Omar Ibn Said was a West African Muslim scholar and teacher who was enslaved and brought to the United States in the early 1800s. Patrick Horn’s “African Muslim Enslaved in the Carolinas” provides a detailed biography of Said’s life.
According to Horn, Said was born in Futa Toro, in present-day Senegal, in 1770. He was born into a family of Muslim scholars and was himself trained in Islamic studies from a young age. In 1807, Said was captured and sold into slavery, eventually ending up in the United States.
Despite his enslavement, Said continued to practice his faith and write in Arabic. He wrote several autobiographical texts, including his famous “The Life of Omar Ibn Said,” which describes his life in Africa, his capture and enslavement, and his experiences as a Muslim in the United States.
Said’s writings demonstrate his deep knowledge of Islam and his commitment to the religion, as well as his struggle to reconcile his faith with the harsh realities of slavery. He wrote extensively about the concept of tawhid (the oneness of God) and the importance of submission to God’s will.
Said’s writings have been studied and celebrated by scholars and historians for their insights into the experiences of enslaved Muslims in the United States. They also provide a valuable glimpse into the intellectual and spiritual lives of West African Muslims in the early 19th century.