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Being Deaf and Muslim

A deaf brother walks into the Mosque and begins his ablutions incorrectly. A few elderly men mock his mistakes. Fortunately, a brother who is able to sign is present, and helps the deaf brother perform his wudhu correctly.

Recalling the above incident, Sarah* says, “For me, that was disgusting. These were adult mosque elders violating the Prophetic example in the mosque itself by mocking someone instead of teaching or helping them.”

Sarah has been working with the deaf community for the last ten years. Previously, whilst working for a mainstream deaf organisation, she realised that over 95% of its users were Muslim, who were suffering from an acute lack of provision of deaf-friendly Islamic education. This led her to starting her own classes for deaf girls and she is now preparing a tailored modular Islamic Studies course. 

The need for such a service is certainly there. Thirteen year old Basma* is adamant, “My faith is important to me. I am a Muslim and just because I am deaf it does not give me an excuse not to practice Islam.”

Born with a profound bilateral hearing loss, Basma is excelling at school and attends madrasah in the evening. Visual tools such as interactive whiteboards and PowerPoint presentations make her learning experience an easier one.

Is there ignorance surrounding deafness in the Muslim community? For Sarah, there is but it’s not deliberate. “It’s more fear of the unknown. The younger generation are much more open. There’s definitely an interest but not necessarily awareness.” 

Young children play a vital role in increasing deaf friendly provision. “We have to teach and empower children so that they don’t feel hesitant in approaching deaf individuals,” says Sarah.  According to Basma, when children are not taught they find it much more difficult to understand how to treat deaf people. To mock or hurt someone on the basis of their disability is abhorrent. It is the attitude of our young people which will form the basis of how the British Muslim community moves forward in terms of inclusion.

When it comes to being ‘inclusive’ or treating those who are commonly discriminated against with dignity, the Prophet (peace be upon him)’s selection of his mu’addhins (a prominent position of one who proclaims the call to prayer) speaks volumes. The first was Bilal b. Rabah, a former black slave, and the second was ‘Abdullah b. Umm Maktum who was blind.

To further accommodate deaf individuals Basma suggests, “Muslims can use different techniques other than just speaking. I think that they should be taught how to talk to deaf people e.g. facing towards them, not shouting, and not speaking too quietly, not too fast or too slow. It would also be helpful if Islamic DVDs and video clips had subtitles.”

Sarah would like to see signing become commonplace at Islamic events. She cites successful examples in London and Leeds where the Friday sermon (khutbah) is interpreted by BSL (British Sign Language) interpreters and thinks other Mosques across the country need to get on board. Organisations such as Muslim Deaf UK and Al-Isharah work in collaboration with mosques to provide these services. Moving on to a wider issue, Sarah rightly points out that “our mosques in a general sense aren’t very disabled-friendly. It’s not just an issue about deaf people, but also those who are disabled in other ways. We need more access.”

*Names have been changed upon request

 

 


Sources: www.islam21c.com

Notes: 
Islam21c requests all the readers of this article, and others, to share it on your facebooktwitter, and other platforms to further spread our efforts.

About Somayya Patel

11 comments

  1. There is a website that provides islamic education in BSL for the Deaf Community called Islam for deaf the website is http://www.islamfordeaf.co.uk

  2. Abdulwahab Ali

    Assalmu Aleykum brothers and sisters in Islam am a sign language interpreter from Kenya. We a madrasa for the deaf but chlerlang that we have is fund to keep us running the program.

  3. Jason Chester

    I don’t goto Islamic center anymore. I got tired of them discriminating against me. They don’t accept me as their fellow Muslim and wish not to accommodate me then screw them.

  4. Zubair Akhtar

    A brother in need
    I think this is a very important issue with the Muslim Ummah at the present time as there are an increasing number of Muslim deaf children in today’s society. I too have a younger brother who is deaf and it is very difficult for him to interact within the local Masjid and understand any lectures that take place. He also has many deaf friends who do not feel included in their local Masjids in and around the North West. My family and I can teach him the basics however the local Masjid covers very important topics every Friday at Jumma which would very much benefit my brother and his friends. Most of the deaf brothers I have met do have the desire to learn about Islam and I think it is such a shame that there is no direct link to help them; I have tried to find a Muslim Interpreter in the past and found it very difficult and finally when we did he didn’t turn up.
    It would be such a blessing to have a BSL interpreter throughout the UK at the Islamic institutes and Masjids, especially for the Friday sermon at Jumma. I very much appreciate the work the sister is doing and would love to get involved, May Allah swt bless you for all yr effort sister Sarah.

