A mosque at Pulikkal here is using sign language during Friday prayers ‘Qutaba’ and daily ‘azans’ to help the hearing impaired participate in the religious services. During ‘Qutabas’ and ‘Azaans’ (Muslim call for prayers) sign language interpreters are used at the mosque ‘AL Rahma’, which was inaugurated a couple of days ago.
“This is the first time in the country and perhaps first in the world that such a mosque for the hearing impaired has taken shape,” Musthafa Madani, Secretary of the Ability Foundation, the NGO which was instrumental in bringing in this concept, told PTI. All sermons during the prayers will have sign language interpreters, who are members of the staff, he said.
“There are also large LCD screens installed on the mosque’s walls so that all attending the prayers, including women, even in the back rows, will be able to follow the prayers seeing the screens,” he said. Built at a cost of Rs 75 lakh, with contributions from non-resident Keralites and local people, the mosque has come up in a five-and-half acre campus of the Ability Foundation.
“It is a great boon to the deaf and mute students, who have never heard in their life. We have been able to give them their biggest joy,” says Madani. For 22 year-old Naseeba, a hearing impaired teacher, who takes classes for B.com and computer application students, when she “heard” the prayers for the first time, it was an unforgettable moment for her which she would always cherish.
Safavan (25), a third year B.com student, who is also hearing impaired, expressed happiness at being able to understand the prayers for the first time in his life. There are about 300 students who are differently-abled, including 200 with hearing problems, in the campus pursuing various courses.
Of the 30 teachers of the foundation, 17 are physically challenged persons. When those with other disabilities are able to benefit from religious talks and preachings during Friday prayers, the hearing and speech impaired are the ones who feel left out, says Madani, who is a Government school teacher at Kondotty. The mosque which has 100 per cent disabled friendly ramps, hand rails and toilets, is open to all.
The aim of the foundation is to make the hearing impaired and people with other disabilities self sufficient and be able to fend for themselves. Various vocational courses are offered by the foundation for people with different disabilities. It also brings out a monthly audio magazine ‘Divya Deepthi’ for the hearing impaired.
Features and articles from various newspapers are compiled and those who can read it properly send it through WhatsApp, according to Madani.