Thursday, 11 January 2007

Disabled People - Allah's Hidden Blessings

This post intends to further explain on the issue of disabled people, InshaAllah.

The Order Of Allah, The Wisdom Of Allah

Allah has created people in different races, colours 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.

The World Is A Place Of Test

What we must understand as a basic principle of our life is that - insan's life in this world is a full record of hardships and tribulations.

In this sense, Allah SWT mentions in the Qur'an:

"We create man from a drop of thickened fluid to test him." (Surah Al-Insan: Ayat 2)

When insan looks upon these tribulations and afflictions as being a test from Almighty Allah to see his true colours, 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, with 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/she will surely find rest and get contented with the test posed on him/her by Almighty Allah.

Disabled People With High Rank In Islam

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 RA, who was known of being black, lame and paralysed person, was the greatest Mufti in Makkah. He was highly honored by the Muslim caliph of his time. His vast knowledge earned this prestige.


Also, we know the story of the great Companion of the Prophet SAW - Amr bin Jamuh RA, who was also lame in one leg and walked with a clear limp. Before Islam, he was the generous and valiant chief of a leading tribe. He became a devout and pious Muslim. When the Muslims were preparing for the Battle of Uhud to protect the Prophet SAW and Madinah against the attack of Quraish, Amr insisted on joining the defending forces.

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 SAW said to them:

"Leave him! He is a man who seeks martyrdom."


Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum RA was a blind companion of Nabi SAW. He was among the first to accept Islam, and he was so devoted to the Prophet SAW and so eager to memorise the Qur'an.

In this period, the Prophet SAW was focused on inviting the Quraish notables to Islam. One day while the Prophet SAW was engaged in conversation with a prominent group of them, Abdullah bin Umm Maktum RA came up and asked him to read a verse from the Qur'an. The Prophet SAW frowned and turned away, focusing his attention instead to the prestigious group of Quraish, hoping to convince them.

As soon as they left, the following ayats of the Qur'an were revealed:

"(The Prophet) frowned and turned away, because there came to him the blind man (interrupting). But what could tell thee but that perchance he might grow (in spiritual understanding)? Or that he might receive admonition, and the teaching might profit him? As to one who regards himself as self-sufficient, to him dost thou attend; though it is no blame to thee if he grow not (in spiritual understanding). But as to him who came to thee striving earnestly, and with fear (in his heart), of him wast thou unmindful. By no means (should it be so)! For it is indeed a Message of instruction: Therefore let whoso will, keep it in remembrance. (It is) in Books held (greatly) in honour, Exalted (in dignity), kept pure and holy, (written) by the hands of scribes—Honourable and Pious and Just." (Surah 'Abasa: Ayat 1~16)

These 16 verses are still recited from that time, repeating the lesson to all Muslims. From that day the Prophet SAW did not cease to be generous to Abdullah RA. He often greeted him with words of humility:

"Welcome unto him on whose account my Sustainer has rebuked me."

And when the Prophet SAW arrived in Madinah, he appointed Abdullah RA and Bilal RA to be muazzins to call Muslims to prayer five times a day. On several occasions, the Prophet SAW placed Abdullah RA in charge of Madinah in his absence.

Despite being excused on account of his disability, Abdullah bin Umm Maktum RA insisted on fixing a role for himself on the battlefield. He said, "Place me between two rows and give me the standard. I will carry it for you and protect it, for I am blind and cannot run away", which shows how a blind Muslim thinks positively of his disability and even uses it to serve Islam! After such acts of bravery in numerous battles, Abdullah RA was martyred in the great battle of Qadisiyyah where Muslims achieved a smashing victory; he died clutching the flag, carving a place for himself as an eternal hero. Today when his name is mentioned, the bravery and dedication are remembered, not the disability.


