In the name of Allah, the most Beneficial, the most Merciful
By the Grace of Allah (SWT), the 2nd International Conference of Deaf Muslims in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in November 2016 was a phenomenal success.
More than 300 people from diverse parts of the world came together to embrace the theme of “Islam for Deaf: Our Community, Our Future.”
This has been one of the most precarious and challenging times of our generation. We are pleased to announce that this conference truly embraced inclusivity of all people within our Ummah community. Our Deaf brothers and sisters were able to communicate in their own native Sign Language throughout the entire conference, Alhumdulillah. Over 30 different countries were represented using their own country’s Sign Language. It was amazing to see such camaraderie among our brothers and sisters as they worked collectively towards a common cause: to increase accessibility in providing proper Islamic education for Deaf children and adults around the world. Our Deaf Muslim brothers and sisters, sponsors, presenters, volunteers, interpreters, vendors, and friends worked hard together to embrace the philosophy of a fully inclusive Ummah and pave the way in providing possibilities for a better future in our Deaf Muslim community.
After the success of co-hosting the 1st International Conference of Deaf Muslims in 2013 in Doha, Qatar with the Qatari government, Global Deaf Muslim (GDM) has been fortunate to continue the work upon the suggestions of Deaf Muslims worldwide.
We are greatly indebted to Malaysian Federation of the Deaf (MFD) for co-hosting the 2nd International Conference of Deaf Muslims under the outstanding leadership of President of MFD and Chairman of the conference, Brother Mohamad Sazali Shaari. His vision for the conference has been exemplary as he warmly welcomed all delegates, expanding on the principles and suggestions from the 1st International Conference of Deaf Muslims. The MFD created a safe space for Deaf Muslims to share their experiences, especially since often times, they do not have a place to express their struggles in their own home countries. This conference provided the perfect venue for both participants and speakers to interact effectively and have deep dialogue about vital topics affecting the Deaf Muslim community worldwide.
The conference opened with YB Dato’ Seri Jamil Khur Baharom, Minister in Head of Department of Islamic Affairs (JAKIM)’s welcoming all foreign and domestic delegates.
In recognizing the uniqueness of Deaf Muslim intersectionality issues, Brother Owais Murad, Founder of Muslim Deaf UK, encouraged all Deaf Muslims to unite for the common good of our community.
Brother Abdul Muneam Al-Sultan, scholar for the Advocacy Foundation of the Deaf in Saudi Arabia, discussed how to increase da’wah for the Deaf and increasing one’s deen towards Islam.
Brother Bakar Ali, President of Somali National Association of the Deaf, showcased various strategies for peers to improve access to Islam through policy changes and advocacy.
Brother Arsalan Suleman, US Special Envoy to Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and Judith Heumann, US Representative to United Nations Disability Council, provided positive, inspirational messages of support and inclusivity of Deaf Muslims.
Brother Ege Karar, President of Deaf-Islam Association in Germany, analyzed how the juxtaposition of Deaf and Muslim cultures along with using sign language interpreters can lead to challenges in communication. Not only that, but three countries’ tremendous efforts in translating Qu’ran into Sign Language through visual media were positively recognized: Malaysia, UK, and USA.
Our need to access accurate Islamic information continues as there is rapid increase in technological advancements and economic empowerment. We must learn tools to keep up with evolving times and respect Deaf Muslims’ unique journeys as they increase their deen towards Islam.
We are incredibly proud of several individuals who humbly shared their experiences such as Sister Nur Malilah Abdullah whose convert story brought everyone to tears, Sister Dissa Ahdanisa who founded Fingertalk Café in Indonesia run solely by Deaf employees, Brother Muhammad bin Abdullah, who taught scuba diving as a means of increasing da’wah, and Sister Audrey Guermassi, Vice President of Donne Moi Un Signe, who worked hard to increase visibility of Deaf Muslims throughout France.
Braam Jordaan of Convo Communications provided a live interactive demonstration of how Video Relay Services work in different localities. Brother Tan Sri Shahrir bin Abdul Samad, Chairman of BNBBC in Parliaments of Malaysia, gave an inspirational speech in which he explained that there were truly no barriers when we work and pray together, Insh’Allah. All of us have been given unique abilities by Allah (SWT) in which we must continue to carry with integrity and compassion.
On the last day of the conference, all participants expressed a desire to formulate a solid plan of action for the future of Deaf Muslims.
For the first time ever, two delegates from each country were selected to collaborate and discuss ideas on how to continue to expand access to Islam for Deaf Muslims as well as raise awareness of Deaf Muslims within the broader Muslim community.
One of the first things on the agenda was to develop a comprehensive Constitution that will serve all Deaf Muslims and have it ready to be ratified by the 3rd International Conference of Deaf Muslims in 2018, Insh'Allah. The group will gather feedback from each country within the next few months, Insh'Allah. The legislation will be translated into Arabic, French, Turkish, and Urdu to name few languages, as well as into their own country's Sign Languages to ensure equal accessibility, Insh'Allah. GDM looks forward to the future with confidence in Allah (SWT) as there are more good things to come for our Deaf ummah, Insh'Allah.
The entire conference would not have been possible without the generous sponsors from JAKIM, Telekom Malaysia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mosti, Islamic Relif, Prolintas, International Islamic University Malaysia, I-Divers, Rochester Institute of Technology, MRCB, Gallaudet University, and Advocacy Foundation of the Deaf in Saudi Arabia. We were blessed by Malaysian Deaf Muslim Association (PRISMA)’s assistance in assuring that this conference went smoothly on all aspects, Alhumdulillah.
We are also grateful for the Sign Language interpreters and translators who worked diligently to ensure all communication went smoothly, Alhumdulillah.
May Allah (SWT) guide and bless everyone's efforts and endeavors in ensuring that Deaf Muslims from all over the world were able to meet, collaborate, and take invaluable information to share back in their home countries, Alhumdulillah. The success of the conference has mobilized a positive ripple effect throughout our community, and one in which, we pray will lead to enriching Deaf Muslims’ lives everywhere, Insh’Allah.