The first ever, full Muharram in Auslan project in Sydney where we booked Auslan sign language interpreters for most of the programs!

What is Muharram?

Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar. Every year many Muslims, mostly Shia Muslims, commemorate the tragedies of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)’s grandson, Imam Hussain (as) and his family that occured during the first 10 days of Muharram, over 1400 years ago.

For 10 days, every year, many Muslims go to the mosque or places of worhsip, to listen to lectures, Quran recitation, story telling and poetry.

We remember the hardships that Imam Hussain and his family and friends faced by the oppressive ruler at the time, and how they were brutally killed on the 10th Day of Muharram, also known as day of Ashura.

You can find out more information at whoishussain.org

It is a religious and social event that happens every year, full of communtiy spirit where we all come together, mourn, cry, listen to their stories and learn from their bravery and faith and try to apply it to our lives. We also share food and donate money to the less fortunate.

The Barriers

Growing up, every year, I always attend the prorgams with my family and community, but I did not always understand what was happening.

As a person with hearing loss, it was hard to focus on what was being said especially since it’s a large gathering with many people and sometimes the speaker is far away or in another room.

I mostly learnt about my religion, about Muharram/Ashura and about the family of Prophet Muhammed through books, specalised, small classes and what my mum told me.

I always wanted to feel more included in the Muslim community. I wanted to listen to the lecture, the poems and feel and understand like everyone esle in the room.

And I can’t imgaine how other people who were completely Deaf or have other disabilty or faced more extreme barriers in trying to access their religion or feel included in the community.

Many mosques and places of worhsip and events in Sydney are simply not accessible. This is due to lack of awareness and support about needs of Muslims in Sydney who have a disabilty.

This year it all changed.

Making Mosques Accessible

Many mosques, organisations and places of worship run Muharram programs in Sydney each year.

For the first time, this year we managed to have Auslan (Australian Sign Language) interpreters for 8 nights at 4 different places!

We had sign language intepreter come to the following places:

  • Al Emaan Australian Community, held at Hurstville
  • Masjid Arrahman, Kingsgrove
  • Imam Hussain Islamic Centre, Earlwood
  • Al Jafferia, Kogarah

I asked the people I know who were part of the volunteers or staff, that I wanted to be part of their planning meetings and I wanted to raise awareness and make their programs accessible.

I did a lot of coordinating between the mosque and the interpreters, promoting and collecting donations to cover costs of the interpreters.

Thank you to everyone who donated, including 14 Stars Foundation and Deaf brother Mev who used his NDIS plan to book interpreters.

One mosque and intetpreter was not planned/ organised by me, but were kind enough to invite other deaf people to their program.

All the staff and organsiers and mosques I worked with, were so accomodating and supportive.

From reserving us (the deaf community) seats and treating us like VIPs, to welcoming the interpreters and assisting them with whatever they needed, from helping with promotion and collection donations for this project, I cannot thank you all enough.

Also, shout out to Al Emaan for their hard work in making sure the sign language interpreter was also in their live stream videos!

This was loved by the deaf communtiy who could not physically come to the program and we even had deaf people who live in other states in Australia who enjoyed watching the videos with Auslan!

The Interpreters

We had 3 amazing professional sign language interpreters assist us. Only 1 is a Muslim herself.

The other 2 interpreters were not Muslim, but were willing to try and work with the Muslim Community and try their best to interpret what they can.

Most of the program was in English, but there was some story-telling and Quran rectiation in Arabic. Also, it was hard for them to know all the names and history of Prophet Muhammed’s family.

Despite all this, I want to express my deepest gratitude to Rebecca, Sean and Sophie for intepreting this Muharram programs for us. We can not thank you enough for doign your best and making it accessible for us.

We need more interpreters who are willing to learn more about intepreting at Islamic events and we also need more Muslims (ALSO people from different language/ backgrounds) to consider becoming sign language interpreters to help make religon and culture accessible for everyone.

Thanks to many people and centres for trying to make this work InshaAllah.

I know it’s a great step foward in Making Mosques Accessible in Sydney.

Alhumdilullah this all would not have happended without the Grace and blessings of God, Allah the most High who made it seem so easy.

I was pretty much doing this as I go and did not really have a formal plan or anything. I just wanted other people to have access to religion and hear the stroies of Imam Hussain (as) and his family.

I was only going to do 5 out of the 10 nights, and ended up with 8! One of my deaf friend, who is a Sunni Muslim went to all at different places!

I cannot fathom all the blessings and outcomes from this.

All prasie belong to God, where every year I deeply and futher resonate with his word:

He it is Who sends blessings on you, as do His angels, that He may bring you out from the depths of Darkness into Light: and He is Full of Mercy to the Believers (33:43)

http://corpus.quran.com/translation.jsp?chapter=33&verse=43 s


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