Julaibib RA was unattractive and very short. His name was unusual and incomplete. It meant "small grown", so the name is an indication that he was dwarf-like. He is described as being damim which means "ugly, deformed, or of repulsive appearance." Julaibib's lineage was also unknown, a grave disability in his society, which placed a great deal of importance on family and tribal connections. Before Islam, Julaibib RA could not expect any compassion or protection.
But the Prophet of Mercy SAW was there to correct such deformed social norms; he saw to it that his humble Companion got married to a wonderful bride, and when he died, the Prophet SAW dug his grave and buried him with his hands, saying loudly at his grave, "This (man) is of me and I am of him". He repeated it several times so everyone could hear. The Prophet Muhammad SAW was a handsome, well-built and healthy man, yet he said this about an unattractive deformed fellow Muslim, teaching us a valuable lesson.

The attitude of the girl who agreed to be the wife of a physically unattractive man reflects a profound understanding of Islam with its fair look at humans knowing that a Muslim's only submission is to Allah SWT and His Prophe SAWt, not to appearances and social hypocrisies. Julaibib RA is an example of a disabled person who was regarded as a social outcast because of his appearance. Given confidence and encouragement by the noble Prophet SAW through Islam, he was able to excel in life and deserve the priceless commendation of the Prophet SAW.

Why are Some Humans Disabled?

In Islam, we must understand that not every sickness or handicap is necessarily a punishment from Allah SWT. Rather it may be a test, and the patience of those who were tested will not be wasted with Allah, Who has prepared for the patient innumerable rewards. Thus the special favour to the disabled, if they endure their disability with patience, as how Allah SWT informed:

"Only the patient will be paid back their reward in full without measure..." (Surah Az-Zumar: Ayat 10)

Indeed, those who were not tested in this world would wish that they had been tested, when they see in the Hereafter - the high status attained by those who bore calamities with patience.

How Islam Treats Humans With Special Needs

Everyone deserves due love and respect in Islam, and this fact does not change when some organs of a person are impaired or he/she is not endowed with a whole body. What really matters is his/her heart and conduct. Allah relieves the disabled of their responsibilities and holds them responsible only for virtuous conduct. A Muslim is instructed to approach the disabled with compassion, for Allah has compassion for them and grants them ease in their servitude to Him:

"There is no harm in the blind, nor is there any harm in the lame, nor is there any harm in the sick (if they do not go forth); and whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, He will cause him to enter gardens beneath which rivers flow..." (Surah Al-Fath: Ayat 17)

Pain And Suffering In The World

One famous question always asked by many people is - "why do pain and sufferings exist in the world?". That is to say - we find sickness, disease, old age and death. We see things that are ugly, people who are insane and foolish. There are storms, earthquakes, floods, draught and famine. We also see people commit sins, show disloyalty, unfaithfulness, greed and insincerity. We see people commit rapes, murders; they fight and make wars. We know all these and many more problems. There are evils caused by human beings and there are natural disasters. There are suffering for individuals and there are those that involve a large number of people.

But we also know that this is not the whole story. Besides all these negative things, we also see beauty, health, prosperity, life, birth, wisdom, intelligence, growth and progress. We also see goodness among people, faith, sincerity, charity, love and the spirit of sacrifice. We also see a lot of virtue and piety. It is wrong to see one side of the coin and not to see the other side. Any philosophy that concentrates on one aspect of the creation and denies or ignores the other side is partially true and partial truths are no truth at all.

It is also the fact that the element of good is more in the creation than the element of evil. We all see that there are more people who are healthy than those who are sick. There are more that eat well than those who starve.

There are more that lead decent life than those who commit crimes. Goodness is the rule and evil is the exception. Virtue is the norm and sin is the aberration. Generally trees bear fruits, the flowers bloom, the winds move smoothly.

But then the question is why does Allah allow these exceptions to the rules?

Let us ask this question to understand Allah's ways in His creation. The Qur'an tells us that good, evil and whatever happens in this world happens only by Allah's Will. Let us know that only Allah knows fully His Will. We finite beings cannot grasp fully Allah's uncomprehendable Will and Wisdom.

