Meet the Siraj Family


Shaykh Mehdi Abd (Abu Kudus)

Shaykh Mehdi is Ottawa’s leading imam when it comes to the Quran. He graduated from from Faculty of Islamic Studies in Baghdad, then he worked as an Imam and Quran teacher in Iraq, then in Syria, and then to Ottawa. For the past 15 years, he has helped hundreds of students of all ages master the recitation and memorization of the Quran. He has Ijazaahs and is certified in the 10 narrations of the Quran.

Dr. Ali Al-Halawani

Dr. Ali is a lifelong student of the world renowned Al-Azhar University. In his youth, he completed the intermediate/high school curriculum of Al-Azhar. Then moved on to complete his Bachelor’s degree and graduate studies there as well. He completed a PhD in Computational Linguistics and Translation of the Meanings of the Quran. He was a professor at the International Islamic University of Malaysia and over the past 15 years, he has been teaching, researching and translating Islamic texts from Arabic. He moved to Canada in late 2018 and joined Siraj Institute in Jan 2019.

Ustadh Ihab Darawaish

Ustadh Ihab is an avid student and lecturer of the Arabic language and Islamic history. He is a regular Friday prayer khatib. He enjoys teaching the Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), Islamic history and the grammar of Arabic language. He has a bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering 1988, a High diploma in Management 2002. Arriving to Canada in 2008, he got his master degree in Engineering Management 2010 from the University of Ottawa. For the last decade in Ottawa, he served the Islamic community at large and the Canadians from Palestinian origin in particular.


Majed Jarrar

Majed teaches entrepreneurship at the University of Ottawa, and is currently pursuing a PhD in E-Business. He holds a P.Eng.EIT designation, a Master's degree in Electrical Engineering from uOttawa, and a Bachelor's degree with double major in Electronics Engineering and Physics, and a double minor in Mathematics and Computer Science from the American University in Cairo. Aside from all the engineering; He holds Ijaza in Quran (hafs), the nine collections of Hadeeth, and Hanbali Fiqh. His journey for pursuing Islamic studies for the past 14 years has included learning from scholars in Madina, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Egypt. For many years, he thought about establishing an Islamic studies institution that not only taught traditionally, but also inspired students to give back to their communities, and make them a force for good in their environments. After years of thought and reflection, Majed co-founded Siraj Institute in 2017.

Hesham Alaghbari (Outgoing)

Executive Director & Director of Academics
Hesham holds a B. Com (Marketing) degree from the University of Ottawa and has been working in the field of education for a decade. He is an eager student of Islamic Sciences and has studied with scholars in Yemen, Ottawa and continues his studies with teachers from different parts of the world online. In 2016, he completed the ‘Alimiyyah Programme (Islamic Scholarship Programme) at Al-Salam Institute in the UK under the tutelage of Dr. Akram Nadwi. Having benefited from the opportunities to learn sacred sciences through various means, Hesham co-founded Siraj Institute to extend such opportunities to the people of his hometown of Ottawa.

Dr. Ahmed Gabr (outgoing)

Director of Finance & Scholarships
Dr. Ahmed received his PhD degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Ottawa in 2016 and currently works as a photonics system developer. Ahmed has been active in the Muslim community for the past decade. In 2010, Ahmed founded the Assunnah Muslims Association Youth Committee. He also contributed to iLEAD conference since its foundation in 2013.

Rana Abu Nafeesah

Operations Manager
Rana has a Master Degree in Computer Science, with more than 10 years of progressive experience in an educational environment. She held many positions, such as a Research Assistant; and Executive Program Manager in the College of Computer and Information Sciences. Rana also worked with management to develop program strategic plan. Rana acquired an in-depth experience through her work as a teaching assistant and a member of a group for developing faculty members skills. She has a passion for preparing materials for courses as per the education goals and vision. Rana uses her extensive knowledge in project management, business analysis, evaluation, documentation and reports authoring in profit and non-profit organizations. Designing documents and presentations is her passion. She is talented in data management, archiving and organizing the working environment to make it accessible easily. Rana has developed effective communication skills to engage stakeholders in managing successful events, workshops, seminars, and academic conferences. At Siraj Institute, Rana is the operations manager. She monitors the progress of the academic process, follows up on a daily basis with students and teachers. In addition and along with the Director of Academics, she works on course design and evaluation.