Disability not a barrier’
The Islamic advocacy for the Persons with Disabilities
By: M Ahmad
Before Islam, people of Madinah used to prevent the lame, the blind and other disabled from sharing food with them considering them disgusting and would show unjust behaviour towards these people who would be made to suffer isolation and other discriminations.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) transformed the lives of the disabled people by teaching the Society that there were no stigmas or bad attitudes for those with disabilities. Prophet emphasized that disability itself can not affect the individuals if they have strong faith.
The Society, according to Islam, is obliged to assess, assist and respect the person with disability and give the person an equal life chance. To us, Prophet was initiator and defender of disability rights and it was 1400 years ago that the Prophet made sure that persons with different abilities were catered for and were given their rights and privileges, including right for a normal life, just like anyone else.
The Prophet’s behaviour towards disabled people is an example, par excellence, for us and for the entire world. In addition to greetings, Abdullah Ibni Umm Maktum, a blind by birth, with respect and humanity, the Prophet (pbuh) designated him as the leader of Madinah many times in his own absence and also allowed him to perform Adhan (Azan). Similarly Julaybib, who was a dwarf, is among the best companion of Prophet (pbuh). While Julaybib was shunned by the Society, the Prophet befriended him, took care of him and raised his dignity. Prophet loved him so much so that he said that “This man is from me and I am from him”.
The Prophet also accommodated the needs of those with disabilities. As an example, for those who were not able to perform their daily prayers while standing, they could perform it by sitting down and if they were not able to do so, they can pray while lying. The Prophet also said “one who recites Quran with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through its verses, he or she would have twice the reward of those who recite perfectly”. Prophet gave the disabled people a higher self-esteem and erased their sadness, misery and lack of confidence. The Prophet’s gesture was powerful demonstration of the principle of inclusion.
The writer is Principal (I/C), Abhedananda Home, Higher Secondary Institution for the Specially-abled Children, Solina, Rambagh, Srinagar (J&K). email: [email protected]