Islam and the Disabled

Question and answer details
Name of Questioner: Somaira Aslam Khan
Reply date: 2011/12/10
Question: What is the philosophy of rehabilitation and counseling of disabled/special needs people with regard to Islam?
consultant: Shahul Hameed

Salam Somaira,

Thank you for your question.

Muslims believe that God has given His complete and perfect guidance for humankind in the form of the glorious Qur'an. Naturally, the Islamic worldview as well as philosophy of life are derived from the pages of the Qur'an itself. And Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) has practically demonstrated how Muslims can translate the principles of that guidance into every day life.

As for deriving 'a philosophy' of counseling and rehabilitation of the special needs people, we need to go first to the same basic sources of Islam, namely the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet.

In the terminology of Islam, we may not see any term corresponding to the modern expression, "people with special needs" (i.e. disabled persons who need special care and attention). But all the norms and guidelines necessary for the counseling and rehabilitation of those in need have been clearly outlined in the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

For instance, read the verses of the Qur'an that say what mean:

*{O mankind! We created you from a single pair of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other).}* (Al-Hujurat 49:3)

*{And cooperate with one another towards righteousness and piety and do not cooperate towards sinfulness and aggression.}* (Al-Ma'idah 5:2)

*{Whoever saved a life, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.}* (Al-Ma'idah 5:2)

Also, Allah directly addressed the Prophet as *{a mercy for all}*. (Al-Anbiyaa' 21:107)

In addition to the commandments in the Qur'an, we have the directives of the Prophet too. For instance, the Prophet is reported to have said:

"Whoever meets the needs of his brother, Allah will meet his needs." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

He also said: "Show mercy to those on earth, and God will show mercy to you." (At- Tirmithi and Abu Dawud)

Evidently, the foregoing bears out Islam's emphasis on universal human rights, besides laying down its basic philosophy of help and support for all those who suffer, including the victims of war, poverty or natural calamities; as well as the handicapped or disabled people. This support is made possible as Islam makes it obligatory for the wealthy and able-bodied persons to support the less fortunate.

The Prophet has emphatically said: "None of you is a true believer until you wish for your brother what you wish for yourself." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

He has also said: "Charity is prescribed for every person every day the sun rises." (Ahmad)

And "if one removes a hardship of a Muslim in this life, Allah will relieve a hardship from him on the Day of Judgment." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The philosophy is there; and the resources for helping and supporting the needy should be provided by the Muslims themselves, by way of zakah and other charity.

And, in the light of our modern scientific and psychological discoveries and theories, a very advanced and effective methodology should be adopted in order to achieve the best results as visualized by the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

As for taking care of the disabled, brother Mohsen Haredy, a consultant to the Ask About Islam team, would like to add the following:

Muslims also 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. Allah promised those who observe patience a great reward in the Hereafter:

*{Only the patient will be paid back their reward in full without measure...}* (Az-Zumar 39:10)

It has been proved that people with disabilities have been gifted with other talents and capabilities. They excel over others with such gifts. It is as if Allah is compensating them for their disability.

People with special needs should be given due respect and attention. They should be cared for. All their needs should be fulfilled and they should not be isolated as they are an integral part of the 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.

We hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.


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