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Madressa An-Noor Travel Log 2011

Karachi, Pakistan 2011

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 fix.

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 Ziyaad Patel
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 of monies.

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 of Burma.

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, Insha'Allah.

May Allah (SWT) grant us acceptance. We request your sincere Duaa’s for the success of all our endeavors.


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