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Hajj and Umrah

What is the Islamic perspective on disabilities?

All praises be to Allaah, Lord and Sustainer of the worlds, and may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and upon his family and companions.

Firstly, the Islamic perspective of "living," related to human beings, whether dependent or independent, is based on the Worship of Allaah Subhanahu-wa-Ta'alaa, the creator of everything that exists. As Allaah Subhanahu-wa-Ta'alaa says:

"And I (Allâh) created not the jinns and mankind except they should worship Me (Alone)..."

[Adh-Dhaariyaat: 56]

Worship ('ibaadah) is defined as every statement and action which Allaah Subhanahu-wa-Ta'alaa loves and is pleased with, whether it be hidden or apparent.

Secondly , the worship of Allaah, which is the only purpose of our living, is based on three important principles:

1. That the worship belongs to Allaah alone, without there being anyone else as an associate, partner or shareholder in this worship.

Allaah Subhanahu-wa-Ta'alaa says:

"And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him."

[Al-Israa 23]

And He Subhanahu-wa-Ta'alaa says:

"Truly! This, your Ummah (Shari'ah or religion) is one religion, and I am your Lord, therefore worship Me (Alone)."

[Al-Anbiyaa: 92]

And He says:

"And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) but We revealed to him (saying): Lâ ilâha illa Ana (none has the right to be worshipped but I (Allâh)), so worship Me (Alone and none else)..."

[Al-Anbiyaa: 25]

2. That the worship of Allaah can be done only in the way that He has approved of. And what He Subhanahu-wa-Ta'alaa has approved can only be known through His messenger and last prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).

Allaah says:

"Say (O Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to mankind): If you (really) love Allâh then follow me, Allâh will love you and forgive you of your sins. And Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful..."

[Aalu-'Imraan: 31]

3. That what Allaah is looking for is the quality of our actions rather than quantity. This is explained in the following verses:

"Verily! We have made that which is on earth as an adornment for it, in order that We may test them (mankind) as to which of them are best in deeds."

[Al-Kahf: 7]

"Who has created death and life that He may test you which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving."

[Al-Mulk: 2]

Thirdly, "disability" is defined by the Fuqhaa (jurists) as:

"Difficulty or inability to perform to achieve an aim both in specific acts of worship ('Ibadaat) directed towards the creator as well as day to day affairs (Mu'amlaat) related to oneself or others around us."

From an Islamic perspective, disability is of two kinds:

1. Real (physical) disability
2. Disability of ruling, such as in the case of a traveller, an ignorant person, a forgetful person, one who is forced etc.

Specific disabilities, such as sight impairment or being deaf, are not necessarily defined by specific definitions. Rather, these all come under "real disabilities," and are defined according to the purpose for which it is being defined. For example, definition of sight impairment may be different from one's ability to read from his ability to participate in Jihad.

Fourthly , the Islamic Shari'ah reduces the burden of the one who has a disability by either completely removing the act required for achieving an otherwise necessary aim, such as removing the obligation of Hajj from a person who is financially incapable of bearing it, or reducing the amount of obligation by replacing it with a lighter action such as in case of "Tayammum" instead of Wudhoo.

The Shari'ah also encourages those with the ability, to assist the needy ones of the society, but restrict it to lawful and righteous actions only, as Allaah commands us:

"Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allâh. Verily, Allâh is Severe in punishment..."

[Al-Maa'idah: 2]

And Allah the Most Knowledgeable knows what is best and most correct.