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In South Africa, the government provides secular education through its special schools for the disabled. However, the Muslim community always felt a need for an institution that would cater specifically for their religious requirements. Parents were particularly anxious about their children's Islamic education. Although the Holy Quran was available in Braille, there was no teacher or special school for the blind. The best any parent could hope for was for their child to attend the conventional religious school.
Due to large class sizes and time constraints at regular religious schools, it was not possible for a disabled child to get special attention. A disabled child requires special attention and needs help to travel the extra mile.
Many members of the South African community were not aware of this reality. Since the learners were few in number, they felt that it would be very expensive to run a special school for the disabled and the money could be productively utilized elsewhere.
However, some dedicated parents including a religious leader took up the challenge. The religious scholar began by learning Braille and soon thereafter Madrassa An-Noor For the Blind was established in 1986 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. The location of this first school was a converted garage complete with carpeted floors and a few desks to place the Qurans on.
The school for the blind started with one student who began learning the "Qaaida" or primer. A short time late, a few other students joined. In less than a year, three students completed the Holy Quran. All of their Quranic lessons were taught in Braille.
At most libraries for the blind around the world, very little Islamic literature in the English language is found. The Blind use Braille, audio recordings and computers for information. With the advance of technology, screen reading software programs are also widely used.
At Madrassa An-Noor for the Blind, they built their own recording studio and began producing "Talking Books". They also established a Braille printing press that enabled them to print Islamic books. The cost of printing a Braille book is much higher than printing other books.
Due to the success of Madrassa An-Noor, people from other countries approached them for assistance in starting a school for the blind. As a result, they have embarked on an Outreach program organizing Quranic Braille workshops in different parts of the world. Workshops were held in India, Mauritius, England, Scotland, Bangladesh, Mozambique and locally in other parts of South Africa. The demand of such workshops is very high. The purpose of these workshops is to train teachers and empower them so that the blind can benefit directly.
Due to the recent increase of students wishing to study at Madrassa AN-Noor, the center has acquired a larger facility. The new location for the school is a farm in Cedara, which is about 17 kilometers from the old school site. Not only will this school teach religious instruction, but sports, activities, and other important living skills. They are requesting that Islamic Bulletin readers make Dua' for their success and that Allah (Ta'ala) accept their efforts.
For more information, you can email them directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186
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