The Qur'an tells us that Allah is Wise and everything that Allah does is right, just, good and fair. We must submit and surrender to His Will. The Qur'an has not given us all the details about Allah’s Will, but it has enlightened us with the guidance that is useful and sufficient for us. There are several points that we should keep in our mind to understand this issue:

1. Firstly, Allah did not make this world a permanent place. This is a temporary world and everything here has a time limit. When its times comes it will die, come to an end and finish. Neither the good things of this world are forever, nor the bad things eternal. We are here for a short time and we are being tested. Those who will pass this test will find an eternal world that is perfect and permanent. Those who will fail this test shall see the evil consequences of their sins and corruption.

2. Allah has placed a physical law and a moral law in this universe. Allah allows suffering to occur when one or more of these laws are broken. The physical law is based on cause and effect. Sickness comes if one does not take care of one’s health or is exposed to infections. A car accident occurs when one is not alert, or drives in a careless manner, or if the cars are not checked, roads and freeways are not made and kept in right shape, or the traffic laws are not right or not properly enforced. Study of causes and effects is very important to facilitate safeguards. Even here we should keep in mind that Allah often saves us and He does not let us suffer from every negligence. How many times it happens that we are not careful and still we reach safely to our destinations. The way people drive in some cities, it is a miracle that more accidents do not happen and more people do not suffer.

Allah says in the Holy Qur'an:

"(Allah) Most Gracious! It is He Who has taught the Qur'an. He has created man. He has taught him speech (and intelligence). The sun and the moon follow courses (exactly) computed. And the herbs and the trees both (alike) bow in adoration. And the Firmament has He raised high, and He has set up the Balance (of Justice), in order that you may not transgress (due) balance. So establish weight with justice and fall not short in the balance. It is He Who has spread out the earth for (His) creatures." (Surah Ar-Rahman: Ayat 1~10)

The way we exceed the measures set by Allah and violate His laws of cause and effect is incredible. It is really the mercy of Allah that we are saved. Strictly speaking, the question should not be why does Allah allow suffering, but how much Allah protects us and saves us all the time in spite of our violations and negligence.

The Qur'an says this clearly:

"If Allah were to punish people according to what they deserve, He would not leave on the back of the (earth) a single living creature: but He gives them respite for a stated Term: when their Term expires, verily Allah has in His sight all His servants." (Surah Fatir: Ayat 45)

But sometimes Allah does punish people because of their violations of His laws whether they are physical or moral. The Qur'an tells us that many nations and communities were destroyed because of their sinful lifestyles:

"If they treat thy (mission) as false, so did the Peoples before them (with their Prophets), the People of Noah, and Ad and Thamud. Those of Abraham and Lut; and the Companions of the Madyan people; and Moses was rejected (in the same way). But I granted respite to the Unbelievers, and (only) after that did I punish them: but how (terrible) was My rejection (of them)! How many populations have We destroyed, which were given to wrong-doing! They tumbled down on their roofs. And how many wells are lying idle and neglected, and castles lofty and well-built?" (Surah Al-Hajj: Ayat 42~45)

3. Suffering can also be a test and trial for some people. Allah allows some people to suffer in order to test their patience and steadfastness. Even Allah’s Prophets and Messengers AS were made to suffer. Prophet Ayyub AS is mentioned in the Qur'an as a Prophet who was very patient. Good people sometimes suffer but their sufferings heal others and bring goodness to their communities. People learn lessons from their good examples. Martyrs die for their faith, soldiers give their lives for their nations and this brings liberation and freedom for their people.

4. Allah sometimes allows some people to suffer to test others, how they react to them. When you see a person who is sick, disabled, handicapped, poor and needy, then you are actually tested by Allah. Allah is there with that suffering person to test your charity and your faith.

