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Many disabled and physically impaired persons are discriminated against in the Muslim world, and are either treated very poorly in the workplace, are stuck into the most menial jobs, or denied employment completely. Yet Islam has a very perspective of disability and impairment. The message of Islam to all including our disabled and physically impaired brothers and sisters is one of hope and patience. In the Qur’an, Allah the Almighty has promised us that “with every hardship there is relief,” (94:5) and that “no person shall have a burden laid on him greater than he can bear” (2:286). In Surah Yusuf (12: 87), the Qur’an states, “truly no one despairs of Allah’s soothing mercy, except those who have no faith.” The following story from the hadith of the Prophet (s) illustrates the type of sabr (patience) our Muslim brothers or sisters who are disabled or physically impaired should exhibit:
Islam therefore recognizes that disabilities and physical impairments exist, but demands that these not to be used to discriminate, ostracize or dismiss our brothers or sisters that are in that type of situation.
Islam and Diversity:
Islam does not want Muslims to discriminate against any person on the basis of any difference (gender, ethnicity, color, physical, etc) among each other. The only difference that matters to the Creator is one’s level of piety or taqwa.
Islam teaches us that diversity is a fact of nature and it makes the nature beautiful. God has created this whole universe with diversity. God says in the Qur’an:
See you not that Allah sends down rain from the sky? With it We then bring out produce of various colors. And in the mountains are tracts white and red, of various shades of color, and black intense in hue. And so amongst men and crawling creatures and cattle, are they of various colors. Those truly fear Allah, among His Servants, who have knowledge: for Allah is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving. (Surah Fatir, 35:27-28)
There is diversity among human beings. They have variety of genders, colors and languages and multiplicity of races and tribes. These diversities are considered natural and are called “God’s signs” in the Qur’an (30:20-22). They are indicative of God’s creative power and wisdom and are good and healthy since they endow human life with richness and beauty. God wants human beings to derive benefit from this diversity and not to allow it to generate unhealthy schisms and divisions in their ranks. God says in the Qur’an:
And from amongst His signs is this that He created you from dust; and then behold you are humans scattered far and wide. Among His signs is this that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between you. Verily in that are signs for those who reflect. And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the variations in your languages and colors; verily in that are signs for those who know. And among His signs is the sleep that you take by night and by day, and the quest that you make for livelihood out of His bounty; verily in that are signs for those who hearken… (30:20-23).
Diversity in Islam has a healthy and constructive purpose, namely that “you may know each other”. In the words of the Qur’an:
O people, We have created you from a male and a female and made you into races and tribes so that you may know each other. Surely the most honored of you in the sight of God is the one who is the most righteous of you” (49:13).
Instead of our differences separating us from each other, there is no reason why these diversities–whether ethnic, cultural or physical should create barriers, or cause animosities among human beings.
In addition to these natural diversities there are others that are part of the human societies and culture, the Qur’an recognizes the individuality of each human being as well as the individuality of their groups and communities.
…To each among you have We prescribed a Law and an Open Way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single People, but (His plan is) to test you in what He has given you; so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute. (al-Ma’idah 5:48)
Physical Disability and Impairment in Islam
Allah creates and recreates anything He wants. He has created human beings in different races, colors and with differing abilities. Some are endowed with certain abilities and skills while lack these capabilities (physical or otherwise) and thus are disabled, or physically impaired.
Discussing this important issue, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi states:
In fact, man’s life is a full record of hardships and tribulations. In this sense, Allah says: “ We create man from a drop of thickened fluid to test him” (Al-Insaan:2) When man looks upon these tribulations and afflictions as being a test from Almighty Allah to see his true colors, he will come to know that there is a great Divine wisdom behind all these tests. This is surely an absolute fact, whether we know it or not.
It is also a great thing that Almighty Allah, when depriving a person of a certain ability or gift, compensates him for it, by bestowing upon him/her other gifts by which which he/she excels others. That is why we see that those people who are deprived of sight, have very sensitive ears that they can hear very low beats or movements around them. They may also amazing memorizing capabilities bifadilillah whereby they are able to compensate for their physical impairment.
How To Overcome Disability and Become an Active Member in the Society:
In order to be an active member in the society, a disabled person needs to be fully aware of his surroundings and the nature of his disability. In addition, it is incumbent on the society to offer a helping hand to all those people. Islamic history has a shining record of many examples of people who, while having some kind of disability, occupied very excellent positions and prominent status in the society. `Atta Ibn Abi Rabah, who was a lame and paralyzed person, was the greatest Mufti in Makkah. He was highly honored by `Abdul-Malik Ibn Marawan, the Muslim caliph of that time. His vast knowledge earned this prestige.
