Azhan dhuhur, the call to noon prayers, is resounding. It comes from a mosque at the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind in Janti in Malang, East Java, Indonesia.
Quranic verses are being recited by students who are focused on fingering a set of raised dots printed on a sheet of paper. A stack of braille Quran can be seen resting on top of a cabinet. This is only a glimpse of the activities taking place during Ramadan at An Nur mosque, where blind worshipers learn to read the Quran in braille throughout the month.
Pipit Maitun, 20, a blind woman from Madiun, East Java, has proven that her disability poses no learning barrier.
“I still need to improve my fingering instincts to get used to braille marks as I’ve only been learning it for a year,” she said.
Most of the blind people learning at An Nur mosque already have basic Quran reading skills and they are able to decipher most Arabic letters and marks, which are represented through six dots organized in various ways.
“The speed in which they understand and master [the Quran in braille] depends on the students themselves. They learn like normal people,” said Yani Soewantoro, 56, the teacher for the mosque’s braille program.
Fifteen students are in attendance that day. Following the dots with their fingers, they take turns reading and listening to verses and are corrected when required. Then, the entire class repeats the text, reciting each verse in unison.
This method is similar to the way students with sight learn to read from the Quran, Yani said. “I’ve made signs for them to memorize,” said Yani.
When they have finished iqra (preliminary reading) 1 to 6, the students learn to recite the Quran from juz (part) one or juz 30, which contain short chapters they can easily remember.
With effort and frequent practice, a sightless person can become a fluent reader of the Quran within six months.
The special braille program at An Nur mosque currently caters to 105 students coming from all over East Java. They are given lessons in reading the Quran in braille and in religion.