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Faith and Beyond: Get to know some of our favourite Imams, Sheikhs and Speakers

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Faith and Beyond: Get to know some of our favourite Imams, Sheikhs and Speakers

Date posted

April 1, 2024


Penny Appeal



Time to read

4 minutes

Ramadan is slowly coming to an end. It may not come as any surprise to say that this Ramadan flew by. At Penny Appeal, we were incredibly fortunate and blessed to learn and to continue learning from renowned scholars, speakers and community members such as Ustadh Mustafa Briggs, Sheikh Ibn Muhammad Al-Riyashi, and Mansour Shouman. Let’s get to know them a bit more, especially beyond their faith! 

Ustadh Mustafa Briggs

Ustadh Mustafa Briggs is a graduate of Arabic and International Relations from the University of Westminster. His dissertation focused on Arabic Literature and Literacy in West Africa. Mustafa rose to international acclaim for his ‘Beyond Bilal: Black History in Islam’ lecture series. In this series, he explored and uncovered the deep routed relationship between Islam and Black History. Beyond Bilal was then turned into a book, which became an amazon best seller within the first month of its release. Mustafa has also been featured on international media such as Al Jazeera and Islam Channel to discuss themes such as Islamic History and Blackness and Islam. It was an absolute privilege to have Ustadh Briggs educate thousands of Canadians this Ramadan, particularly about the issues occurring in Gaza. 

Sheikh Ibn Muhammad Al-Riyashi

Born in a refugee camp in Jordan, Sheikh Riyashi joins us this Ramadan to spread the message of what our brothers and sisters in Palestine are currently experiencing. A visiting Imam of Masjid Al Aqsa, he has lead numerous taraweeh prayers during this holy month at Al Aqsa since 2014. It’s worth noting that he is also the very first Muslim Canadian to lead Taraweeh and Qiam prayers in Jerusalem and was invited to lead prayer again for this Ramadan but decided on spreading awareness for the catastrophic events occurring in Palestine. Additionally, beside leading Taraweeh and Qiam, he was responsible for leading regular prayers at the Dome of the Rock, offering weekly educational programs (halaqas), both at the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. To add, he has championed various key projects in Al- Aqsa such as introducing Ramadan programming for English-speaking guests, allocation of the Marwani Masjid as the designated Itikaf place for foreign guests and fostering heritage collaboration between Al Aqsa and South Africa through the addition of a precious 17th century manuscript of Tuan Guru handwritten Quran. 

A PhD graduate in mechanical engineering, Sheikh (or more appropriately known as Dr. Al-Riyashi) has had a multifaceted career in engineering and sustainable energy. Using his Islamic background to enforce a positive influence in the institution, he currently serves as a Reservist for the Canadian Armed Forces. When asked about this affiliation, Dr. Azzam answered: 

“This country has given us so many opportunities. We’re truly grateful for this kindness and I would put my life in harm’s way and even die for Canada, if Allah forbid it becomes under attack. The Prophet PBUH loved Madina so much, as opposed to his birthplace Makkah, to the point where he preferred to spend his last days in Madina.” 

We are honored to have Sheikh Al-Riyashi share his journey and bring light to what is happening in Palestine. 

Mansour Shouman

Mansour Shouman is a Palestinian Canadian citizen journalist and has been a steadfast voice from the heart of Gaza since October 7th. Despite being offered the opportunity to leave by both the occupation and Canadian authorities, Mansour chose to remain in Khan Younis, dedicated to providing daily, on-the-ground reports in English, showcasing the realities of life amidst conflict.

His compelling reporting style and unwavering optimism have garnered widespread attention on social media platforms, propelling him to online stardom. Mansour’s presence on various media outlets including Al Jazeera, RT News, BBC, Fox News, ABC News, Sky News, CBC, CNN, and Global News has amplified the voices of Gazans worldwide.

In addition to his journalism, Mansour has taken proactive steps to alleviate the suffering of his fellow Palestinians. He initiated relief efforts and  is using is newly garnered fame to go around the world and spread awareness about the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Gaza.

Beyond his journalistic endeavors and relief work, Mansour is an outspoken advocate for Palestinian rights and freedom. Through his multifaceted contributions, he embodies a commitment to truth-telling, humanitarian action, and the pursuit of justice in one of the world’s most conflicted regions.

Given the current situation in Gaza and the diminished ability for journalists to update the world from within its borders, on February 26, Mansour reluctantly made the decision to depart and continue his support for the Palestinian cause from outside Gaza. This decision was also influenced by a concern for his families well-being. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to give a platform to such a strong Palestinian voice!


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