Shaykha Fest Speakers

aminah -beverly

Prof. Aminah Beverly McCloud

Dr. McCloud is the Director of the Islamic World Studies Program and professor of Islamic Studies in the Department of Religious Studies at DePaul University. Since 2006 she has directed the nation’s only undergraduate baccalaureate program in Islamic World Studies. During her tenure at DePaul University she founded the Islam in America Conference and established the Islam in America Archives and the Journal of Islamic Law and Culture, of which she is the current Editor in Chief. In addition to her work at the university, she is author of African American Islam, Questions of Faith, and Transnational American Muslims and is working on manuscripts Silks: The Textures of American Muslim Women’s Lives and co-authoring An Introduction to Islam in the 21st century. She has also authored over twenty-five articles on topics ranging from Islamic Law to Muslim women.

Dr. McCloud is a Fulbright Scholar, consultant on Muslim affairs for the courts, a regular reviewer for The Oxford Journal of Islamic Studies, an advisory board member of the Institute for Social and Policy Understanding, and a participant in the Feminist Sexual Ethics Project (Brandeis U). She has received grants for her work from the Ford Foundation, Illinois Humanities Council, Graham Architectural Foundation and the Lilly Foundation. Dr. McCloud has also worked on a number of television projects on Muslims and on task forces for the East West Institute and Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs relating to Islam and Muslims.


Dr. Ingrid Mattson

Dr. Ingrid Mattson is the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. Formerly, she was professor of Islamic Studies, founder of the Islamic Chaplaincy Program and director of the Macdonald Center for Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, CT. She earned her Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago in 1999.

She is the author of The Story of the Qur’an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life, as well as numerous articles exploring the relationship between Islamic law and society, gender and leadership issues in contemporary Muslim communities. From 2006-2010 Dr. Mattson served as President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); she previously served two terms as Vice-President.

Dr. Mattson was born in Canada, where she studied Philosophy at the University of Waterloo, Ontario (B.A. ‘87). From 1987-1988 she lived in Pakistan where she developed and implemented a midwife-training program for Afghan refugee women. Dr. Mattson is frequently consulted by media, government and civic organizations and has served as an expert witness.


Dr. Yamina Mermer

Originally from Algeria, after completing her Ph.D. in Quantum Physics in England Dr. Mermer lived in Turkey for more than a decade before moving to the United States. By then her interest had shifted from the world of physics to the vaster and much more illuminating inner world of the self and Islamic spirituality. This interest led her to undergo intensive training in various disciplines within the Islamic sciences under traditional Islamic scholars. She also did doctoral work in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Indiana University. She has published extensively in several languages on Islam, especially on Quranic Studies, Islamic theology and the relation between religion and science. She taught Arabic and Islamic studies in different universities in the US, her last university position being an Associate Prof. of Islamic Studies, before she dedicated herself to full time non-profit work. She has been offering extensive spiritual counseling and coaching, workshops, classes and retreats.

Dr. Yamina is currently the director of a non-profit Quranic spirituality organization, (which she founded together with Dr. Yazicioglu and others) called Always Receiving Noor. She loves to teach and share with others the Qur’anic wisdom that has enlightened and healed her soul.


Dr. Umeyye Isra Yazicioglu

Dr. Yazicioglu is an Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at the St. Joseph’s University, PA. She is also a founding member of Always Receiving Nur. After studying medical sciences at the Marmara University in Turkey, she embarked on a journey to deepen her understanding of the Islamic Sciences. She earned her MA in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations from Hartford Seminary, CT and then went on to earn her PhD in Religious Studies from University of Virginia. She has also extensively studied with distinguished Islamic scholars on Islamic Theology and Quranic interpretation.

Her research interest includes Classical and Modern Quranic Interpretation, Quranic Theology of B. Said Nursi, the Quran and Science. She has written a number of articles, and a book entitled Understanding Quranic Miracle Stories in the Modern Age (Penn State University Press, 2013). Dr. Yazicioglu is excited about learning about and sharing the beautiful implications of faith in everyday life.


Shaykha Reima Yosif

Sh. Reima Yosif was born and raised in US. She memorized the Qur’an at an early age. She studied Islamic Sciences for over a decade with various traditional scholars from the Middle East. During that time she acquired Ijazat (scholarly licenses) to teach Sahih Bukhari, Muslim, Tafsir of the Qur’an ( including the books of : Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Imam Al-Tabari’s Jami-ul-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Al-Kashaaf by Al-Zamakhshari, Al-Tafsir Al-Kabeer by Al-Razi and Jami’ Al-Ahkaam by Al-Qurtubi). She extensively studied Comparative Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) with special emphasis on women’s Fiqh and compiled various books on Comparative Fiqh. She has extensive experience in translating classical and contemporary Islamic texts from Arabic to English. Amongst them are: Sahih Muslim, Tafsir Ibn Qayyim, Ibn Hazim Al-Anadalusi and Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali’s work.

She earned her undergraduate degree and a graduate diploma in English and Comparative Literature from Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt as well a 4 year diploma in Classical Arabic from American University in Cairo. She is an Ariane de Rothschild Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship and Cross-Cultural Dialogue. As part of the Fellowship she completed Executive Business Education with Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, UK, Essec Business School in France, Johnson Business School, Cornell University, New York. In 2006 she founded a non-profit women’s Foundation called Al-Rawiya which means a female narrator. She introduced unique initiatives such as Shaykha Fest intended to draw attention to and revive the often ignored tradition of female scholarship in historical and contemporary Islamic discourse. As part of her non-profit work she worked on a research project for Religions for Peace USA, commissioned by UNICEF in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

She is a published poet, her first “Diwan” (poetry collection) is called “Kalimaat min Jawf Al-Zaman” (Words from the Enclaves of Time) written in Arabic and published by Daar Alnashr Al-Masriyya (Al-Ahram) in Egypt. Currently she is working on her graduate studies in English Literature. She is the founding president and a faculty at Rawiya College.


