I Cannot Write My Life book review: Islam, Arabic, and Slavery in Omar ibn Said's America (Islamic Civilization and Muslim Networks)

"I Cannot Write My Life: Islam, Arabic, and Slavery in Omar ibn Said's America" is a book that examines the life of Omar ibn Said, an enslaved Muslim from West Africa who was brought to the United States in the early 19th century. The book is part of the "Islamic Civilization and Muslim Networks" series, which explores the history, culture, and influence of Islamic civilization around the world.

The author, Jeffrey Einboden, uses Omar ibn Said's life story as a lens through which to examine the experiences of enslaved Muslims in America, and the ways in which they tried to maintain their faith and cultural identity despite the oppressive conditions under which they lived. 

Omar ibn Said was unique among enslaved Africans in America in that he was literate in Arabic and able to write his own autobiography, which he did in 1831. Einboden analyzes the text of Omar ibn Said's autobiography, exploring its themes of faith, identity, and the struggle for freedom.

The book also looks at the broader historical context of the slave trade and the role of Islam and Arabic in the lives of enslaved Africans. Despite the efforts of slave owners to erase their cultural and religious identities, many enslaved Muslims continued to practice their faith in secret, and passed it down to their descendants.

Overall, "I Cannot Write My Life" sheds light on a little-known aspect of American history, and offers important insights into the complex ways in which religion, language, and identity intersected in the lives of enslaved Muslims in the early United States.

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