Quran reading and ‘ibadah’ for special needs children in IIUM too

By Aida Mokhtar

It was the start to a beautiful Saturday when we left our homes to make the much anticipated visit of Akademi Faqeh in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan recently.

Our visit was to reciprocate the earlier visit to IIUM by a management team from Yayasan Faqeh comprising Norakyairee Mohd, a senior lecturer of Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) and his wife Zaharatul Sophia Mohamed Amir Abas. The couple have a son with autism and this has motivated them to delve further into a programme in Qur’an reading and Ibadah for special needs children.

In the team of the visit were Prof. Dr. Ruzita Mohd Amin of IIUM’s Disability Services Unit (IIUM’s DSU), Rashdan Baba of Sahabat Faqeh (an affiliated member of Yayasan Faqeh) and my good self of the IIUM Special Parents Group. Along with about ten IIUM students we visited Akademi Fakih Intelek, an academy that uses a special curriculum to teach special children, one of the organisations under Yayasan Faqeh.

The visit, coupled with the excellent management of Yayasan Faqeh by the husband and wife team of Norakyairee Mohd Raus and Zaharatul Sophia, had given us great inspiration and hope for IIUM’s DSU to provide Qur’an reading classes to special needs children of IIUM parents and other special needs children. In our case, IIUM’s DSU could collaborate with Yayasan Faqeh, IIUM Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah (SHAS) mosque, and IIUM Centre for University Social Responsibility (CENSERVE), to organise the Qur’an reading classes for special needs kids.

We were delighted with a briefing given by Syar Meeze Mohd Rashid, a Fellow of the Ummi Ibnu Maktum Research Cluster that is affiliated with the foundation. The intertwining of research and teaching was strongly felt and the commitment to teaching special children was apparent from the briefing.

We witnessed first-hand three classes in the academy that provide Qur’anic classes to special children with different levels of severity. The noble intention to train special needs children to read the Qur’an and to perform their religious obligations is commendable.

We also found the patience and passion the teachers demonstrated in the classes as exemplary. There were visual cues that guided the children through their daily chores.

The three organisations under Yayasan Faqeh, other than the academy, are Taska Faqeh, Tadika Fakih, and Maahad Tahfiz Faqeh.

Established in 2007, Taska Faqeh has been involved in teaching students in Arabic alphabets and familiarising with Qur’anic verses. Tadika Fakih was formed in 2005 and it is a kindergarten that also offers a pre-hafiz programme. While Maahad Tahfiz is a primary integrated school that commenced in 2006.

The need for a programme offering Qur’an reading and ibadah for special needs children had led Yayasan Faqeh to take the initiative to start the foundation that focused on providing opportunities and a structured approach to teach special needs children so they are able to learn and understand the Qur’an like typical children. The foundation is led by Prof. Dato’ Dr. M. Y. Zulkifli Mohd Yusoff, a professor of the Department of Qur’an and Hadith in Universiti Malaya (UM) and UM’s Director of Qur’anic Research.

Yayasan Faqeh is an organisation complete with vision, mission and objectives. Its vision is to develop a Qur’anic generation within the special needs community. The mission statement has specific goals from providing infrastructure and quality learning tools, developing an effective module or curriculum, producing human capital that are capable of educating with passion, conducting training and research to empower an effective Al-Qur’an system, and collecting and distributing funding to developing Al-Qur’an amongst the people with special needs.

The foundation’s objectives range from conducting Al-Qur’an class, creating awareness, providing a medium for academicians and the intellectual community to provide da’wah activities to special needs children, and to collaborate with universities in training Qur’anic teachers that can educate with passion.

There have been several activities carried out by the foundation, from workshops to awareness campaigns in public universities, awareness through expos and seminars to conducting daily Qur’an classes and organising community engagement.

Meanwhile, it is felt that more research has to be conducted with regards to Qur’an and Ibadah teaching to special needs children which is greatly encouraged by IIUM’s DSU and the IIUM academic community.

These activities would be part of IIUM DSU’s and IIUM Special Parents’ efforts to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal No. 4 (SDG 4) that focuses on the goal of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education to special needs children comparable to their typical friends.***

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