Oral History Interview with Shaykh Momodou Ceesay on October 24, 2020

Oral History Interview with Shaykh Momodou Ceesay on October 24, 2020



Media is loading


Ceesay, Shaykh Momodou


Naimah Siddiq; Perkins, Dr. Alisa (Research Director)


Oral history interview with Shaykh Momodou Ceesay conducted by Naimah Siddiq on October 24, 2020. Interview written by Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director) and Naimah Siddiq. Shaykh Momodou Ceesay was born in Gambia on June 28, 1958. During his childhood, Shaykh Ceesay engaged in intensive Islamic studies under the tutelage of various shaykhs in both Gambia and Senegal. After receiving a scholarship, Shaykh Ceesay continued his education in Tunisia. He then earned a degree in Islamic sciences at Cairo’s renowned Al-Azhar University. Shaykh Ceesay immigrated to the United States in 1989, where he served as a teacher for the West African Muslim community, first in New York and then in Detroit. In addition, he made history by completing the first Mandingo translation of the Qur’an. Shaykh Ceesay ministers to the West African immigrant community through lectures over Kairo Radio, a station devoted to Gambians in America. Around 2000, Imam Ceesay began serving as imam at the Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center and became the mosque’s resident imam in 2014. He advances Islamic education at the Muslim Center by teaching Qur’an and religion classes, and particularly devotes himself to educating young people and seniors. In the interview, Shaykh Ceesay reflects on his vision for the Muslim Center, discussing his priorities of education and building a diverse community. He also discusses the efforts he has made to bring together the African American Muslim and West African Muslim communities.

Date of Interview


Location of Interview

Detroit, MI (Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center)


African Muslim community, African traditional dress, African-American history, African-American Muslims, Al-Azhar University, Imam Derrick Ali, Shaykh Ali Suleiman Ali, Arabic dialect, Arabic language education, Cairo, Community building, Cultural tradition, Detroit, Diversity, Education, Education abroad, Egypt, Egyptian Arabic, Imam Abdullah Bey El-Amin, Zarinah El-Amin, Example of the Prophet Muhammad, Food distribution, French language, Friday prayer service, Friday sermon, Fundraising, Gambia, Gambian Americans, Gambian radio programming, Hajj, Halaqa, Imam's council, Imam's role in America, Immigration, Interfaith community, Intergenerational relations, International Muslim community, International education, Islam, Islam in America, Islamic marriage ceremony, Islamic pilgrimage, Islamic study circle, Jumu'ah, Kairo Radio, Kairouan, Khutbah, Madrasa, Mandigo language, Marriage, Marriage tradition, Michigan, Michigan State University, Muslim Americans, Muslim Center library, Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center, Muslim Center soup kitchen, Muslim community, Muslims, Naming ceremony, New York City, Nigerian Americans, Prophet Muhammad, Qur'an, Qur'an education, Qur'an recitation, Qur'an translation, Qur'anic interpretation, Qur'anic school, Racism, Ramadan, Resident Imam, Saudi Arabia, Segregation, Senegal, Senegalese Americans, Sierra Leone, Syria, Teaching Islam, Tunisia, Dr. Bilal Ware, West Africa, Wolof language


African American Studies | Africana Studies | American Studies | Civic and Community Engagement | Digital Humanities | Inequality and Stratification | Islamic Studies | Nonprofit Administration and Management | Politics and Social Change | Race and Ethnicity | Religion | Urban Studies and Planning


Interview conducted by Naimah Siddiq at the Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center. Interview written by Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director) and Naimah Siddiq. Interview recorded under the direction of Supervising Producer Malikah Shabazz. Videography by Abdul-Zahir Sadid, facilitated by Renee Mohamed. Video Edited by: Jalen Pearson. Transcribed by: Delaney Novak and Dr. Alisa Perkins. Transcription edited by: Dr. Alisa Perkins. Metadata prepared by: Hannah Cole. Metadata edited by: Dr. Alisa Perkins and Sophia Wimberley.



Document Type


Rights Statement

Dream of Detroit Interviews were made possible by funding from the Pillars Grant and Whiting Foundation. Content is for educational purposes only and non-reproducible; interviews are not to be duplicated, but may be linked through ScholarWorks with appropriate attribution. Please direct any questions about copyright to scholarworks@wmich.edu.


Pillars Fund and Whiting Foundation


Dream of Detroit

Length of Video


Oral History Interview with Shaykh Momodou Ceesay on October 24, 2020