Four years ago while making Ummrah, Muslim American Mohamed Salahuddin, president & CEO of NAZTEC-USA, recognized a serious problem for himself and other visitors of the two holy Mosques. Over 70% of those visiting the holy places of Islam cannot speak or understand the Arabic used for the Khutbahs at Masjid al Haram or Masjid An-Nabawi.
As a Scientist, Engineer & Industrialist, Mohamed worked on a dedicated solution to this problem along with his team of product designers & engineers at NAZTEC Florida. For three years they worked tirelessly toward creating a world class, state of the art, first of its kind technological solution. The result was a digital, simultaneous, live automatic translation system for installation at both holy places. The design involved complex and critical innovations to create a system capable of simultaneously translating the Friday Jummuah Khutbahs into 35 different languages.
The new innovations would result in registering new invention patents with the United States Patent & Trademark Office. “We invented a new Antenna system for installation at the tall minarets of the Masjid Al Haram” explains Mr. Salahuddin. All of the equipment was designed and manufactured inhouse and tested at the Florida facility of NAZTEC before being sent for installation in Mecca.
Mohamed and his team started designing the system on the basis of his recognition of need, with no contract or promise of permission to install. “We were knocking at every single possible contact in Saudi Arabia and could not reach or contact anyone,” says Mohamed. “We did not give up – made several trips to both the holy places to put forward the idea and Alhamdulillah the breakthrough camein during 2014, when I was fortunate to meet one of the haram directors for a short while and presented my idea!” This led to introducing the concept to individuals who were able to create new translation departments for both Mecca and Medina in 2014.
Alhamdulillah, early this year NAZTECFlorida was able to fulfill the dream of helping those in the holy places when Mohamed Salahuddin met up with Shaikh Abdul-Rahman Al-Sudais, President & Grand Imam of Masjid Al Haram & Masjid Al Nabawi. This revolutionary project finally got the approval from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman of Saudi Arabia. The reality of a Muslim American Invention being implemented in Mecca was getting closer.
Nearly a full plane-load of equipment was required for the automatic translation system and the broadcasting system. Mohamed Salahuddin and a team of engineers from Florida worked in Saudi Arabia for 60- days of non-stop work at both the holy places! Mohamed explains, “We started the installation at Masjid Al Haram in Makkah with too many technical and administrative challenges at the holy site.” In order to meet these challenges; they created a brand new, sophisticated control room from scratch and installed the antenna system in record time, taking only 40 days at Masjid Al Haram and 20 days in Masjid Al Nabawi. After installation, the team was on hand for verifying the reliability and coverage for the system through three Jummuah services in both locations.
Now non-Arabic speakers can enjoy high quality coverage within both the holy masjids and covering a radius of over 30 kilometers around the masjids. They can tune in to the channels in hotels and cars via FM broadcast or listen in on smartphones and some custom devices which are available via vending machines. In the near future there will be many other digital methods of listening to the translations.
Phase 1 of the project which launched this year provides 6 language translations: English, Urdu, French, Turkish, Indonesian (Malay) & Hausa (an African dialect used by many of those employed in Mecca and Medina).
Phase-2 of the project is likely to start in next few months to add additional channels. The ultimate aim is to commission the 35-language system in both the holy places.
Other than translation of the Jummuah Khutbahs, the system will be used for tafsir of the Holy Qur’an during Ramadan, important announcements in multiple languages during Hajj, Ramadan, Fridays, and other special occasions. Mohamed exclaims, “We thank Almighty Allah to have blessed us and given this great life time opportunity to make a lasting difference to all the visiting [Muslims] for generations to come at Masjid Al Haram & Masjid Al Nabawi!”
The commercial applications of such an innovative automated translation system are limitless and could open new doors for mass communication that will benefit humanity for many generations to come. Yet another great invention that Muslims have contributed to the world!
Established in the State of Florida in 2004, NAZTEC is a leading source for Information Technology Consulting, Election Products manufacturing & Custom Engineering Project installations worldwide. NAZTEC is the nation’s leading voting booth manufacturer and supplies its election products to 33 different states and over 100 government clients nationwide. NAZTEC also installs hurricane alert broadcast terminals for NOAA. NAZTEC can be reached online at naztecgroup.com