Muslim Diaries: "I'm Blind, But I'm A Qur'an Hafidh"

The Holy Quran in Braille

The holy Qur'an in braille: "It is He Who has created for you the faculties of hearing, sight, feeling and understanding: little thanks it is ye give!" (Quran 23:78) Image:: flickr

In the name of God, compassionate & merciful بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ | Peace be with you السلام عليكم

Muslim Diaries: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5


Balal Hussain is a young man from London and has been blind since birth. But that didn't stop him from studying Islam and memorising the Qur'an in South Africa.

Muslimness was humbled to feature Kitaba in 2009 as an empowering community project set up to provide Islamic resources for Muslims with disabilities. Kitaba.org also supports families and teachers of visually impaired Muslims with relevant sight information to fulfil their Islamic needs.

"...Truly it is not the eyes that grow Blind but it is the hearts in the chests that grow Blind". (Qur'an, 22:46)

Here, Balal Hussain speaks about why he took a trip halfway across the world to study the Qur'an. A transcript of the audio file has been provided:

"As-salam`alaikum, jazakallah.

I want to begin by speaking a bit about my experiences as a blind person in society. Hamdulillah (praise be to Allah), I was born in East London, and I was born blind. At the age of two and a half I went to Clarke Joseph School For The Visually Impaired in London; the only one in the area.

I continued my education up to, I think 11 years old, in year 7. At that time my parents were worried that hamdulillah while my secular education was being met but maybe not my Islamic needs. I tried to study the Qur'an in various ways. Very often the mosque maulana/sheikh (teacher) would record the sabak or the Qur'an studies onto casette and I'd learn it that way.


But there'd be a lot of issues like the casette would break or snap and stuff like that. So, my father contacted a maulana from South Africa who actually used to come to the UK every Ramadhan at the local masjid to give bayyaan. And he asked him whether there was something to teach Arabic braille for Qur'an and Islam studies because hamdulillah, at that stage of my life I knew English braille but I had no idea how Arabic braille was read and things like that.

The teacher told my father that there was an institution in South Africa in Durban, Islamic Institution For The Blind, and passed that information onto my father.

You know, I was at the age of 12 when I left for South Africa. I was very upset, I didn't understand. But I also knew in the back of my mind that my parents wouldn't want me to go if there was no benefit in there.



Hamdulillah, I went with my father to South Africa and within my first year I learnt the Arabic braille and hamdulillah I completed memorising five 'juz (sections) of the Qur'an in that year. I started in 2001 and completed by 2007 and the last year I spent in South Africa - last year - I had actually done Islamic studies: fiqh and Qur'an translaions and things such as that.

The things that always played in my mind is, why did I have to to go all the way to South Africa, a country that's an 11 hour flight away, just to learn Arabic braille? It always made me think if such a thing was taught here in the UK and if the Muslim community had to cater for my needs, I would'n't have to go so far.

But hamdulillah, I think going there and studying in {Madrassa An-Noor}, was a good education and I think it helped me a lot, it matured me a lot. It gave gave me the ability to understand different cultures, societies and people; how they work, basically interacting with different types of communities. I'm very fortunate to have learnt Qur'an in another country and learn Arabic braille, which is much easier for me now, as I can open up a Qur'an and start reading like a normal sighted person.

For example, before if someone had to say to me, 'O.k., go to Surah Baqarah, to ayah number 111', I wasn't able to do that because everything was on a casette. But now hamdulillah because the Qur'an is in braille and I'm able to read that, I can actually do that and I feel the same way as anyone else. Also, if someone says to me 'O.k, we're going to recite Surah Ya-Sin', I feel included that I can pick up my Qur'an and read just like a normal sighted person.

Some of the challenges I faced were that, obviously, I left home at a very young age so it was very difficult to get used to a different climate - even the South African's complain about the weather! But then, they complain about many things!

And coming back to the UK, now I have a lot of visually impaired friends and I attend the mosque. I can use MSN and similar technology that exists nowadays that enables me to communicate with people, like the speech softwares. I had this one friend who wasn't a Muslim tell me on MSN that he was going in a taxi one day where the cab driver was a Muslim. This friend of mine had a guide dog, and this Muslim driver refused to sit him in the car, saying 'dogs are dirty, you can't sit in my car'. And I felt ashamed, I didn't know what to say to him. I just said that our religion, Islam, doesn't teach us this. But unfortunately, certain individuals that don't understand that.

Islam teaches us peace. And what did the Prophet ﷺ (Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) say to us?

طَلَبُ الْعِلْمِ فَرِيضَةٌ عَلَى كُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ 

Talabul `ilmi fareedhatun ‘ala kulli Muslim.
'Seeking knowledge is compulsary upon every Muslim.'

Our Prophet ﷺ didn't say, 'oh, because you're blind, you can't learn'. Our Prophet ﷺ said 'every Muslim'.

Insha'Allah, I hope our community comes over this and stops marginalising others because of disabilities.

I know I can say to myself that if I am made to feel I'm part of the community, that is the greatest feeling for me.

Shukran, a-salam`alaikum."
Balal Hussain

Images & transcript:: Copyright 2008 © Kitaba - Islamic Texts for the Blind.

Listen to brother Balal's experiences on Kitaba.org.


If you wish to support Kitaba in all its initiatives to spread goodness to the visually impaired community then feel free to Send A Gift by any of the following means:

Post donations made payable to "Islamic Texts for the Blind" to | Kitaba, P.O Box 4106, Glasgow, G53 9AN

Online Banking: save a tree in the process and of course it's 100% secure, all you need are the details below,
Name: Islamic Texts for the Blind
Account Number: 06003772
Sort Code: 80-07-67

Lastly, volunteer yourself or become a member on Kitaba.


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