by Shazia Siddiqi
An Appeal For Funds for American Sign Language Qurans
Imagine not being able to hear the azaan. Imagine not being able to understand a word of khutbah. Imagine having no idea what is being said during prayers or, worse, not being able to read the Quran. Sadly this is the norm for many Deaf (we use a big “D” to signify the name of a community that’s both linguistically and culturally Deaf) and hard-of-hearing Muslims around the world, a linguistic minority that uses sign language as the main mode of communication.
Often our brothers and sisters do not know how to communicate with us, and thus we are not fully included at Masjids and Islamic organizations around the country. Deaf Muslims have expressed frustration and sadness at not being to access Islamic materials and at not having full access to Islamic conferences and khutbahs.
Global Deaf Muslim (GDM)
A group of deaf Muslim college students at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) and Rochester Institute of Technology, in Rochester, NY have been gathering together for Eid and iftars during Ramadan and for social services. They’ve established the Global Deaf Muslim (GDM) organization to share their experiences through American Sign Language (ASL), hosting regular gatherings at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC and NTID. GDM obtained non-profit status in 2010 and now has an established headquarters in Falls Church, VA.
Our vision is a Muslim ummah that recognizes the rights of deaf Muslims and that actively strives to be accessible and inclusive of all Muslims.
Our mission is to advocate for the advancement and inclusion of deaf Muslims in the Muslim ummah and to raise awareness of the concerns of the deaf and the hard-of-hearing within the broader Muslim community.
- To work with Muslim organizations to facilitate the provision of ASL Interpreters at Mosques and Islamic events
- To work with Islamic scholars, parents of deaf Muslims, and the wider Muslim community to increase awareness of the rights of the deaf
- To create a global network of deaf Muslims
- To facilitate dialogue between deaf and hearing Muslims.
- To advance the Islamic education of deaf Muslims worldwide
Goals and Achievements
In 2007, GDM worked with Dar Al Hijra Masjid in Virgnia to hire qualified ASL interpreters for Friday prayers for deaf residents in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC. It was the first time that a masjid in America has provided accommodation for deaf people. That same year, ISNA and MSA started including ASL interpretations for deaf communications.
GDM grew to open chapters in Virginia, California, Minnesota, Toronto, Atlanta, and Ghana in West Africa. In 2010, GDM started doing fundraising on a national scale and received donations that helped fund weekend Islamic lessons with imam and ASL interpreters, as well as free ASL classes.
GDM hosted deaf Islamic awareness conferences at Georgetown University, University of Minnesota, and Gallaudet University. GDM also sponsored deaf individuals to attend national conferences by providing transportation and accommodation for those who could not afford trips on their own.
In 2013, GDM sponsored 13 Deaf American Muslims to perform umrah with ASL interpreters. GDM provided zakat funds to the Muslim Deaf Development center in Ghana to help with transportation and medical needs.
During November 2013, GDM hosted the First International Forum for Deaf Muslims in Doha, Qatar, sponsored by the State of Qatar under the Ministry of Social Cultural in Qatar, in which over 500 Deaf Muslims gathered to exchange their experiences. Our Deaf Muslims learned so much about understanding their faith and contributing to their ummah, alhumdulillah!
However, we still have a lot of catching up to do regarding educating our Deaf brothers and sisters about Islam. We are looking forward to translating the Quran into ASL for our Deaf Muslims to understand the Quran fully in their native language of ASL!
We launched our first fundraising effort for Quran in the ASL project in December, 2011, at our headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia. In spite of having been forced to put our project on hold several times due to lack of funds, we have since continued our efforts in raising awareness and funds for this important need in our Muslim community.
In 2012, we created the first demo of the project with Surah Al-Fatiha being translated into ASL, which was highly regarded among Deaf Muslims. As we enter 2014, our attention is focused on translating the Quran into ASL.
We are recruiting a team of 12 people: five trained signers, three video editors, two Islamic scholars who are fluent in both Arabic and English, and two ASL interpreters to facilitate communication between the signers and scholars during translation.
Since we launched the Quran in ASL fundraising drive, we have three people sponsoring one Juz, one person sponsoring two Juz, as well as a few who have pledged in general. We are in desperate need of more sponsors and donors in order to ensure that the project gets started as soon as possible with the recruited team.
To ensure a smooth start of the project, GDM will need at least $40,000 per month to be able to cover each team member. We are asking for your commitment to help us ensure that we have enough funds each month for making the project a reality. There are several ways in which you can donate to Quran in ASL project.
What Can You Do?
- Write a check to our office in Falls Church, Virginia (address is below)
- Sponsor a Surah for $1,350, Hizb for $5,400, or Juz for $10,800 to be translated into ASL
- Partner with GDM at your Masjid through mutual fundraiser, making announcements during Khutbah, encouraging your community members to donate
GDM is becoming the main informational center for Deaf Muslims everywhere, alhamdulillah. Your donation will help us to grow and serve all Deaf Muslims. The reward will be immense when we complete translating Quran into ASL, inshaa Allah, and Deaf Muslims, as well as their peers, will be very grateful for your support. Your donation is qualified for tax deduction (Tax ID: 8401684165).
Please feel free to contact us with any concerns or questions at this email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On behalf of GDM members, board, staff, and volunteers, we are sincerely grateful for your support, and we look forward to completing a project that will increase Deaf Muslims’ understanding of Islam through the Quran in ASL. May Allah (swt) continue to bless and reward you.
Global Deaf Muslim
5695 Columbia Pike, Suite 201
Falls Church, VA 22041