook on Ramadhan and Muslim Student Handbook.  In 2009 Ustadha founded Al Arqam Academy which caters for women who cannot commit to full time study, or live in remote areas and want to further their understanding of the deen. Ustadha strives to help spread the deep pearls of knowledge that are embedded within the Qur’an and sunnah. She focuses on highlighting the importance of Islamic spirituality, morals and social conduct.  At present Ustadha teaches the Islamic sciences and Arabic at Madrasah Al Zahra ‘Ilmiyyah Institute and Al Arqam Academy and she is the main course instructor and author at MH Islamic courses.

Ustadha Mona El-Zankaly

Ustadha Mona El-Zankaly was born in Cairo Egypt, raised in California, a graduate of the University of California Riverside with a bachelors degree in Computer Science and Mathematics. In 1998 Ustadha Mona began seeking sacred knowledge at the Zaytuna Institute in Hayward CA. There she has studied with many eminent scholars, such as Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Khatri, Shaykh Abd Allah b. Bayyah, and Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi. In 2001, she joined Fajr center in Cairo, Egypt to complete a year-long program in Arabic. She then returned to the Zaytuna Institute in 2002 where she studied full time with Shaykh Salik b. Siddina several texts in Maliki fiqh, Aqidah, Hadith, Tafseer and the inward science. In 2004 Ustadha Mona traveled to Damascus, Syria to continue her studies with a focus on Qur’an. While in Damascus, she obtained an Ijaazah to teach Tajwid in the Hafs style from Shaykh Shukry Luhafi. She has also obtained Ijaazah upon hearing the complete recitation of Sahih al-Bukhari, and Muwatta al-Imam Malik from Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi. Under the guide of Imam Zaid Shakir, she then completed the four year Zaytuna Seminary pilot program and received a baccalaureate degree in Islamic Studies in 2008. Ustadha Mona has also attended the Dawra programs in Tarim Yemen where she had the opportunity of learning from the great scholars of Tarim. Ustadha Mona began teaching in 2002 both privately and publicly and has taught for The Zaytuna Institute, Sisters Deen Intensive, Dar al-Zahra, The Rahmah Foundation, and Meadows of al-Mustafa. Currently Ustadha Mona resides in Egypt where she is continuing her studies.

Ustadha Rookeya Kaka

Ustadha Rookeya was born and raised in South Africa. She completed a five-year long intensive program in the traditional Islamic Sciences at a renowned Islamic institute in Gauteng, South Africa. At the hands of many eminent scholars she completed several texts in Hanafi Fiqh, Usool  al fiqh,  Aqidah, Hadeeth and Tafseer.  At the end of the five years  along with receiving ijaazah in Sahih Al Bukhari , she was honoured to complete memorization of the Qur’an.  From 2004-2007 while studying for a Bachelors Degree in Communication and Media studies at the University of South Africa, she taught Qur’an, Fiqh, Islamic History and Hadeeth to young children and teenage girls.  Since 2008 she has been teaching weekly classes in Arabic, Hadeeth and Tafseer to women in South Africa.

Ustadha Roya Ataie

Roya Ataie earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from CSU, East Bay in 2000. For over ten years, she has studied various Islamic sciences under local Bay Area scholars as well as abroad. In 2007, she moved with husband and two young children to Hadramawt, Yemen, where she studied classical Arabic, Fiqh, and Tajweed under some of the most eminent scholars in the world at the prestigious Dar al-Zahra. In December 2008, she received her Ijazah, Tajweed Certification. She has taught various classes ranging from basic Quran reading to advanced Tajweed at the Al Alusi Foundation, San Ramon Valley Islamic Center, and ILM Tree Co-op. Currently, she teaches Islamic Studies and Fard ‘Ayn through the Maktab Project at ILM Tree Co-op, as well as teaching Quran at SRVIC.

Ustadha Fadwa Silmi

Fadwa Silmi received her B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of California in Berkeley in 1997. After teaching in a private elementary school for five years, she returned to academia and received a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education as well as her teaching credential from San Francisco State University in 2004. Fadwa has studied basic and intermediate Maliki Fiqh, Aqeedah, Seerah, Purification of the Heart, Prohibitions of the Tongue, Arabic as well as other courses in Islamic adab at the Zaytuna Institute in Hayward, California from 1997-2005. She has been blessed to study with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Khatri ould Bauba, Shaykh Saleck Ould Sidine as well as other visiting scholars to the Bay Area, and currently studies online with various female scholars including Ustadha Eiman Sidky and Ustadha Mona Elkaff. Fadwa has previously served as the Program Director for the Children’s Quran school at the Zaytuna Institute in Hayward, CA and currently acts as an Educational Consultant and science teacher for Northstar School. Fadwa has taught both Maliki fiqh and Arabic privately. She currently resides in Hayward, California with her husband and three children.