Imam Siraj Wahhaj provides some simple yet powerful reflections on the depth and beauty of the Islamic belief in the hereafte.
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Imam Siraj Wahhaj
Imam Siraj Wahhaj is an African-American Muslim convert to Islam and public figure for Muslims in North America. He is currently the Imam of Al-Taqwa mosque in Brooklyn, New York . Born and raised in New York, he became a Sunday school teacher as at a young age, then later went to Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) where he studied biology education.
In 1969 he joined the Nation of Islam and was taught under Louis Farrakhan at the height of the NOI’s anti-Malcolm X rhetoric. He became a Sunni Muslim after the death of Elijah Muhammad in 1975 and Muhammad’s son Warith Deen Mohammed took over and reorganized the organization, urging members to come to orthodox Islam. Kearse then changed his name to Siraj Wahhaj. He was chosen to study Islam at the Umm al-Qura university of Mecca in 1978. He also briefly taught a course in Islamic studies at Howard University. In 1981 he started his own mosque, Masijd ul-Taqwa, in a friend’s apartment in Brooklyn. Although it originally started out with only 25 people, today it is well-known.
In 1988 he led his community in an anti-drug patrol in which they staked out drug houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant in the cold of winter for 40 days and nights, forcing the closure of 15 drug houses. This effort received high praise from the New York City Police Department and the media.
Since that time, Siraj has been active in many Islamic organizations. He has been vice president of the Islamic Society of North America since 1997 and has served on the Majlis al Shura, a consultative council of Islamic scholars, since 1987.
Siraj is a prolific speaker in America. He makes many appearances at major North American Muslim conventions, and numerous forums and lectures including the Lamppost Education Initiative’s 2019 Black American Muslim Conference