Wisam Sharieff was born and raised on the east coast. He spent his early years at the Islamic Center of Long Island (ICLI) and completed his elementary studies at Crescent School. His Islamic studies journey began at the Islamic Institute of Education (IIE) under Mufti Abdullah Saleem in Elgin, Illinois. At IIE, Sharieff completed his memorization of the Qur’an and excelled in his early studies of seerah (biography/way of life of Prophet Muhammad PBUH), tajweed (science of Qur’anic recitation), and fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). After three years of study at the institute, Sharieff founded the first after school Qur’anic studies program at his local masjid, ICLI.
Once the program was established and in trustworthy hands, Sharieff traveled to Cairo, Egypt to study linguistics and recitation under Sheikh Ahmad Wafa. After completing a rigorous seven-hour a day schedule, Sharieff returned to New York to complete high school. With Allah’s tremendous mercy, his high school graduation was completed with honors in just 20 months. Sharieff enrolled in college while rejoining the after school Qur’anic studies program that he initiated before leaving for Egypt. Setting his sights on more than Qur’anic reading, a part-time tahfeez ul Qur’an (memorization of the Qur’an) program was started at the school. Students benefitted from Sharieff’s traditional knowledge and fresh approach of Qur’anic sciences.
As students settled into their routines, Sharieff realized he wanted to advance his own studies and offer more to his students. With this motivation, he traveled to Lahore, Pakistan where he was selected from 33 students internationally to attend the Qur’an Academy. The Qur’an Academy was a branch of the Qur’an College started by Dr. Israr Ahmad, whose campus was just minutes away. Quran Academy students roomed with Dr. Israr and studied sciences directly from teachers. A joint relationship between the Qur’an Academy and Jamia al Ashrafiya, located on the adjacent street, allowed for intercollegiate study, exposing students to classical sciences like usul ul Hadith (principals of Hadith), usul ul fiqh (principals of Islamic jurisprudence), and munthick (logic).
After completing his Bachelors in Arabic grammar with a minor in Islamic literature from the Qura’an Academy, Sharieff returned to the United States. Upon his return, Sharieff started weekly halaqaat (study circles) and gave khutub (sermons) for the NYC community. The tahfeez ul Qur’an class that Sharieff started before leaving for Lahore was flourishing, and Sharieff took the reins once again to launch the Circle of Excellence, the first full-time Qur’anic memorization and educational institute. The Circle of Excellence fused Islamic studies with state mandated educational requirements. Nine students completed high school and memorization of the Qur’an.
All the while, Sharieff was completing classes as a requirement for acceptance into St. Vincent’s Medical Academy. After acceptance into the radiological sciences program, Sharieff taught and attended classes until his rotations took him to Las Vegas, Nevada. Soon after, Bayyinah, a nationally traveling Arabic Institute, employed Sharieff to bring Qur’anic study state-to-state and person-to-person.
After completing his four-year degree as a radiology assistant and seeing over 5,000 people benefit from his teaching techniques with Bayyinah traveling classes, Sharieff took his studies back to the Middle East. In 2007, he was privileged to study in Makkah with Sheikh Zahid Rashid, a member of the acceptance committee at Umul Qura University. In a short period, Sharieff was able to study in small groups with some of Makkah’s most prominent scholars, including studying kitaab ut tawheed (book on the Oneness of Allah) from Sheikh Fawzan, the author of the most widely used English commentary on the text on theology. During Sharieff’s time there, he was blessed to recite directly to many scholars of the Qur’an, including the youngest imam of the Grand Mosque.
Sharieff’s summer in Makkah proved to be intense, yet he was looking to sit under the shade of a teacher and learn. His travel brought him back to Egypt, but this time to Alexandria. After twice requesting to sit and learn from Sheikh Muhammad Helmi, he was denied. Sheikh Helmi openly asked Sharieff how someone from the west could have the ability, and moreover the etiquette, to learn from him for an extended time. Sharieff explained of his travels and mentioned his accomplishments, especially in such short time frames. Sheikh Muhammad Helmi accepted Sharieff and began in depth study of tafseer (commentary), iraab (morphology) and grammar. Along with the expertise of Sheikh Ali Anwar in recitation and tafseer, Sharieff expanded his horizons in uloom ul Qur’an (sciences of the Quran).
After a year abroad, Sharieff returned to pursue his passion of the varying recitations of the Quran with Sheikh Uthman Khan in Mississauga, Canada. His studies with Sheikh Uthman are still continuing.