Guest Scholars

Imam Zaid Shakir

Imam Zaid Shakir
is a co-founder and senior faculty member of Zaytuna College, the first accredited Islamic liberal arts college located in Berkeley, CA. He has taught courses in Arabic, Islamic history, politics, spirituality, contemporary Muslim thought, and Shafi’i fiqh.

Over the years as a community activist, Imam Zaid co-founded the New Brunswick Islamic Center formerly Masjid al-Huda in NJ., Masjid Al-Islam in New Haven, CT. As Imam of Masjid Al-Islam from 1988 to 1994, he spear- headed a community renewal and grassroots anti-drug effort, the Tri-State Muslim Education Initiative, the Connecticut Muslim Coordinating Committee, and also taught political science and Arabic at Southern Connecticut State University. He served as an interfaith council Chaplain at Yale University and developed the Chaplaincy Sensitivity Training for physicians at Yale New Haven Hospital. In 2007, he co-founded the Lighthouse Mosque, in Oakland, CA.

Imam Zaid holds a B.A., (summa cum laude), International Relations, American University, Washington, DC, B.A., Islamic Law and Arabic Language, Abu Nour University, Damascus, M.A., Political Science, Rutgers University, New Jersey. Diplomas (ijazahs) from Shaykh Abdul Rahman al- Shaghuri (non-philosophy Tasawwuf texts), Shaykh Mustafa al-Turkmani (Islamic Sciences) and Shaykh Muhammad al-Ya'qubi (Islamic Sciences).

Imam Zaid speaks and writes on a wide range of topics and has become a voice of conscience for American Muslims as well as people of other faiths. Trained in both the academic and religious intellectual traditions, he is uniquely qualified as a commentator on the substantial issues of our time. As a compelling force for the improvement of race relations in America, and amongst the most respected global Islamic scholars, The New York Times describes him as a “leading intellectual light”. He has served as an advisor to many organizations and influential leaders.

A gifted author and lecturer, Imam Zaid was ranked as “one of the western world’s most influential Scholars”; by The 500 Most Influential Muslims in 2019. He is a signatory along with religious and spiritual Leaders from around the world who presented the UN Secretary General with a declaration in support of the Paris Climate Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, marking the largest number of nations ever signing an international agreement. He is also one of the signatories of "A Common Word Between Us and You," an open letter by Islamic scholars to Christian leaders that calls for peace and mutual understanding. Inspired to work with religious groups on sustainable living and climate change, he is a Green Faith partner in action for the earth. In 2018, CNN listed Imam Zaid among 25 influential American Muslims.

Shaykh Murabit Benavidez

Shaykh Murabit Benavidez
was raised in a Catholic, Mexican household and embraced Islam at the age of 19. Shortly thereafter, his desire to seek sacred knowledge led him to Syria where he began his studies in Arabic and the Islamic Sciences. In 2002, Shaykh Murabit continued his studies in the deserts of Mauritania, studying Arabic, Fiqh, ʿAqīdah, and Tasawwuf. Some of the eminent scholars Shaykh Murabit studied under include Murabit al-Hajj, Murabit Hadamin bin AbdurRahman, Abdullah bin Ahmad Fal, and Murabit Ahmad Fal bin Ahamadna.

Saaleh Baseer

Ustadh Saaleh Baseer is currently completing his MA in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago while also studying at Darul Qasim.

He holds a BA in Middle Eastern Studies from Columbia University and an ‘alimiyyah degree from Darul Uloom Azaadville in South Africa. His interests include Ottoman and Mughal history.

Ibn Ali Miller

Ibn Ali Miller
was born and raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He is a student of Imam Amin Muhammad from Masjid Muhammad.

Since a viral video in 2017 in which he broke up a fight between two teenagers, he has gone on to become a global motivational speaker and is now one of the most popular black Muslims of America.

Dr. Shadee Elmasry

Dr. Shadee Elmasry
was born and raised in New Jersey. He began studying at the age of eighteen, traveling to a number of countries including Egypt, KSA, Yemen and Morocco.

In addition to traditional learning, Dr. Elmasry has received has an M.A. from The George Washington University and a PhD from the University of London SOAS.

Dr. Elmasry went on to teach at several universities including Yale University, University of London SOAS, Trinity College, Hartford Seminary and Manhattanville College.

