Last night I had a conference call with a Muslim student who is deaf to discuss ways to accomodate and help our deaf brothers and sisters. While it took me a minute to get used to the fact that the interpreter was speaking on the phone, it was perhaps one of the most beneficial and personally gratifying conference calls I've ever had.
MSA National's history of helping students who are deaf goes back a few years to when Br. Ahmed from Gallaudet University was murdered. Through the network of MSA National his parents had the opportunity to speak about his life and death, and what it meant to him to be a part of the Muslim community. I remember Br. Ahmed's father expressing in an e-mail how therapeutic the opportunities were for him and his wife.
But the MSA National East Zone Conference 2007 was the first time deaf students could truly participate as conference attendees. This was due to masha'Allah the hard work of several local volunteers.
It was an odd sensation, coming face to face with a segment of our community that has been marginalized. While I've been aware of the situation of the deaf community in North America, trying to improve the situation of a group requires a completely different level of understanding. More so, it requires the humbleness to admit ignorance.
Perhaps the hardest part of ignorance is that while you're ignorant, you don't know that you're ignorant. When individuals are oblivious to the situation of the poor, the needy, the disabled, the persecuted and the marginalized the sad reality is those individuals simply don't know. They don't think about the deaf Muslim that desperately wants to learn about their religion, to feel a part of the larger Ummah, but simply doesn't have access.
The sister's passion for the cause and other members of the deaf community was infectious. I truly hope we can expand upon the services that MSA National offers as well as give the students a platform to meet and feel empowered make their wonderful ideas a reality.
That is, after all, the history of MSA National, providing the platform for people to network, raise awareness, and act.