Rights of People with Special Needs in Islam
By: Dr. / Zaghloul El-Naggar
According to the report of the International Labor Organization (ILO) of the year 2000, number of those who suffer disabilities either mentally or physically are estimated at more than 610 million persons; about 10 % of total number of world population. The report expects a wide increase of such percentage in the following years. This is due to a notable increase in percentage of environmental pollution, accumulation of weapons of mass destruction, recurrent wars, continuous price flare up, in addition to spread of poverty, backwardness concerning medical care, especially in the poor and underdeveloped countries.
This means that tenth of people living on earth are people with special needs, who need special care and attention concerning upbringing and education. They are in dire need for special institutions to care for them. Such institutions could be easily found in the rich countries. Yet, they do rarely exist in other countries which are poor and underdeveloped.
Actually, deformities do occur due to road accidents, can happen within the battle fields, at work or even at home. Deformities could also occur owing to several causes like excessive use of alcohol, drugs, medicaments, exposure to radiation, poison, medical faults during childbirth, premature labor, diseases that may afflict the fetus or the mother during pregnancy or might happen due to genetic causes. Most dangerous of all, is the deformation caused as a result of illegal sexual affairs.
Disabilities can take many forms. They can be mental, sensual (audio or visual), physical; concerning health, psychological (in the form of behavioral, communicational disorders, retardation or in any other forms)
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him once said:
“ When Allah , Exalted be He, created Adam , He, the Almighty wiped his back , so all people came out, and Allah presented them before Adam …, Adam saw among them the strong ,the weak , the rich , the poor , the healthy and afflicted . He said: O Allah! Why have not you made them equal? He, the Almighty said: “So that I would be praised for My favors.” (Narrated by Abu Yaaly in his Masnad 6377 (contains authentic Prophetic Sayings) In another version: “… then He presented them before Adam and He, the Almighty said: “O Adam! this is your progeny , and among them were the mutilated, the leprous , the blind and other kinds of affliction , so Adam said : O Allah why have you done so with my progeny ? Allah, Exalted be He said: “So that people would praise My favors.”
Hence, Allah the Creator, the All- Wise and the All-Knowing, has predestined that the offspring of Adam should include the able-bodied, the handicapped, the healthy and the ill, those who have sound senses and those who have sense disabilities. In such way, the able-bodied would perceive health as a bounty and praise Allah, Exalted be He, for such bounty and on seeing those afflicted, they would sympathize with them, try to come close to Allah by taking good care of the disabled, being charitable and benevolent towards them, as they are the creation of Allah. “And people are the dependants of Allah and the most favored by Allah are the ones who frequently help His dependants.” (Hadith)
Let's read what Prophet Muhammad , peace be upon him said concerning that : “ Whoever saw an afflicted person and said: Praise be to Allah who have protected me against what He has afflicted you with and have greatly honored me over many of his creation, he will be safeguarded against such affliction as long as he lives. (Mentioned by At-Termizi 343331 and Al Baghawi 1337) In another version: “He will not Heahjtqgr.” i.e. Allah will not make the handicapped person hear such invocation of the healthy one to save his pride and feelings from being injured.
It was mentioned that Attaa Ibn Abi Rabah said: Ibn Abbass told me: “Would I show you a woman among people of Paradise? I said: Yes. He said: Such black woman came to Prophet Muhammad ( peace be upon him) and said I suffer epileptic fits and during such fits, the clothes over my body uncovers, so invoke Allah, Exalted be He , for me. The Prophet (pbuh) said: If you wants to keep patient, you will be rewarded by entering paradise but if you wish I can pray for you. The woman said: I will be patient, but my body uncovers?! So invoke Allah for me so that my body becomes not uncovered. So he (pbuh) invoked Allah.” (Narrated by Al Bukhari: 5652)
Imams Ahmed ( 13338:4) At- Termizi ( 3578) and Ibn Maja ( 1385 ) mentioned on the authority of Othman Ibn Hanif that “ A blind man came to Prophet Muhammad ( peace be upon him) and said : Invoke Allah so that my eyes will be cured. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “If you wish I will invoke Allah for you or else keep patient and it is better for you.” The blind man said: So invoke Him. So the Prophet (pbuh) taught the man few words to supplicate Allah by. So Allah cured his eyes.”