Dr. Heba Elkhateeb

Dr. Heba Elkhateeb is regarded as an expert in Arabic Language and Linguistics. She is a former Lecturer in Near Eastern Studies at the Princeton University. She has pioneered a unique comparative and analytical methodology in teaching the Arabic language which aims to uncover the linguistic and cultural connections of Arabic with the English language and other languages. Dr. Elkhateeb utilizes her new paradigm to validate her original linguistic methodology. As a Professor of Arabic with multilingual experience, she taught her students to uncover the shared Arabic roots that exist in English vocabulary as well as other native and learned languages of her students, building on their linguistic competence and facilitating their learning with insightful multilingual/multicultural perspectives.

Dr. Elkhateeb has been teaching the Arabic language at the collegiate level for seventeen years. Before her appointment at Princeton, she founded the Arabic program at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She pioneered the introduction of Arabic language courses at Tennessee State University. She has been involved in the Central Jersey community for many years and teaches courses on Arabic and Islamic studies here at Islamic Society of Central Jersey elsewhere around the country. Currently Dr. Elkhateeb is a professor of English Writing and Translation at Rutgers University in New Jersey.


Mubarakah Ibrahim

Mubarakah Ibrahim is the owner and head trainer of BALANCE fitness Studio for women in New Haven, CT where she offers fitness education, personal training and group fitness classes for women. She is also the founder of Fit Muslimah which organizes The Fit Muslimah Summit. The Fit Muslimah Summit is the only international health and fitness summit for Muslim women which is has been presented in several countries including the U.S. , The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Bermuda.

She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show “Thirty-something in America” and is a referring expert for Prevention Magazine on fitness for women over 40. In her fitness career she has gained a reputation as a leader in innovative fitness for women. Her notoriety includes multiple appearances on ABC affiliate WTNH News Channel 8, CBS radio Affiliate WELI Morning Show and has contributed to Prevention Magazine on an article for fitness for women over 40.

Her fitness education was earned through the internationally recognized Aerobic and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) as a Certified Personal Trainer/Fitness Counselor. She also holds several other certifications, including pre/post natal certification, Group Resistance Training, and both beginner and advanced Mat Science Instructor certifications. Mubarakah lectures, promotes and conducts workshops on alternative health, fitness and healthy living throughout the United States. She is a national speaker and both a published freelance writer and poet.

She is the former president of the New England Muslim Sister Association (NEMSA), Islamic Circle of New England’s (ICNE) first and longest existing umbrella organization for Muslim women. She has lectured on Women in Islam, Muslim youth, and Dowah since the young age of 12 yrs when she was an active member of the NEMSA youth group which promoted “teens giving teens” dowah by going into area high schools talking about Islam. In addition, she lectures, promotes and conducts workshops on alternative health, fitness and healthy living throughout the world.


Rabia Chaudry

Rabia Chaudry is an attorney, President of the Safe Nation Collaborative, National Security Fellow at the New America Foundation, and a senior CVE consultant. As a civically engaged legal practitioner, Rabia has experience in immigration law, civil liberties, and national security.

Her work with the New America Foundation focuses on the empowerment and inclusion of American Muslim communities in the national security realm. Her firm Safe Nation Collaborative works on two fronts: providing CVE and cultural competency training to law enforcement, correctional, and homeland security officials, and providing national security and CVE training to Muslim communities and institutions. Safe Nation’s objective is to equip stakeholders in the CVE effort with the tools and information needed for effective engagement and cooperation. To date, Safe Nation has worked with the US Department of Homeland Security, US Department of Justice, the National Counter Terror Center, the Maryland State Police and Correctional Officer Training Commission, and the DC Metro Police Department.

Rabia is also a Fellow of the Truman National Security Project and a Fellow of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute. In the past she served as the President of the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut, a nonprofit organization committed to coalition building, interfaith relations, and community service. Rabia currently serves on the Board of the ACLU of Maryland, and is part of the National Counter Terror Center’s CVE Leadership Forum.

Rabia is a frequent public speaker on issues related to diaspora Muslim communities, and her writing has appeared in numerous outlets including Time.com, Patheos, the Huffington Post, the Chicago Times, the Hartford Courant, CommonDreams.org, The Truman Project, and The Moderate Voice. She has been a speaker at The Global Counterterrorism Forum, the Islamic Society of North America’s Annual Conference, the Islamic Circle of North America’s Annual Conference, and the 28th Annual Peace, Justice, and Environment Conference as well as dozens of local and regional events.


Amany Killawi

Amany Killawi is the Co-Founder and COO of Launch Good. She is a graduate of the School of Social work at Wayne State University, and founding member of the Detroit Minds and Hearts Fellowship (a program of MAS Youth Detroit), a social incubator where she works with Muslim youth to help them develop and launch their own community initiatives for social justice. She has previously worked with multiple organizations in various capacities. Including the project manager and lead coordinator for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding’s Improving Marriage Outcomes Study, Administrative Director of the American Learning Institute for Muslims, Data Fellow with the The Children’s Center of Michigan, and Youth coordinator at the Michigan Round table for Diversity and Inclusion. When she’s not playing a game of pick up basketball, Amany is quantifying her self development efforts or spending time with her younger sisters. As a youth organizer and macro social worker, she loves the big picture and brings an interesting mix of experience to her work and community.