In fact, Islam guides mankind, in all aspects of life. Islam teaches that humans are created differently. It’s the beauty of Allah’s creation that we’re not the same – in colour, mentality, and abilities -, so we need to cooperate and learn from each other. Allah has created people of different races, colours and has various abilities. While some of them are given certain gifts, others are deprived of these gifts and thus are disabled. This is the nature of life, according to the Divine Wisdom through which Allah governs everything. Allah says:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
“O mankind! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female and We made you nations and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, (the) most noble of you near Allah (is the) most righteous of you Indeed, Allah (is) All-Knower, All-Aware.” (Surah Al-Hujurat 49:13)
In the eyes of Allah, humans are all equal; the only thing that makes one better than the other is the individual’s consciousness of Allah (taqwa). And, to develop and maintain taqwa, Allah continuously tests us. Thus, tests are not Allah’s punishments as stated in the Quran, The Prophet’s behaviour toward disabled people is an example par excellence for us. Allah says:
وَأَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَمُهَيْمِنًا عَلَيْهِ فَاحْكُم بَيْنَهُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ عَمَّا جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْحَقِّ لِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مِنكُمْ شِرْعَةً وَمِنْهَاجًا وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ لَجَعَلَكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلَٰكِن لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَا آتَاكُمْ فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ إِلَى اللَّهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ
“And We revealed to you the Book in [the] truth, confirming what (was) before it of the Book and a guardian over it. So judge between them by what Allah has revealed and (do) not follow their vain desires when has come to you of the truth. For each, We have made for you law and a clear way. And if Allah (had) willed He (would have) made you one community [and] but to test you in what He (has) given you, so race (to) the good. To Allah you will all return, then He will inform you of what you were concerning it differing.” (Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:48)
Tests come in different ways. Some might be tested by their wealth, others by unpleasant or even painful experiences, and others by their health and condition – such as having a disability. Therefore, putting aside our own prejudices and assumptions, we must recognize that disability in and of itself is not necessarily a hindrance or disadvantage. No doubt, it causes the afflicted person far more difficulty than someone who is not in his/her position. Allah says:
لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ رَبَّنَا لَا تُؤَاخِذْنَا إِن نَّسِينَا أَوْ أَخْطَأْنَا رَبَّنَا وَلَا تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْنَا إِصْرًا كَمَا حَمَلْتَهُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِنَا رَبَّنَا وَلَا تُحَمِّلْنَا مَا لَا طَاقَةَ لَنَا بِهِ وَاعْفُ عَنَّا وَاغْفِرْ لَنَا وَارْحَمْنَا أَنتَ مَوْلَانَا فَانصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ
“(Does) not burden Allah any soul except its capacity, for it what it earned, and against it what it earned. “Our Lord! (Do) not take us to task if we forget or we err. Our Lord! And (do) not lay upon us a burden like that (which) You laid [it] on those who (were) from before us. Our Lord! [And] (do) not lay on us what not (the) strength we have [of it] (to bear). And pardon [from] us, and forgive [for] us and have mercy on us. You (are) our Protector, so help us against the people – [the] disbelievers.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:286)
Islam’s Care for People with Disabilities:
- Muslims believe that being disabled is a test from Allah in this life, and therefore can be a blessing in disguise.
- Every disabled person should be patient and live up to this challenge.
- People with disabilities have been gifted with other talents and capabilities.
- People with special needs should be given due respect and attention.
- They should be cared for. All their needs should be fulfilled
- They should not be isolated as they are an integral part of society.
- Both individuals and communities must try their best to help them with whatever means they have.
- Schools are to be established for those people to qualify them to be active members in their respected communities.
- Job opportunities that fit their health conditions should be provided.
Instead of disability, the focus needs to be on their potential and what society can do, to get the best out of them. You pick their schools, their careers, and you are even able to imagine how your grandkids will be running around you while visiting with you.
A deep analysis of the situation reveals several lessons that can be learned from the verse. These lessons are:
- Individuals have a right to be treated equally: everyone is equally important, whether disabled or not disabled.
- Individuals have a right to be educated regardless of disability.
- Individuals have a right not to be underestimated because of their ability.
- Individuals have a right to be included within society and to have an effective, valuable role within it.
- Obligations are placed upon disabled individuals to seek out the proper resources for education, for example, and not to underestimate their own ability and societal role.
Islam believes disability is a natural part of being a human; it’s neither a blessing nor a punishment. It assumes that people with disabilities “have strength and resources for their own empowerment” and emphasizes these strengths, but acknowledges their disability; thus encourages Muslims to be emphatic and caring (but not overprotective) with others and assist them whenever they need help. Allah says:
لَّيْسَ عَلَى الْأَعْمَىٰ حَرَجٌ وَلَا عَلَى الْأَعْرَجِ حَرَجٌ وَلَا عَلَى الْمَرِيضِ حَرَجٌ وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ يُدْخِلْهُ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ وَمَن يَتَوَلَّ يُعَذِّبْهُ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا
“Not is upon the blind any blame and not on the lame any blame and not on the sick any blame. And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, He will admit him (to) Gardens flow from underneath them the rivers, but whoever turns away, He will punish him (with) a punishment painful.” (Surah Al-Fath 48:17)
Disabled people in a country where the Shariah rules might receive a portion from the zakat, and certain religious duties might be reduced or waived completely due to their condition. In general, handicapped people face the challenge of normalizing their lives with patience, strength and courage. Allah says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَسْخَرْ قَوْمٌ مِّن قَوْمٍ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُونُوا خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ وَلَا نِسَاءٌ مِّن نِّسَاءٍ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُنَّ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُنَّ وَلَا تَلْمِزُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَلَا تَنَابَزُوا بِالْأَلْقَابِ بِئْسَ الِاسْمُ الْفُسُوقُ بَعْدَ الْإِيمَانِ وَمَن لَّمْ يَتُبْ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ
“O you who believe! (Let) not ridicule a people [of] (another) people, perhaps that they may be better than them; and (let) not women [of] (other) women perhaps that they are maybe better than them. And (do) not insult yourselves and (do) not call each other by nicknames. Wretched is the name (of) disobedience after the faith. And whoever (does) not repent, then those – they (are) the wrongdoers.” (Surah Al-Hujurat 49:11)
In Islam, the cause of disability is not attributed to wrongdoing by the disabled person or their parents. Islam views disability as a challenge set by Allah. The Qur’an urges people to treat people with intellectual disabilities with kindness and to protect people with disabilities. Many of them accomplish this with such flair that they no longer see themselves as “different.” May God facilitate them in their adversity and enable others of us to become a supportive force for them.