Special Needs

Special Needs

Delivered by Sheikh Saalih al Humaid
Muharram 16, 1429 ~ January 25, 2008

All praise is due to Allah, we praise him and seek his forgiveness and mercy. All praise is due to Allah who has blessed us with many a blessings and has raised the heavens and who is in control of affairs of the world. I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah. And I bear witness, without any hypocrisy, weakness, or uncertainty, that there is nothing worthy of worship besides Allah without any partners. And I bear witness that Muhammad (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is His final messenger and servant. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and all those who follow his footsteps until the last day. (Ameen)

Oh people, I remind myself and then you, fear Allah and be aware of Him. Time is swiftly passing by and all of us are afflicted with indecisions and challenges of meeting our desires or whims and that which is most necessary for us. We ought to pay attention to our final destination and give priority to that which will lead us to Jannah and be of benefit to us in our final abode and destination, over our transient needs and desires of this world.

O mankind! Verily, the Promise of Allâh is true. So let not this present life deceive you, and let not the chief deceiver deceive you about Allâh. Surely, Shaitân is an enemy to you, so take him as an enemy. He only invites his Hizb that they may become the dwellers of the blazing Fire.” [Surah Faatir: Ayaah 5-6]

Oh Muslims, Allah has addressed man in the most honorable of forms. He addressed man understanding his humanity through which man differentiates himself from the rest of the creation. And Allah says: “O man! What has made you careless about your Lord, the Most Generous? Who created you, fashioned you perfectly, and gave you due proportion; In whatever form He willed, He put you together.” [Surah Infitaar: Ayaah 6-8]

And so man is honored and given dignity in his very creation. And Allah says: “And indeed We have honoured the Children of Adam, and We have carried them on land and sea, and have provided them with At-Taiyyibât (lawful good things), and have preferred them above many of those whom We have created with a marked preferment.” [Surah Isra: Ayah 70] However there is no difference and no discrimination or superiority of one man over another except through the fear of Allah and piety. And Allah says: “Verily, the most honourable of you with Allâh is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa.” [Surah Hujurat: Ayah 13]

Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) continuously tests us whether it be through the provision of good or forbidding us from enjoying some luxuries. And Allah says: “We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good, and to Us you will be returned.” [Surah Anbiya: Ayah 35]

Oh Muslims, from what we see in the characteristics of the Ummah is that it takes care and pays attention to every member of its community. This is a sign of its maturity and civilization and greatness. Especially when we look at the attention and care that is paid to people who require special attention and need. And we see that in the shariah in the form of a body of knowledge that is to do with the social responsibility and the social insurance and the protection of people’s rights. The Messenger of Allah (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said that the Muslim ummah is like body, when part of body pains, the rest of the body feels pain and sleeplessness. When we are talking about people of special needs we acknowledge them and need to acknowledge that they are an integral part of this organism that the Messenger of Allah (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) described. The people of special needs need be protected, whether it is their social, personal, physical, health care rights and their rights to employment. And we see many an example of this in our deen, where it epitomizes the level the attention and care that is required when dealing with people in special needs. This must take efforts to integrate people who are usually discriminated against and people with special needs, i.e. people with disabilities.

The importance of this is demonstrated when Allah admonishes His Prophet in the beginning verses of Surah ‘Abasa. From this story, Allah is reminding that there is no superiority of one group of people over another, whether it the high social status people over the weak. In this particular story, the Messenger of Allah had been talking to the leaders of Quraysh including Waleed ibn Mughirah, Ummayya bin Khalaf, and their likes who were the the noblest amongst Quraysh to convey to them the message of Islam. In the process, he ignored the blind person who came to him with a question, and was admonished by Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala), reminding him that the message should be spread to everybody, and no favoritism and preference should be given to any group of people over another.

