Sunday, March 7, 2010

How does a person who is deaf say his/her Shahada?

Shahada is the declaration of faith of a Muslim:

Ash-hadoo An-La ilaaha ilAllah wa Ash-hadoo An-na Muhammad Ar-RasoolAllah

I testify that there is no god besides Allah (The God) and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

(Listen to the Arabic here)

If someone wants to become Muslim, all they have to do is recite the above words in Arabic* and believe in their heart that those words are true. This is usually done amongst at least one other person as witness. Quite simple.

However, I was sitting just now pondering over whether I should study for developmental and cell biology laboratory final (which is tomorrow!) and a thought came to my mind: How would a person who is deaf say his/her Shahada? (There goes the studying…)

First of all, they cannot hear it. It would have to be conveyed through sign language (and yes, there IS Arabic sign language), but that person would have to KNOW Arabic sign language. Then, they would also have to know what they are saying in their own sign language as it cannot be said without understanding.

In other words, someone would need to explain to this person about the Shahada in the language of this ‘prospective Muslim’ and then they would have to ‘repeat’ it in Arabic sign language.

So I googled.

But I did not find anything at all useful. Instead, I found a website called GazaMom. It sounds unrelated, but she had a link to a website about an organization that works with men and women who are deaf in the Palestinian occupied territory. For more information, click here.

Then, I youtubed.

No luck.

So, now I am guessing that very few converts are from the deaf community and we should definitely look into that. Note to self: become an interpreter for people that are deaf. Golden West College in Huntington Beach offers a certificate course in this (more info here).

*why Arabic? Because the last Messenger came from among the Arabs. If Allah wanted to reveal a Quran in English, to bring about a miracle of prose and poetry, etc., He could have done that.
*But still ,why everything in Arabic? This is a unifying element that remains in Islam. Wherever Muslims go, they can pray together. Ex. If a Muslim from Sri Lanka visited Beijing, and if they called out the  Azaan (which is the call to prayer) in Chinese, the Sri Lankan would not know that it is time for prayer. (The mosques in China and Sri Lanka do not look alike either, by the way).

Update (12/22/2011): Guess what I found?!

Adhaan in British Sign Language from Aligraphy on Vimeo.


socal muslimah said...

*edited by author of blog*
hey Salamz -*-!
yeah i have thought about this topic too. I remember it was last summer when i was thinking about learning sign language too. Remember? i think i told you about it. but i cudnt fine any good sources where i could learn. But one thing i came up with was that if a deaf person is taking his/her shahada, it can be done in sign language irrespective of what language the sign language is in. The whole trouble of learning arabic then its sign language would not be needed since Allah s.w.t looks at the heart. And what i was thinking was when a person is taking his shahada, while he acts it out in sign language a person with him (other than the Imam) can say it loud for that person. Now i was wondering if that was acceptable? Anyway this was a great thought and good luck with final. =)

original comment posted on: march 8,2010 at 12:01pm

Rukhpar Mor said...

Hey WalaykumAssalam,

Actually, that idea sounds better: they 'sign' the shahada in their own language and the other person says it out loud. Alhumdolillah.

No, I don't think we talked about it, mainly because we barely got to see each other in the summer=)

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