We all know the story of Ibn Umm Maktum who was born blind, was among the first to embrace Islam, and about whom the first ten verses of Surah Abasa from the Qur’anwere revealed. Prophet Muhammad (s) was preaching Islam to Walid ibn al-Mughira and other Quraysh chieftains in Makkah. AbdAllah ibn Umm Maktum came along and was seeking guidance from him. Muhammad who was focused on conversing with the Quraish chieftains and passing the Message of Islam to them frowned at ibn Umm Maktum. Allahreprimanded Muhammad for this action by revealing the first ten verses of Abasa :
From this point on, Muhammad (s) used to greet AbdAllah ibn Umm-Maktum thus : “Welcome to him on whose account my Sustainer has rebuked me.” Our Prophet (s) appointed Abdallah as one of muezzins in Madinah, and even put in charge of the city during his absence on several occasions. Though he was specifically exempted by the Qur’an, he also was the flag bearer of the Muslim army in the battle where he perished.
Besides Ibn Umm Maktum, there were other companions of the Prophet (s) and other very famous Muslims/Muslimahs who have suffered from physical impairments and disabilities:
- Abu ubaidah Ibnul Jarrah had a disabled leg, yet he insisted to join the battles with Prophet Muhammad.
- Abdullah Ibn Masoud was a weak man, yet he was perfect in explaining the meanings of the Holy Quran.Once Abdullah Ibn Mas’oud (May God be pleased with him) climbed a tree, the Prophet (Peace be upon him)‘s companions laughed because his legs were tiny, but the Prophet PBUH stopped them and said: “What makes you laugh? For the legs of Ibn Mas’oud are heavier on the scale on Judgment day than the Mountain of Uhuhd”
- Abul Alaa Alma’arry was a renowned Muslim scholar.
- Umm ‘Umarah – Nusaybah bint Ka’b was a famous Muslima who defended the Prophet (s) at the battle of Uhud after the near rout of the Muslim army, who was wounded 12 times during that battle, and who lost her arm during the battle against the army of Musaylamah.
- Similarly, Julaybib, another companion of the Prophet was described as being deformed or revolting in appearance. While many people in Madinah had made him an outcast, the Prophet, pbuh, instead approached a family to give their beautiful daughter as a bride for Julaybib. Although the parents themselves showed their bias by deferring to each other, the daughter herself willingly accepted to get married to him, and they lived very happily together by the Grace of Allah.
- Urwah ibn az Zubair was a famous Taabi’ee (successors of the Companions of the Prophet(s) ), a Hadith scholar who was born in the year 22AH of the Khilafa of Umar (ra) and died 94AH. [It so happened that he] developed gangrene of the foot. His leg became swollen and the gangrene began to spread at frightening speed. Al-Walid sent for the best doctors to cure his guest by any means possible. But the doctors were unanimously united on the fact that the only cure for him was amputation quickly before the gangrene spreads and kills him. ‘Urwah seeing no other choice agreed.When the surgeon came to amputate his leg with his scalpel and saw, he said to Urwah: ‘I think it would be appropriate for us to give you a mouthful of intoxicant so that you do not feel the excruciating pain of amputation’. Urwah replied: ‘No, I will not do that. I do not believe that anything forbidden can be a source of peace or happiness’. So the doctor said, ‘So we will give you some tranquilizer”. Urwah replied: ‘I do not wish to be deprived of one of my limbs without me feeling it’s pain, and therefore the reward I aspire for it from Allah”. Then, just before the surgeon was about to cut his leg, a group of men came to them, so Urwah said: ‘Who are these people?” It was said to him, ‘They have been sent for, so that they can hold you, since perhaps when the pain becomes severe, it might cause you to pull back your leg causing you harm. Urwah replied, ‘Send them back! I have no need of them as I hope that as dhikr (rememberance of Allah) will suffice me of them.’
So the surgeon began by first cutting off his flesh with a scalpel and when he reached his bone, he started to saw. All that could be heard from Urwah was La-ilaha-illa-Allah (There is no god but God) and Allahu-akbar (God is the Greatest) until his leg was cut off. Urwah thent lost consciousness and fell into such a deep sleep that he did not read his normal portion of Quran that day. This was the only time when he did not perform his regular good deed. Please click here to read Urwah’s whole story.
The Duty of the Society towards the Disabled:
It must be clearly borne in mind that there are things that happen out of man’s control and there are things that happen to man out of his own negligence, To make this matter clear, we may quote the following example. An infant gets paralyzed. This may occur due to his mother’s negligence of giving her child the due vaccination. So such disability is out of man’s negligence.
