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Rare Autobiography by Omar Ibn Said, An Enslaved West African Scholar

The Library of Congress has recently discovered a rare manuscript, an autobiography of Omar Ibn Said, a slave hailing from West Africa. Omar ibn said

The autobiography is 15 pages long, and is written in Arabic. He describes his life in West Africa, in a place called Futa Toro, between modern-day Senegal and the Gambia.

Omar Ibn Said was a wealthy man, and a practising Muslim, praying five times a day, fasting in Ramadan, and giving zakat. He documented the names of his teachers, saying that he had sought knowledge for 25 years.

In 1807, he was captured and brought by ship to South Carolina, where he was badly beaten and abused by the man who had bought him. He ran away, and was jailed. Eventually, he ended up in North Carolina,  in the house of someone called General John Owen, whose brother was the governor of the state.

Omar Ibn Said owned a copy of the Qur’an and the Bible. Although he was baptised to fulfil the social norms around him, he filled his autobiography with verses from the Qur’an and mentions of Allah. In his Bible, he wrote phrases such as, “All good is from Allah,” indicating that he had never really left Islam, despite what he had to do to conform. He died in 1864, only one year before slavery was abolished.

You can view the digital copy of his autobiography here. You can read the original article here.


Living the Ihya in South Africa – Shaykh Seraj Hendricks Full Interview

Are We Beyond Slavery? Not even close.

In Peace: The Spread of Islam in Africa

“Islam spread through West Africa through nonviolent means.”

Our ideas of Africa nowadays consist of everything from famines, war, refugees fleeing their homeland, to the recent shootings of black people by police, and the Black Lives Matter movement.spread of Islam in Africa

But this race of beautiful, strong, and intelligent people surely had to have a noble history.

In this illuminating lecture, Dr Rudolph Bilal Ware takes us on a journey through history and gives us some lessons that we can learn from the history of the West African people.

Dr. Ware focuses on two characteristics of these people; firstly, that the spread of Islam through Africa was solely through peaceful means, and secondly, that there was less focus on convincing people and more focus on benefitting all humanity by doing good works.

Whether you’re looking for information on a history project or involved in campus dawah, or just feel the need to know more about the African people, this short talk will provide many answers to the questions in your mind.

Our thanks to Lamppost Education Initiative for this recording.

Resources for Seekers

spread of Islam in Africa

In Soweto: “Allah is Beautiful and Loves Beauty: Celebrating the Beautiful Messenger”

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus delivered this beautiful talk in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, during a session which ended with two local women embracing Islam.
Follow the Spread Light tour of South Africa on the SeekersHub website. Your financial support is crucial to our #SpreadLight campaign, which seeks to provide truly excellent Islamic learning to at least 1,000,000 seekers of knowledge in the coming year. This will serve as an ongoing charity (sadaqa jariyah) so please donate today.