Worship Series Pt 4: Learning How to Pray as a Deaf Muslim
This is the 4th and last post in the Worship Series.
Click here to read Worship Series Pt 1: Prayer Beads
Click here to read Worship Series Pt 2: Types of Prayers
Click here to read Worship Series Pt 3: Muslim Zombies
Learning How to Pray: A Frustrating Journey
You may have read previous blog posts and think that I know everything about Islam, but the fact is this: I don’t. Perhaps I am knowledgeable about some aspects of Islam, but please understand that I continue learning every single day and I am far from perfect. Though I understand the concept of prayer and worship, I will admit that I don’t yet fully know how to pray correctly in Islam.
Prayer is entirely in Arabic and then on top of that, it was intimidating for me to learn how and when to make wudu (ablution done before Salat), then sometimes the steps of prayer seem really complex. Oh, and praying is further complicated when taking into the account the need to learn appropriate prayer times and formats (number of rak'at). And to top off all of that, the memorization of a lot of Arabic is super hard.
For a while after I became Muslim, the whole concept of salat was completely beyond me. I was frustrated and wondered if I could even call myself Muslim. I have very supportive sisters who are so loving and patient with me. I am slowly learning and I know that one day I will get the hang of it.
I started to read while praying. With each part I would need to say written in front of me on notecards while I am praying, I can read the text until I have it memorized. Writing it in phonological transliteration (not Arabic script), I can work on pronunciation while I pray, as well. I also glean meaning from English translation.
Prayer for a Deaf Muslim
(Click here to read the post I wrote talking about my deafness; click here to read about a group called Global Deaf Muslims; Click here to see Q&A about my deafness; click here to read about my humorous injury while praying.)
Being deaf, it can be difficult to learn to speak Arabic. Sometimes, with headphones, I can memorize Arabic with the help of audio recordings. However, what I hear is not like how other people hear, so I probably don’t pronounce everything correctly. That is why I use phonological transliteration. It has been challenging to say the least. When I am not praying, and I am just practicing the Arabic associated with the prayers, I will admit that I get a headache at the end of it all. It is truly exhausting and takes so much time and effort for me. There are times that I have cried because I’m trying so hard and can’t understand how to pronounce Arabic correctly. I wonder what other Deaf Muslims do.
Occasionally, I will do Salat completely in American Sign Language instead of Arabic. When I pray in American Sign Language, I feel a closer connection to Allah. I feel as though I am not fumbling over Arabic words and phrases. I feel like I can spend more time connecting with Allah and it is much less of a struggle. However, I am not sure if this is acceptable.
Allah’s forgiveness doesn’t run out and I know that I should never be too embarrassed to ask for it. Allah blessed me with the tremendous favor of guiding me to Islam and I know that I need His help to stay on that path.
This is the last post in the Worship Series.
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