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Two Tags and An Explanation for Where I’ve Been

Hello! I can’t believe it has been a month and a bit since I’ve last updated my blog. It’s been weighing heavily on me that I haven’t kept up to my commitment to post bi-weekly. It all started when I lost interest in continuing with part two of my Lebanon trip recap. It really bothers me that I didn’t write it, especially because I implied that it was coming soon. I don’t like to promise something and not deliver. That, combined with the fact that I was fresh out of ideas for new posts and at the start of a new semester in university (fourth-year undergraduate psychology!) meant that my blog was neglected. I’ve decided to put that aside for now and try something new. If you’re familiar with YouTube or blogs, you may have seen people covering tags (questions about a topic relevant to them). I could not find a “disabled Muslim tag” per se, but I did find separate Muslim and cerebral palsy tags, so I’ve decided to cover both of them here in this post so you could get to know me better. I hope you’ll like it!

The Basic Muslim Tag (by MuslimGurl)

#1 Favorite surah (chapter) from the Quran?

My favourite chapter from the Quran is chapter 76, Al-Insan (literally translates to The Human).

#2 How many times have you had Pork by accident?

I have never eaten pork by accident, but I do have memories of eating other meat that wasn’t hallal (by accident of course).

#3 In what language do you read your Quran?

I read my Quran in Arabic. However, I use a smartphone app called iQuran to read English translations of the verses to enhance my understanding.

#4 Would you want your husband to have a beard?

At this point in time, I don’t really have a preference. It’s what’s on the inside that counts, right?

#5 Do you know your 5 Pillars?

Yes! Ossul al-deen khamsa (the five pillars of the religion): al-tawheed (monotheism), al-adel (divine justice), al-nubua (prophethood), al-immama (succession to the Prophet Muhammad), al-meaad (the day of judgement and resurrection).

#6 Ever been mistaken to belong to another religion?

No, not that I can remember, although I was once asked if I was a theist or an atheist.

#7 Ever been awkwardly caught doing ablution/wudhu in a public bathroom?

No, due to the general inaccessibility of public bathrooms, I have never attempted to do my ablution there.

#8 Do you know the difference between SubhanAllah and MashAllah?

Yes, although it’s hard for me to explain because I rely on context to help me know when it is appropriate to say either expression. Google says subhanallah means “God is perfect” and mashallah “God has willed”.

#9 What age do you think is perfect to do Hajj?

Well, from what I know, hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) is not dependent on age, but finances. As soon as you have the financial means to complete hajj, it becomes obligatory upon you to do so. So, in my opinion, there is no perfect age to do hajj.

#10 People’s reaction when you told them you don’t drink?

I have never had to tell people I don’t drink, so no reactions as of yet.

#11 Meanest thing you’ve been told for being Muslim.

Honestly, nothing comes to mind at the moment. People are curious about my hijab, but I don’t recall anyone being rude to me because I’m Muslim. I guess that’s an underrated advantage of living in a cultural mosaic country.

#12 Last time you went to the mosque?

On the tenth of Muharram of this year—it’s actually the date of my previous blog post.

#13 Where’s your prayer mat at? Did you pick it or your parents?

My prayer mat stays in the lower drawer of my nightstand in my room, although as I type this now, it is in arms reach because I was in rush when I last used it and didn’t put it away. Neither I nor my parents picked it out; it was a gift from someone very special to me.

CP and Me Tag (questions taken from Sarah Sweeney’s post)

What kind of Cerebral Palsy do you have?

The type of cerebral palsy I have is called spastic diplegia—which means my legs are primarily affected by spasticity, but I also have some upper body involvement (my right arm is affected).

How did you get Cerebral Palsy?

I have never been given a reason for the cause of my CP, but I do know it probably had much to do with the fact that I was born at 28 weeks (three months prematurely).

How did you feel about Cerebral Palsy growing up?

