The Jakarta Post, Indonesia.
Monday, May 22, 2006.
Seeing is believing, they say. But thousands of blind Muslims in the country have proven the saying wrong by practicing their religion without being able to see a sacred word of the Koran.
Raudlatul Makfufin Foundation, which manages an Islamic boarding school for the blind, launched Sunday its "One Million Korans in braille" program.
"No one, even the government, took the initiative to open the minds of the people, let alone of the blind. That is why we set up the plan to publish one million Korans in braille within 30 years," the foundation's secretary-general, R. Ismail Prawira Kusuma, said during the launch in Ciputat, Tangerang.
Also present at the launch were Banten acting governor Ratu Atut Choisiah, People's Consultative Assembly speaker Hidayat Nur Wahid and hundreds of blind people from Greater Jakarta.
According to Ismail, there are about 2.5 million visually impaired Muslims nationwide who do not have access to reading the Koran.
The foundation's program invites donors and the government to help finance the production and distribution of the special Koran.
Zaenal Abidin, head of Koran production at the foundation, said that one mashaf (book) of the Koran consisting of 30 juz (chapters) was equivalent to a set of 30 books in a braille version.
Production of a set costs Rp 850,000 (US$94) for the regular edition, and Rp 1.2 million for a deluxe edition.
"The high cost is the main problem we are facing in the production of the special Koran ... A regular one costs only Rp 30,000 in bookstores," Zaenal said.
The foundation, which was established in 1983, has produced and distributed 500 Korans in braille since 1999 with financial help from institutions including ESQ Alumni Care of Education, Bank Mandiri and Al Hafiz Koran reading groups, as well as private individuals.
Hidayat, who vowed to help promote the program to the central government and regional administrations, was hopeful it could receive allocations from the annual budget.
"I would like to see the Banten provincial administration become a pioneer the movement ... fulfilling the needs of 3,000 blind Muslims in the province," he said in his address.
Ratu Atut said that she would propose the allocation of funds from the 2007 provincial budget for the program.
End of article.
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