It is ALLAH’s favour upon us that He has blessed us in this life with the vision and sight of His varied forms of light. The light of the sun as it heralds with it a new day; the light of the moon that casts its glow in the opaque of darkness; the light of the twinkling stars like lanterns in the nightsky. Yet it is the vision of His Eternal Light that beckons the sight of our soul, the vision of His Splendour and Nur. As ALLAH SWT has stated in the Glorious Quran, “ALLAH is the light of the heavens and the earth…Light upon Light and ALLAH guides to His Light whomsoever He wishes (S24:V35).
As we yearn for the Eternal Vision of Light, I bid you to imagine and visualise with me that while living in this temporary world of Ad Dunya, the only discernible light your eyesight can distinguish is in fact a perception…a perception of the difference between day and night. This is the remarkable story of Haafidha ‘Aalimah Razia Ismail; An inspiring Muslimah whose eyes have never seen a single vision or sight from the realm of this life…for she was blind from birth.
It was the year 1979 and a beautiful little daughter was born to teacher Hajira Ismail and her husband Abdul Hamid. The miracle began from the very onset, that Hajira gave birth to a six month old premature baby who had actually survived. Born at Parklane Clinic, the doctors did their best to ensure her survival by placing her for a lengthy period of time in an incubator. Yet ALLAH’s Hand was already guiding the miraculous journey of Haafidha Razia’s life. “I was placed in an incubator to be kept alive and due to my prematurity there wasn’t adequate oxygen for my eyes, yet it was the kudrat of ALLAH that I was kept alive, ” begins Haafidha Razia.
“For the first few years my parents nourished and nurtured my body. I drank a lot of milk and so I grew well, Alhamdulillah. But obviously being a premature baby I was still small in size. My parents and I spent the first six years of my life in Johannesburg. I attended Tiba Services for the blind and the very kind teacher Miss Miriam Makra taught me the alphabet in braille. I was with Tiba from the age of about four years old. I could not see at all and till today I can only sense light perception. When day changes into night or how light spreads around a room or when someone stands infront of me and their shape casts a shadow.”
“My childhood was spent with many hours playing and learning and I was your typical talkative toddler. You must understand that I did not know a life of vision and adapted to being blind from birth. I recall moments of playing with my pet, a fat cat called Blacky. In any event we moved to Pietermaritzburg when I was six years old as there was no Indian school for the blind in that period of the apartheid era. I attended the New Horizons School for the blind and the maktab Madrasah Noor for the blind as well. I remained at New Horizons for ten years and completed my matric two years before time as I received two double promotions, Alhamdulillah. I completed my matric, achieving a matric exemption having attained 2As, 3Bs and a C. My subjects were English, Afrikaans, History, Business Economics, Mercentile Law and Physiology.”
Interviewing her mother, Apa Hajira, regarding her daughter’s life’s journey, she shared, “At first her father and I felt sad but realised that we had to be happy with ALLAH’s Will for us and that we needed to be happy in every condition. We accepted that this circumstance was from ALLAH. After that we would always make dua for ALLAH’s Assistance and Guidance but we knew that there was nothing to be afraid and ashamed of. And this is my advice to all parents with children with challenges and disabilities: Do not be afraid and ashamed. Carry on with normal life and make your child understand their disability.”
As to her voyage through deeni ‘ilm, Haafidha Razia conveyed, “At Madrasah Noor, I had learnt to recite the Quran in the braille mushaf, which comes from Pakistan. It was when I was in standard eight that, Alhamdulillah, my parents and I were blessed with the opportunity of performing Hajj. It was there in the haram shariefs of Makkah Mukarramah and Madinah Munawwarah as well as in the streets of these sacred cities that I was inspired by the various Quraas beautiful recitations. I had the opportunity of listening to Sheikhs Shuraim and Sudais. And I recall reading salaah in the Haram and being very much moved by Sheikh Hudhaifi”s recitation of Surah Balad in one of the salaahs. It was then that I made niyyah and decided to embark on the journey of Hifhdul Quran.”
Haafidha Razia’s inspiring lifestory doesn’t end there, ” I completed Hifdh ul Quraan in two and a half years, through braille and through listening to audio, Alhamdulillah and thereafter completed the ‘Aalimah course in seven years. After this I spent a further seven years teaching at Madrasah Noor and together with another blind student from Thailand, proofread the braille Quran as well as various Islamic studies kitaabs, fiqh, ahaadith and jurisprudence.”
Haafidha Razia concluded by sharing some motivational words with us and the driving force behind her zeal for knowledge, “The Darul ‘Ulooms have been most inspiring for me. Deen is compulsory for everybody, as Nabi SAW said, “The seeking of knowledge is compulsory on every Muslim, male and female.” As well as, “The best of you is he who learns the Quran and teaches it and the best of you is he who benefits people.” Always think of the blessings ALLAH has given you. If you have sight, use it to the best of your ability to be obedient to ALLAH. With regards to the ni’mat of sight, Nabi SAW has said to the effect, “If ALLAH takes away the two most beloved organs of the body, it will be the eyesight.” Follow the advices of your family and live as a happy family as well as learn from the examples, visions, dreams and thoughts of others, especially with regards to the Quran and deen.”
As our interview drew to a close and Haafidha Razia shared abit about her upcoming talk at the ladies qiraat jalsah once again this year, I asked her a question that overwhelmed my heart, acknowledging that her eyes have seen nothing of this world, “What do you dream to be your first sight in Jannah?” Her face lit up, with a dreamy smile hovering on her lips and she said, “Yes, I hope in Jannah to see the beauty of ALLAH’s creation, of people and of promised palaces and the sight of my beloved family.”
SubhanALLAH! Indeed it is ALLAH who is Ya Nur, the Light upon Light, Who through His miraculous methods guides to His Light whomsoever He wishes…those who have sight and those who do not… like our inspirational sister and teacher, Haafidha Razia Ismail, may ALLAH be pleased with her and her family’s efforts, ameen.
Extracted from my series “Miracles of ALLAH” in the Ramadaan 1434/ June 2013 edition of The Muslim Woman Magazine.