Siraj Wahhaj, born Jeffrey Kearse, is a renowned religious leader and community activist in Brooklyn, New York. He is an Imam of Masjid At-Taqwa, a mosque in Brooklyn, and is also the Amir (leader) of the Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA). However, Wahhaj’s journey towards becoming a Sunni Muslim leader was not straightforward. In this article, we will delve into the transformation of Siraj Wahhaj, from a Baptist Sunday school teacher to a Sunni Muslim leader.
From Jeffrey Kearse to Jeffrey12x
Siraj Wahhaj was born on March 11, 1950, in Brooklyn, New York, to a family of Baptist Christians. He grew up with his brother Gregory S. Kearse, who later became a writer and editor. As a teenager, Wahhaj was a devout Christian and even became a Sunday school teacher in a Baptist church. However, his life took a turn when he met a teammate while playing basketball at New York University who introduced him to the Nation of Islam, an African-American movement. Wahhaj converted to Islam and changed his name to Jeffrey12x.
The Nation of Islam Years
Wahhaj was a member of the Nation of Islam from 1969 to 1975. During this time, he was vocal about his belief that “white people are devils” and preached it to his community. However, he later distanced himself from the Nation of Islam and its teachings after the death of Elijah Muhammad, the organization’s leader.
Conversion to Sunni Islam
After Elijah Muhammad’s death, Warith Deen Mohammed took over the Nation of Islam and reorganized it to align with orthodox Islam. Wahhaj was encouraged by Warith Deen Mohammed to study Sunni Islam and subsequently changed his name to Siraj Wahhaj, which means “bright light” in Arabic. He embraced Sunni Islam and became an advocate for the faith.
Umm al-Qura University and Islamic Studies at Howard University
In 1978, Siraj Wahhaj was chosen to study Islam at the Umm al-Qura University in Mecca for a period of four months. This was a transformative experience for him as he immersed himself in Islamic teachings and practices. He returned to the United States with a deeper understanding of Islam and its role in society.
Wahhaj also briefly taught a course in Islamic studies at Howard University, where he shared his knowledge and passion for the religion with students. Today, he continues to inspire and educate others about Islam through his sermons and community outreach.
Siraj Wahhaj’s transformation from a Baptist Sunday school teacher to a Sunni Muslim leader is a testament to the transformative power of faith. He has dedicated his life to promoting Islam and its values of peace, justice, and equality. Through his work, he has become a respected leader and voice for the Muslim community in Brooklyn and beyond.
Siraj Wahhaj’s Social Channels