Kitaba and Dirasa review their Umra trip and start planning for their next trip in 2013 for the Blind

The Islamic Texts for the Blind (Kitaba) and their Scandinavian partners, Dirasa, have run two joint trips to the holy cities of Makkah and Madina, providing a pilgrimage experience geared to the needs of Blind and visually impaired Muslims. The experiences of the second of these pilgrimages produced Kitaba’s popular book The Umra Diaries. The book was almost sold out within the first month of its UK launch and is being used as a platform for co-operation between mainstream and culturally focused disability groups in Denmark, including Kitaba’s partners Marhaba.

Dirasa have just returned from their sixth Umra with Kitaba’s chair, Abdul Aziz Ahmed, but unfortunately, this time there were no Blind participants. The main reason was that the plans for this year’s trip were made at a very late stage and it was difficult for Kitaba to get the message to its supporters and the Blind community in time to complete the lengthy visa procedures.

The trip was very successful with classes taught by Shaykh Abdul Aziz and a local Makkan scholar, Syed Abdullah al-Haddad. The course was built around Kitaba’s production The Book of Worship by Imam al-Haddad. All participants made the minor pilgrimage, known as Umra, at least twice and made visits to various historic sites including the Cave of Hira, the birthplace of the Prophet, upon him be peace. and the pilgrimage sites. Feedback was very positive.

View from inside the Holy Mosque in Makkah, looking at the people taking part in the Tawaf

Both organisations have decided that they hope to include Blind participants in the next trip and to eventually offer a Hajj package which is not only accessible for those with visual impairments but geared towards meeting their specific educational and religious needs. As a step towards that noble goal, preparations have begun for the Dirasa 2013.

Looking at the Prophets Mosque in Madina

The group will leave in April 2013 for two weeks. Most of the teaching programme will be in Madina where the group will study the Life of the Prophet using accessible materials. Trips will be organised to places of special significance to enhance the teaching. There will be classes to help improve the Quran reading of all participants which including Braille users. The group will then move on to Makkah where they will perform the Umra and continue with some classes on the Biography of the Prophet, upon him be peace. The guidebook, A Guide to Makkah and Madina will be available to all students. Braille, audio and digital formats will be available to visually impaired students.

There may be some financial assistance available to disabled pilgrims and any assistants who would like to join the Dirasa/ Kitaba trip. Anyone Blind or visually impaired person interested in participating can express their interest at info@kitaba.org. Other participants should contact dirasa@muslimphotos.net.

Please keep this project in your prayers.

Date Posted: 09/08/2012

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