Sunday, September 29, 2013

'Physically Disabled' or 'Enabled for Paradise' ?

Those suffering from mental illness or extreme physical ailments are often treated shamefully by fellow Muslims. Many times, they are overtly excluded from being a part of the Muslim community; whether it's looking at them askance, avoiding talking to them or not making an effort to make our masaajid and Islamic centers wheel-chair friendly, our behavior is in direct contradiction to the Sunnah of RasulAllah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam).

We tend to use the term "disabled" to describe people who have been tested by Allah in terms of their physical or mentally health - yet what we don't realize is that in many cases, they are actually far more "enabled" than the rest of us are. Our brothers and sisters in Islam who are experiencing these trials in their lives often display levels of patience and strength in the face of hardship than most of us, who enjoy good health throughout our lives, do.

Umm Zafar, better known as 'the Abyssinian woman' who suffered from epilepsy in the time of RasulAllah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) was such a person. Though epilepsy was, at the time (and still is, in many parts of the world), considered to be something severe, strange, and even shameful, she bore her test with a strength, patience and dignity equal to that of any mujaahid on the battlefield.

Ibn `Abbâs once said to `Atâ b. Rabâh: "Shouldn't I point out to you a woman of Paradise?"

He replied: "Indeed. Do so."

Ibn `Abbâs said: "Do you see that black complexioned lady? She approached the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: 'I suffer from epilepsy and during a fit, my body becomes exposed. So please supplicate Allah on my behalf.'

"Then the Prophet said to her: 'If you choose, you might rather bear it patiently and you will attain Paradise on account of it. Or if you like, I will beseech Allah to cure you.'

"She said: 'I will bear it patiently. But my body gets exposed, so please beseech Allah that my body will no longer be exposed.'

"The Prophet (peace be upon him) beseeched Allah for this." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (5652) and Sahîh Muslim (2576)]

As a result of what many of us would consider her "disability," Umm Zafar was blessed with the greatest ability of all: the ability to enter Paradise.

The next time we see a fellow Muslim who is suffering, whether from a physical or mental ailment, don't treat them as inferior or as though you're afraid that they're contagious. Don't talk down to them, don't assume that you are better than them, and don't think that because of their illness, that they are inferior to you.

Yes, they are 'different' - not because they are "sick," but because so many of them have met the challenge that Allah has placed before them with such strong emaan, patience and strength, that they may be amongst those guaranteed Jannah.

Fadhil Abdul Rahman

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