Now, it is the duty of the whole society to establish schools for those persons and secure them due care so that they become good members of the society and that they benefit themselves and their families. In the West, great care is shown to the disabled. It is duty of we Muslims to shoulder the responsibility of showing the utmost care to those people, for, according to the teachings of our religion, those persons are sources of Divine mercy and blessings being showered on us now and then. They are the weak for whose sake we are given sustenance and made victorious. In his Hadith, our Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “You are given sustenance and victory for the virtue of those who are weak amongst you.” We, should show mercy and care to the disabled out of both human and religious motives. In Islam, we are commanded to show mercy to everything in this world. In the Hadith: “Show mercy to those on earth so that He Who is in the heavens (i.e. Allah) bestow mercy to you.”
The following video discusses some of the issues faced by Muslims with disabilities:
Caring for People with Special Needs in Islam
by Muhammad Mus`ad Yaqut
The civilized world has recently paid attention to people with special needs. This started after it had cast aside corrupt, racist theories calling for neglecting them on the false grounds that people with special needs are not of any benefit to the society. A report issued by the United Nations International Labour Organization in 2000 estimated the number of those with special needs to be more than 610 million, out of which 400 million live in developing countries. According to the World Bank’s statistics, this category represents 15 percent of the world’s population.
A cursory look at the history of the West shows the blatant neglect and persecution of people with special needs that culminated in killing disabled babies in some old European societies. Superstitious beliefs were responsible for this setback. For example, it was believed that people suffering from intellectual disabilities were possessed by devils and evil spirits. Even philosophers and scholars held such ideas. The laws of the legendary lawgiver of Sparta, Lycurgus, and the Athenian philosopher and lawmaker Solon allowed getting rid of those who had disabilities that made them unable to work or engage in war. Moreover, the renowned philosopher Plato came and declared that those who have special needs are a malicious category constituting a burden on the society and a damaging factor to his Republic. Likewise, English philosopher Herbert Spenser (1820-1903) called on the society to deny those with special needs any kind of help, claiming that this category constitutes a useless, heavy burden for a society to carry.
Whereas, the pre-Islamic Arabs — though they used to kill their female babies for fear of possible disgrace — were less hardhearted and more compassionate toward those afflicted with adversities and the chronically ill. They, however, abstained from sharing food or sitting at a meal with those who had special needs.
When the world was floundering between theories that called for the execution of the mentally disabled and other theories that called for employing them in drudgery, the East and the West, at long last, rightly arrived at the idea of the perfect care for people with special needs. That being the case, we, on the other hand, do see how our Messenger, the educator and teacher, (s) was so merciful toward this type of people.
The Prophet and People With Special Needs
It is narrated on the authority of Anas (r) that a woman, somewhat mentally defected, said,” O Messenger of Allah! I have a need that I want you to meet. He (s) responded, “O mother of so and so, choose the way you like to walk in so that I may know your need and meet it.” He walked with her in some route until she had her need fulfilled (Muslim).
This is, of course, a proof of his forbearance, humility, and patience in answering the needs of those with special needs. It, also, serves a legal proof that a ruler is obligated to care for people with special needs, socially, economically, and psychologically, and that the ruler should fulfill their needs and grant their requests.
The forms of such care include, but are not restricted to the following:
· Medication and regular check-up
· Proper education and training
· Assigning some workers to take care of them
Following this merciful Prophetic course,`Umar ibn`Abdul-`Aziz (r) asked rulers of the provinces to send him the names of all those who are blind, crippled, or with a chronic illness that prevented them from establishing salaah. So they sent him their names. He, in turn, ordered that every blind man should have an employee to guide and look after him, and that every two chronically ill persons — those with special needs — be attended by a servant to serve and care for them (Ibn Al-Jawzi).
The same course was taken by the Umayyad caliph Al-Waleed ibna`Abdul-Malik (may Allah have mercy on him). The idea of the establishment of institutes or centers for the care of people with special needs was his. In AH 88 (707 CE), he ordered the establishment of a foundation specialized in looking after them. Doctors and servants, paid fixed stipends, were employed in this foundation. He granted a regular allowance to persons with special needs, and told them, “Do not beg people.” Thereby, he made them sufficient enough to not beg others. In addition, he appointed employees to serve all those who were disabled, crippled, or blind (Ibn Katheer, At-Tabari).
Honoring Them and Meeting Their Needs
It happened in a well-known incident that Prophet Muhammad (s) frowned at a blind man,`Abdullah ibn Umm Maktoum (r) when he came to ask the Prophet about a Shari`ah matter. The Prophet (s) was sitting at that time with a group of noble and high-placed people attempting to win them over toward Islam. Although the blind man did not see nor perceive his frowning face, yet Allah (the Mighty and Exalted) blamed His Messenger for doing this, saying what means in the Qur’an, (He (the Prophet) frowned and turned away, because the blind man came to him (interrupting). But what could tell you but that perchance he might grow (in spiritual understanding)?- Or that he might receive admonition, and the teaching might profit him? (`Abasa 80:1-4).
