The floods that hit Pakistan in July last year left
behind a staggering trail of death and devastation. The United Nations
estimates the death toll at 1,500 people with more than 17 million more
affected, including nearly four million people left homeless, by what
is the worst flooding in Pakistan's history. The damage caused by nearly
a month of severe flooding in Pakistan is estimated to take decades to
Cedara Blind Foundation which is the sister organization
of Madressa An-Noor responded to the catastrophe by donating funds of
more than one million rands specifically to the blind victims of the floods.
There are 1.8 million blind and partially sighted people in Pakistan.
Teaming up with the Al-Imdaad foundation, who have tremendous international
experience in relief work, Moulana Murchie & Qari Ziyaad Patel of
the Al-Imdaad Foundation flew to Karachi, Pakistan.
Moulana Murchie, Mr. Cassim Peer & Qari
Handing over checks to the blind
On the 29th of January, they were invited by the Pakistan
Disabled Foundation to attend a distribution function held at the Sheraton
Hotel in Karachi. Hosted by the chairman of the Pakistan Disabled Foundation,
Brother Shaahid Memon, the function was held to personally hand over checks
to the blind victims of the floods. In attendance at this event was also
Mr. Cassim Peer, the Deputy High Commissioner of South Africa. Our team
was particularly pleased by the scrupulous and meticulous work of the
Pakistan Blind Foundation, who distributed the donation with utmost transparency
and accountability: Each Pakistani national had to provide an ID card
in order to receive assistance. This went a far away in discouraging misappropriation
On the next day, Sunday, we personally visited the blind
victims affected by the floods. We traveled to areas like Dadoo, Shikarpur
and Sukkar, to the houses of the flood victims. To witness firsthand the
devastation was indeed an eye-opening and heart wrenching experience.
We also did a personal ‘check and balance’ to see if the blind
victims had indeed benefitted from the generosity of their South African
brothers and sisters. We were greeted with extreme warmth and immense
gratitude. The blind victims mentioned that of all the organizations coming
into Pakistan to do aid-work, ours (the joint initiative between MNB and
the Al-Imdaad Foundation) was the first to specifically help them, the
blind victims of the flooding.
Dhaka, Bangladesh 2011
As part of our outreach program, Madressa An-Noor routinely
oversees our affiliated Madressa’s based overseas. From Karachi,
Moulana headed to the Abdullah Ibn Umme Makhtum Madressa that is administered
by Moulana Shaahidul Islam of Al Markazu Al Islami, in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
They are currently in urgent need of a Braille embosser. Anyone wishing
to donate towards this should contact us.
The corridors of the Abdullah Ibn Umme Makhtum Madressa
resound with the recital of the Noble Quran, and the thirst for knowledge
defining each of the students is almost tangible. Alhamdulillah, it is
quickly shaping up to be a true haven for the pursuit of Ilm. It is often
that we meet with people or are part of incidents that make us realize
that we are, indeed, blessed with many fortunes.
Presently there are two teachers at the Madressa teaching
Hifzul Quran and basic Deeniyat to approximately thirty students. They
do not have Aaalim classes as yet, but want to Insha’Allah, begin
emulating the system we have in South Africa. As far as educational aids
and resources go, their supply is frugal: The students use the basic plastic
stylus and frame to read and write in Braille. They transcribe their work
onto discarded photographic sheets, as Braille paper is available but
very costly. Although the stylus costs R20.00 in relation to the R3000.00
the conventional Perkins Brailler costs, the former is a much slower and
very tedious process. Deeniyat at the Madressa is taught only orally:
they do not have any Kitaabs from which to follow the lesson, and simply
transcribe what they hear using their stylus and frames.
The zeal of the Bangladeshi pupils belies their humble
resources. They read from Qurans which have become tattered with age and
use, the pages yellowing, and in many instances torn and loose. For Braille
to be read accurately, the dots must be crisp and raised. In the case
of these pupils, the Braille from which they recite has long since become
dull and near illegible. Even so, despite this impediment, it is their
enthusiasm and love for learning, as well an immense sense of gratitude,
which enables them to pursue and attain knowledge.
Moulana Mursheedul-Haq, Moulana Murchie & Moulana Haq's father
Moulana Shaahidul-Islam and Moulana Murchie then headed to Cox Bazaar
which is situated approximately 500 kilometers away from the capital Dhaka.
Cox Bazaar is a beautifully green and lush town, closest to the border
It also boasts the longest beach in the world. Due to
extremely poor roads, we travelled on a small plane to the town, and were
met by our ex-student, Moulana Mursheedul Haq, who graduated last year
and who had invited Moulana Murchie to visit the Madressa he has opened
in his town. He currently teaches Hifzul Quran to thirteen students, 5
of whom are blind and 8 who are sighted. We were very happy with the growth
of the Madressa, and advised our student to liaise with the guidance of
Moulana Shaahidul Islam, so that the former could benefit from the experience
of the latter.
We then made Duaa at the Madressa and made Basmallah
of a new Quran Khatam at the local Musjid. Alhamdulillah, that part of
our journey had drawn to a satisfying and fruitful close.
Mumbai, India 2011
On the 5th of February, Moulana arrived in Mumbai, India
to visit the Madressa that is running at Fine Touch, where Madressa An-Noor
had previously conducted Quraanic Braille Workshops. Moulana Fareed and
Moulana Irshaad teach here.
Moulana Murchie’s visits overseas are felt by
his students at home; many of them await his return as the Madressa is,
as his students have described, very gloomy without his loud and boisterous
presence. Many of the younger students take advantage of Moulana’s
absence to playfully imitate him; scarily accurate accounts of his particular
way of making Salaam or addressing them can be heard. The international
Madressa’s however, also look forward to the dynamic encouragement
and advice that Moulana untiringly dispenses. May Allah accept all his
efforts and grant him many more years of service to the Madressa, Insha-Allah.
Blind student enjoying customary Mithai served on our visit
Classes at the Fine Touch Madressa are held every day of the week, with
the main classes happening on Sundays. Students from different areas of
Mumbai like Jogeshwari, Malaad and Kaleena travel especially on this day
to the Madressa in order to learn and have hot lunch that is especially
prepared for them. There are currently 9 Madressa’s running under
the guidance of the Fine Touch Institute.
Because the global demand for Islamic Braille Literature
far exceeds the supply, Madressa An-Noor is currently in the process of
setting up bulk Braille printing facilities in Mumbai. The workmanship
here is of an excellent quality and the cost of production is cheap. Aluminum
plates will be used to bulk-produce Braille. After a final proofreading
check using a computer, we will forward our order for our printing plates
to be embossed. The Holy Quran will thereafter be collated and bounded,
May Allah (SWT) grant us acceptance. We request your
sincere Duaa’s for the success of all our endeavors.