Disability and Handicapped in Islam
What are the teachings of Islam on mentally or physically disabled people? Very little literature is available on your or other Islamic websites regarding the following core questions:
1- Why Allah has created these imperfect human beings?
2- Is that a kind of punishment of Allah on these humans or their loved ones?
3- Is there any Hadith or Qur'anic reference regarding reward or punishment for the disabled people or their families?
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All thanks and praise are due to Allah and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Dear questioner, we really appreciate your good question. In fact, it is a question that reflects great intelligence. In fact, Islam provides guidance to mankind, in all aspects of life. It urges Muslims to seek guidance and exert every effort. A Muslim is always encouraged to leave no stone unturned in pursuing the truth. May Allah Almighty help us make use of the truth, after getting it, and help us to steer clear of falsehood, Ameen!
As regards your question, we would like to say to you that Allah has created people in different races, colors and having 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.
Tackling this important issue, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi states the following:
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 gift, whith which he 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 are given excellence in many other abilities to compensate their imperfection.
If a person adopts this view, he will surely find rest and get contented with the test posed on him by Almighty Allah. Every person should bear in mind that he can never change his inability or escape Allah’s fate and thus he should try his best to make his life better and turn this sore lemon into sweet honey. This inability should be a motive to creativity and excellence in any field of life. A disabled person should make his condition an impetus towards being distinguished and prominent in the society.
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 known of being black, 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.
Also, we know the story of the great Companion `Amr Ibn Al-Jamooh, who was also lame. His four sons, when participating in Jihad, said to him: “You have an excuse to remain at home, for you are old and you have a kind of disability.” With full confidence and trust in Allah, he said to them: “Nay, for I hope to walk in Paradise with my lame foot.” Commenting on this, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said to them: “Leave him! He is a man who seeks martyrdom.” Almighty Allah guides all Muslims not to leave those disabled in isolation lest they fall a prey to despair and psychological ailments. They should be welcomed to the open society and be dealt with in the kindest way.
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.”