Madrasa, Where Quran is Memorized in Sign Language
This Islamic boarding school is located in the quiet suburbs of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, but unlike normal madrasas, the sound of Quran recitation never came from this madrasa.
It is a religious boarding school for deaf children. Here students learn recitation of Quran in Arabic sign language. According to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Islamic boarding schools are an integral part of life in Indonesia, where nearly 4 million students live in 27,000 institutions across the country. But this institution is one of the few selected institutions in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, where religious education is provided to deaf children.
“It all came from my anxiety when I found out that deaf children in Indonesia don’t know about their religion,” says the school’s founder, Abu Kahfi.
Forty-eight-year-old Abu Kahafi befriended some deaf people in 2019 and realized that he did not have much information about Islam.
Now, 115 such boys and girls from all over the country have entered their school, who dream of memorizing the Quran in sign language. If you go to this seminary, the eyes of the children sitting in the rows are on the books and their hands are moving rapidly. The only time there is a buzz in the air is when a child recites the Qur’an in sign language in front of the class, and then Abu Kahfi claps his hands in delight.
It is a difficult religious education for children who have never learned about religion or the Quran and whose mother tongue is Indonesian. “It’s very difficult,” Abu Kahafi explains.
There is a girls’ classroom about 100 meters away from the boys’ classroom and exactly the same practice is going on there. For twenty-year-old student Laila Dhiyaul Haq, studying in this school is a source of joy and pride for her parents. She is also the oldest student of this school. She says, “I want to go to heaven with my mother and father and I don’t want to leave this place either.”
In normal Madrasahs, children read the text aloud and memorize the verses, but hearing impaired children have to laboriously memorize each letter of the thirty-part Qur’an.
Thirteen-year-old Muhammad Rafi entered here two years ago and has memorized nine chapters of the Quran. “I am very happy here,” he said through a translator. It used to be very quiet for me at home because everyone is normal and no one is deaf.”
The expenses of the children of this school are borne by Abu Kahfi and the philanthropists themselves because most of the children who study here belong to poor families and they do not have to bear the burden of one million rupees ($68) per month for books, uniforms and other living expenses.
In this boarding school, children also study Islamic law, mathematics, science and foreign languages so that they can continue their education at a higher level in the future.
The social impact of this school is also increasing the confidence of deaf children, who often face discrimination. Zainal Arifin’s 11-year-old child studies in this school. “My son had very low self-esteem, he knew he was different,” he explains. But since he came here, he doesn’t feel shy to come out in front of people. He told me that God had made him like this and he had accepted himself in that state.”