SHAYKH RAMI NSOUR, FOUNDING DIRECTOR

 

Rami Nsour spent a number of years in Mauritania where he studied at some of the foremost Islamic Colleges (mahdaras).  He completed studies in various subjects Islamic studies and received traditional teaching license (ijaza) to transmit what he learned. In addition to his extensive study of Islamic law (fiqh), he was afforded an extraordinary ‘in-residence’ experience to train in answering questions (fatwa) of Islamic faith, law and practice.

 

Rami has translated traditional Islamic texts, done extensive spiritual counseling and public speaking, and teaches regularly both in-person and online.  He co-founded the Tayba Foundation, which is the first organization to offer a distance-learning program in Islamic Education to incarcerated men and women in the United States.  He has extensive experience in curriculum development, specifically with character (akhlaq).  Rami holds a B.A. in Human Development with a focus on Early Childhood and a M.A. in Educational Psychology.  Rami resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and three children.

NABIL AFIFI, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT & FUNDRAISING COORDINATOR

 

Working closely with the Tayba’s staff and volunteers, Nabil helps Tayba  succeed by implementing and improving existing programs as well as new ones. He also helps develop fundraising activity plans and strategies to increase contributions. Nabil holds a Masters in Public Administration from CSUEB with many years of experience in both business and nonprofit settings. Also, he studied sacred knowledge for 4 years in the seminary of Murabit al Hajj in Mauritania.

 

Nabil is originally from Morocco, is married and has 3 children. About working in Tayba he enjoys supporting Muslim inmates and their spiritual needs and says “I pray to Allah that He accepts our work…Ameen…At the end that is all what matters.” Nabil is the Co-Founder of Tayba Foundation.

ISA AMEZQUITA, OFFICE MANAGER

 

“Whoever knows God is only made happy by Him” Junaid, d.909ce

 

Isa Abdullah Amezquita, a Latino and Oakland California native is the current office manager for the Tayba Foundation. He converted to Islam over 20 years ago. During his early adulthood he was a manager for a Fortune 500 Sports and Entertainment Company. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to own and manage businesses in music, clothing and a custom wheel and tire shop.

 

While incarcerated in the California prison system, Isa became affiliated with the Tayba Foundation. It was there that he met one of Tayba’s long time and most successful students who encouraged Isa to study traditional Islam through the Madhara system. Isa continues to study and memorize classical texts in Fiqh and Aqida. He is currently working on a book entitled “1001 Questions with the Sheikh” which will address the most extensive concerns of the incarcerated Muslim’s day-to- day life.

MICHELLE HARMER (KHADIJA), ACADEMIC ADMINISTRATOR

 

Michelle Harmer serves as the role as Academy Administrator involves managing the development of the unique Islamic studies curriculum that Tayba o to incarcerated men and women. As a part of helping students attain success with Tayba, Michelle is working on developing student tracking, and implementing best practice in all aspects of Tayba’s courses.  also lends a hand in other Tayba projects including development and outreach.

 

Michelle holds a BA (Hons) in Retail Marketing and a Professional Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (UK).  As a retail marketing graduate, Michelle has five years experience in both business-to-business and consumer marketing and PR.  She brings an additional six years experience from the nonprofit sector.

 

Michelle is originally from Britain and embraced Islam in 2004.  She is married, has one child and currently lives in Toronto, Canada.  About working with Tayba she says, “Personally, the work is a means through which I hope to please Allah’s beloved (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and thus have him acknowledge me, insha Allah.  I support the work Tayba does as I believe it is a sincere effort to improve the lives of our students, those around them, and their communities. Tayba is delivering to these students what they need, that is reliable, practical education in a highly accessible form.”

JAWAD PIOREK, SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER

 

Jawad develops and maintains several media outlets for Tayba including the Facebook page and website. He has built several blogs and maintains several Facebook pages Jawad holds a degree in IT from France and his professional background is in IT and has worked in this field for the past 10 years, in Europe and Canada.

 

He has extensive experience in translating Islamic educational material from English to French including several articles for dawa purpose and legal answers. He has worked with a charity association in Montreal and has translated some parts of their website  into French.  He has also organized educational programs for fiqh in Montreal, Canada.  Born and raised in France to a Catholic family, he converted to Islam in 2004, after spending several months in Morocco, searching for the true path. He enjoys spending time with family, studying the Islamic sciences, learning the Arabic language, reading, blogging, technologies and travelling. Jawad is married and has 2 children.

 

About his work Tayba Jawad says, “Working with Tayba Foundation give me the possibility to serve an amazing cause. In fact, helping the Muslims inmates, motivated (unfortunately more motivated than the vast majority of Muslims living in freedom) to learn the traditional Islamic sciences in jail, are examples for me. I’m very impressed by them. Even if they are struggling out there and are often forsaken by our community, they have still this deep desire to learn their deen. One of reason why I became muslim was because of Malcolm X and I know for sure that behind all these bars there are new Malcolm ready to get out of these jail, to spread the true message of Islam like Malcolm did it in America.”

