Zakariya is a member of the disabled community who is hoping to make a difference by raising awareness of multiple sclerosis on his blog ; Me, myself and Multiple Sclerosis.
1- Can you briefly tell us about your condition and how it affects your daily life?
The condition I live with primarily affects my brain and spinal cord, subsequently the nerves in the nervous system. This leads to issues affecting physical, cognitive and even psychological abilities, thus, having regular trips to be seen by a range of doctors and special departments – physiotherapy and psychiatry being very ‘normal’ things.
It has had huge impact on my aspirations and my life in general. I was very academic and sporty in my youth, but now everything has been compromised due to the nature of the condition and how it acts out. There is no certain outcome and no definite prognosis or expectation of what the future may hold, the phrase ‘taking each day as it comes’ would quite literally be an understatement.
2- How has your disability empowered you?
My disability has made me understand myself a lot better and has empowered me in the sense that I am able to understand it from a scientific background, something I was and still am very keen and passionate about. Reading and learning about why weird things may occur relating to the damage in the body has only amazed me more about the creation of Allah and grateful for the smallest of things that many seem to be ‘normal’. Small things like being able to reach an area, trying to be able to deal with bouts of fatigue and even being able to get to the bathroom if need be Alhamdulillah a huge concern being if it would compromise my ability to perform salah at the correct times.
3- Has your disability hindered you in achieving your dreams and life goals?
My disabilities have definitely hindered my aspirations, I was expected to go through a a standard study journey, like my peers and this was unfortunately impacted massively. I kept on trying and although others may feel it’s ‘never too late’, I know now that it’s very difficult in the climate we live in, especially being based in London, I prefer a more ‘retired uncle’ lifestyle!
4- How can we change the negative attitudes towards disabled Muslims in our communities?
Unfortunately many Muslims see disabilities and such abnormal mishaps as being due to something that had caused that to be the case. We can change the negative attitudes towards disabled Muslims by accepting the decree of Allah, along with knowing that we are only in this world for a short period of time and we are meant to be tested in whichever way is best for us. This is something Allah states in the Quran and our response is rewarded in the hereafter, in ways that others, ‘’will wish their skins were cut up when they see the rewards for those who were tested”. It is something a lot of Muslims find difficult to accept and realise when they may be struggling through the course of their disability (knowing very well that it is something ‘easier said than done’).
The idea of sabr and patience may be overused by many, but delving into the Quran and hadith about those topics we find that, quite literally, Muslims who may have a disability in this life are given a ‘VIP pass’ – for those who remain patient accepting the plan of Allah ‘shall receive their rewards in full, without Hisaab (without limit, calculation, and estimation).”
5- What advice would you give to your fellow Muslims with disabilities who are struggling with the daily challenges of living with a disability?
Alhamdulillah my greatest appreciation of all is that, maybe I have lost abilities, friends and close ones. Lost even a stable livelihood and comfort in life but alhamdulillah I have not lost Allah, because surely that is the biggest of things and the worst of things that can be lost. I have seen in myself and many other Muslims with disabilities, the worsening of it has only increased their desire to be close with Allah. Some may look at the sky and ask, ‘why me’, but for sure my heart and the hearts of many other Muslims alhamdulillah have become almost addicted to resorting to Allah, asking Him for help, His assistance, knowing full well that He is in charge and as a close friend of mine always said, ‘’Allah only does good’’.
What do you think of the Disabled Muslim Matrimony service?
I think the Disabled Muslim Matrimony service is really good as it gives Muslims with such difficulties the chance to meet and connect with each other, giving them the ability to realise and not feel so isolated in a lifestyle that isn’t exactly ‘normal’.
Sharing experiences and together being able to discuss the ways which have helped them Islamically to accept, persevere and overcome the challenges that we may have in our lives.