While Houston is known for its space and science contributions, it is also home to some sincerely dedicated Ribaat students. May Gaafar is the third student of the month nominee from Houston. Along with being a mom of four, she too is setting a great example and making serious headway in her pursuit of Islamic studies.
Already familiar with Rabata, May was then introduced to Ribaat by her sister, who was originally part of the pilot program. Since joining in 2013, May has consistently taken at least three classes per semester and is working towards her ‘Alimah certification.
“I got addicted and hooked right away,” recalls May, who can be found assembling furniture or enjoying word board games in her free time. “My day heavily revolves around my family, but taking classes doesn’t reduce the normal workload of cooking, cleaning, laundry, feeding and chauffeuring the kids. Instead, it gives me something to look forward to and keeps me grounded.”
As expected, May sometimes does fall behind in her classes, but she makes sure to get right back in the game. She finds having the course recordings available to her throughout the semester very convenient and uses it to her advantage.
“No one ever has time,” states May, who also volunteers as an admin for Ribaat, “but I’m not necessarily ‘making time’ for classes, since the program is so manageable. I feel empty without Ribaat. It is not just about seeking knowledge, but advancing spiritually as well. It gives me hope and strength, and I am determined to do my best. At the end of the day, if you can even learn half of what they give you, you will benefit.”
Going by the example of her Ribaat teachers to be professional and active, May stays involved in doing work for her community as well. Before having her youngest child, May sat on the board of her local mosque as the only female member. She is also a Girl Scouts troop leader and helps run a Muslim women’s book club in her area, which initially began with Anse Tamara Gray’s Joy Jots book. She hopes in the near future to be able to work and volunteer with the youth.
“I want to give back as much as I can, because I feel so connected to my amazing teachers and want to be just like them,” May says. “It’s way more than attending classes – it’s sharing a journey together of knowledge and spirituality. As for us students, we build bonds of sisterhood with one another as well, because we all have the same desire for knowledge and wanting to better ourselves for Allah’s sake. We share our thoughts, our tears, our fears and hopes, inspiring and motivating each other along the way. I am truly grateful for Ribaat. It is such a beautiful experience, and I pray that Allah is pleased with each of us and accepts all of our efforts.”