Category: 2015 Recipients

Jamil Kochai-2015 Recipient


Major: English
Degree M.A.
School: UC Davis
Sponsor: South Bay Islamic Association (SBIA) Scholarship 



Bio: Jamil Jan Kochai is a graduate student in the Masters in English program at UC Davis. His academic interests include short fiction, postcolonial literature, postmodern philosophy, and critiques of orientalism. After finishing his M.A., Jamil intends to earn his Ph.D. in literature with an emphasis upon postcolonial theory.

Jamil graduated magna cum laude from California State University, Sacramento in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in English. While attending CSUS, Jamil was selected as the recipient of the Dean’s Award for the College of Arts and Letters and was nominated as the “Outstanding Senior” for the English Department. He has also served as the dawah coordinator for the CSUS Muslim Student’s Association, and during his time with the MSA, he coordinated poetry events, film nights, halaqas, larger lectures, and charity collections.

Jamil is also a writer. He has been published in smaller collegiate magazines, fiction anthologies, and has won five Bazzanella Literary Awards for his fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. His creative work often centers upon the history of his family and of Afghanistan at large.

Areas of Interest:

Seyed Mahdi Ghazvini-2015 Recipient

Seyed Mahdi

Major: Islamic Studies and Leadership
Degree: M.A.
School: Bayan Claremont
Sponsor: Bayan Claremont Scholarship



Bio: Seyed Mahdi was born into a scholarly family originating in Karbala, Iraq. He was raised in Southern California and graduated from City of Knowledge Islamic School in Pomona, CA. After completing high school, he travelled to Qum, Iraq to complete his formal religious education and training in the Islamic Seminary. Recently, upon returning to the United States, he began pursuing his Master’s Degree in Islamic Studies and Leadership at Bayan Claremont, Claremont School of Theology.

Seyed Mahdi regularly travels around North America and Europe to spread the teachings of Islam among Muslim communities. His focus is on youth empowerment and mentorship. Locally, he is actively engaged with the interfaith and intrafaith communities.

He has currently completed one year of Masters studies, and plans to complete entirely within another year. After graduation, he plans to continue pursuing his higher education inshAllah.

Areas of Interest:
Islamic Studies

Logan Siler-2015 Recipient

Logan Siler

Major: Islamic Leadership
Degree: M.A.
School: Bayan Claremont
Sponsor: Bayan Claremont Scholarship


Bio: Logan Siler is from Fresno, CA. He is a full-time student and part-time substitute teacher. He became an activist at 17 and over the last 14 years has worked with Food Not Bombs, co-founded the Collective for Arts Freedom and Ecology (an activist community space in Fresno), and has worked as an outreach worker to the homeless in Fresno, San Francisco, Oakland and in Pasadena, where he currently lives with his wife and daughter. Logan holds a BA in Middle Eastern and Islamic History from San Francisco State University. He is currently earning his MA in Islamic Education from Bayan Claremont. Logan is a musician, a gardener, and avid hiker.

Areas of Interest:
Middle Eastern History, Islamic History

Samina Ferguson-2015 Recipient

Samina Ferguson

Major: Islamic Chaplaincy
Degree: M.A.
School: Bayan Claremont
Sponsor: Bayan Claremont Scholarship


Bio: Samina Ferguson is a second year student of Bayan-Claremont.  Initially focusing on a Master’s in Islamic Studies and Leadership, Samina is now pursuing a Master’s Degree in Bayan-Claremont’s new Islamic Chaplaincy program. Samina obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Health Care Administration and has been working in one of the largest hospital systems on the east coast for 14 years. Samina will combine her practical knowledge of the health care system with her faith practice and God willing be able to serve as a hospital chaplain in her community.  Living by the motto, “always a student”, Samina is also a student of Kung Fu at Five Rings Martial Arts in Washington, DC. Samina understands the importance of self care as part of solid leadership and looks forward to seeing more female chaplains in the near future.