I feel like this is simple question with a complicated answer, because I do not have a single word to describe my experiences growing up with cerebral palsy. As a very young child (3-7 years old), I do not remember feeling any specific way about having CP, but at the same time, I can’t say that I was unaware of my differences because they were visible (I crawled at home and walked with a walker), so I don’t really know. I distinctly remember knowing at 8 years old that “I couldn’t walk”, because my main goal in physiotherapy was to take independent steps. That was my explanation for my differences for a very long time afterwards, and again, I do not remember feeling anything during this time, because this was my life and all I’d ever known. I would get frustrated at times when I couldn’t do things other kids my age were doing, and pondering “why” this had happened to me when I was sad or upset would confuse me because I had no real answer. When I discovered I had CP at 9 years old, I had my reason why, but I decided not to investigate it until many years later. The beginning of puberty was a really rough time for me because not only did I feel so different from everyone else, but for perhaps the first time, I could imagine a life without cerebral palsy. And I wanted that life. I yearned for it. I hated my body. I hated the fact that I was different. And so, I stopped taking care of my body as I should have been. It might have been the rebellious teen in me, but I truly believe it came from a place of internalized ableism and self-hatred. Around the age of 14, I finally decided I was ready to type “cerebral palsy” into Google and learn everything I could about my own condition. The knowledge was empowering, and with it came the discovery of the online community of people with cerebral palsy. Suddenly, I wasn’t so alone anymore and that realization inadvertently helped me to accept my CP in my early adulthood. I still struggle with feelings of loneliness and isolation at times, but I am in a much better place than I was.

How has cerebral palsy impacted your life?

Ultimately, having CP set me on a completely different path of life that I wouldn’t have been on if I was born able-bodied. There are so many different people in my life and experiences that I’ve had because I’m disabled. I think about things from a unique perspective. I’m very self-aware because I am the only one who knows what it’s like to have my body, so I have knowledge of my personal limitations and I respect them. I have learned to appreciate so many little things, because I’ve had to work so much harder to do things people take for granted. I am creative in thinking of ways to adapt to my surroundings. I have developed so much patience. Sometimes, I have trouble believing in myself because I’m used to not being able to do things. I have faced depths of isolation and loneliness that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. At the same time, I share a connection unlike any other when I meet someone else with CP.

Do you ever think about what your life would be like without Cerebral Palsy?

Yes, sometimes. The thoughts range from all-consuming and go on day long (as discussed above) to fleeting and I don’t dwell on it.

How is schooling with Cerebral Palsy?

Another simple question with a complicated answer. Throughout elementary and high school, I was mainstreamed (learned alongside typically developing peers in a normal classroom setting) and never had a need for any kind of special education. I had an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) that outlined accommodations I had in academic settings to help me reach my full potential. I had pretty good grades overall and say that I only ever seriously struggled with mathematics (especially in high school), and I have since learned that is common for people with CP! I’m not really educated in the reasoning why, but that was mind blowing to discover. My favourite subjects were English (I love to write—can you tell?) and foreign languages—I took French classes from the fourth grade until my senior year of high school (where I live, you’re required to take French until your freshman year) and a Spanish course in my sophomore year. My social life, however, was a different story. From as young as I could remember, I would spend my recesses and lunchtimes alone. I never felt confident enough to approach anyone and try to make friends because I was convinced no one would like me. I honestly don’t know why I thought this way, but I do know it had something to do with being different from everyone else and feeling that no one would understand me. For the most part, my peers left me be—not actively including me or excluding me, but there were brief spurts of bullying in my preteen years. By far, the most painful part was managing to make friends and having them move away; this happened repeatedly during my childhood, and it was heartbreaking each time. I finally was able to have some stability in eighth grade, when I met and made friends with my best friend, who is still my best friend all these years later (you know who you are ;). Unfortunately, we didn’t go to the same school until later, so I went through high school with the same situation, but again, was able to have some stability in my final year. Now in post-secondary education, I still deal with those same confidence issues and have trouble making friends. I have learned to focus on the quality of my existing friendships instead of trying to increase them by number, and this really helps.

How has your disability changed throughout your life?

Cerebral palsy is supposed to be a non-progressive condition, but I have noticed an increase in pain and a decrease in physical ability as I have gotten older. I attribute to the constant stress spasticity is putting on my muscles and joints. There are treatments to help with this, however, and ultimately, the nature of CP is such that it requires a lifelong commitment to taking care of your body.

How will things change for people with disabilities?