Afterwards, the Prophet (s) used to meet that blind man with a welcoming and smiling face, saying to him, “Welcome to a man for whom my Lord has blamed me!” (Al-Qurtubi). […]
It is reported on the authority of `A’ishah (ra) that she said, “I heard Allah’s Messenger (s) say, ‘Allah, Glorified and Exalted be He, revealed to me that whosoever takes a route of seeking knowledge, the route to Paradise will be made easy for him, and that I (Allah) will reward the one whose two dear things (that’s his eyes) were taken away from him with Paradise” (Al-Baihaqi and authenticated by Al-Albaanee)
The Prophet (s), addressing all who have illnesses and disabilities, said, “No Muslim is pricked with a thorn, or anything larger than that, except that a hasanah will be recorded for him and a sin will be erased as a reward for that“(Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
There exists in these prophetic texts and hadith qudsi comfort and glad tidings for everyone with a certain disability; if they exhibit patience at their adversity, being content with the trial Allah has afflicted them with, anticipating the reward from Allah alone for their disability, Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala will recompense them with Paradise.
Amr ibn Al-Gamouh was a lame man. However he insisted on participating with the Muslims in the battle of Uhud where he was martyred. The Prophet (s) passed by his body and said, “As though I could see you walking with this leg of yours, being heard, in Paradise” (Authenticated by Al-Albaanee).
It is narrated that the Messenger of Allah (s) left Ibn Umm Maktoum twice as his successor in Madina to lead the prayer, though he was blind (Ahmad).
And it is reported on the authority of `A’ishah (ra) that Ibn Umm Maktoum was a muezzin of Allah’s Messenger (s) though he was blind (Muslim).
It is narrated via Sa`id ibn Al-Mosayyab (may Allah have mercy on him) that when Muslims would go on their expeditions, they used to leave those among them who were chronically ill, submit the keys of their doors to them, saying, “We have made it lawful for you to partake of our “food” (Ar-Razi).
Al-Hasan ibn Muhammad said, “I entered upon Abi Zayd Al-Ansari, who called out the Adhan and Iqamah while he was sitting.” He added, “a man advanced and led us in prayer. That man was lame whose leg was injured in the Cause of Allah, the Exalted” (Al-Baihaqi).
Thus was the Prophet (s)’s society, a society that was marked by mutual support, cooperation, and unity in consoling, honouring, and respecting those with special needs. For all of this, the course of the merciful Prophet (s) was the role model in dealing with those who have special needs.
Visiting the sick in general, and the disabled in particular, was legislated by Islam for the purpose of relieving their suffering. A disabled person, compared to a sound one, is closer to withdrawal, isolation, a pessimistic view, and psychological illness. So, neglecting the disabled in social occasions, such as visits and marriage, is wrong.
The Prophet (s) used to visit the sick, pray for them and console them, instilling confidence in their souls and covering their hearts and faces with happiness and joy. He could once go to someone in the outskirts of Madina particularly to answer a simple need of his or hers or to perform salaah in the house of an afflicted one.
An example of this was`Etban ibn Malik (r); he was a blind man from Ansar. He said to the Prophet (s), “I wish that you, O Messenger of Allah, would come and perform salaah in my house so that I would take it as a place of prayer.” The Prophet humbly promised to visit him and perform prayer, saying, “I will do, if Allah so wills.”
`Etban said, “Allah’s Messenger and Aboo Bakr came early in the morning. Allah’s Messenger asked for permission to enter, which I gave.” Without sitting, he immediately entered and said, “In which part of your house would you like me to pray?” I pointed to a certain place in the house, so the Messenger of Allah (s) stood and started praying and we, in turn, stood in a row. He performed a two-rak`aah prayer, ending it with tasleem (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
Praying for Them
The mercy of the Prophet of Islam (s) toward people with special needs was so manifest as well when he legislated the supplication for them as a way to encourage them to endure afflictions. He desired to create will and build resolve in their souls.
Once a blind man said to the Prophet (s), “Supplicate Allah to cure me.” He (s) replied, “I shall supplicate if you wish, yet it would be better for you if you choose to keep patient.” The man asked the Prophet to make du`aa’ for him. Then, the Prophet (s) ordered him to perform wudoo’ and say the following du`aa’: “My Lord, I implore You and turn to You, having your Prophet Muhammad as an intercessor for me, so that my needs may be answered. O Lord, make him an intercessor for me and accept his intercession.” (At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)
A woman, who would usually have epileptic fits, came to the Prophet (s) and said, “I do have epileptic fits that, as a result, cause parts of my body to be revealed. So, pray to Allah for me.”
To this came the reply of the Prophet, “If you will, be patient and Paradise will be your reward. And if you will, I shall supplicate Allah to cure you.”
