Imam Van Ael traveled the world to seek knowledge and gained ijazah (teaching licenses) in various disciplines from scholars from Sudan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Jordan (where he received ijazah from the Grand Mufti of Amman to give religious verdicts).
You can visit Imam Van Ael’s website here.
Shaykh Ahmed Mohamed Saad Al-Maliki Al-Azhari Al-Hasani was born into a family of scholars whose lineage goes back to the Prophet ﷺ through his grandson Al-Hasan ibn Ali (radia Allahu anhu) in north Egypt. Following the family tradition, Shaykh Saad completed the memorisation of the Holy Qur’an at the age of ten at the hands of his father and studied basic Arabic and Islamic sciences with focus on the sciences of Arabic language (‘Ulum Al-‘Arabiyyah) before enrolling into Al-Azhar system of schools where he studied from 1988 to 2004 graduating with a B.A. Honours in Islamic Studies in English and finishing his post graduate years. Shaykh Saad delivered his first Khutbah at the age of 15, led his first prayer at the age of 13 and since then, he has been involved in Da’wah work and spreading traditional Islamic knowledge. Shaykh Saad was a guest of the ministry of Hajj amongst a selected delegation of 10 Egyptian students in 2000. During the visit, he performed Hajj alongside other selected students from Egypt, Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia and Nigeria. They had the opportunity to meet leading Muslim scholars and engage in dialogue about the future of young Muslims.
Following his graduation, Shaykh Saad toured the world as an Imam, speaker, lecturer and teacher. He was visited Canada, Malaysia, Germany, USA, Sweden, Turkey, Singapore, India, Qatar, Argentina, Australia, Uruguay, Spain, Indonesia, Austria, Norway, South Africa and many other countries. In 2005, Shaykh Saad participated in the Religious Pluralism Institute in University of California – Santa Barbara as a Fulbright Scholar. He also participated in the University of Erfurt Islam in the West program in the summer of 2004. Shaykh Saad led Tarawih prayer since 1994 in different parts of the world including Calgary Islamic Center, East London Mosque, North London Central Mosque, Palmers Green Mosque, Seekers-hub, Pinelands Masjid Cape Town, Center for Spirituality & Cultural Advancement-UK and many mosque in Egypt prior to that.
Alongside with his academic studies, Sheikh Saad studied traditional Islamic sciences at the hands of senior scholars and specialists in Egypt, the most notable of whom is his late father Shaykh Muhammad Saad, Habib Abu Bakr Al-‘Adni bin ‘Ali Al-Mashhur and the Grand Mufti of Egypt Sheikh Ali Gom’ah.
He memorised Riyadus-Salihin of Imam An-Nawawi in hadith at the age of 15 and Alfiyat Ibn Malik in grammar at the age of 13 and committed to memory thousands of lines of poetry and prose. He has memorised texts on logic, tajwid, aqidah, morphology, rhetoric and many other sciences. Shaykh Saad studied both Shaf’i and Maliki madhhabs and practices the school of Imam Malik.
In the narration of Hafs from ‘Asim, Shaykh Saad holds one of the highest chains nowadays for his peers, there is 29 people between the Prophet ﷺ and him. He also holds ijazāt in Warsh and Qalūn from Nafi’ and the recitation of Hamzah. Amongst his shyūkh in Qira’at are: Shaykh Dr. Ayman Suwaid, Shaykh Ali An-Nahhas, Shaykh Shibl Matar, Shaykh Abdel-Basit Hashim, Shaykh Abdel-Fattah Madkour (the last living student of Shaykh Ali Ad-Dabba’ and the colleague of Shaykh Al-Husari).
Shaykh Saad has also got Ijazahs in the books of hadith, the musalsalat, Shafi’ī and Malikī Fiqh and and many other ‘ulūm. He counts among his teachers: the former Grand Mufti of Egypt Imam Shaykh Ali Gom’ah, Shaykh Ahmed Ali As-Surti (India), Shaykh Yahya Al-Mulla (Al-Ahsa), Shaykh Muhammad Abdel-Ba’ith Al-Kittani (Alexandria), Habib ‘Umar bin Hafiz (Yemen), Shaykh Muhammad Sadiq Al-Alawi, Shaykh Yahya Al-Ghawthani (Madinah), Habib Muhammad Sa’ied Al-Beidh, Habib Abu Bakr Al-Mashhūr, Habib Zayn bin Summit, Shaykh Muhammad Al-Baqqali, Shaykh Subhi As-Samurra’i (Iraq), Shaykh Abdur-Rahman Al-Kittani (Morocco) Shaykh Ahmed Sharif Al-Manbiji (Syria), Dr. Abdel-Fattah Al-Bizm (Mufti of Damascus), Shaykh Abdel-Hamid Mubarak Āl Al-Shaykh Mubarak (the Shaykh of Malikiyyah in Ahsa), Shaykh Dr. Muhammad Abdel-Samad Mehanna and many others.
