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Islam By Touch: Muslim Couple Produce Braille Qur’an in English

Islam By Touch: Muslim Couple Produce Braille Qur’an in English
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Converting to Islam 13 years ago, visually impaired Yadira Thabatah could not find any high-quality, English-language resources that she and her husband could read.

Taking things into their own hands, the couple started their nonprofit “Islam By Touch” and produced more than 150 braille Qur’ans for distribution to visually impaired Muslims, Religion News Service reported.

The first time Yadira was able to read the Quran for herself was when she was proofreading her own braille rendering of an English translation.

“I actually cried,” Yadira told Religion News Service. “I’m a reader by nature. Going from being Muslim for about a decade and never having read the Quran, the word of Allah, to actually giving this amazing opportunity to other blind people. I can’t put it into words.”

Though many blind Muslims depend on audio CDs with Qur’an translation, the 34-year-old mother of four living in Fort Worth, Texas, said she longed to read the Qur’an with her own hands.

“How do you expect blind Muslims to have a certain level of faith if they can’t even read their own book?” Nadir asked.

Invented almost 200 years ago in France, braille is a tactile writing system that allows blind and visually impaired people to read and write. Patterns of dots — typically raised on embossed paper, so that they can be read by touch with the fingers — represent letters and symbols in any language.

The Quran itself has been available in braille in Arabic since at least the 1980s when a braille Quran was first published in Turkey.

Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s popular English translation is available in a braille version at the Library of Congress.

The couple says their version is a major step forward for blind Muslims, who can often be shut out of Islamic communities due to inaccessibility, which feeds insensitivity about their disability.

“This is about removing stigma toward people who are blind,” Yadira said.

“This is about equality and justice. Blind Muslims have just as much autonomy and ability to thrive. We are not charity cases, we are not ‘brave’ for simply existing.”

The Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through the archangel Gabriel who used to make the Prophet memorize the Qur’an and made him revise it every year in the month of Ramadan, the fasting month.

Memorizing the Holy Qur’an is one of the most important ways to preserve Allah’s message.

The others are to publish and distribute the book, or the text on the Internet and to recite the parts that one knows to other people.


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