The person in this particular story was a great companion by the name Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum (Radiallahu Anhu), and on more than 10 occasions the Messenger of Allah (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) left him as his representative in Madeenah when he was expeditions. He also participated in the Battle of Qadasiyyah, where he had been carrying the banner and later achieved martyrdom in this position. The Messenger of Allah (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) had also given him the duty of calling the adhaan. Bilaal (Radiallahu Anhu) would call the adhaan in the night and Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum would call the adhaan in the morning.

Those who are disabled are not absolved of their obligations towards Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala), nor are any concessions made towards them. The Messenger of Allah (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) says that there are no concessions for anybody, whether it be the blind or the disabled. If they can hear the call to prayer, they ought to participate in the congregational prayer.

This requires us to ensure that the people with special needs are an integral part of society and a contributing part. They are not to be left to side, and treated as disabled people, but they should be given roles where they are made to feel as an important part of society.

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…” [Surah Nuur: Ayah 61]

These ayaahs were revealed to correct a prevalent tradition at the time of the Messenger of Allah, where people felt ashamed to include the weak or the disabled in their social gatherings. Therefore Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) revealed these verses to tell the people that including such people amongst us is encourage able.

This is the beauty in this deen, which takes care of the humanness and caters for their needs in the best of forms. The Messenger of Allah (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has said that there is no negativity, and I am pleased by people who take an optimistic outlook on things. All of us, whatever our positions are, we ought to look and have optimism and have aims and goals in our life which we can achieve. From the beauty of this ummah, you see people who were blind or disabled and they were addressed as such. Regarding them as such were not impediments that would hold them back, but rather they were honored and people sought to look after them with care. Their disabilities did not prevent them from attaining elevated status amongst society and in the sight of Allah.

We have many examples of great scholars and thinkers who were ill, blind, and disabled. We need to learn from these examples in the Quraan and Hadeeth and the legacy left for us from Islamic history. We need to take every measure possible to provide the necessary opportunities for disabled members of our community so that they may become an integral part of the society and not have a passive role. This should not be a duty of only the lay person, but it should also extend to organizations, institutions, governments, and countries to insure that disabled people are catered for and that we provide the necessary environment, mechanisms and tools that is required to enable the disabled to participate as active members and not as people who are passive and make them feel deficient in one way or another.

Some families take a passive attitude with regards to their disabled relatives, looking after them and caring for them, but do not give them responsibilities and keep them on the side. This has a psychological impact on the disabled family member and influences them in a negative way.

All praise is due to Allah, the One who Guides. I praise him and I thank Him for the continuous blessings and favors. I bear witness a testimony that is free of defect, hypocrisy, and uncertainty, that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His final messenger and servant. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his companions and those who follow his footsteps until the last day.

The Messenger of Allah (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) was the greatest example to us in showing us how be the most remembering of Allah and most cautious and aware of Allah. We need to remind ourselves that it is not our body and appearance that matters, but rather it is our intentions and that which we conceal in our hearts. The Messenger of Allah (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has said “Indeed in the body there is a piece of flesh. If it is upright and righteous the whole body remains upright and righteous. But if it becomes corrupt and infected, the whole body becomes corrupted and infected.” This piece of flesh referred to is the heart.

Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) has mentioned that there are people who have good health, sight, and hearing, but they are people who are as good as people who are lacking in these physical blessings, because they did not pay attention and take heed to what was told to them or to what they saw in front of them. Rather they abuse that which they have. Therefore their sensory abilities are of no benefit to them.

Diversity is an actual part of Allah’s creation. This diversity is there not so that people may discriminate but to appreciate the beauty and meet each other’s needs and be interdependent. It is so that we may be part of this body that the Messenger of Allah (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) described as a brick wall which supports every other part. And we must acknowledge that some physical disabilities may become impediments on person’s ability in completing their tasks to the full extent. But that which is most important to Allah is one’s intentions to do good regardless of whether a person may not be successful in completing their task. The levels of disabilities vary from physical impairments to mental impairments, and this affects both the healthy and the weak.

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