A deaf Muslim will lead the call to prayer (athaan) at a mosque in Cape Town, in what is thought to be a first for South Africa.

Fagri Moosa will deliver a sermon during congregational prayers at Al Masjiduth Thanie in Rocklands, Mitchells Plain, on Friday.

Moosa is a scholar and sign language teacher at Al-public Waagah, which was founded nearly three decades ago to provide deaf people with Islamic studies, according to Sherina Lagardien, the institute’s relations officer.

The institute acknowledged that one of the many challenges faced by the deaf community is a lack of accessible education and effective communication methods.

Al-Waagah is opening a school for hearing people to learn sign language in order to help those who use it communicate more effectively.

Imam Moulana Sabri Davids of Al Masjiduth Thanie said he first learned of the problems when a member of Al-Waagah informed him that a deaf person had said he would not return to the mosque because he could not understand the message delivered there.

Davids and his neighbours have organised a Deaf Awareness Month event, and Al-CEO Cassiem de Wet of Waagah will speak.

Moosa will perform the athaan, and the khutbah (sermon) will be interpreted into sign language.

According to Davids, “to the best of our knowledge,” today was the first time a deaf person provided a translation of the Friday athaan.

“Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, the athaan can be interpreted in any way. A blind person interpreted the athaan during the prophet’s time. The athaan can be said by anyone, regardless of physical ability “He continued.

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