He was born in 1950 in Nangarhar province, east of Afghanistan. Saleem lost his eyesight when he was just 14 months old.
His father, Molavi Ghalajan, was a renowned scholar at the time and helped his son discover memorization and recitation talents. Barakatullah learned Tajweed from his father and attended a local Quran school when he was five and managed to commit the entire Quran to his memory at the age of nine.
The Afghan qari then departed for Egypt to acquire knowledge from prominent qaris such as Sheikh Mahmoud Khalil al-Hussary and Abul Ainain Shuaisha.
Speaking to Al-Jazeera, Saleem said that he made the visit in 1964 to Egypt with the financial support of a merchant who was sending students to Egypt for learning the Quran. The visit lasted for six years and he learned ten styles of recitation in the Arab country.
Back in Afghanistan, Saleem managed to establish a new approach to the memorization of the Quran which was different from the approaches of the time in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He started cooperation with Radio Kabul and soon became a famous Quran reciter. Saleem also launched the association of Afghanistan’s qaris in the 1990s and is still the head of the society.
As one of the prominent Quran teachers in Afghanistan, he has trained more than 800 Quran memorizers in the past 52 years.
He has not left Kabul in the past five decades and has seen seven different political periods in the capital. Saleem says he has always tried to distance himself from politics and focus on serving the Quran.
He believes that despite having enough Quran memorizers, Afghanistan is suffering from a lack of qaris and the reason is that individuals are not familiar with the principles of Tajweed and styles of recitations.
Saleem has recorded the Quran recitation with 14 styles for broadcasting on TV channels while also writing 13 books, some of which are used as textbooks in schools and universities.