Firstly: Some of the Rights of People with Special Needs in Islam
(A) The Right of Care and Qualification:
Islam states that helping and taking good care of the handicapped and disabled is a collective duty incumbent upon the Muslim community; meaning that few people can act for the whole community in carrying out the duty. Hence, the community will not be guilty. However, if no one carried the collective duty, the whole community will be guilty. Concerning that point, Prophet Muhammad ( peace be upon him) said : “ Whoever relieves the distress of a believer , Allah will relieve his distress in the Hereafter, whoever eases the difficulty of one indebted , Allah will ease his life in this World and in the Hereafter and whoever conceals the faults of a Muslim brother (from being known to others), Allah will conceal his faults in this World and in the Hereafter and Allah is the helper of the servant as long as the servant helps his Muslim brother…”
1. “ The Most loved ones by Allah , Exalted be He , are those who are the most helper to others, and the good deed most loved by Allah is to bring happiness to a Muslim brother, relieve his distress , pay his debts or satisfy his hunger and I would love accomplishing a task for a Muslim brother rather than entering into a month seclusion in the Mosque…”
“The Muslim is the brother of a Muslim, he does not oppress nor betray him and whoever seeks helping his Muslim brother, Allah will be in his help, whoever relieves distress of a Muslim, Allah will relieve his distress in the Day of Resurrection and whoever conceals faults of a Muslim (from being known to others), Allah will conceal his faults in the Hereafter.” (Narrated by At-Termizi)
2. “Muslims are equal concerning their blood sanctity, the lowest of them can guarantee their protection and they act as one hand against their enemies. ( narrated by Imam Ahmed )
3. Muslims with each other are like the bricks of building neatly interwoven and attached to each other ( narrated by Al Bukhari )
4. “Whoever does not show mercy to others, will not have mercy.” ( narrated by Al Bukhari)
(B) The Right of being respected:
Believers should not deal with the handicapped and the disabled sarcastically, should not mock them or put them in low esteem. Allah Exalted be He says in the Holy Qur’an: “O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. How bad is it to insult one’s brother after having Faith [i.e. to call your Muslim brother (a faithful believer) as: "O sinner" or "O wicked"]. And whosoever does not repent, then such are indeed Zâliműn (wrong-doers, etc.). (Surat Al-Hujurat (The Dwellings):11)
It was narrated that a group of people mocked Abdullah Ibn Massoud while ascending a tree for having very thin legs. On the authority of Um Moussa that she said I heard Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) saying: When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ordered Ibn Massoud to ascend a tree to bring him something, the Companions of the Prophet kept looking at Ibn Massoud‘s legs while he was ascending and laughed on seeing his legs to be very tiny and slim. Upon that, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “You laugh at him! Verily the legs of Abdullah are much more heavier in the scale of deeds of the Hereafter than the mount of Uhud (a very huge mountain)”. (Narrated by Ahmed)
(C) The Right of Intensive Care:
The right of receiving Intensive care concerning the medical, psychological, educational, social, economical aspects … etc. providing the disabled with integral programs regardless of the degree of disability. Such Care is embodied in some services, full medical and non- medical programs. That which help the disabled develop their skills to great extents, while having accurate diagnoses for each case, separately. That is what we call qualification. Such qualification is achieved inside special institutions, schools, centers for the handicapped or at governmental and non- governmental educational organizations.
