John Franklin Rhodus Jr.
Major: Religious Studies
Sponsor: Muslim Community Center of the East Bay (MCC)
John Franklin Rhodus Jr. was born in Kansas City, Missouri. At the age of 19, he embraced Islam in Santa Clara, California. He began his study of Islam with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and visiting Mauritanian scholars such as Shaykh Khatri wuld Baybba and Shaykh Abdullah wuld Ahmadna. In 1998, Ustadh Yahya traveled to Mauritania to pursue a full-time course of study, where he learned from some of Mauritania’s greatest scholars, including the distinguished, Murabit al-Hajj. He also spent an interim period in Damascus, Syria where he received formal education in the Arabic language, grammar, and Qur’anic recitation.
In 2000, Ustadh Yahya moved to Tarim, Yemen to continue his studies at the prestigious learning institute, Dar al-Mustafa. There, he spent his formative years studying with the renowned scholars, Habib ‘Umar bin Hafiz and Habib ‘Ali al-Jifri, along with other local scholars. He studied various sciences including Tafsir, Hadith, theology, Jurisprudence, the Prophetic biography, and Arabic poetry.
In the latter part of 2005, Ustadh Yahya returned to the U.S. and served as a full-time teacher at Zaytuna Institute. He subsequently returned overseas to further his studies while he also participated in religious programs worldwide, lecturing, teaching, and translating. In 2008, he was the official translator for Habib ‘Ali al-Jifri at the Common Word Conference held at Yale University and he has translated for Habib ‘Umar bin Hafiz at speaking engagements internationally.
In 2010, Ustadh Yahya returned to California and completed his Bachelor of Arts in Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He travels regularly teaching, lecturing, and conducting weekend seminars with institutes such as the Deen Intensive Foundation. He also offers on-line instruction through Seeker’s Guidance and teaches locally at Taleef Collective. Ustadh Yahya taught as a full-time instructor at Zaytuna College from 2011 until 2012 while pursuing a Masters Degree in Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. He plans to commence a PhD in the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge this Fall.
Imam Yahya’s Message to Supporters:
It is a great blessing to receive a scholarship from the ISF Scholarship Fund. Equal-access educational opportunities were a landmark of Islamic Civilization. The scholarships at ISF are a step towards this historical achievement in the present age. I hope that this fund grows tremendously in order to assist the next generation of Muslims in the United States to further their studies and then channel their skills to the Muslim and non-Muslim community alike.