Currently, he serves as Scholar in Residence at the New Brunswick Islamic Center in New Jersey. He is also the founder and head of Safina Society—an institution dedicated to the cause of traditional Islamic education in the West.

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

One of the well-respected Muslim scholars in the Western world, Shaykh Yahya has spent the best part of two decades studying at some of the most prestigious learning institutions in the Muslim and Western world.

Having embraced Islam at the age of 19 in Santa Clara, California, he immediately began his study of the Islamic sciences with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and visiting Mauritanian scholars, such as Shaykh Khatri Wuld Bayba, and Shaykh Abd Allah Wuld Ahmadna. Shortly thereafter, he traveled to Mauritania to pursue a full-time course of study where he was able to learn from one of Mauritania’s greatest scholars, Murabit al-Hajj. Following an interim period of study in Damascus, Syria, Yahya went on to spend the best part of seven years in Tarim, in the Hadramawt Valley of Yemen. There, he studied at the reputable school, Dar al-Mustafa, with the renowned scholars Habib Umar bin Hafiz and Habib Ali al-Jifri.

Upon returning to the United States, Shaykh Yahya served as a full-time instructor at Zaytuna College. He holds a B.A. in Near Eastern Studies from UC Berkeley, an M.A. in Islamic Studies from the Graduate Theological Union, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Cambridge, England, in collaboration with Dr. Tim Winter (Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad). He is the Founding Director of al-Maqasid.

Imam Dawud Walid

Dawud Walid
is currently the Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI), which is a chapter of America’s largest advocacy and civil liberties organization for American Muslims and is a member of the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC) Imams Committee.

Walid has been interviewed and quoted in approximately 150 media outlets ranging from the New York Times, Wall St Journal, National Public Radio, CNN, BBC, FOX News and Al-Jazeera. Furthermore, Walid was a political blogger for the Detroit News from January 2014 to January 2016, has had essays published in the 2012 book All-American: 45 American Men on Being Muslim, the 2014 book Qur’an in Conversation and was quoted as an expert in 13 additional books and academic dissertations. He was also a featured character in the 2013 HBO documentary “The Education of Mohammad Hussein.”

Walid has studied under qualified scholars the disciplines of Arabic grammar and morphology, foundations of Islamic jurisprudence, sciences of the exegesis of the Qur’an, and Islamic history during the era of Prophet Muhammad through the governments of the first 5 caliphs. He previously served as an imam at Masjid Wali Muhammad in Detroit and the Bosnian American Islamic Center in Hamtramck, Michigan, and continues to deliver sermons and lectures at Islamic centers across the United States and Canada.

Walid served in the United States Navy under honorable conditions earning two United States Navy & Marine Corp Achievement medals while deployed abroad. He has also received awards of recognition from the city councils of Detroit and Hamtramck and from the Mayor of Lansing as well as a number of other religious and community organizations.

Shaykh Hamzah Maqbool

Shaykh Hamzah Maqbool
attended the University of Washington and in 2004 completed a Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry and a Bachelors of Arts in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. During his study at the university he was active on campus, serving as the president of the UW Muslim Students Association

Shaykh Hamzah went on to pursue traditional Islamic studies, which took him to a number of countries, including Syria and Egypt where he studied the Arabic language, Morocco, Mauritania, and UAE, where he studied the madhab of Imam Malik, grammar, usul al-hadith, and the two renditions of the qira’ah of Imam Nafi’, Warsh and Qalun, and finally Pakistan where he had the opportunity to study tafsir, usul al-hadith, hadith, ‘ilm al-rijal and Hanafi fiqh. All of these studies culminated in him receiving an ijazat al-tadris, literally meaning “a license to teach” which is the equivalent in Pakistani Islamic seminaries to a MA in Arabic and Islamic studies, as well as an unbroken chain of transmission by which to narrate the hadith of such books as the Muwatta of Imam Malik, the Sihah al-Sittah (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i and Ibn Majah), and the Sharh Ma’ani al-Athar of Imam al-Tahawi.

He is currently at Islamic Relief, and teaches all the classes & programs held by Ribat.

Imam Mikaeel Ahmed Smith

Shaykh Mikaeel Ahmed Smith
(Michael V Smith) is an instructor at Qalam. He is an Islamic scholar, writer, and activist striving to meet the spiritual and educational needs of the DFW community. Imam Mikaeel previously served as a resident scholar at the Islamic Society of Annapolis and the Islamic Society of Baltimore. He grew up in a deeply spiritual Christian home in Buffalo, NY. At the age of 18, he embraced Islam after reading the Qur’an and the Autobiography of Malcolm X. Imam Mikaeel enrolled at the Dar ul-Uloom al-Madania in Buffalo, NY, where he completed his memorization of the Qur’an. He continued his studies in Jami’a Abu Noor in Damascus, Syria.