  5. Zubair Akhtar

    A brother in need
    I think this is a very important issue with the Muslim Ummah at the present time as there are an increasing number of Muslim deaf children in today’s society. I too have a younger brother who is deaf and it is very difficult for him to interact within the local Masjid and understand any lectures that take place. He also has many deaf friends who do not feel included in their local Masjids in and around the North West. My family and I can teach him the basics however the local Masjid covers very important topics every Friday at Jumma which would very much benefit my brother and his friends. Most of the deaf brothers I have met do have the desire to learn about Islam and I think it is such a shame that there is no direct link to help them; I have tried to find a Muslim Interpreter in the past and found it very difficult and finally when we did he didn’t turn up.
    It would be such a blessing to have a BSL interpreter throughout the UK at the Islamic institutes and Masjids, especially for the Friday sermon at Jumma. I very much appreciate the work the sister is doing and would love to get involved, May Allah swt bless you for all yr effort sister Sarah.

  6. Zubair Akhtar

    I think this is a very important issue with the Muslim Ummah at the present time as there are an increasing number of Muslim deaf children in today’s society. I too have a younger brother who is deaf and it is very difficult for him to interact within the local Masjid and understand any lectures that take place. He also has many deaf friends who do not feel included in their local Masjids in and around the North West. My family and I can teach him the basics however the local Masjid covers very important topics every Friday at Jumma which would very much benefit my brother and his friends. Most of the deaf brothers I have met do have the desire to learn about Islam and I think it is such a shame that there is no direct link to help them; I have tried to find a Muslim Interpreter in the past and found it very difficult and finally when we did he didn’t turn up.
    It would be such a blessing to have a BSL interpreter throughout the UK at the Islamic institutes and Masjids, especially for the Friday sermon at Jumma. I very much appreciate the work the sister is doing and would love to get involved, May Allah swt bless you for all yr effort sister Sarah.

  7. Zubair Akhtar

    A brother in need
    I think this is a very important issue with the Muslim Ummah at the present time as there are an increasing number of Muslim deaf children in today’s society. I too have a younger brother who is deaf and it is very difficult for him to interact within the local Masjid and understand any lectures that take place. He also has many deaf friends who do not feel included in their local Masjids in and around the North West. My family and I can teach him the basics however the local Masjid covers very important topics every Friday at Jumma which would very much benefit my brother and his friends. Most of the deaf brothers I have met do have the desire to learn about Islam and I think it is such a shame that there is no direct link to help them; I have tried to find a Muslim Interpreter in the past and found it very difficult and finally when we did he didn’t turn up.
    It would be such a blessing to have a BSL interpreter throughout the UK at the Islamic institutes and Masjids, especially for the Friday sermon at Jumma. I very much appreciate the work the sister is doing and would love to get involved, May Allah swt bless you for all yr effort sister Sarah.

  8. MAY ALLAH HELP THE DISABLED TO BE ABLE AND GIFT SENSES TO THEM. AMEEN
    MAY ALLAH(SWT) HELP THE DISABLED TO BE ABLE AND MAY THEIR SENSES AND FACULTY BE BLESSED TO THEM!!! (AGAIN) MAY ALLAH(SWT) HELP, PLEASE!

  9. Support Al Isharah…Raising funds for Deaf Umrah
    The first ever Umrah for deaf Muslims was organised by Al Isharah in April 2010. They did it again for our deaf brothers and sisters in 2011.

    Now let us support this wonderful cause in 2012 insha’Allaah!

    Say: “It is He Who has created you (and made you grow), and made for you the faculties of hearing, seeing, feeling and understanding: little thanks it is ye give. [Sural Al-Mulk:23, Qur’an]

    http://www.alisharah.com/ http://www.deafumrah.com/

    Event Information:

    Event Name: Deaf Run 2012 – ‘Raising funds for Deaf Umrah’

    Date: 3rd June 2012 (Sunday)

    Time: 10:30-5pm

    Main Attraction:

    2 mile run inside Mile End park. Two separate runs- men & boys and women & girls

    Other attractions:

    • Fairground rides

    • Stalls

    • Art workshops (including graffiti)

    • Skateboarding exhibition

    • Women & children area

  10. Support Al Isharah…Support Deaf Umrah
    The first ever Umrah for deaf Muslims was organised by Al Isharah in April 2010. They did it again for our deaf brothers and sisters in 2011.

    Now let us support this wonderful cause in 2012 insha’Allaah!

    Say: “It is He Who has created you (and made you grow), and made for you the faculties of hearing, seeing, feeling and understanding: little thanks it is ye give. [Sural Al-Mulk:23, Qur’an]

    http://www.alisharah.com/ http://www.deafumrah.com/

    Event Information:

    Event Name: Deaf Run 2012 – ‘Raising funds for Deaf Umrah’

    Date: 3rd June 2012 (Sunday)

    Time: 10:30-5pm

    Main Attraction:

    2 mile run inside Mile End park. Two separate runs- men & boys and women & girls

    Other attractions:

    • Fairground rides

    • Stalls

    • Art workshops (including graffiti)

    • Skateboarding exhibition

    • Women & children area

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