Kameelah Speaks At “Proud to be a Muslim” Explorations

The Muslim Students’ Organization (MSO) organized an Explorations event titled “Proud to be a Muslim” last month in the Bunn Library in which Sister Kameelah, the group’s chaplain, spoke on her research on Islam in America and today’s world.

The Muslim Students’ Organization (MSO) organized an Explorations event titled “Proud to be a Muslim” last month in the Bunn Library in which Sister Kameelah, the group’s chaplain, spoke on her research on Islam in America and today’s world.

Heavily involved in the American Muslim community, Kameelah founded and currently leads the Muslim Wellness Foundation, which works to “reduce stigma and promote healing” in the Muslim community. Having “adopted an interdisciplinary approach which addresses mental health challenges using a spiritually relevant community-based public health framework,” the organization seeks to achieve its mission through communication, education, and training. Additionally, Kameelah is the chaplain of the Muslim Students’ Association of the University of Pennsylvania for the past three years. She has received multiple awards for her steps to highlight mental health awareness in the Muslim community. To obtain her doctorate in clinical psychology, Kameelah interviewed college students who were both black and Muslim. Speaking with individuals about their experiences as being members of two marginalized communities in America, Kameelah pursued her guiding research question: “What does it mean to be a young black Muslim in today’s society?” Sister Kameelah explained how often black Muslims can be “hypervisible” and “invisible” at the same time. She further recounted how many students felt that one of their identities hindered the other from being fully accepted.

On the nature of the speech, Director of Spiritual and Religious Life Sue Anne Morrow H’12 remarked on how “Sister Kameelah shared her research and her findings with hope and with compassion and with her spirit of joy.”

Reflecting on the premise of the event, Khan said, “It is not that often that we as a community get the chance to hear about the intersectionality of religious, racial, and gender identifiers from a highly accomplished individual.” She added that she “learned a lot” from Kameelah’s discussion on the black Muslim experience in America.

Esha Akhtar ’21, for whom these intersections in identity explored by Kameelah “really stood out,” was especially moved by how “revolutionary and mind-blowing” some of Kameelah’s findings on people’s “everyday lived experiences because of their identities:” “To see that realization among peers was really cool,” Akhtar said.

Akhtar added, “I am interested in the work she does as a future career for myself. Seeing her as a role model and how she made her work so personal was really helpful…Her research for years and years gives her work legitimacy. It really resonated with me.”

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