Dr. Sofia Adawy,MD,  Heath Center Director

Episode #26

April 5, 2021

by Jonathan Stoll

We made CASH money on this episode… a lot of it.  Community. Activism. Spirituality and both Hip Hop and Healing.  

Dr. Sofia Adawy is one of those Soul Force Ones, and she, like IMAN, the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, is committed to making CASH meaning, too.

Iman means faith in the metaphysical aspects of Islam.  According to wikipedia, “Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, between substance and attribute, and between potentiality and actuality.”  The relationship.

The relationship of making CASH meaning is the connection between how the Soul Force Ones podcast is making CASH meaning and how IMAN is making CASH meaning.

Now, what colin and I are doing with this podcast pales in comparison (and really can’t be compared) to “a community organization that fosters health, wellness and healing in the inner-city by organizing for social change, cultivating the arts, and operating a holistic health center.”

But, the connection lies in the spirit, in the CASH meaning making, and that Dr. Sofia Adawy (and we suspect, the team of doctors and medical professionals, at all the staff at IMAN) is one of those Soul Force Ones.  Sofia refers to the “secret sauce” at IMAN.  I’ve decided that the ingredients in that sauce consist of love, making CASH and Soul Force.  They are, as Mastah P, once so eloquently said, simply “bout it, bout it.”   

How had we not considered the Arts as a part of the CASH acronym?  We’ll add that to Activism and Authenticity.  And is it ironic that it was a Health Center Director who first made us realize that another one of the A’s in making CASH also very well may involve making Art.  In most situations - probably.  But Sofia’s the Health Center Director of IMAN.  And doing and making Art, like making and doing community, is just what IMAN does.

Like the Soul Force Ones, IMAN is focused on making connections.  IMAN makes connections between art and health and taking the patience to engage their patients as people.  Dr. Adawy said, “Every time we encounter a patient, we're treating them and caring about them as an entire person."  A whole person.  Holistic health.  That’s the Soul Force Ones.  It’s how everything is connected.  Like the seven dimensions of public health.  A patient’s spiritual and emotional and psychological health cannot be ignored in providing health care focused solely on the body.  Spiritual care is very much a part of a holistic approach to health care. The mind, body and soul is connected, afterall.  Dr. Adawy shares about IMAN’s approach to healthcare. It’s cultural humility, of course, but it goes deeper than that.  Perhaps it is as simple as recognizing the humanity of the individuals who walk through their doors.  It’s as simple as what Dr. Adawy describes as.”  The Whole person.  How simple.  If only doing this simple thing were so simple.

Dr. Adawy shares about the spirit of service. A lot of public servants do public service, and serve the public. And in serving the community, Dr. Adawy is public servant in a way.  But a “public servant” is a government official, and Dr. Adawy works for a non-profit not a government agency so perhaps spiritual servant would be more fitting?  IMAN’s doing God’s work in a sense.  You could also say they’re doing Allah’s work.  And you’d be saying the same thing.

IMAN is not a Muslim organization, it’s “a Muslim led organization based in the spiritual traditions of Islam.”  Some people might read that and think the organization is religious.  Religion and spirituality is often conflated.  Even a spiritual organization centered by religion can be very different that an organization focused on religion.  At IMAN, religion and spirituality is the means.  I might also contend that it’s the result.  The way a smile can be the means to make someone else smile.  The means and the outcome.

Dr. Adawy tells us, “there's a saying of the Prophet daily giving a smile as an act of charity.”    She, too, sometimes awkwardly smiles at a stranger without evening thinking, ‘I’m giving charity.’  She does it, because it’s her spiritual practice. It’s not just taking the hippocratic oath to “do no harm.”  Dr. Adawy and IMAN is doing right by the cities of Chicago and Atlanta.  They’re doing what’s right, and they’re doing what’s needed to address “structural and systemic injustices.... that substantially increase the quality of life for people in marginalized communities.”

I didn’t expect to hear a connection to Episode #21 with Laurie Childers, a ceramic artist.

Sofia described pottery as a therapeutic healing process.  Laurie’s episode was about the process of her healing, too.  Sofia said, describes pottery, “Just the experience of working with the clay and connecting with the earth through the clay and then that meditative experience of working the clay and molding the clay, and painting and glazing it.” 

How and why can one organization organize huge community hip hop events, and run a health center?  They both provide healing.  It’s not only medicine, but the arts and providing what Dr. Adawy calls, “a therapeutic space for people through music, spoken word and visual arts.”

But Mr. DJCole - I’m loving the Noname “Don’t forget about me” selection.  And I’m feeling Noname’s naming that “All I am is everything and nothing at all.”  And that the track opens with “All her hair gone, Feeling fishy Finding Chemo” is an obvious connection to Sofia, and what she shares about surviving breast cancer.  And, Noname is from Chicago?!?!  So don’t get me wrong, but, no Hurt Me Soul off Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor?  I love that colin intentionally features mostly underground hip hop that I’m generally unfamiliar with, but Chicago based Lupe and the food related metaphors pair so well with this episode.  And speaking of ‘hurting me soul’  that story Dr. Adawy shares about the 8 year girl’s trauma from the anxiety of worrying about the government taking her parents away, instantly hurt my soul.  I couldn’t help but think of my 8 year old daughter.  

Dr. Adawy shares, “On the one hand, yes it hurts my soul, but on the other hand, it fuels the fire inside me.  That's what has me get up and do what I do every day.”

Dr. Adawy’s work, much like how she describes how IMAN’s community events “Feeds her soul,” feeds my soul.  And I hope listening to her feeds yours, too.

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Soul Force Ones ft. Push Collective