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Reema is a Psychology graduate who enjoys learning about Islam and History. Reema loves eating out, traveling, visiting new places and experiencing new things.

Here is her story.

Can you briefly tell us about your condition and how it affects your daily life? 

I was born with a condition called 3M syndrome. Not many people have heard of it. It affects my height and my joints/bones – for which I have had surgery for. I am still able to walk normally, work full time and function perfectly normally.

How has your disability empowered you?

Growing up, being a women, Muslim and having a disability, the community labelled me and treated me differently. To this day, still does. Exceptional to my parents and my family who would always encourage me and push me to follow my dreams. Once I got to university, I was out of this bubble. I saw the world differently and started to like it. And I learned to love myself. In the world we live in, that can be hard sometimes, with people telling you what the norm is and what a ‘normal’ person should look like.

Has your disability hindered you in achieving your dreams and life goals?

People usually stigmatise people with disability. In certain cultures it is associated with ‘disease’ or ‘curse’. As time goes by, people are being educated and I know we still have so much to do.

When I was younger I wanted to study in a secondary Islamic school but I was turned away due to them not having the facilities for a special needs child. I was a child and still couldn’t understand why the Muslim community lacked awareness of special needs.

What type of stigmas and barriers do individuals with disabilities face in society?

Things have improved and the community has become more accommodating and accepting. We are able to go to conferences where they have accessibility for individuals in wheelchairs, sign language for deaf, etc.

Being disabled does not mean you can’t achieve your dreams and goals. You may have to overcome many obstacles, but once you have achieved your goal it will make you stronger and confident.

How can we change the negative attitudes towards disabled Muslims in our society?

I think its so important to educate the younger generation about disability, as raising awareness to children will help to break social barriers and to allow a better approach to inclusion of people with disability.

There is a saying ‘Allah loves those He tests’ and I really do believe this. Growing up I have always heard this and as my faith became stronger I reflected this on my life.

Self love is important and we all need this, as a child,and as an adult. It should never end.

When I first got asked to do this, I had all these thoughts in my head, what would people think, would I be treated any different. Then I thought,I have come a long way, my journey was important to me and I wanted to share this.

I would advise my fellow Muslims who are struggling is that no matter what your disability is, it’s entirely possible to overcome challenges you face, take advantage of things you can do and trust Allah.

What is your greatest achievement thus far?

I have always been interested in human behaviour so one of my greatest achievements is being able to use my passion to help others. I am grateful I am able to do this in my job now Alhamdulilah. I will be looking into doing further study InshaAllah.

I like to be open in the beginning with the way I am in regards to my disability as I know not everyone is accepting, that is why when I heard about Disabled Muslim Matrimony, I was glad there is a platform where people with disabilities can join.

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Inspirational Stories – Reema Akhtar

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