(D) The Right of having slight religious duties determined according to the capacity of each case. Like canceling the duty of fighting in the cause of Allah, for the disabled. Concerning this issue, Allah, Exalted be He, says: “No blame or sin is there upon the blind, nor is there blame or sin upon the lame, nor is there blame or sin upon the sick (that they go not for fighting). And whosoever obeys Allâh and His Messenger (Muhammad pbuh), He will admit him to Gardens beneath which rivers flow (Paradise); and whosoever turns back, He will punish him with a painful torment. (Surat Al –Fath (The Victory): 17)
Actually, believers used to feel shy on entering the houses of their relatives while having the handicapped with them. They sought being charitable and generous to the handicapped by accompanying them in their visits. So Allah revealed the following verse: Allah says: “There is no restriction on the blind, nor any restriction on the lame, nor any restriction on the sick, nor on yourselves, if you eat from your houses, or the houses of your fathers, or the houses of your mothers, or the houses of your brothers, or the houses of your sisters, or the houses of your father’s brothers, or the houses of your father’s sisters, or the houses of your mother’s brothers, or the houses of your mother’s sisters, or (from that) whereof you hold keys, or (from the house) of a friend. No sin on you whether you eat together or apart. But when you enter the houses, greet one another with a greeting from Allâh As-Salâmu ‘Alaikum - peace be on you) blessed and good. Thus Allâh makes clear the Ayât (these Verses or your religious symbols and signs) to you that you may understand. (Surat An-Nur (The Light): 61)
(E) The Right for a Humane and Brotherly treatment: Islam stipulates that Allah , the Almighty is the Creator of everything and that all human beings have the same father and mother i.e. Adam and Eve ( peace be upon them) as Allah , Exalted be He says:
“Such is Allah, your Lord! None has the right to be worshipped but He, the Creator of all things. So worship Him alone, and He is the trustee, Disposer of affairs, Guardian over all things.
1. “Say (O Muhammad pbuh): "Who is the Lord of the heavens and the earth?" Say: "(It is) Allâh." Say: "Have you then taken (for worship) Auliyâ’ (protectors) other than Him, such as have no power either for benefit or for harm to themselves?" Say: "Is the blind equal to the one who sees? Or darkness equal to light? Or do they assign to Allâh partners who created the like of His creation, so that the creation (which they made and His creation) seemed alike to them?" Say: "Allâh is the Creator of all things; and He is the One, the Irresistible." (Surat Ar-Ra’d (The Thunder):16)
2. “Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is the Disposer of affairs, Guardian over all things.” ( Az-Zumar)
3. “That is Allâh, your Lord, the Creator of all things: Lâ ilâha illâ Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He). How then are you turning away (from Allâh, by worshipping others instead of Him)? (Surat Ghafir (The Forgiver):62)
4. “O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife [Hawwâ (Eve)], and from them both He created many men and women; and fear Allâh through Whom you demand (your mutual rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship. Surely, Allâh is Ever an All-Watcher over you.” (Surat An-Nisâ' (The Women): 1)
5. “It is He Who has created you from a single person (Adam), and has given you a place of residing (on the earth or in your mother’s wombs) and a place of storage [in the earth (in your graves) or in your father’s loins]. Indeed, We have explained in detail Our revelations (this Qur’ân) for people who understand." (Surat Al –An’am (The Cattale):98)
6. “It is He Who has created you from a single person (Adam), and (then) He has created from him his wife [Hawwâ’ (Eve)], in order that he might enjoy the pleasure of living with her. When he (a polytheist from Adam’s offspring - as stated by Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir) had sexual relation with her (the polytheist’s wife), she became pregnant and she carried it about lightly. Then when it became heavy, they both invoked Allâh, their Lord (saying): "If You give us a Sâlih (good in every aspect) child, we shall indeed be among the grateful." (Surat Al-A’raf (The Heights): 189)
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stressed on the above mentioned meaning in his Saying: “All of you have been created from Adam and Adam has been created from dust.” Also “…there is no human being who does already exist or will exist, till the Day of Judgment but encompassed in Allah’s knowledge”. (narrated in the Six Major collections of Hadith)
The handicapped right that healthy ones should endure him as Allah, Exalted be He, has created both the healthy and the afflicted and that Allah, the Almighty has created everything and give it its due proportion.
