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Shaykhah Umm Umar, Rabeyah Shad حفظها الله

Rabeyah was born in Louisiana shortly after her father, from Pakistan, completed his Ph.D. in mathematics. Not long after, the family moved to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It was there that she grew up and her passion for Quran was first tapped into as she won many competitions during elementary and high school at Manaarat International. After high school, she went on to study tajweed in depth from her teacher and mentor, Kareema Czerepinski. Rabeyah first memorized the Quran at age 20, and has been invited to judge competitions as well as train others internationally on behalf of Shaykh Abdullah Basfar of the Muslim World League. She taught in the English section of Dar-al-Huda Quran school for ladies in Jeddah for 8 years under the guidance of Shaykha Kareema and also held administrative positions.

In 2013, she earned a bachelor’s in Tafseer and Quranic Studies from the Knowledge International online University (KIU) of Riyadh in the Arabic Medium.

Shaykha Kareema (may Allah protect her) conferred upon Rabeyah ijaazah (license) to teach in the Quran by the common way of reading known as Hafs ‘an Asim min Tareeq al-Shâtibiyyah and ijâzah by way of Hafs ‘an Asim min Tareeq al-Tayyibah with authentic chains of narrations leading to the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

At the insistence of her teacher, sh. Rabeyah studied the famous learning-poems of Shâtibyyah and Durra as part of a four year course under esteemed Shaykha Rehab Shaqaqi, wife of Shaikh Dr. Ayman Rushdi Swayd [may Allah protect them both].  Sh. Umm Umar ultimately went on to obtain ijâzah in the 10 methods of recitation by way of al-Shâtibiyyah and al-Durrah, finishing it on the Day of ‘Arafaat in the Prophet’s Masjid in Medinah, 2012 with Sh. Rehab listening. She also received ijâzah in al-Hâfiz ibn al-Jazari’s Introduction to Tajweed from Sh. Dr. Ayman Swayd, as well as the Shâtibiyyah and Durrah poems from Sh. Kareema.

In 2008, she married Chris, moved to Medinah, and has since taken her teaching online where she continues to teach memorization, tajweed, the Jazariyyah and Shâtibiyyah poems as well as prep students for ijâzah.


Brother Chris Caras حفظه الله                

Brother Chris Caras, who many of his Muslim friends call “Abdul-Haqq”, meaning “slave worshiper of the One True God”, has been a member of the Peoria, IL Muslim community ever since he embraced Islam in October 2001. Brother Chris (or AbdulHaqq) was raised Christian, and previously attended both Lutheran and Greek Orthodox churches. Chris first accepted Islam while a junior in high school, never having met a Muslim before in his life, but mesmerized by what he read in the Quran of concise rich and grand meanings.

He was first given positions of Islamic authority by the Islamic club at Knox College in Galesburg, IL. It was as their imam (spiritual leader) that he decided to pursue an Islamic education. After leaving Knox without graduating, he worked in retail and as a welder while learning Islam with a mentor until he performed “hajj” pilgrimage to Mecca in December 2006. During his pilgrimage, Chris applied for scholarship at the renowned Islamic University of Medina in Saudi Arabia and was subsequently accepted. In Medina 2009, Chris completed a 2-year associate’s degree in Arabic and Islamic studies, during which he memorized the Qur’an. In 2013, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree, with honors, from the college of propagation, theology and history studies at said university, all in the Arabic medium. He is currently pursuing his master’s degree in Islamic Law from the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) in Kuala Lumpur.

Are you a student of knowledge? Read Chris’ advice on building a private library. If you’re considering studying Islam at IIUM, read about his observations of Malaysia, IIUM Malaysia experiences (PDF).

Chris has presented about Islam at several venues, including colleges, corporations, religious centers and government facilities. He hopes to provide educational benefit to Muslims wherever he lives.

Outside of Islamic studies, Chris enjoys golf, staying healthy and reading about the physical and social sciences, especially history, religion, and psychology. He has always enjoyed a good relationship with his parents who’ve been together for 40 years—his father, a retired federal judge and mother an RN. Chris has been happily married since November 2008. Both husband and wife are laid back, easy-going and reserved introverts. They have two daughters.

At restaurants, Chris often orders the weirdest thing on the menu. He’s comfortable with his self, valued for his sense of humor, often silly, and likes to make people comfortable, but hates small talk. He’s an idealist, fantasizes about being a homicide detective and votes independent. One of his core motivating values is being well-acquainted with his surroundings, the world and people, to better empathize and not be “in the dark”. Hence, Chris is passionate about networking, in spite of how bad he is at it. Reach out and say “hi”!