This post is a review of Sayed Ammar Nakshawani’s lecture “Islam and the Disabled” (inserted below). I’ve bolded certain statements he said in his lecture and offered my thoughts underneath, as well as included my closing thoughts at the end of the post.
We should thank Allah (God) that we are not facing the issues that others are facing.
This tells me that this lecture is meant for a nondisabled audience. I understand what Sayed Ammar is saying here, but I disagree with this idea because this makes it seem as if the lives of disabled people are somehow harder than nondisabled people’s lives, when in reality, they are just different. Disabled people need to do certain things differently in order to adapt to their environment, but that doesn’t necessarily make our lives harder. I’ve always been disabled, so this is the only life I know; this is my normal. I’m so used to adapting and doing things differently that it’s not hard or easy, it’s just a part of life.
No recognition of the disabled in Muslim countries.
I can’t speak to this personally, because the last time I visited the Middle East was when I was 5 years old. But I am glad he is bringing awareness to this issue.
In Muslim countries physically disabled = mentally disabled.
I again can’t speak to this, but I have definitely encountered this attitude here in Canada.
We want to hide the disabled (leave them at home).
I have not experienced this in my family, and I’m happy for that. But what the Sayed fails to talk about here is: are there resources for the disabled in their communities (ex. in the mosque)? He uses the example of a family leaving their autistic child at home, presumably because they are ashamed of them. But maybe, the family can’t bring that child to their mosque because his/her needs won’t be met in the traditional day cares seen at mosques and there is no special needs program. The next step would be for a special needs program to be implemented at the mosque, but this is typically very difficult because disability is essentially ignored in the community.
They (the disabled) don’t have envy, they’re not hypocrites; they’re pure, lovers, innocent.
Just because I have a disability, it doesn’t automatically make me a good person. I make mistakes and strive to do better just like any person would.
Hardly ever do you see Muslims give lectures on disability.
This is definitely true. This is the only lecture I’ve ever found on disability in Islam, particularly from a respected scholar who follows the Shia sect of Islam.
(Talking about a Quranic verse) There is no blame to the blind, the lame, or the sick.
This right here dispels a common belief that disability is a punishment, and I am very happy he has said this.
A group (the disabled) that have no voice in the community.
YES YES YES YES. I feel this way and I’m certain that others do too.
There is many a lesson that non-Muslims have taught us in this area (the care of the disabled).
This is one reason why I am happy to live in Canada, because I know I probably would not have the same opportunities nor same quality of life had I lived in the Middle East.
He frowned and turned when the blind came to him (translation of a Quranic verse).
I am glad that the Sayed clarified that it was not Prophet Muhammad who did this action, but someone else, because this verse could be used to justify poor treatment of the disabled, which the Prophet never did.
They (the disabled) need someone to come and support [them].
I agree with this idea. But I wish the Sayed clarified further to say more ways you could offer support, or perhaps the most important, ask the person how they would like to be supported. I notice here that the Sayed does not talk about praying for a cure here as a type of support, and I wish he would have said it is not because many people think that it is.
Disability can be a blessing.
I am glad that the Sayed discusses this idea further because it challenges people’s ways of thinking about disability. People might see disability as a bad thing or as something that needs to be changed, but here it is shown as a blessing.
Don’t treat them (the disabled) as if they can’t give.
Yes, I like this idea. It shows us not as needy or pitiful, but as people who can contribute to our communities. This shows our capabilities without forgetting our limitations. People tend to only see one and dismiss the other.
I like this lecture because it brings awareness of disability in Islamic communities, which there definitely needs to be more of. However, Sayed Ammar is a nondisabled person speaking about the disabled. I believe his lecture could have been more impactful had he gotten input from disabled Muslims instead of relying on his own experiences. As well, he talks about the problems regarding disability in Islamic communities without offering enough solutions. But you could argue that it is each community’s responsibility to find solutions which suit the people they serve. Either way, I hope this lecture made people think and consider implementing change.