There is Divine Wisdom in the creation of mankind in their diversity, ability and needs.
Allah has created many of us who are blessed with a healthy mind and body, while others are deprived of these gifts.
Allah says: “Verily, We have created man from a drop of thickened fluid, in order to test him” (Quran: Al-Insaan 76:2).
Allah will test each and everyone of us either by granting all His favors or by depriving us from some of His favors in order to see who is grateful and who has patience. That’s why life is full of trials and tribulations.
Allah has commanded us to honor, respect and love every human being regardless of his/her race, color, religion, physical or mental ability. We must not make mockery or look down upon any human being.
Allah says: “O you, who believe, let not a people ridicule (another) people; perhaps they may be better than them, nor let women ridicule (other) women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by (offensive) nicknames. How bad is it to insult one’s brother after having Iman (faith), and whosoever does not repent, then such are indeed wrong-doers.” (Al-Hujurat 49:11)
In a well-known incident, Prophet Muhammad (s) frowned at the face of a blind man, Abdullah ibn Umm Maktoum (r), who asked him, “O messenger of God, teach me from what God has taught you” while he was sitting with leaders of Quraish.
He saw a great benefit if this group were to accept Islam, so he did not want to be distracted by the blind man. But Allah admonished His messenger reminding us that a disabled person is no less important than the noble and elite of the society.
Allah says: (The Prophet) frowned and turned away, because there came to him the blind man (interrupting him). But what would make you perceive, (O Mohammad), that perhaps he might be purified or be reminded and the remembrance would benefit him? As for he who thinks himself without need, to him you give attention. And not upon you (is any blame) if he will not be purified. But as for he who came to you striving (for knowledge) while he fears (God), from him you are distracted. (Abasa 80:1-9)
Afterwards, the Prophet Muhammad (s) would always greet Abdullah ibn Umm Maktoum (r) with a smile and place his robe for him to sit. He would say to him, “Welcome to a man for whom my Lord has admonished me!”
The Prophet Muhammad (s) appointed Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum (s) in charge of Madinah in his absence, including when he left for the liberation of Makkah. He was also a Muezzin of the Prophet’s mosque beside Bilal (r). Indeed a great honor and prestige for a blind man.
During the time of caliph Abdul-Malik Ibn Marawan, Atta Ibn Abi Rabah, a black man suffering from paralysis, was the greatest Mufti in Makkah. His disability did not hinder him from earning the honor and prestige due to his knowledge.
Islamic teaching and history reminds us that every human being is worthy of honor, respect and love. We must show utmost mercy towards those who are weak among us. Physical disability doesn’t hinder one from achieving success in this life or in the Hereafter.
Every child must be nurtured in a loving and caring environment, including special needs children. They should not be treated differently. They must be given every opportunity to live a dignified life.
Islam wants us to have an inclusive society where everyone is welcomed and has equal opportunity. It’s against the Islamic teaching to neglect and isolate them. They are the source of Divine mercy and blessings for us.
Prophet Muhammad (s) said: “Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One above the heavens will have mercy upon you. (At-Trimidi).
Prophet Muhammad (s) said: “You are given sustenance and victory for the virtue of those who are weak amongst you.” (Abu Dawood).
Prophet Muhammad (s) said: “Allah will not be merciful to those who are not merciful to the people.” (Sahih Bukhari).
It’s incumbent upon society to have special schools and career centers for special needs children. Special needs children are vital part of our society.
Lack of education and training will keep them vulnerable. They will remain marginalized, abused, exploited and excluded by society. Education and training will liberate them from isolation. It will give them confidence and allow them to live a dignified life. It’s a moral obligation and religious duty.