Honestly, I don’t know. In this case, I believe that change must begin at the root of the problem, and, in my opinion, that is the subtle ableism practiced by society every day. Until attitudes change and this problem resolved, it will be very hard to implement the larger-scale changes needed in order for disabled people to live in a world without any type of barriers. I think the small steps are important and something worth our attention.

If you believe in God, does that help you deal with having Cerebral Palsy?

Yes, I do. The main thing that I keep in mind on a daily basis in helping me deal with CP is that, as Muslims, we believe that God does not burden a soul with more than it can bear (referenced in chapter 2, verse 86 of the Quran). For me, this helps me acknowledge two things: 1. I am really strong. I know this because of everything I’ve been through in the past and dealing with a lot of challenges in my day-to-day life. Yes, I have become accustomed to them, but that doesn’t make them any less significant. They matter and they always will, because I will be dealing with them for life. 2. I have the ability to make through it anything (with the help of God). Even when I feel like I can’t handle things anymore, I just remember the truth of this verse, and try to think of the situation as God wanting to show me how strong I am because I doubted my own abilities but if I trust in Him, He will help me and reveal the strengths I never thought I had.

If there were a pill or cure for Cerebral Palsy, would you take it?

I feel like I am supposed to say “No, and I never would”, but if I am being completely honest with myself, I don’t know. I have dealt with physical challenges of cerebral palsy my entire life, and because they are familiar to me, I feel like I can handle them just fine. But, the truth is, living in a world that was not built for me and in societies that marginalize me can be exhausting. I know my life will be filled with barriers, and my intersectional identity will make them harder to overcome. I feel like there would be a breaking point that would push me to do it if it existed, purely out of frustration with society’s ableism. But doing that would be like stripping away a huge part of who I am. And drawing on my response to the previous question, I know I am strong enough to handle it all. It gets more complicated the more I think about it, but now I’m leaning more towards no. I’m still not sure what I would decide.

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What Abu Fadhil Abbas (as) Means to Me

I could not, in good conscience, let this day pass without acknowledging it and doing my part to tell you about the great personality that was Imam Hussain. On this day, the Day of Ashura, Imam Hussain, along with 72 companions and his family, were brutally killed in the Battle of Karbala. Rather than lose your interest with the usual historical facts, I have decided to speak about my most important take-away from the tragedy of Karbala. This is extremely personal and my only attempt at explaining this, but I feel compelled to share it. You will need to read this and this to give you the proper context.

My first memory of learning about the story of Abu Fadhil Abbas was when I was nine years old. Back then, I was in a class with other girls my age learning about the Battle of Karbala in an age-appropriate way. I remember feeling connected with Abu Fadhil because he didn’t have the use of his arms before he died, just like how I didn’t have the ability to use my legs in a typical way. From that day on, he’s had a special place in my heart (and he always will). Although my circumstances paled (and still do) in comparison to his, he was the first Islamic figure I felt I could relate to, and that was a powerful feeling because it strengthened my faith in a way I can’t explain. My love for Abbas only grew over the years, and this connection evolved into me relating to his anguish over not bringing back water to the camp of Imam Hussain (as). I know the feeling of wishing with everything you have to be able to something and having your body fail you. Recently, I have noticed another evolution of this connection that I feel so strongly. I like to think of Abbas as special because he had a different goal on the Day of Ashura. He didn’t die fighting against the army of Yazid like the rest of the Hashemites (his family), although he asked many times for the permission to do so. His brother, Imam Hussain (as), did not give him permission because he knew Abbas’ destiny was to die in his attempt to bring back water to the camp. In the same way, I go through phases where I wish I could walk like everyone else and not have to deal with my disability. However, I have realized that this is my destiny, and that may be because I have something special to do in this life–just like Abbas’ special mission. I also take comfort in knowing Abbas’ reward for his valiant efforts. There is a narration (unfortunately I do not have a source for it) stating that Abbas was granted wings by Allah (God) as a reward for his sacrifice. Of course, I am undeserving of any rewards of this type and I am definitely not expecting anything similar, but this narration gives me hope that all my struggles as a disabled person in this life will be worth it in the end. Abbas also has a special status of being “Bab-ul-Hawaaij” – The Door to Fulfilling People’s Needs – and it is common practice to ask for him to intercede for you in fulfilling a need. On a wider scale, I feel proud that Abbas is recognized for the brave, strong, loyal, caring, (the adjectives go on…) hero that he was. He is, and always will be, a hero—not just for Muslims but for all of humanity.

