Holding onto the saying “everyone is equal in the eyes of God”, young people involved in the management of El Syifa Mosque in Ciganjur subdistrict in Jagakarsa, South Jakarta, decided to make the mosque more inclusive and friendly to those with disabilities.
They revamped the mosque building to better accommodate Muslims with disabilities.
From its entrance gate, you can see a disabled parking space. At the front of the mosque building, there is a special area for wudhu (ablutions) for those in a wheelchair.
Unlike usual wudhu areas, each faucet is installed on a washbasin that can be pulled closer to the user’s body. It is also equipped with a spray hose to clean the wheelchair’s wheels.
There is also a toilet with a button that the user can push to ask for help. The button is connected to a bell that can be heard inside the mosque.
“The cleanliness of the wheels could be an issue for some people. The spray hose is there so that there will be no more question about it,” the secretary of the mosque’s welfare council, Hadi Syaifullah was quoted by The Jakarta Post as saying recently.
Hadi went on to explain they had spent Rp 150 million (US$10,500) on building the facility.
“Allhamdulilah (thank God), the funds were raised through a single donor. It makes us believe in miracles. When we want to do something good, God will help us find a way,” he added.
The El Syifa Mosque stands on a 1,500-square-meter plot of land and can accommodate around 1,000 people. It was first built in the early 1900s. It underwent a massive renovation in the 1980s.
The idea to make the mosque more inclusive started in April 2018, Hadi said. After weeks of discussions with the elders, the council’s youth began the mission by building a ramp to enter the mosque.
Earlier this year, they also managed to obtain a Quran printed in Braille. One Braille Quran is divided into six books.
“It is a gift from the Kuwait Embassy to the South Jakarta administration,” Hadi said.
The mosque also provides small chairs for the elderly to pray.
Hadi said the idea to provide a more inclusive house of worship for Muslims came even without them knowing the number of people with disabilities in the Ciganjur area who might benefit from the facilities.
“We should not wait for people to ask for such facilities. It’s not a business, but a movement. We build it first, then we definitely will see them come and pray with us,” he said.
Hadi said they aimed to add more facilities in the future. They want to create a more inclusive mosque that can welcome people with various disabilities.
For the deaf, they plan to provide smart eyeglasses to be worn during prayer in congregation. Through the smart glasses, the wearer would be able to follow the Quranic verse that the imam is reciting and know when to move.
For the blind, the mosque’s management plans to provide headphones that they can use during prayers. The headphones will be connected to a microphone worn by the imam.
There were no disabled Muslims praying at the mosque during The Jakarta Post’s recent visit.
El Syifa Mosque Welfare Council (DKM) head Muhidin said he wished many more mosques in the city would follow suit.
“People with disabilities also include the elderly. Those who used to be strong and healthy when they were young, but when they got older they had a stroke, or any other ailments that mean they are no longer able to walk,” he said.
The 76-year-old mentioned as examples his own parents and some of his fellow senior residents. He knows many people who used to visit the mosque quite often but had stopped due to physical limitations.
One of the mosque’s caretakers Safrudin said there was a special kind of joy he felt every time he saw people in a wheelchair coming to pray there. Such a sight always reminds him of his late parents who also used wheelchairs in the last years of their lives
“When I see someone arriving on a wheelchair, I rush and offer help,” the 48-year-old said.
“I have experience with assisting people in a wheelchair. But most of the time, they prefer to do everything by themselves because the mosque’s facilities already support them,” he added. (JP/Masdar)
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