Muslim Wellness Foundation Founder: Our story does not start with oppression.

Dr. Kameelah Mu’Min Oseguera is the Founder and President of the Muslim Wellness Foundation (MWF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting healing and emotional well-being in the American Muslim community. Oseguera joins to discuss her work at the Omar Ibn Said Institute for Black Muslim Studies and Research and explains why she sees interrogating the Western narrative of the enslaved as interconnected to Black Muslim mental health and well-being.

Our story does not start with oppression…
In 2023, Omar, by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels, was honored with a Pulitzer Prize.  The opera based on the life of Omar Ibn Said was inspired by his handwritten autobiography, written in stylized Arabic in his own hand in 1837.  Acquired in 2019 by the Library of Congress, curiosity about Omar has grown along with a growing interest in researching his life before he was kidnapped and enslaved. One initiative launched in 2021 by the Muslim Wellness Foundation is engaging scholars and linguists in present-day Senegal.  Founder of the Muslim Wellness Foundation and seminary professor Dr. Oseguera joins to explain why she sees Omar’s story as one that needs to be interrogated and widely shared as part of an effort to reclaim the narrative.  She insists our story does not start with oppression.

A Contested Conversion
Shortly after becoming an enslaved member of the Owen plantation, Omar ibn Said was encouraged to convert to Christianity.  General Owens searched and secured an Arabic translation of the Bible to facilitate the transition, which would be lauded in local accounts as a remarkable sign. However, as linguists and scholars from Senegal now review the original manuscript written in Omar’s handwriting, many contest his conversion.  Dr. Oseguera discusses why scholars challenge the conversion recording and provides context.

A Trailblazer in Her Own Right
Dr. Kameelah Mu’Min Oseguera discusses her role as the first Muslim faculty member at the Chicago Theological Seminary. She reflects on the womanist scholars who shaped her own journey and shares her views on the growing number of women entering Muslim chaplaincy in the United States and what that means for a traditionally male-led community.

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