Peace be upon you oh Abbas, Qamir Bani Hashim (the Moon of the Hashemites).

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Lebanon Trip Recap Part 1

Hello! I hope you’re all doing well! I had an absolutely amazing time in Lebanon, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. I’ve decided to split my recap into two parts: this post will focus entirely on my bucket list and the next post will focus on all the things I did that were not on my bucket list. Before I get started, I want to apologize because I do not have any pictures to include with either of these posts. I planned to have my phone on me during any outings so I could take lots of pictures, but it just happened that my cousin was willing to carry my phone for me, so I didn’t have access to it a lot of the time. I hope you’ll still enjoy reading about my experiences!

1. Purchase an Arabic version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone [Not Completed].

I only went shopping twice during my trip, and unfortunately, I didn’t get an opportunity to visit a bookstore.

2. Visit a women’s only beach [Not Completed].

I’m not disappointed that I didn’t get to visit a women’s only beach. I would not be comfortable swimming, and the terrain probably would’ve been difficult to navigate with the particular wheelchair I brought with me, so there probably wouldn’t have been much for me to do anyways.

3. Visit the shrine of Sayeda Khoula (peace be upon her) [Completed].

Whenever I look back on my trip, this stands out as one of my favourite things I got to do. The shrine itself is enclosed in a larger dome-like structure (I assume it’s a mosque). There are sitting areas throughout and shops selling souvenirs. I vividly remember the designs in the corridors leading the shrine; they were absolutely beautiful. There is also a map showing the journey Imam Hussain’s son, sister, women, and children took from Karbala to Damascus after Imam Hussain’s martyrdom. The entrance to the shrine is divided by gender, and only the men’s entrance was wheelchair-accessible. Thankfully, I was able to enter from the women’s side with help from my family. Once inside, I felt a calming effect come over me; it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. I had no desire to speak; I suppose I was in awe. I felt completely at peace. I hope to visit more shrines in the future.

4. Eat feteh in Baalbek [Half-completed].

I had really bad stomach pain the day I visited Baalbek, and I didn’t want to make it worse by eating feteh, which is heavy on the stomach. I did, however, get to eat feteh (prepared two different ways) during my trip. It was delicious—I found the food in general to have so much more flavour than here in Canada. I’m not sure why, but there is a distinct difference. So, I didn’t eat feteh from Baalbek, but I did eat it, which is why I’m marking this half-completed.

5. Shop for hijabs and summer dresses [Completed].

There are shops of every kind lining the streets of Lebanon—no matter where you go. I visited a small store in Bint Jbeil. The store entrance was not wheelchair-accessible, but again, I was able to enter with help from my family. I spent a bit of time in there, and although I did not buy any hijabs, I purchased a dress for an occasion I had coming up and two sets of prayer clothes—one for myself and another as a gift. Overall, it was a very positive experience.

6. Visit a mosque [Completed].

Like I said above, I think the holy shrine of Sayeda Khoula (peace be upon her) is enclosed in a mosque, and I visited a few shrines (that you’ll read about in Part 2) that were designed in the same way, so I think I did technically complete this item on my bucket list. I saw many mosques during my trips around Lebanon, and I quickly learned to recognize them by their singular tall pillars. These pillars are used to call people to prayer—the height makes it easier for people to hear. Although I never saw a muadhen (the person who recites the call to prayer) in action, I grew to love hearing the adhan (the call to prayer) every day. The mosques are so beautifully designed, and I haven’t seen anything close to their architecture in Canada.