Areas of Interest:
Islamic Studies

Jawaad Khan-2015 Recipient

Jawaad Khan

Major: Religious Studies and Related Fields
School: Bayyinah Institute Dream Program




Creative Director at Advocating Quranic Literacy (AQL, Inc).

Bio: Born in sunny South Florida, Jawaad Ahmad Khan is a recent graduate of the University of Miami having gotten his BSc in Motion Pictures with a minor in Marketing. Over the years, he’s been involved with the Muslim community in different aspects, often volunteering with local youth organizations and working with different mosques in the community. In addition, he’s developed much of his skills in video production by providing services to different local Islamic organizations.

A student of Islam from a young age, Jawaad is embarking on learning the beautiful language of Arabic through the Bayyinah Institute Dream program. He hopes to build a foundation for further Qur’an and Islamic studies and to later disseminate the knowledge he gains through the medium of video and film. He hopes to create productions that will be beneficial to the Muslim community, whether through web series, feature films, or educational videos. He’s grateful for this opportunity provided by ISF and hopes it can be the start of things much greater he can accomplish for the Muslim community and for the world, InshaAllah!

Areas of Interest:
Religious Studies

Fathima Haseefa-2015 Recipient


Major: Religious Studies
School: Bayyinah Institute Dream

Fathima Haseefa graduated from BASIS Chandler High School. She was involved with the Muslim Student Association in hopes of promoting a better understanding of Islam among the students and faculty and had the opportunity to organize events such as Islam awareness fairs. During her gap year, Fathima plans to attend the Bayyinah Dream program to fulfill her dream of understanding the Arabic language as a means to internalize the Quran’s eloquent message and represent Islam as the truly beautiful religion it is. After completing the program, Fathima hopes to pursue other religious studies and serve as an activist in both the intrafaith and interfaith communities.

Areas of Interest:
Islamic Law

Nicole Fauster -2015 Recipient

Nicole Fauster

Major: International Affairs and ArabicSchool: Bayyinah Institute
Sponsor: Bayyinah Dream Program




Nicole Fauster is thriving as a Georgetown Law student and burgeoning leader on campus. She will serve as co-president of the Muslim Law Students Association for the 2018-2019 school year. Her passion for justice only grows and she will continue pursuing it through civil rights litigation work at the American Civil Liberties Union in Baltimore, Maryland in the summer of 2018.

Message to Sponsors: My name is Nicole Fauster, and I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where I studied International Relations, Arabic, and Sociology. I always had a passion for human rights law, and I had been working and focusing on international law throughout my college career until the Chapel Hill Shooting. The hate crime, which took place my senior year, rocked our community and shook me to the core. I realized the problems of Islamophobia, racism, discrimination, and bigotry were not only in my own country, but in my backyard. I realized I have a serious responsibility to make the country I call home more equitable for those who have marginalized identities. With that goal in mind, I have decided to attend Georgetown Law to focus on public interest law as it pertains to marginalized religious identities. I appreciate the financial support you have provided for me, it will seriously help off set the cost of attendance. I pray that Allah blesses you and your family. I also pray that you will also get rewarded for every good action I do with this degree. This has surely lifted a burden, and for that I am immensely grateful. 

Bio: Nicole Nansamba Fauster is a Ugandan American who was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. She recently finished her undergraduate degree in International Affairs and Arabic with a minor in Social and Economic Justice from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As an Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Fellow in 2013, she was given the opportunity to travel to the Middle East to exercise her passions: interfaith dialogue, cross cultural exchange, and Arabic! She continued her Arabic studies as a Foreign Language Area Studies Fellow in Rabat, Morocco for the entire duration of her junior year. Since graduating, she has returned to the Middle East and is using her knowledge of Arabic whilst working at Tamkeen located in Amman, Jordan. Tamkeen is an organization which specializes in providing legal services to migrant workers in Jordan. Upon her return to the United States, Nicole will start the Bayyinah Dream program where she will engage in an intensive study of Classical Arabic. After the Dream Program Nicole hopes to attend law school with the goal of specializing in international human rights law.

