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Irbid Imam delivers Jordan’s first sign-language translated sermon

By Maram Kayed - Jan 14,2019 - Last updated at Jan 14,2019

King Abdullah I Mosque in Amman can be seen in this undated photo. A mosque in Irbid recently held Jordan’s first sign-language translated sermon, an idea they hope will spread (Photo courtesy of Jordan Tourism Board)

IRBID — For the first time in Jordan, a mosque held a sign-language translated Friday sermon (or khutba), allowing the deaf and mute community to take part.

“Everyone deserves to feel welcome in God’s house,” said Director of the First Irbid Awqaf Directorate Ahmed Smadi.

Out of the estimated 6,300 mosques in the Kingdom, Al Hashmi mosque, in downtown Irbid, was the first to execute the novel idea, with its Imam, Zuhdi Smadi, saying he hopes “other mosques, whose financial abilities are even better, will follow suit and build on the deed”.

“We first thought of the idea when a university student, who recently took a sign-language class, said he would like to translate the Koran tafseer [explanation] sittings to his hearing-challenged friend,” said the Imam. “Before that, we had been completely oblivious to the fact that there are people who are left out from those sittings.”

He added that then they thought, “why not go bigger?”

The sermon was attended by five hearing-impaired residents from the area, who had always prayed at the mosque, and others nearby, on Fridays, but were never able to understand the sermons.

Mohanned Yacoub, a university student residing in Amman who was born with a hearing impairment, told The Jordan Times, through his brother, that he could lip-read words like “Allah”, “Mohammed” and “Islam” during the sermons, but nothing more.

“He always asks me after the prayer what the sermon was about, and I would try to recount it as closely as I could,” said his brother, Salem.

The idea, just like Imam Smadi hoped, is already beginning to spread outside the Muslim community, as a board member of Irbid’s churches’ committee, Basheer Gammoh, said he plans to follow Al Hashmi’s example and appoint an interpreter for his next sermon, on Sunday.

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