7. Take a boat ride around the Roauche Rocks [Completed].

I visited the Roauche Rocks twice during my trip. The first time was the day after I arrived, and we ended up meeting a man, with a very unique nickname, who coordinates the boat rides. I didn’t go on the boat ride until the day before I travelled back home, but it was an amazing experience, and I owe it all to this man. He arranged for our cars to be able to park near the water (ideal for accessibility and the terrain) and he and another one of his guys picked up my wheelchair and carried it across the rocky terrain and onto the boat. I was blown away how much these men were willing to do for me—a stranger. There was no way to secure my wheelchair on the boat, so my family kept a firm hold on it. We didn’t go too fast, and once I got used to the rocking of the boat, I was able to enjoy the experience. We went just as the sun was setting, so it wasn’t too dark or too hot. I highly recommend giving the boat ride a chance.

8. Visit a Starbucks [Completed].

I had my first ever latte courtesy of a Starbucks in Lebanon, and I loved it. I do not drink coffee. No matter how many times I try it, I find it too bitter for my taste. However, I feel like lattes are a perfect balance between bitter and sweet, and I am definitely a fan.

9. Visit the ruins in Baalbek [Half-completed].

Like I mentioned above, I had stomach pain the day I visited Baalbek, so I wasn’t feeling well enough to visit the ruins. We ended up driving by them and stopping to take a few pictures, so I did see them.

 

That concludes part one of my recap! Overall, I am very happy with everything I was able to accomplish from this list. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my post as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’m very excited about part two—it includes things like Mlita, Jeita Grotto, restaurants, and more. Stay tuned! I am not planning on writing about the process of travelling overseas, but I will gladly answer questions if you have them! If there’s enough interest, I will consider writing a post about the logistics of travelling.

 

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Bucket List for My Trip to Lebanon

I will be going on vacation to Lebanon (where I haven’t been since I was five, which I mentioned in this post) during the month of July, and I’ve decided to take a break from my blog during that time. It was not an easy decision to make, but I felt it was necessary because I would like to focus my attention on spending time with my family over there. I thought it would be a good idea to share my bucket list of things I hope to accomplish/experience during my trip. When I come back, I will write another post about how much I was able to accomplish or other things I did which were not included on the list.

1. Purchase an Arabic version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

There hasn’t really been a place for me to mention it on the blog, but I am a fan of the Harry Potter series. I have read the books several times (I highly recommend giving the series a chance if you haven’t yet) and watched all the movies at least twice. I have never owned an international version of any book, much less in a different language, so I thought the first book in the Harry Potter series would be a good choice. I am still working on reading Arabic more fluently, so it would be nice to sit down and be able to read it one day. I’ve inserted a picture of the book cover below.

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2. Visit a women’s only beach.

The nice thing about the visiting a Muslim majority country is that most things I have to worry about when practicing my faith in the West are already taken care of. One of those things is the observation of my hijab. Because I must observe my hijab at all times in public, places for women exclusively are like a haven because I can uncover and be assured that no men will see me. There are places all over Lebanon that are exclusively for women, and to my surprise, this includes beaches! I would like to visit one just to see what it’s like. It’s hard to imagine because all the beaches I’ve ever been to are for both genders.

3. Visit the shrine of Sayeda Khoula (peace be upon her).

 This one is going to take a bit to explain, so bear with me. So, the Prophet Muhammad and his family (including his daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren – peace be upon them all) are buried in shrines all around the Middle East. These shrines are considered sacred places and it is highly recommended that you visit them to pay your respects. One of these shrines is located in Baalbek (a city in Lebanon): the shrine of Khoula. Khoula was the daughter of Imam Hussain (peace be upon him). I have never been to a shrine before, so I hope to be able to visit Khoula’s (peace be upon her). I’ve inserted a picture of the shrine below.

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4. Eat feteh in Baalbek.

Feteh is a delicious Lebanese breakfast dish, and I absolutely love it. Apparently, the feteh in Baalbek is especially good, so I hope to eat it from there. I’ve inserted a picture of feteh below.

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5. Shop for hijabs and summer dresses.

Another perk of being in a Muslim majority country is having clothes specifically tailored for Muslim women. These clothes and hijabs are highly sought over; I almost always ask my friends and family who are travelling to Lebanon to bring me back clothes and hijabs because they are of high quality and I know they will satisfy my modest dress style, which is an extension of observing my hijab. I am excited to finally get to do my own shopping in Lebanon.