Shaykh Saad loves poetry and writes it frequently mainly in Arabic and sometimes in English. He has published an anthology of his poetry and some other books including ‘Contemplating the Qur’an’. Shaykh Saad is the founder and director of the UK-based Ihsan Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies. He currently resides in the UK and travels internationally.
Shaykh Ridhwan studied with world renowned scholars, including Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Saeed Ramadan Al-Bouti and many others. He has formal Ijaza to teach all revealed and rational Islamic sciences.
Sohail Hanif works on Islamic legal theory, with a focus on the Ḥanafī school of law. He received a MA and DPhil from the University of Oxford. His doctoral thesis, A Theory of Early Classical Ḥanafism: Legal Epistemology in the Hidāyah of Burhān al-Dīn ‘Alī ibn Abī Bakr al-Marghīnānī (d. 593/1197), studies the interplay of rationality and tradition in a major work of legal commentary. Sohail has also spent over a decade in Jordan where he studied a full curriculum of Islamic sciences with traditional ‘ulamā’. He was previously Head of Arabic Sciences at Qasid Arabic institute in Amman, an instructor in Islamic studies at Qibla online academy, and has taught undergraduate classes on Modern Islam and Qur’anic studies at the University of Oxford. He has also served as Head of Research and Development at the National Zakat Foundation. He is currently Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Cambridge Muslim College.
Dr Talal Al-Azem is the Mohammed Noah Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, where he also serves as Fellow Librarian. His research focuses on social and intellectual history of the Muslim world, with particular attention to institutions of law and learning in the medieval and early modern Near East. His first book, Rule-Formulation and Binding Precedent in the Madhhab-Law Tradition: Ibn Quṭlūbughā’s Commentary on the Compendium of Quduri (Leiden: Brill, 2016) argues for a single jurisprudential tradition underpinning the four post-classical Sunni schools of law, and demonstrates how this tradition facilitated both continuity and legal change while serving as the basis of a pluralistic judicial system in Mamluk Egypt. His current book project is a critical edition of a biographical dictionary of late medieval Damascus, through which he studies both the socio-urban and educational history of the city on the eve of the Ottoman conquest.
Dr Al-Azem received his MSt (distinction) and DPhil from the University of Oxford, Faculty of Oriental Studies in 2011. He obtained his BA in history and Near Eastern studies from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Before joining the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, he was lecturer in Islamic history at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, and was awarded a Junior Research Fellowship at Pembroke College, Oxford. From 2014-15, he was a research officer on the ERC-funded IMPAcT (Islamic philosophy and theology) project.
Born and raised in London, Umair began his studies by completing a diploma in literary Arabic from Birbeck College University of London, passing with a distinction. He then spent a summer in Syria at the Ma’had al-Aminiya enrolled in their summer program. Some 2 years later, an opportunity came up to travel to the blessed city of Cairo, Egypt. There he completed the Arabic language programme at the al-Fajr Centre for Arabic Language. For the past 14 yrs, Umair has studied a wide syllabus of classical Islamic texts with different UK based scholars, one of whom is Shaykh Ridhwan Saleem. He has received formal written Ijaza to teach the Islamic sciences. He currently works in the healthcare sector and resides in West London with his wife and 3 children.
Ustadh Faisal graduated from Cardiff University in 2000 majoring in Psycholinguistics, studying disciplines including sociolinguistics, pragmatics, semiotics, discourse analysis, morphology and equivocation. He then completed his MSc in Information Systems from Brunel University in 2001. Faisal also completed Arabic Language & Literature from SOAS University of London.
During his studies, he had the blessing of traveling to Zaytuna College California, completing summer courses under luminaries including Shakyh Hamza Yusuf, Shakyh Muhammad Al-Yakoubi, Imam Zaid and Shakyh Abdallah al-Kadi (May Allah protect them all).
