Across the globe, stigma, prejudice and stereotypes contribute to the exclusion and discrimination which many disabled Muslims face in their everyday lives.
There are various contributing factors of disability stigma. Firstly, the lack of awareness and understanding in regards to the cause of disability is a key contributor in the stigma which many disabled Muslims experience. These misconceptions often result from certain cultural beliefs.
There are multiple misconceptions regarding the abilities and nature of those with disabilities. This includes the assumption that they are unable to have a normal relationship, that they are contagious, or unable to contribute to society which all leads to the discrimination, stigma and abuse.
The different types of impairments along with the severity of the impairment may bring different levels of stigma. For example, those individuals with intellectual disabilities or mental health conditions can face greater stigmatisation in comparison to those with physical disabilities. While those who are able to participate in community activities may experience a reduced level of stigmatisation.
Our fellow disabled Muslim sisters are disadvantaged greater than disabled brothers, due to the stigmas in relation with gender and disability, as many may see disabled women as unworthy, undesirable or incapable of being a home maker.
These misconceptions have a huge knock on effect, as it has an impact on how disabled Muslims are treated by others. This can often make those suffering with disabilities feel a source of shame.
How can we overcome these stigmas?
The answer is self-help, support groups and empowerment. All these interventions have proven to be effective to some extent.
The importance of empowerment of those with disabilities cannot be emphasised enough. This will not only help disabled Muslims overcome the internalised stigmas and ableism, it will rid the internalised feeling of shame.
Furthermore, self- advocates with disabilities can also make a huge contribution in empowering disabled Muslims, as they can serve as role models of inclusion. This in essence, can help other disabled Muslims overcome the internalised ableism and stigma and can change the negative perceptions and mindset that exists in our Muslim communities.
Families of disabled children must proactively involve them in social and community activities, which will also nurture their child’s development and become advocates for those with disabilities.
By building resilience in children with disabilities from a young age, it can have a huge impact on how they perceive themselves in their adult years. This will ultimately bolster their identity in the face of stigma.
By overcoming the negative views and mindsets, disabled Muslims can achieve self-acceptance and a sense of pride in their lives. This may in turn change the mindset of our communities and encourage society to be more accepting of the disabled Muslims.
We at Disabled Muslim Matrimony want to change the narrative and educate Muslims regarding these issues. There is no place for this demoralisation in our beautiful religion.
These negatives attitudes do nothing but isolate disabled Muslims further. Disabled Muslims are not undesirable, they are not inferior to anyone and most certainly not a burden.
By addressing these matters and raising awareness, together we can find ways to move forward and rectify these issues.
We as Muslims have to take accountability and responsibility for this attitude. We all have a duty to contribute to this change. We must respect our fellow disabled Muslims and encourage others to do the same. As we all will be questioned by Allah regarding this and what we did to put an end to this discrimination.