Born into a devout Muslim family in west Africa, Imam Momodou Ceesay studied Arabic and the Quran at an early age. He learned quickly under the tutelage of a Gambian sheikh and graduated from Al Azhar in Egypt, considered the top university in the world for Islamic studies.
But it concerned him that millions of African Muslims were unable to understand the Quran because it was written in Arabic, a language foreign to many of them. So Ceesay, now a Southfield resident, undertook what is believed to be the first complete translation of Islam's holy book into Mandinka, a west African language.
Completed in 2006, the translation was approved by Islamic scholars last year. Now, Ceesay is raising money to make and distribute CD and cassette copies to Mandinka-speaking Muslims in Africa, the United States, France and other places where Africans have migrated.
"I want to make sure people have the correct information about the Quran and Islam, so they don't get it from the TV screen," Ceesay said Saturday after teaching an Islamic class at the Muslim Center in Detroit. . .