Short Answer: “It would be too much of a burden to require people to… make signs for everything that we recite in our prayers and there seems to be little purpose because in the prayer we’re communicating with God… God knows what we have in mind.” In the case of prayer, one need only mouth the words of the prayer if they are unable to voice them out loud.
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Dr. Shabir Ally addresses this question in the video below:
Aisha Khaja: Dr. Shabir, the question for today is the subject is deaf Muslims.
If a deaf Muslim cannot speak or prefers to use sign language instead of speaking–either one–can he or she make the intention to pray using sign language?
Dr. Shabir Ally: Well, that’s an interesting question.
If one cannot speak, then, what we do in prayer generally, especially when praying alone, is that we don’t utter the voice. We just move the lips.
There are some loud prayers, but in the Hanafi school, when praying alone–even the loud prayers–would be just praying silently by just moving your lips.
But we do make one sign in the prayer. The sign indicating that there is only One God, and that’s our own sort of sign language.
[It is] different from ASL [American Sign Language]—I don’t know what, how to do it in ASL.
But it would be too much of a burden to require people to, you know, make signs for everything that we recite in our prayers and there seems to be little purpose because in the prayer we’re communicating with God.
And God knows our minds, whereas when we are communicating with other people, we have to signify if we cannot speak because they don’t know our minds.
And so, you know, I would recommend for persons who cannot voice the recitals in the prayer to just have those items in mind.
And of course, God knows what we have in mind.
Aisha Khaja: Just out of curiosity, what about when they have to recite the Quran? Same kinda […]
Dr. Shabir Ally: Well, reciting the Quran could be done by reciting from a Braille copy, for example.
And that too can be a mental exercise. It does not have to be a loud recital.
But of course, if one wanted to communicate the teachings of the Quran to others, then, one would use sign language.
But then that is not the question of our prayer anymore. This is about communicating ideas from one person to another.
Aisha Khaja: So, this just comes back to the idea in religion where there is no compulsion and it’s meant to be easy.
Dr. Shabir Ally: Yes, and practical, doable.
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(From Ask About Islam archives)
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