Since 2005, he has been studying various Islamic sciences including Jurisprudence, Principles of Jurisprudence, Theology, Hadith, Exegesis of Quran and Inheritance Law under the hand of Sheikh Dr Ridhwan Saleem.
Over the years on several occasions he has had the blessing to travel to Jordan and privileged opportunity to have regular lessons with a number of scholars. These have included Sheikh Salah Al-Kurdi, Sheikh Faraz Rabbani, Sheikh Abdullah Adel, Sheikh Nuh Keller and Sheikh Dr Ashraf Muneeb amongst others (May Allah protect them and raise them in rank and station). He continues his studies online with scholars from across the World.
Faisal has a 25 year commercial track record. He worked for an aviation and space consultancy in London covering French, German, Swiss, and Scandinavian financial markets. His mercantile expertise and experience includes his former roles as UK Commercial Director for UNS Fine Crafts and UK Sales Director for Islamica Magazine. More recently he works within the IT sector for a leading multinational. He is one of the founding trustees for the Lady Nafisa Secondary School , Ha Meem Foundation and the London College of Islamic Studies.
Shaykh Faiz began his religious education in 1998 in Damascus, Syria focusing primarily on Arabic language.In 2001 he furthered his studies in the Dar al-Mustafa seminary, Yemen, in both the core curriculum and private study. His teachers include Shaykh Salim Khatib, Habib Kazim Saqqaf, Habib Hashim b. Sahl, Shaykh Muhammad Amin Abuh Chinquite and Habib Umar b. Hafiz. In 2009 he helped establish the Ribat Institute focusing on educational & community projects including forming a partnership with the Ihsan Foundation in Sierra Leone, West Africa. He regularly lectures for a number of initiatives across the UK, and has experience as a project worker for with long-term sufferers of mental illnesses in inner London. Additionally from 2009-2018 he served as the Imam to Broadmoor Hospital working with some of the most challenging inmates in the UK.
Sheikh Thaqib Mahmood is a traditionally-trained Muslim scholar and instructor in Arabic. He has studied the traditional Islamic disciplines in Yemen, Syria, the UK, Mauritania, and Turkey. He currently teaches Arabic at the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford. He holds a PGDIP in Arabic teaching from the School of Oriental and African Studies, and is completing a Master’s degree in linguistics at the same institution .Sheikh Thaqib is a senior visiting scholar at the London College of Islamic Studies and regularly teaches as a resident scholar at the Wilaya Trust in Oxford.
Anse Dr. Tamara Gray is the founder of Rabata, an organization dedicated to promoting positive cultural change through creative educational experiences. She holds a doctorate in leadership from the University of St. Thomas, a master’s degree in Curriculum Theory and Instruction from Temple University, and spent twenty years studying traditional and classical Islamic sciences, Quran, and Arabic in Damascus, Syria.
Dr. Gray worked in the field of education for twenty-five years before moving into the non-profit world. She is now both the Executive Director of Rabata and its Chief Spirituality Officer. Her work includes the daily nitty gritty of project design as well as the support and mentorship of hundreds of women around the world.
Dr. Gray is also an author, translator, and public speaker. Her publications range from several culturally appropriate English language curriculum programs to translations of sacred texts. Dr. Tamara’s most recent work is the translation of Mukhtasir al-Jami’ fi al-Sīra al-Nabawiyya by Samīra Zayid [Compendium of the Collection of Sources on al-Sīra al-Nabawiyya] (Co-translator). Her book, Joy Jots: Exercises for a Happy Heart, is in its second print. Dr. Gray is often engaged to speak about issues of gender, leadership, Islam, and spirituality; locally, nationally and globally. Some of her platforms have included, the International Leadership Association, the World Parliament of Religions, the Islamic Society of North America and several universities, including Princeton, Virginia Tech and Oxford University.
She sits on the board of the Collegeville Institute’s Inter-religious Fellows Program, working to develop educational programming for faith leaders around social justice issues and on the academic council of The Islamic Seminary of America where she is also a faculty member. She serves as a council member at the Fiqh Council of North America and Senior Fellow at the Yaqeen Institute.
Dr. Gray lives in Minnesota where she enjoys coffee, the seasons, and her grandchildren.