6. Visit a mosque.

I wonder if the mosques there are of higher quality/architecture because Lebanon is a Muslim majority country. I am also interested to see how if there are differences in how they are structured. I have only ever been to one mosque, so it would be interesting to see a different one.

7. Take a boat ride around the Raouche Rocks.

The Raouche Rocks uniquely shaped rocks located in the city of Beirut. They are surrounded by water, so it is possible to take a boat ride through and around them. If I am not mistaken, they are one of the Seven Wonders the World. I’ve inserted a picture of the rocks below.

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8. Visit a Starbucks.

Yet another perk of being in a Muslim majority country is that I can visit any fast-food restaurant and order anything I want off the menu because it is all hallal (permissible for Muslims to eat). I’m not sure why I chose Starbucks in particular as I don’t visit Starbucks here in Canada often. I’m sure any fast-food restaurant will suffice.

9. Visit the ruins in Baalbek.

 A friend of mine went to Lebanon two summers ago and posted pictures of these ruins, and I’ve been fascinated with them ever since. I’ve since learned that they are located in Baalbek, so that’ll be another thing to do when I visit that city. I’m sure the ruins have historical significance, but I don’t exactly know what that is. I’ve inserted a picture of the ruins below.

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That concludes my bucket list for my trip to Lebanon! In the interest of being fully transparent, I did not include things from my list that were personal and involved other people. I am interested to know if you have been to Lebanon and have any recommendations for me? I would love to expand my list, and I am open to any ideas.

 

Author’s note: I will be back with my regular posts starting August 13th. If you would like to receive notice of when I post, I recommend following my blog by inputting your email address in the bar provided (on the right-hand side of this post – if you’re on mobile, scroll all the way down to the bottom) and clicking the follow button underneath. That way, you’ll get an email when I post again (and for all future posts).

Edited to add: I have now reached 25 total followers as of this morning (June 22), and that number may not seem like much, but to me it’s 1/4 of the way to 100… and that’s awesome! I can’t believe my audience is growing so quickly! Thank you for your continued support.

 

Spotlight Post

Someone Like Me: Muhammad Sayfullah

This post is part of a “spotlight” series highlighting other disabled Muslims—that I have discovered through my own research or met in person—to show other disabled Muslims that they are not alone. Today, I’ll be focusing on Sayfullah.

Sayfullah’s story is special to me not only because we share the same disability, but also because I can see how much he values being independent and communicating with others. If you watch the video closely, you can see that every time Sayfullah gets to do something independently, for example, pushing a button to open the door, his face breaks into a tiny smile. I have experienced the same joy of being able to do even the smallest of things independently, like putting on my shoes, so I can relate to how he feels. You can also see how much he values communication because he becomes emotional when answering certain questions with his communication device. This is a beautiful reminder that assistive technology allows disabled people to reach their full potential; it doesn’t in any way trap us or hinder us.

I also found his mother, Fadillah, to be so supportive of him, and that was so refreshing to see. I liked that she had high expectations for him, and that she was realistic about the supports he’d need in the future. I don’t think she would have reached this point had she not accepted her son’s situation. Here, I find her acceptance to be a wonderful thing. It allows her to support Sayfullah and help him achieve his goals and raise her son in an environment where there is no negativity directed towards his disability or his assistive devices. I believe that Sayfullah will have an easier time coming to terms with his limitations because of the supportive environment he is in. I also think that it will help him build the confidence to deal with discrimination in the future.

For more information about Sayfullah’s story, check out this article.

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How Mosques Can Support Disabled Muslims: An Open Letter

Assalamualaikum,

I’ve had the idea for this post since the creation of my blog, and I’ve been hesitant to write about it because the last thing I want to do is offend anyone, especially those who know me personally. I hope you—my reader—can take my experiences as a tool for change, not as an attack of any sort, because that is not the point of this post. I hope this letter opens eyes, challenges attitudes, and acts as a catalyst for change.

I think we can agree that Allah (God) is perfect and does not make mistakes. Therefore, everything that comes from Him is perfect. That means that disability does not make me flawed. Disability does not make me broken. Disability is simply a part of who I am, and it does not overpower me nor undermine me. It does not make me an angel nor an inferior. I do not know why Allah (God) chose for me to be disabled, and I may never know, but what I do know is that having cerebral palsy gives me a unique perspective with which to see the world. I appreciate this perspective more each day, and I have come to love this part of myself. I invite you to do the same.