She said, “I choose patience.” Then she said, “But parts of my body to be revealed, so pray to Allah that this will not happen.” And the Prophet prayed for her. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Prohibition of Mocking Them
“Cursed is he who misleads a blind person away from his path“(hadith)
People with special needs, in some societies of Europe, were taken as objects of mockery, amusement, or fun. The handicapped would, therefore, find themselves stuck between two fires: the fire of exclusion and isolation on one hand, and the fire of derision and malicious joy on the other. Accordingly, the society would turn, within itself, into an abode of estrangement, persecution, and separation.
However, Islamic law came to forbid ridiculing all people in general, and the afflicted in particular. Allah the Exalted revealed most evident Qur’anic verses stressing the prohibition of such an ignorant attribute of pre-Islamic era; these verses read what means:
“O you who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor let some women laugh at others: It may be that the (latter are better than the (former): Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong.” (Al-Hujurat 49:11)
It is also authentically reported that the Prophet (s) said, “Pride is the rejection of the truth and looking down at people” (Muslim).
Perhaps the afflicted one is higher in rank in Allah’s sight and has a precedence over people in terms of knowledge, jihad, piety, chastity, and good manners. Let alone the general and decisive rule set by the Prophet: “Indeed, Allah has made your blood, your wealth, and your honour forbidden for you, one to another” (Al-Bukhari).
Additionally, the Prophet (s) has warned in such a strict manner against misleading the blind away from their path or harming them or making them an object of fun and mockery: “Cursed is he who misleads a blind person away from his path” (Authenticated by Al-Albaanee).
This carries a severe threat for those who take the congenital defects as a method of fun, amusement, or derision, and for those who look down at those who are defected. People afflicted with certain defects could be a brother or sister, father or mother, son or daughter, tested by Allah, so that we may take a lesson from their condition and recognize the power of Allah; not for the purpose of making them an object of entertainment and fun.
Breaking Their Isolation
The pre-Islamic society used to boycott people with special needs, isolate them, and prevent them from leading normal lives, such as their right to marriage or even interaction with people.
Before Islam, people of Madinah used to prevent the lame, the blind, and the diseased from sharing food with them, because they deemed them disgusting. On this, Allah the Exalted revealed what means,
(No blame is there upon the blind nor any blame upon the lame nor any blame upon the sick nor on yourselves if you eat from your houses, or the houses of your fathers, or the houses of your mothers, or the houses of your brothers, or the houses of your sisters, or the houses of your fathers’ brothers, or the houses of your fathers’ sisters, or the houses of your mothers’ brothers, or the houses of your mothers’ sisters, or (from that) whereof you hold the keys, or (from the house) of a friend.Nosinshall it be for you whether you eat together or apart.Butwhenyou enter houses, salute one another with a greeting from Allah, blessed and sweet.ThusAllah maketh clear His revelations for you, that haply you may understand.) (An-Nur 24:61)
It is indicated here that there is no harm in jointly partaking of food with the sick, the blind, and the lame. They are people just like ourselves, having the same rights as ours. So, Muslims do not boycott, isolate, or forsake them, for the most honorable among Muslims in Allah’s sight are the most pious, regardless of anything else. Besides, there is a hadith that reads “Allah looks at neither your appearances nor your wealth; rather, He looks at your hearts and your deeds” (Muslim).
Thus, the Qur’an has been revealed as a mercy for people with special needs, consoling, relieving, and supporting them. It saves them from the most dangerous psychological diseases that may affect them if they happen to suffer from isolation and withdrawal from social life.
Unlike what some societies had done, Islam permitted people with special needs to marry, for they have hearts, emotions, and feelings, just like others. The right to marriage was, therefore, established for them so long as they have the ability needed for that.
They have rights as well as obligations. Muslims did not exploit the weakness of those with special needs; Muslims did not take away their due rights or deny them their rightful property. It is narrated that `Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “If any man marries a woman who is insane or leper and touches her (i.e. have intercourse with her), then the whole dower becomes due to her” (Ahmad).
Removing Difficulties and Hardships
Among the forms of mercy toward people with special needs is the fact that Shari`ah takes them into consideration with regard to many of the obligatory rulings, removes the difficulties they might encounter, and makes things easy for them.
