When Yadira and Nadir Thabatah were looking for an English-language Quran, surprisingly the couple came up empty handed. The Thabatah’s are both visually impaired, and they soon realized that they could not find a high-quality Quran in braille. The Quran has been available in braille in Arabic since the 1980s, but braille versions in other languages are more difficult to come by and the translations are often inaccurate.
In 2017, the Thabatah’s decided to take action. Using crowdfunding monies, the couple spent eight months converting a popular English-language translation of the Quran into braille characters and began producing translations from their garage.
The first time Yadira was able to read the Quran for herself was when she was proofreading her own braille renderings. “I actually cried,” recounts Yadira. “I’m a reader by nature. Going from being Muslim for about a decade and never having read the Quran, the word of Allah, to actually giving this amazing opportunity to other blind people. I can’t put it into words.”
The couple have recently started a non-profit called Islam By Touch, and to date, have produced more than 150 braille Qurans for visually impaired Muslims. They also have launched an app to help visually impaired Muslims learn about their faith.
Nadir says that he estimates there are at least 50,000 blind Muslims in America. “We want to create a connection between people,” he explains. “So people know that they’re not the only blind Muslim in their community, that there are other people who understand.”