If you love me, all of me, this shifts your perspective. I am no longer a broken object to pity. I become a contributor to our community. And believe me, I want to contribute. However, when the only message I get from the community is that I need to be cured, I shy away. When I am stared at to the point of feeling extremely uncomfortable, I shy away. When I cannot access the bathrooms to perform ablution (ritual washing before prayer), I shy away. When I cannot access the masjid (place of worship) to pray, I shy away. When I must be separated from my mobility device because seating won’t accommodate it, I shy away. When my frustrations fall on deaf ears, I shy away. When nothing is done to rectify these problems, it sends me the message that I am not welcome at our mosque. And that hurts me to my very core because Islam is supposed to be welcoming to everyone, no matter who they are. It is a great disservice that those who are most vulnerable and in need of support cannot turn to their religious community because the very building where we congregate is not accessible to them.

When the focus shifts from healing the person to healing the community, it benefits everyone. When a person feels welcome, they feel comfortable enough to contribute, and that extends to the disabled as well. Our insights might surprise you. We can work with you to problem solve. We can help you in educating the community concerning disability. We can help in building programs for the disabled children who attend the mosque. The point is, each of us has talents that can benefit the religious community. Our disability adds a unique perspective to our contributions, and it may bring forth things you haven’t considered. It is not and should never be considered a hinderance.

So… where should you begin? I recommend talking to the disabled in your community and taking their suggestions for change seriously. To establish yourself as an ally, do not dismiss their experiences. Listen to what they have to say. Even if you cannot promise change, the fact that you are taking the time to listen means a lot. Do not be shy in following up on our concerns, taking steps to implement them yourself, and supporting us if we choose to talk to the sheiks or imams in our mosques.

It pains me to say that I don’t know if mosques will take steps to becoming more welcoming to the disabled in their communities. But the first step is voicing your concerns, and this letter is my way of doing that.

Sincerely,

A disabled Muslim

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Special Edition Sunday Post: It’s My Birthday

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[Image description: “2” and “1” number candles next to each other making the number 21. Both candles are designed with a purple outline and are filled with streamers and dots of red, yellow, and blue on the inside. Both candles are lit.  Image source]

I have never broken my schedule and posted on Sunday, but I wanted to make an exception today for a special reason: it’s my birthday. I turn 21 years old today.

When I started this blog back in January, it was for a couple reasons. The main reasons are underneath my blog name: a way to find my voice and to build a community for people like me (For a full explanation of my blog’s purpose and objectives, you can visit the About page). I was tired of seeing my intersectional identity as a doubly loaded way I was isolated from others. I knew my identity made me unique and attached to that was a unique perspective I wanted to share with the world. Share I did–and it connected me with people I otherwise wouldn’t have known and opened an avenue with which to discuss my disability with my friends and family that wasn’t possible before.

With all that being said, I am waiting for a specific moment. The moment when someone discovers my blog and realizes that they aren’t alone–that there are others out there who are going through exactly what they are, and that we understand what it’s like. This has happened to me twice before. The first being when I discovered Transcending CP, a blog by friend K, and shortly after when I discovered Tonia Says, a blog by my friend Tonia. These two women were among the first adults I knew of that CP like me. Their blog posts were like gold to me–they were so valuable because I literally had no one I could talk to about adulthood with CP–and that glimpse into the future eased my worries so much.

The more people know about my blog, the more likely it will reach someone who needs it, and the more likely that this moment will happen. Knowing this, I have a small but humble request (a birthday wish of sorts) for my readers: Can you please share my blog with someone? It doesn’t have to be through a social media platform–it can just be one person who you think would enjoy reading my content. I am aware that this moment may have already happened for someone, and if that is case, I would love it if you could tell me! It would make all my work on this blog worth it.

I want to be clear that I apperciate you whether you choose to share my blog or not. The fact that you take time out of your days to read what I have to say is incredible in and of itself and enough for me. I don’t have the words to express how much it means to me. Thank you so much for all your support.