On the authority ofZaydibnThabit(may Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) dictated to him the verse that says what means:(Those of the believers who sit still … are not on an equality with those who strive in the way of Allah with their wealth and lives) (An-Nisaa’ 4:95).He said, “IbnUmm Maktoumcamewhile the Prophet was dictating it to me to write it down, and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, if I was capable of jihad, I would certainly do;'” he was a blind man. Zayd ibn Thabit further said, “Then, Allah, Almighty and Exalted be He, revealed to His Messenger, (other than those who have a (disabling) hurt)” (An-Nisaa’ 4:95). (Al-Bukhari)
Relieving the burdens of people with special needs, Almighty Allah says what means:
(There is no restriction on the blind, nor is there restriction on the lame, nor is there restriction on the sick. And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, He will cause him to enter Gardens from beneath which rivers run; and whoever turns away, He will torment him with a painful torment.)(Al-Fath 48:17)
Thus, Almighty Allah absolved them from the obligation of jihad in the battlefields. They may carry arms and go to battle voluntarily only. An example of this is the story reported by Ibn Hisham of `Amr ibn Al-Gamouh (may Allah be pleased with him) in the battle of Uhud. He was a lame man who had four sons who used to engage alongside the Messenger of Allah in all serious events. When the Day of Uhud drew so nigh, they wanted to keep him back, telling him, “Allah the Glorified and Exalted has excused you!” So he went to the Messenger of Allah and said, “My sons want to prevent me from going out to fight with you. Yet, by Allah, I wish to tread with this crippled leg of mine in Paradise! The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, “As for you, Allah did indeed excuse you, so you are not obligated to engage in jihad.” Then the Prophet said to his sons, “Do not keep him back; perhaps Allah will grant him martyrdom.” Ibn Hisham went out with the army and fell a martyr on the Day of Uhud (Ibn Hisham).
Nevertheless, the relief enjoyed by the handicapped under the Islamic law is distinguished by balance and moderation. A disabled person should be relieved in proportion to his disability and be obligated according to his ability. Al-Qurtubi says,
Verily, Allah absolved the blind from the duties that necessitate eyesight, the crippled from the duties that involve walking or cannot be done with lameness, and the sick from the duties canceled on account of sickness, such as fasting, the conditions and pillars of salah, and jihad and so forth. (Al-Qurtubi)
The blind and the insane are examples of this; the former is charged with all the Shari`ah obligations except for certain duties such as jihad. As for the latter, Allah Almighty has absolved them from all obligations. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) made it clear that three types of people are not accountable: “a sleeping person till he wakes up, a child till he grows up, and an insane person till he turns sane” (Ibn Majah).
A madman shall not be punished in any way, no matter what mistakes he may make or crimes he may commit.
Thus was the approach of the Prophet in dealing with people with special needs at a time the rights of those people were not recognized whatsoever by any people or regime. So, the Islamic law came and defined the comprehensive and perfect care for people with special needs. It has put them on a good place within the priorities of the Muslim society. It has legislated the forgiveness of the fool and ignorant among them. It has honored their afflicted ones, especially those who have certain talents, useful crafts, or successful experiences. It has also encouraged visiting and praying for them. It has prohibited ridiculing them. It breaks their isolation and boycott, lightens the rules for them and absolves them from their obligations. Excellent indeed is the law of Islam and its Prophet!
Al-Qurtubi, Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Abi Bakr, Al-Jami` li Ahkam Al-Qur’an.
Ar-Razi, Fakhr Ad-Din, Mafatih Al-Ghaib.
At-Tabari, Muhammad ibn Jarir.TarikhAr-Rusul wa Al-Mulouk.
IbnAl-Jawzi, Sirat`Umar ibn `Abdul-`Aziz.
IbnHisham, `Abdul-Malik ibn Hisham ibn Ayoub, As-Sirah An-Nabawiyah.
IbnKathir, Isma`il ibn `Amr Al-Basri, Al-Bidayah wa An-Nihayah.
Muhammad Mus`ad Yaqut is an Egyptian preacher and researcher. He prepares and presents programs on the Egyptian TV and other Arab satellite channels. He is a member of the Afro-Asian Writers’ Association
A video on Muslims with disabilities: “We Will Not Be Hidden.”
This documentary features the lives and realities of Muslims with disabilities and their families living in North America.
Part 1 of 3:
Part 2 of 3:
Part 3 of 3:
Explaining Islam to Deaf Muslims in Sign Language
Two deaf sisters explain Islam in sign language–English subtitles:
Part 1 of 2
Part 2 of 2:
Practicing Islam while disabled or physically incapacitated.
Since there is a variety of conditions that someone who is disabled or physically incapacitated can be experiencing, please click here to access an excellent website where there are a list of situations and the associated fatwas from learned Islamic scholars. Please scroll down until you see the section entitled “Salah of the Sick”.
Al-Hadith: “Pray standing; and if you are able, then (do it) sitting; and if you are not able (to do this either), then (do it) lying upon your sides.” (Bukhari)
The following discussion of the Prayer of the sick is from Fiqh-us-Sunnah Fiqh 2.103
Topic: The prayer of a person who is ill (Salatul Marid)
Whoever has some excuse due to illness and cannot stand during the ‘salah’ is allowed to pray sitting. If one cannot pray in a sitting posture, he may pray while on his side by making gestures. In such a case, his gestures for the ‘sajdah; should be lower than those for his ‘ruku’. This principle is based on Allah’s words: “…And celebrate Allah’s praises, standing, sitting, and lying on your sides (3:191).”
