Karla Kovacik embraced Islam just before April 2006 when she met Shaykh Muhammad bin Yahya al-Husayni al-Ninowy at a lecture on Aqidah at-Tahawiyyah in Charlotte, North Carolina. At that meeting, Karla requested permission to move to Atlanta, Georgia to continue studying with the Shaykh as an official student, which he gave. In August 2006, Karla moved to Atlanta to continue her studies and training with Shaykh Muhammad bin Yahya al-Ninowy and resided there until moving to Wisconsin in December 2016.

Karla completed her A.A. in English in 2002, specializing in Creative Writing at Western Piedmont Community College in Morganton, NC. She then went on to complete her B.A. in Anthropology in 2005, specializing in the Anthropology of Islam under the tutelage of Dr. Gregory Starrett and Contact Period Archaeology in the Southeastern U.S. under the tutelage of Dr. Janet Levy, Dr. Alan May, and Dr. Charles Houck at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

In 2010, Karla continued her Islamic Studies with Dr. Alan 'Abd al-Haqq Godlas and Dr. Kenneth 'Abd al-Hadi Honerkamp at the University of Georgia. She graduated from The University of Georgia - Athens in 2015 with an M.A. in Religion and a concentration in Islamic Studies and a specialization in the History of Sufism, Islam in America, Anthropology of Islam, Primary Sources of Islam, and the Religiological Analysis of Islam. As part of her Master's thesis research at the University of Georgia, Karla conducted the study Feeling Muslim: An Intimate Portrait of Identity Cultivation among American Female Converts to Islam, which explores the identity formation and cultivation process of American women of all races and classes who have converted to Islam. Karla’s research centers on the process through which American female converts to Islam cultivate their identity as Muslim women, asking, “For you, is there a difference between being/becoming Muslim by taking the shahada and feeling Muslim,” and “What makes you feel Muslim.” Her research empowers Muslim women, in their own voices, to articulate what their identities are apart from the images of oppression of women in Islam.

Karla hopes her research will promote a shift in the dialogue surrounding American female converts to Islam and effect change in American Muslim communities. Before moving to Wisconsin in 2016, she was an instructor of Western Religious Traditions at The University of Georgia from 2011-2016. Her research interests are focused on Kalam (Islamic theology), Tasawwuf (Sufism), religious conversion as a process, American Converts to Islam, Women’s Studies, Islam in America, and Mixed-Methods Research. Karla currently serves on the American Academy of Religion's Religious Conversion Group Steering Committee and her article As American as Apple Pie: U.S. Female Converts to Islam was recently named as the U.S. Studies Online (British Association of American Studies) most popular article of 2015.

Karla Kovacik, M.A.

Karla N. Kovacik, M.A. Islamic Studies, Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology

Founder, Researcher, & Community Consultant