How Does Islam Care for People with Special Needs?

Name of Questioner: Mark

Date: 14-3-2016 10:03:55 AM

Consultant: Ask About Islam Editorial Staff


How does Islam care for people with special needs and the disabled ones? Please explain.

Dear questioner,

Thank you very much for your question.

In fact, disability is something involuntary and beyond man’s control. Man can be humiliated only for such things he does out of free will. Disability is a test rather than a punishment or revenge.

People with special needs should not have their disability aggravated by such insults or derogatory remarks by fellow human beings who are healthier and luckier.

Almighty Allah says in the noble Quran:

O you who have believed, 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. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers. (Al-Hujurat 49:11)

Not only does Islam preach justice towards people with special needs as if they were quite healthy people, but it also enjoins special treatment for them given their special needs. Islam is so fair that it warrants equal opportunities for people with special needs. For them to have equal opportunities, their disability should be compensated for. Such compensation assumes various forms as follows:

People with special needs are exempted from the military form of Jihad given their inability to engage in it. However, Islam prescribes an alternative to the military form of jihad which they can handle; it is just the Jihad of advice.

Allah says in the Quran:

There is no blame on those who are weak or ill or who find no resources to spend [in holy fighting (Jihad)], if they are sincere and true (in duty) to God and His Messenger. No ground (of complaint) can there be against the Muhsinun (good-doers). And God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Al-Tawbah 9:90)

Even if the people with special needs cannot offer advice, they are still excused and just commanded to obey God as far as possible. Allah (Glory be to Him)  says:

There is not upon the blind any guilt or upon the lame any guilt or upon the ill any guilt [for remaining behind]. And whoever obeys God and His Messenger –He will admit him to gardens beneath which rivers flow; but whoever turns away– He will punish him with a painful punishment. (Al-Fath 48:17)

Though people with special needs are exempted from the military form of jihad, they are not exempted from its reward if they really have sincere intentions to engage in it. On one conquest, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said to his Companions: “You left behind some people in Medina who did not fail to be with you wherever you went and whatever you spent (of your goods) and whatever valley you crossed.” The Companions wondered: “How can they be with us when they are still in Medina?” He replied: “They were hindered by a valid excuse.” (Muslim)

To conclude, needless to say that the Islamic approach to the treatment of the people with special needs is a very unique and unprecedented one. The pertinent Islamic perspective is remarkable for ultimate justice and absolute fairness. Suffice it to say that this impartial Islamic attitude is 1437 years old, that is to say that it preceded all the affected modern approaches and is still much more equitable than all of them.

Please keep in touch.