Here is an excerpt from Fiqh-us-Sunnah (volume 1, page 120a) regarding people who are physically impaired and obligatory prayers: Reported ‘Umar ibn Hussain, “I had some physical problem, so I asked the Prophet, upon whom be peace, about the prayer, and he said, ‘Pray standing; if you are not able to; pray sitting, if you are not able to; pray (while lying) on your side.” (Related by al-Bukhari.) Most scholars say that one should not put his feet together while standing in prayer.
For voluntary prayers, one can pray sitting even if he can stand, but one who stands receives a larger reward than one who sits. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar related that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, “The prayer of one who sits is half of the prayer.” (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)
If one can not stand, he may pray according to what he is capable of doing, as Allah does not burden a soul beyond its ability. He will get a complete reward for the prayer. Abu Musa reported that the Prophet said, “If a slave (of Allah) is sick or travels, he will get a reward for those acts similar to what he would get if he was healthy and at home.”
Imran ibn Hussain says: “I had piles [hemorrhoids], so I asked the Prophet (saws) about the prayer and he (saws) said: ‘Offer the ‘salah’ while standing and if you cannot do so, pray while sitting, and if you can’t do that, then make ‘salah’ while lying on your side.”‘ (Related by Bukhari)
An-Nasa’i relates the same hadith with the following addition:: “……And if you cannot offer ‘salah’ while lying on your side, then do it while lying on your back.’ Then the Messenger of Allah recited the following verse of the Quran: ‘Allah does not burden a soul, save with what it can bear (2:286).”
Respected brothers and sisters, if you have a physical ailment which does not allow you to pray in the normal postures of prayer, there is absolutely no harm if you pray either on the floor or on the chair while making gestures for the ‘ruku’ and the ‘sujood’. Allah the Almighty does not put a burden on a soul save what it can bear, and if the only reason you choose to offer your prayers in the sitting position is because of your ailment, rest absolutely assured that your Lord Most Merciful is All-Knowing and He will not diminish the rewards of your prayer in the least.
Abu Musa al-Ashari (r.a.) reported that the Prophet (saws) said, “If a slave (of Allah) is sick or travels, he will get a reward for those acts similar to what he would get if he was healthy and at his place of residence.”
Disabled persons are required to carry out their religious obligations. The blind have to be taught how to offer Salah, and should be directed to the Qiblah (Direction of Salah). As for the mute and deaf, they can offer Salah even by signs. Nowadays, schools that teach those disabled have spread worldwide, thanks to Allah. This helps in teaching those people how to pray and perform other religious duties.
Topic: Hajj and the Disabled or sick
The ability to perform Hajj, which is one of its essential conditions, includes the following:
1. A person must be healthy and physically fit. If one is disabled by old age or a disease that is incurable or is unable to perform Hajj for some other similar reason, he may, if he is financially capable, assign someone else to perform Hajj on his behalf and at his expense. This will be discussed later under “Hajj On Behalf of Another Person.”
2. The journey to Hajj must be safe so that the pilgrim’s life and possessions are safe and secure from any danger. If one is afraid for one’s life from highwaymen or an epidemic or if one is afraid to be robbed of one’ s possessions, then such a one is deemed as one of those who cannot afford the journey for Hajj. (page 11) […] In brief, those for whom Hajj is not compulsory due to sickness, poverty, fear of highway robbery, or in the case of a woman because no mahram is available to accompay her, if these people nonetheless perform Hajj, it will be credited to their account. (page 20) […] If someone has the ability to perform Hajj but afterwards he is unable to perform it due to sickness or old age, he must arrange for someone else to perform Hajj on his behalf, for he may never be able to do it himself. In this respect, such a person is very much like the deceased, hence the permission for him to choose his substitute in Hajj. (page 22)
This is based on a hadith reported by Al-Fadl ibn ‘Abbas, who says:
“A woman of Khath’am said, ‘O Prophet of Allah! Allah has prescribed Hajj for His servants. (Now that) I am grown up, I find that my father is an old man, and he cannot ride on the camel (for long). Should I perform Hajj on his behalf?’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘Yes.’” This happened during the Farewell Hajj.(Reported by the Group)
Tirmidhi considers it a sound hadith with a sound chain and adds: “On this topic, reports other than this hadith are also found; they are of sound authority, and the companions of the Prophet (s) believed and practiced accordingly; they held that one may perform Hajj on behalf of a deceased person.” At-Thawri, Ibn al-Mubarak, Ash-Shafi’i, Ahmad and Ishaq also hold a similar view. Imam Malik says: “If the deceased leaves a will that someone perform a Hajj on his behalf, then it may be performed.” Some scholars like Ibn Mubarak and Ash-Shafi’i say that it is permissible for an old man, who is unable to perform Hajj on his own, to arrange for a substitute to do it on his behalf.