In a very moving Hadith Qudsi (Divine Hadith) the Prophet SAW said:

"Allah will say on the Day of Judgment, 'O son of Adam, I was sick and you did not visit Me'. He will say, 'O my Lord, how could I visit You, when you are the Lord of the Worlds?' Allah will say, 'Did you not know that My servant so-and-so was sick and you did not visit him? Did you not know that if you had visited him, you would have found Me there?' Allah will say, 'O son of Adam, I asked you for food and you fed Me not'. He shall say, 'O my Lord, how could I feed you when you are the Lord of the Worlds?' And Allah will say, 'Did you not know that My servant so-and-so was in need of food and you did not feed him? Did you not know that if you had fed him, you would have found that to have been for Me?' 'O son of Adam, I asked you for water and you did not give Me to drink.' The man shall say, 'O my Lord, how could I give You water, when You are the Lord of the Worlds?' Allah will say, 'My servant so-and-so asked you for water and you did not give him to drink water. Did you not know that if you had given him to drink, you would have found that to have been for Me.' " (Riwayat Muslim)

So to summarise - sufferings occur to teach us that we must adhere to Allah’s natural and moral laws. It is sometimes to punish those who violate Allah's natural or moral laws. It is to test our faith in Allah and to test our commitment to human values and charity. Whenever we encounter suffering we should ask ourselves, "Have we broken any law of Allah?”"Let us study the cause of the problem and use the corrective methods. "Could it be a punishment?" Let us repent and ask forgiveness and reform our ways. "Could it be a test and trial for us?" Let us work hard to pass this test.

Believers face the sufferings with prayers, repentance and good deeds. The non-believers face the sufferings with doubts and confusions.

Muslims believe that Allah is All-Knowing, and that He is the Only Controller of the universe and Sustainer for all creation in His infinite wisdom and justice.

Allah decrees in the Qur'an with regards to those who fear for then burden of having big families i.e. many children:

"and do not slay your children for (fear of) poverty—We provide for you and for them..." (Surah Al-An'am: Ayat 151)

The Virtue Of The Disabled

Let us recall the hadith of the Prophet SAW, who said:

"You are given sustenance and victory for the virtue of those who are weak amongst you."

In this narration, we understand that it is not people's strength that provide success and sustenance, but the hidden divine mechanism for providing this is controlled by Allah SWT favour upon the weak. Let us understand this.

Thus the meaning of the above hadith is beatifully flanked by the message of the hadith below of Rasulullah SAW:

"Show mercy to those on earth so that He Who is in the heavens (i.e. Allah) bestow mercy upon you."

Sahl bin Sad As-Sa'idi RA narrates:

"I saw Marwan bin Al-Hakam (RA) sitting in the Mosque. So I came forward and sat by his side. He told us that Zaid bin Thabit (RA) had told him that Allah's Apostle (SAW) had dictated to him the Divine Verse:

"Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with their wealth and lives." (Surah An-Nisaa: Ayat 95)

Zaid (RA) said, "Ibn-Maktum (RA) came to the Prophet (SAW) while he was dictating to me that very Verse. On that Ibn Umn Maktum (RA) said:

"O Allah's Apostle! (SAW) If I had power, I would surely take part in Jihad."

He was a blind man. So Allah sent down revelation to His Apostle (SAW) while his thigh was on mine and it became so heavy for me that I feared that my thigh would be broken. Then that state of the Prophet (SAW) was over after Allah revealed "...except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame etc." "(Surah An-Nisaa: Ayat 95) (Bukhari)

On another occasion, Allah's Messenger SAW met a woman who complained that she was suffering from epileptic fits. She expressed concern that her body would become exposed during such episodes.

The Prophet Muhammad SAW offered the woman two choices. He could either pray to Allah that she could have access to Paradise if she patiently resigned herself to her condition, or he could ask Allah to heal her. She opted to continue to bear her condition with patience, but also asked the Prophet (SAW) to pray that her body might no longer become exposed to the view of strangers.

So generally, it could above be understood from just some of Qur'an and Ahadith evidences that generally - disabled people will be favoured with the mercy of Allah on the Day of Qiyamat, as long as forbear the temporary test of this world, with patience and gratitude.

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