WALEED RAJABALLY, PODCAST CONSULTING

 

In college, Waleed was heavily involved in various forms of community service. He served as a tutor and teacher’s assistant at educational programs in San Francisco, Oakland, and Woodland, catering to at-risk children. He also founded a social justice organization on campus called Student Activists United and interned for the Sacramento Green Party of CA. After graduating he entered into the public health field, working for 2 1/2 years, most notably at the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic. In addition to working at the Tayba Foundation, he is currently a research assistant at Cal State East Bay. Waleed enjoys reading, soccer, and boxing.

 

About the work at Tayba he says, “The Tayba Foundation is unique in that it is a service that has a broad scope of influence in the greater community. As someone who advocates for social justice issues, I find this aspect of Tayba very appealing. The Tayba Foundation uses sacred knowledge as a means of transformation for individuals who impart a positive influence on their respective communities.”

LUMUMBA SHAKUR,  FULL-TIME TEACHER

 

Lumumba Shakur works as an instructor, helps with course development and questions submitted by the students. He converted to Islam in 1997 just before heading off to college. After struggling a bit to figure things out, he was introduced to classical Islam and began his studies at the hands of a fellow convert who was training under scholars in Morocco. Because of the lack of resources in his local area, Lumumba transitioned to online/distance learning through organizations like SunniPath (now “Qibla for the Islamic Sciences”) and SeekersGuidance, while continuing to keep contact with his initial teacher and the network that relationship afforded him. He also volunteered for a number of years for Lamppost Productions, a publishing house for the writings and lectures of Shaykh Abdullah bin Hamid Ali, until Shaykh Abdullah moved to California and became a full-time instructor at Zaytuna College.

 

He studied a number of beginning texts in the disciplines of fiqh, usul, hadith, aqida and logic; all the while supplementing his learning through personal readings, private conversations, and weekend knowledge retreats. He eventually became a volunteer Teaching Assistant at SeekersHub Online, which is how he first met Shaykh Rami Nsour. Over the past few years, Lumumba has been a Teaching Assistant for Shaykh Rami, helping to answer questions posed by his fellow students and assisting Shaykh Rami with the nuts and bolts of the course.

 

Lumumba brings that unconventional learning experience to Tayba Foundation. Because of the manner in which he has studied, he understands many of the challenges, frustrations and limitations of distance learning and will, in sha Allah, help bring a unique perspective to Tayba Foundation.

 

About Tayba Foundation and the work they do, he says, “I used to work with youth in residential settings. One of the problems I was routinely faced with were teenage boys who identified as Muslim (many because their fathers converted in prison), but knew almost nothing about the religion. Among the African-American community, Islam has always been respected for its ability to reform and refine the character of people who were failed and neglected by mainstream American society. This includes my parents who had a great deal of respect for people like Malcolm X and perhaps planted the seeds of respect for Islam in my mind that eventually lead to my conversion. I, therefore, am both humbled, honored and excited at being given the opportunity to work with a population of Muslims who are often forgotten, but who have the potential to become the leaders and pillars our community. I hope that my past experience has been a training ground that has been preparing me to help Shaykh Rami and the staff at Tayba in their wonderful effort.”

SARA KURATNIK, ACADEMY ASSISTANT

 

Sara works as Academy Assistant, offering support to Tayba Academy’s projects and initiatives. Part of her work includes improving current course materials and reviewing student assignments.

 

Sara was born to Kashmiri parents in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. At the age of 4, she and her family immigrated to Toronto, Canada, where she has spent most of her life. She graduated with honors from the University of Toronto (St. George Campus) with a major in Russian Language and Literature and a double minor in Italian Language and Linguistics. In her second year of study, she was introduced to the annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit Conference, where she first learned about the Muslim scholarly tradition. Initially on a career track to become a speech-language pathologist, Sara was so affected by the wisdom of the scholars at the conference that she decided to dedicate herself to studying Islamic sciences instead.

 

At Tayba Academy, Sara is grateful for the opportunity to directly help others learn about Allah Most High. “Learning about and [virtually] meeting students of Tayba Academy is deeply inspiring. I’m humbled and awestruck by their diligence, efforts, and gratitude for the opportunity to learn. These are true seekers of knowledge, and reading their stories is like reading the stories of our righteous predecessors who preserved this religion.”

ABDUL MAHAYMIN AL-SALIM, TEACHER

 

`Abdul Muhaymin Al-Salim (Eugene Priester, III) has been a student with the Tayba Foundation since 2013. After converting to Al-Islaam in 2004 `Abdul Muhaymin sought to gain a sound understanding of the Prophetic Model while serving a dual Federal and State sentence. After Eight (8) years at a Federal Institution without any Religious Services Support for the Muslim population he was connected with Shaykh Rami and the Tayba Foundation.  Abdul Muhaymin is from Savannah, Georgia and is currently working on obtaining his Bachelor’s in Psychology, in addition to, furthering his studies of the Islamic Sciences. He has started a non-profit, Al Qiyaamah, Inc. which focuses  on learning opportunities based on the Islamic model, along with Community Development Consulting.  About working with Tayba he says, “Allah, Subhaanahu wa Ta`Aalaa, has granted me a tremendous opportunity to gain redemption from my previous path in life by Blessing me with Al-Islaam, Al Hamdulillah. His Tawfeeq has manifested by connecting me with Shaykh Rami & the Tayba Foundation, Mashaa’Allah, Tabaarakallahu `Alaynaa fee kulli Khayr.——I am here to serve.”