Areas of Interest:

Abdel Minem Mustafa-2015 Recipients

Abdel Minem Mustafa (1)

Major: Semitic Philology
School: Bayyinah Institute Dream Program
Sponsor: Bayyinah Dream Program 



Peer Educator at NYC Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence.

Bio: My story can best be captured by Allah’s words when he says: “Call upon Me; I will respond to you.” [40:60]

After growing up with virtually zero Muslim friends, I quickly realized how little I knew about the religion I claimed to follow. Despite my Palestinian heritage, I didn’t even the how to read the Quran! So I asked Allah to further my knowledge in His Deen, especially in the study of His Noble Book. He answered me by making available to me an Arabic class in my first year of college, wherein the teacher, who ironically had no interest in Islam, inadvertently taught me the basics of tajweed.

My hunger was soon renewed when I started to doubt the capability of a translator to capture the subtleties of Allah’s message. I knew there had to be a reason that Allah sent the final revelation down in Arabic, and not any other language. But my very basic level of comprehension didn’t allow for me to understand the Quraan on my own. So I asked Allah again to further my knowledge of His Deen, especially in the study of his Noble Book. He answered me by causing me to stumble upon a weekly class on the tafseer of Juz’ Amma at a masjid not far from my home. It was in this class that I found my appreciation for the words of my Lord, who chose every word He revealed with a wisdom. I also quickly recognized the fact that studying the Deen of Allah is like a pit of quicksand; The more you learn, the more you realize how much you actually don’t know. And I knew that the only way I could live up to my ambition was to recalibrate my priorities and restructure my approach to my academic and professional careers.

It was at this point that I switched my field of study from Political Science to Linguistics, with a concentration in Arabic and Hebrew. And after I graduated, I enrolled in Bayyinah Institute’s Dream program to immerse myself in the language of the Quraan. With this I hope to study Allah’s book to the degree that it deserves, while also studying the texts of the other Abrahamic faiths. Such knowledge and effort is essential to the advancement of interfaith efforts and the building of bridges between our communities. And it was also at this point that I decided to use my part-time job, facilitating workshops about Domestic Violence and Healthy Relationships for the NYC Mayor’s Office as a tool to educate my community about the balanced way of life that Islam teaches and commands. I hope to use my experience teaching with this program to develop effective way of teaching Allah’s book. And I ask Allah to further me in the knowledge of His Deen, especially in the study of His Noble Book.

Areas of Interest:

Obaida Albaroudi-2015 CLDP Intern

Obaida Albaroudi

Major: International Relations
School: University of California Irvine
Interned Under:
 Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-5)



Bio: My name is Obaida Albaroudi. I am interning at Congressman Dan Kildees office. I am a rising junior at University of California Irvine. I am double majoring in Business Economics and International Relations. A fun fact about me is that I am a huge basketball fanatic as well as a foodie. My unreasonable dream is to affect positive change for all communities and all people.

Areas of Interest:
International Relations


Meral Kocak-2015 Recipient

Major: Islamic Law and Theology
Degree: M.A.
School: Harvard Divinity School
Sponsor: South Bay Islamic Association (SBIA) 


J.D. Student at Georgetown Law Center interested in International Arbitration, FCPA, and Project Finance.

Bio: Meral Kocak grew up in Australia and moved to the US in 2009. She graduated from the University of Melbourne in in 2015 where she majored in Anthropology, focusing on the Middle East. She is currently beginning her Master of Theoligical Studies at the Harvard Divinity School, concentrating on Religion, Ethics, and Politics. She is interested in Islamic and European intellectual history and aims to investigate modern piety movements and the ways that Islamic history, ontological categories, and moral codes provide a language for navigating the world. She is particularly fascinated by the semiotics of images circulated by media networks to proliferate ideals of religious sentiment and belonging. Upon the completion of her Masters studies, she aims to complete a JD and a PhD in Islamic law and anthropology. Outside of the classroom, Meral is passionate about social justice issues and traveling.

Areas of Interest:
Islamic Law