On Being Deaf and Having a Sound Heart

I was raised in a hearing world and in a deaf world at the same time. I can’t say that I like one better than the other; I like them both. If I don’t understand something, you know, I have pen and paper, texting; I use it all. Alhamdulillah I can lip-read others, and though I can speak a little, my voice is projected primarily through my hands via sign language.

Being deaf has brought with it a number of benefits. Without noise distraction, I am able to fully focus whilst I pray my salah alhamdulillah. When I am commuting to and from work, I am not distracted by excessive background noise but rather can spend the quality time contemplating and remembering Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Facing this trial has brought me closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Alhamdulillah if I hadn’t lost my hearing, I wouldn’t be where I am now. It forced me to maximize my own potential. Now, I have to be better than the average person to succeed. We have to be always grateful regardless of our abilities or what special conditions we have, as we are repeatedly reminded in Surat Ar-Rahman,

“So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?” [Quran: Chapter 55, Verse 38]

This helps me start and end my day productively and helps me to develop a sound heart. Having a calm and peaceful heart and good mental well-being is crucial for my community as statistics show that deaf people are twice as likely to experience mental health issues such as depression and anxiety compared to hearing people.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us in the Qur’an that our hearts find ultimate peace and tranquility in His remembrance.

“Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.” [Quran: Chapter 13, Verse 28]

So, whether you are deaf or hearing, here are some practical ways to help you overcome noise distractions, develop a sound heart and boost your productivity.

1. Have faith in His Infinite Mercy

My message firstly to my deaf community is that we can have a fully meaningful life the way we want, only if we believe and work hard for it. We have to be sincere, ask for Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) help in our mind and heart and strive ourselves for the pleasure of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) does not want bad for us, does not want to punish us, reject us or push us away. He subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

One of the things that will bring peace and serenity in our hearts, is always striving to see the positives in every situation, being content with what Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has bestowed upon us and having faith that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) only gives us what is the best for us. The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,

“Look at those who are inferior to you and do not look at those who are superior to you, for this will keep you from belittling Allah’s Favour to you.” [Sahih Muslim]

Sometimes it is not easy, but the important thing is that we always try to remain happy and be patient with the tests that we face. Positive thinking is extremely powerful! A great thing to do is to physically list the benefits you have experienced from your situation, which will give you a refreshed outlook and motivation to remain productive. For example, even though I’m deaf, my heart’s focus has improved a lot because I’m not exposed to all the negative noise around me.

2. Ponder upon the creation of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)

Regardless of if we have a disability or not, everyone has the capability to contemplate and appreciate Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for everything He has blessed us with. He is the Almighty, He is the All-Knowing of the unseen. He created us and fashioned all in a unique way and there are many ways for us to appreciate Him. Many deaf people feel isolated at home, so why not take a stroll in the park and reflect over beautiful trees, flowers and birds. Did you know this is an act of worship if you are contemplating Allah’s creation?

Along with appreciating Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), we should be appreciating his creations, by being thankful to others who help us and benefit us. Additionally, we should notice that there is so much diversity among the human species because Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is Al-Qadir, The One who is able to do anything. One of the most effective ways to learn about oneself and appreciate values is by learning about the cultures of others. It forces you to pay attention to those details of life, which differentiate them from you. Why not take a moment to learn and understand a little about the deaf culture?

We know that a deaf person develops exceptional vision, a blind person exceptional hearing, a silent person when given a piece of paper can generate ingenious ideas or thrash out tasks without distractions of noise. Hence, the seeming limited abilities carry major blessings and we should continue to give thanks to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for this.

3. Focus on prayer

The five daily prayers are excellent refreshers of our faith. We should call Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) through our prayers five times a day, to keep our relationship with Him alive and our hearts connected to Him.

The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,

“The example of the five (daily) prayers is like that of a clear-water river flowing in front of your houses in which a person washes himself five times a day – cleansing him from all dirt.” [Sahih Muslim]

We should all focus and concentrate to enhance the quality of our prayer if we want to strengthen our hearts. Smartphones are arguably the biggest distractions in society these days. Put your phone on silent completely when praying to eliminate any disturbance. Moreover, note that even keeping the vibration on is a major distraction for a deaf person who may be praying beside you as they have higher levels of sensory awareness.

Take out time everyday to yourself to ponder and make dua. You can make dua in your mind and in your heart. There are some excellent deaf friendly info-graphics to get you going and here is a useful resource to help the deaf community learn, understand and make du’a.

Remember the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“Allah the Almighty said: I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]

The deaf Muslim community

As a deaf parent, a mother of a hearing child, I know what it’s like growing up, being called ‘deaf and mute’ and ‘deaf and dumb.’ They are words that are very degrading and demeaning to people who are deaf and hard of hearing. The deaf community don’t want you to feel sorry for us, but rather take small steps to be more deaf-aware and learn basics of sign language if you can.

Alhamdulillah there are a growing number of charities providing services to the deaf Muslim community, like the Amin & Yasmin team that are working to produce innovative deaf friendly resources, and advising international Islamic Institutions to improve their accessibility for the deaf community. The co-founders of ‘Amin & Yasmin’ embarked on the pursuit of learning British Sign Language (BSL), after engaging members of the deaf community in various capacities. Through such encounters, countless individuals, families and practitioners raised concerns about the limited access globally for deaf and/or autism-friendly Islamic educational resources. Thus, ‘Amin & Yasmin’ was created to help empower deaf children and adults by supporting with an exciting portfolio of interactive Islamic Sign Language products.

Finally, I encourage you to make dua and stay positive; and I pray that my words will inspire you inshaAllah help increase deaf awareness across the Ummah through this incredible platform.

Your hearing status doesn’t make you a better person. Your humanity does. So go out there a continually support as many good causes as possible, because this will help unite the Ummah.

Are you deaf or hard of hearing? How do you keep your heart spiritually connected to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)? Leave your comments down below!

Written by Neelma Saleem

Neelma Saleem is a Deaf mother of one and has a long history of advocating for her community, particularly related to deaf employment, health, and deaf empowerment. She is a Deaf Community Champion at Amin & Yasmin Ltd, who have launched the first Islamic Sign Language Book and Mobile App.

We thank The Productive Muslim Company for publishing this article. The full and original article can be read here.

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