Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Muslim Sign Language?

Funny things have happened these past few days. Last week, I was browsing all over the internet for Deaf and Muslim resources to find some more information on a sign for "muslim" or "islam". I came across a few KSL (Kuwaiti Sign Language) resources, but nothing I wanted or needed at the time.

Then I came across the website of the Global Deaf Muslim and I clicked on the video section AND THERE'S ONE OF MY VIDEOS! I couldn't believe it. *laughs* I'm honored, really, but did they really NEED to use the one where I messed up and signed "chocolate" instead of church? ;)

All of this got me to thinking; there is little resources available to deaf and hoh muslims who want to learn their religion. The GDM has lofty goals, but I decided to take matters into my own hands. The attempt at the first chapter of the Quran, Surah Al-Fatihah, is a translation completely of my own using the best English translation I own (my Arabic isn't so great). I released it to get feedback on if it was clear the messege. If not, i can re-work it of course. But I see the bible done in ASL, and it's beauty, and I want that for the Quran. i want to help bring the messege of the Quran to my other deaf and hoh brothers and sisters in Islam.

One point that the GDM raises is trying to create a "Muslim Sign Language" to use so that all of us can communicate upon first meeting, no matter what country. I'll leave you all to debate that one ;)

So I decided to write this post because in trying to come up with signs for the different concepts in Islam, I was stumped. And with no other language to turn to, I didn't know if i wanted to even finish Surah Al-Fatihah. Now, I bring you Turkish Sign Language with Muslim signs (Click on the right hand side where it says "Dini El Isaretleri") :) Enjoy, debate, but please, have it be productive, not hurtful. Thanks!


Virginia said...

Congratulations on your video! Yes, they always have to pick the worse video, or the worst picture, or the worst whatever in the bunch, don't they??? *laughs* ;>)

It's interesting that you talk about developing Muslim Sign Language for those who practice the Islamic religion...

As a Deaf Pagan, I struggle with trying to find signs that will accurately express my own faith, and it's not easy. Trying to get the concepts across properly can be a challenge!

I'm not sure that I want to create a Pagan Sign Language in and of itself, and I think this could be difficult to do, since different countries use different handshapes, etc. But it would be nice to create some signs that at least Deaf Pagans who know ASL would be able to use during rites, rituals, chants, etc. that are used in the Pagan faith, or just to discussions - we do have vocabulary and phrases that are unique to our spiritual path. ("So Mote It Be" or "athame" or "Harm None, Do What Ye Will" are some examples that come to mind.)

Since most of the time I tend to be the only Deaf person at the rites, etc. I attend... most of the time I just invent my own signs, and then if I should happen to meet other Deaf Pagans, I share with them what I use, and we also discuss and try to come up with ideas for signs. Unfortunately, my meetings with other Deaf Pagans or signing Pagans have been far and few between.

Don't get discouraged, and don't give up. I think what you are doing is worthwhile - Deaf people need opportunities to explore various religious paths, and to be able to express their religious choices in the language of signs.

Good luck, best wishes, and keep us posted on how it goes!

~ Ocean
Deaf Pagan Crossroads

Monica said...

I am a muslimah studying ASL and this is my goal to help deaf people understand Islam better and attend the required prayer at the mosque. I am not a certified interpreter yet, but I can sign failry well.
Since I am a woman I would need to get video screens for the brother and a camera on me in the Sister's room.
I have it all planned, but I am having problems finding ASL for Islam and deaf muslims. Where are the deaf muslims mostly living? I am willing to relocate to reach this goal.

Jim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim said...

Sister Monica, Assalamu Alaikum. Alhamdulillah, I am glad to hear your kindness and willingness to help us. We, deaf muslims in West Coast need Muslim Interpreters. We recently had a Islamic Seminar in Islamic Center of Southern California. It is going to be the Western Regional center of Global Deaf Muslim organization. We are just started and deaf muslims are spread around state. Large amount of deaf muslims live in Virgina. If you live in East Coast try to contact Nashiru Abdulai, President, Global Deaf Muslim Organization. Sincerely, Brother Muhammed Uddin. Email:

Jim said...

Dear Deaf or hearing Muslim Brothers/Sisters,
Assalamu Alaikum.
We would like to hear from you. We are planning to have some Islamic seminar in Southern California to learn about Islam. Also we are trying to arrange interpreter during Eid Prayer and Eid party after that. We will work as Regional Center of Global Deaf Muslim Organization. I believe that will be a great experience who doesn't have family and left alone. We need you contact info and so we can mail out details.
Sincerely, Muhammed Uddin. Email:

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