In 2012, he completed his hadith studies of the Sihah Sitta (six most authentic collections of Prophetic traditions) and Qur’anic Tafseer (commentary). He earned his Bachelor's Degree in Islamic Studies at the Dar ul-Uloom Canada in Chatham, Ontario. He moved to Maryland to become the scholar-in-residence at the Islamic Society of Annapolis where he taught tajweed (Qur’an recitation) and the foundational Islamic sciences. He has also taught at the Makkah Learning Center in Gambrills, MD, and served as a full-time instructor at the Al-Rahmah Seminary in Baltimore, MD. Imam Mikaeel is currently pursuing his BA in psychology, while writing translations of classical Islamic texts.

Shaykh Mikaeel travels across the country teaching his Prophetic Empathy class. He also is writing translations of classical Islamic texts and articles for MuslimMatters, teaching Alimiyah students, and serving the local Dallas-Ft Worth community.

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin joined the faculty of Al-Maqasid in June 2019. He previously served as the Executive Director and Head Chaplain of the Muslim Chaplaincy at the University of Toronto, becoming Canada’s first full-time Muslim Chaplain at a university in September 2012. In addition to his administrative duties and leadership responsibilities, he counseled and taught students.

Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Ustadh Amjad obtained his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Michigan in English Literature and Islamic Studies. He then spent an intensive year studying at the prestigious Dar al-Mustafa for Islamic Sciences in Tarim, Yemen. There he studied under such luminaries as Habib Umar bin Hafiz, Habib Ali Abu Bakr, Habib Muhammad al-‘Aydarus, Sh. Munir Ba-Zahayr, and others. He continues to maintain close ties with his teachers, often serving as translator for English-speaking audiences. Following his studies in Tarim, he enrolled at Hartford Seminary’s Islamic Chaplaincy program where he completed his Master of Arts in June of 2012.

Ustadh Amjad also teaches for SeekersGuidance Online Islamic Seminary, and is the creator and host of SoulFood FM, a podcast about practical ways of achieving spiritual refinement.

He currently lives outside of Allentown, Pennsylvania with his wife and two children.

Ustadh Ebadur Rahman

memorized the Qur'an at the age of 15, while a sophomore at Stuyvesant High School. After graduating high school in 2004, Ebad enrolled in Zaytuna Institute's pilot seminary program and studied there with respected scholars Imam Zaid Shakir, Qari Amar Bellaha, Shaykh Abdur Rahman Tahir (God have mercy on him), Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, and Shaykh Abdullah bin Hamid Ali. He graduated from seminary in 2008 and then spent another four years completing an undergraduate degree at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University, concentrating on Islam in America.

He is currently a PhD candidate in the Religion department at Columbia University, with an interest in Quranic exegesis and scholarly debates within the contemporary American Muslim community.

Imam Anas Shaikh

Imam Anas Shaikh
was born and raised in Binghamton, a small town in upstate New York. Born to Pakistani immigrants, he started to learn the Qur’an from an early age. He finished memorizing the Qur’an at the age of 11. With the guidance of his mentor, Imam Kasim Kopuz, he then went to Buffalo, New York and enrolled in Darul Uloom Al-Madania where he studied the different sciences in Islam such as Arabic, Aqidah, Tafseer, Fiqh, Hadith, Usool, and Shariah. He graduated summa cum laude in 2008 and then travelled to Pakistan to further pursue his studies with a Takhassus (specialization and Masters) in Islamic Law & Finance from the prestigious Darul Uloom Karachi. His teachers include the great jurist and scholar of our time, Shaykh Mohammad Taqi Uthmani.

Upon returning from Pakistan, Imam Anas worked as an Imam in the South and now has been the Imam of the Islamic Org. of the Southern Tier since January 2013. He also has a degree in Business Administration. He is married with three girls and resides in Vestal, New York. His interests include sports, technology, travelling, and politics. He is an avid Pakistan Cricket Team & New England Patriots supporter. You can see Imam Anas speak at various interfaith events and social justice gatherings and he helps in the community whenever he can.