The above hadith also lends support to the view that, both for a man or a woman, it is quite permissible to perform Hajj on behalf of another man or woman. There is nothing against this in the Qur’an or hadith.
Position of a Sick Person Who Recovers:
If a sick person recovers after someone has performed Hajj on his behalf, he will be considered as having performed his obligatory duty, and he will not be required to repeat it, for it would imply the obligation of performing two obligatory pilgrimages (rather than one). This is Imam Ahmad’s view. The majority of scholars are, however, of the view that such a substitutory Hajj will not suffice a man to absolve him of his obligation, for his recovery shows that his case was not really hopeless (and he should therefore repeat it), for the decisive factor in this respect is cessation of illness and restoration of his health. Ibn Hazim is inclined to the first view. He says: “When the Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded to perform Hajj on behalf of those who are unable to walk or ride (i.e., cannot travel for Hajj), and told that this will pay off their debt to Allah, then indeed the debt is settled, and their effort accepted.” And surely if an obligation is removed or fulfilled, there is no justification for its repetition, especially when there is nothing in the texts to support it. Had such a repetition been necessary, the Prophet (peace be upon him) must have clearly mentioned it, but as he did not, there is no reason for its repetition.
Conditions for Performing Hajj on Behalf of Others:
Before performing Hajj on behalf of someone else, a person must have performed his own Hajj . This is based on the hadith in which Ibn ‘Abbas narrates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) heard a man saying:
“O Allah! Here I am in response to Your call on behalf of Shabrumah.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked him: “Have you performed your own Hajj?” He replied: “No”, whereupon the Prophet (peace be upon him) told him: “You must perform Hajj on your own behalf first, and then tor Shabrumah.” (Abu Daw’ud and Ibn Majah)
Drinking the Water of Zamzam if one is sick:
Both Bukhari and Muslim confirm that the Prophet (s) drank of Zamzam water, and said,
“It is blessed (water); it is food for the hungry, and a healing for the sick.”
It is reported that the angel Gabriel had washed the heart of the Prophet (s) with its water on the Night Journey. At-Tabarani in his Al-Kabir, and Ibn Hibban have reported from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“The best water on earth is the water of Zamzam. It is food for the hungry, and a healing for the sick.” (Al- Mundhri said that the chain of narrators of this hadith is sound)
A Muhrim Terminating Ihram Because of Illness or Some Other Reason:
Many scholars hold it to be permissible for one to set a condition when entering the state of ihram that one will be relieved of it if one fell ill. Muslim has reported from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Prophet (peace be upon him) told Daba’ah,
“Perform Hajj but set a condition that you shall be relieved of the ihram whenever you are prevented (due to illness, etc.,).”
ln such a case if a pilgrim is prevented from performing Hajj or ‘Umrah for any reason, illness or something else, he may terminate his state of ihram and not be required to slaughter any animal, or fast in atonement.
Source: Fiqh Us Sunnah, Hajj, chapter 2, The ability to perform Hajj, pages 11, 20, 22-24, 127, 209. Please click on the Fiqh us Sunnah link and read the pdf document–there is much more than can be included here.
Resources about Disability and Physical Impairment in Islam:
Please feel free to email articles, booklets (in pdf format), links to resources, websites, books, etc. on the topic of Disability and Physical Impairment in Islam to me at firstname.lastname@example.org Insha Allah. If they are appropriate, we will post them here. Shukran. May Allah reward you for your contribution fisabilillah.
- Canadian Association of Muslim with Disabilities. CAMD – Canadia Association of Muslims With Disabilities is a not for profit federally incorporated association of Muslims with disabilities. Its vision is to create a global village that includes full access for persons with disabilities. CAMD’s mission is to work toward an inclusive society by promoting principles of accessibility.
- Disabled Muslims Network page on Facebook.
- Disability organizations in predominantly Muslim countries.
- Global Deaf Muslim.GDM is a non profit organization registered in United States of America. The organization was established in 2005 by Deaf Muslim graduates to address the rights and needs of Deaf Muslims across the global ummah.
- Islamic Textbooks for the Blind. The Islamic Texts for the Blind project is a social enterprise community project dedicated to empowering and promoting the growth and well-being of visually impaired Muslims and their communities through meeting their religious, educational and developmental needs, thereby advancing accessibility and awareness
- Sheikh Islam Foundation. We empower people with disabilities to empower others.