I became Muslim in 2001 and traveled overseas to Amman, Jordan in 2005 where I studied Arabic full-time at Qasid Institute for 21 months. Since then, I have continued my Islamic education through various online learning opportunities such as Sunnipath, Qibla, Toronto Shariah Program, Studio Arabiya, Sibawayh Center, and private lessons with Syed Javed Ali Shah from Mirpur, Pakistan. I am currently in my second year of MDiv studies at TISA, and I also study at Fayda Institute with Shaykh Mujahid Abdul Karim and Basira Education with Shaykh Hamza Karamali. Through TISA and my other studies, I hope to become qualified to teach the Islamic sciences, gain the tools to better serve my local community, conduct sound research in Islamic Studies, and clarify difficult issues. I would like to thank the faculty and staff at TISA, especially Dr. Jones, for their support, guidance, and direction in working towards achieving these goals.
My fellowship for the religious literacy website project allows me to work with Dr. James Jones at TISA as well as professors and graduate students at the Jewish Theological Seminary and SMU Perkins School of Theology to produce a website that presents reliable information about Judaism, Christianity, and Islam from scholars of each religion while promoting a different mindset for religious people in the United States to show how they can work together irrespective of their religious beliefs. Because I have a background in IT and web development, I hope to gain experience in presenting religious content on the web to apply those skills to future projects, insha Allah.
To me, TISA represents a unique opportunity to critically engage Islamic scholarship from both within the Islamic tradition and from the western academy in addition to gaining practical skills in areas such as Islamic chaplaincy and religious leadership. TISA promotes the concept of seeking knowledge as “believing academics”, which allows me to ask challenging questions about my preconceived notions and push the limits of my understanding while at the same time being true to my religious beliefs. I am hopeful that the academic methodology at TISA will, insha Allah, lead to new insights and strengthen my understanding of Islamic knowledge so that I can deliver relevant and beneficial knowledge directly to my community.