1. Allah says: “He to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and Who has begotten no son (children or offspring) and for Whom there is no partner in the dominion. He has created everything, and has measured it exactly according to its due measurements.”( Surat Al-Furqan(The Criterion): 2)
2. “Allâh has created every moving (living) creature from water. Of them there are some that creep on their bellies, and some that walk on two legs, and some that walk on four. Allâh creates what He wills. Verily Allâh is Able to do all things.” (Surat An-Nur (The Light): 45)
3. “Allâh is He Who created you in (a state of) weakness, then gave you strength after weakness, then after strength gave (you) weakness and grey hair. He creates what He wills. And it is He Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Powerful (i.e. Able to do all things). (Surat Ar-Rűm (The Romans): 54)
4. “To Allâh belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills. He bestows female (offspring) upon whom He wills, and bestows male (offspring) upon whom He wills. Or He bestows both males and females, and He renders barren whom He wills. Verily, He is the All-Knower and is Able to do all things. (Surat Ash-Shura (The Consultation): 49-50)
5. “Blessed be He in Whose Hand is the dominion; and He is Able to do all things." (Surat Al-Mulk (Dominion): 1)
6. “There is no blame on the Prophet (pbuh) in that which Allâh has made legal for him. That has been Allâh’s Way with those who have passed away of (the Prophets of) old. And the Command of Allâh is a decree determined." (Surat Al-Ahzâb (The Confederates):38)
7. “Verily, We have created all things with Qadar (Divine Preordainments of all things before their creation as written in the Book of Decrees Al-Lauh Al-Mahfűz).” (Surat Al-Qamar (The Moon):49 )
From the above, we can conclude that every single thing that occurs in the universe is preordained by Allah, it happens according to His will and according to a Divine Wisdom, even that which we consider afflictions like deformities, genetic diseases, accidents that cause disabilities, epidemic diseases, wars, violent winds, earthquakes, volcanoes and others.
All such afflictions send a clear message to mankind : that people should feel how great to enjoy good health which entails that they should be grateful to Allah, as being healthy and secure is a precious bounty from Allah towards His servants. A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once said: “Whoever lived secure in his place, healthy in his body, had his daily earnings, it is as if he possessed the whole world.”
(F) We should have a better understanding as regarding cases of affliction. Affliction from Allah could be one of three: a punishment to the disobedient and evil-doers, a trial for the righteous, a valuable lesson for the survivors. And people will not get benefits from afflictions unless they could perceive the wisdom behind it.
Concerning the believers, the righteous and the pious, affliction acts as a trial to test their patience and whether or not they would face such affliction from Allah, with concession and satisfaction towards Allah’s fate and predestination. If so, they will be rewarded with an ample reward in this life and in the Hereafter.
Allah, Exalted be He, created people and He is the All-Knower , He knows what is best for them. That’s why people should not meet Allah’s fate with objection as Allah has comprehensive knowledge; he knows what happens and what will happen, He is the All-Knower, the Just, the Merciful, the Forgiver. Putting in mind that human beings’ knowledge is so restricted , people might consider that enjoying good health, a sound body, being secure , having abundance of provisions are unquestionable and taken for granted . Hence , they should consider afflictions, deformation, diseases , wars, starvation and others of the like, matters that sound the alarming bells from time to time to remind man that worldly life is too short no matter how long man lives and that the Hereafter is the eternal abode.
Actually, people get benefits from such afflictions; as people whom Allah has favored with healthy bodies and protected against affliction would feel grateful towards Allah and sympathetic towards the disabled. They would spare no effort to keep the rights of the afflicted ones, take the initiatives to give the disabled a helping hand and console them. So Allah tries survivors of a certain affliction “Who is the best as regarding his deeds” and tries the afflicted persons “Who is the best as regarding holding patient towards affliction.”