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 Noor al-Zahra Haider.
For me, Noor represents what my life could have been like as a disabled person had I grown up in the Middle East. Although she has spina bifida, we are similar in many ways. It breaks my heart that both her and her family wish for her to walk, because I grew up with that same belief myself, and it’s really devastating to hold onto something that seems like it will never be true. I understand where her beliefs are coming from, because for Noor, walking equals more opportunities and what seems like a much easier life in a country that has not adapted to her needs. Thankfully, I can adapt and make up for my limitations in a lot of different ways; the solutions are plenty because of the technology available to me here in Canada. I cannot say the same for Noor, and that’s what hurts me. I see so much potential in her, but she has not been able to thrive. I disagree with the reporter who says she is a “burden” to care for–it is quite clear that her family loves her deeply and does not see her that way. As well, I disagree when the reporter says she is a “broken girl”. Noor is not broken, in fact, I see her as resilient. She survived a life-threatening operation when she was just a baby, and she has not given up on her life just because disability is not accomodated for by her country. It’s her society that is broken because they have not yet taken the steps towards becoming fully inclusive for disabled people.
This is why societal shifts and laws pertaining to disability are so important. They allow disabled people to reach their full potential. I can only hope that Noor eventually gets the support she needs to reach her full potential.
For an update on Noor, check out this article published by CNN just last year.