Spiritually Vs. One Mans Reality


root - Posted on 01 January 2000

Illin n Chillin looks at The Muslim Faiths' treatment of disability and reflects on the lives of disabled Muslim leaders throughout history

by Leroy Moore/Illin n Chillin

A leading Muslim jurist of Spain in the twelfth
century, Ibn Hazam, advocated that disability should
not be an impediment to becoming a leader. And indeed
the history of Islam is full of people living with
their disabilities who have served their communities.
For example:

Akbar The Great was a king of but he
had dyslexia and could not read or write.

Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum, a blind man was put in
charge of the city of Madinah by Prophet Muhammad more then ten times. Every time the Muhammad left town he relied on Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum to run the city.

In the last ten years, Sheikh Ahmad Yasin, was a
spiritual leader, teacher and founder of Hamas. His
ideas and leadership sprung from his involvement with
the Muslim Brotherhood religious organization.
He was the second most important Palestinian leader after PalestinianAuthority (PA) President Yasser Arafat. Sheikh Ahmed Yasin was killed on March 20th 2004 by The Israelis Airforce.

Although many Muslim scholars have written that the
Quran offers very little on disabilities, the Quran
outlines example of inclusion, and because of that
Islam is welcoming, opening and accessible to people
with disabilities. The insight on the role of people
with disabilities within the Muslim faith, the Quran
and Hdith Prophet Muhammads Tradition, recorded
statements, includes at least one example of the
practice of inclusion of an individual with a
disability in Muslim daily duties. The story of
Julabib tells how a physically disabled man who was
one of the Prophets companions fought in battle. The
Prophet saw Julabib as his equal. The Prophet granted
Julabib the right to marry.

In addition to the teachings of Quran, some
contemporary Muslim scholars have given their
interpurtation that the Muslim faith is inclusionive
of people with disabilities. . Sheikh Isse Mosse
wrote in his article, Disability: An Islamic
Insight, (Islamic Council of Victoria website, 2002)
that Islam sees disability as morally neutral. It
is seen neither as a blessing nor a curse. Clearly
disability is therefore accepted as being an
inevitable part the human condition. It, disability,
is simply a fact of life which has to be addressed
appropriately by the society of the day.

The above examples of how disability is viewed in the
Muslim faith and history can bring together the life,
struggles and activism of Sheikh Ahmed Yasin in an
Islamic disability paradigm if the above practice,
theories and faith are really carried out in today's
society. Many disabled Muslims today would argue that
the day to day reality doesn't match their teachings
of inclusion.

However if we only follow the practice and teaching of
inclusion in the Muslim faith and way of living, it
gives a disability platform for the reader to look and
study the life and work of Sheikh Ahmad Yasin of
Palestine in a disability scholarly view. The hows
and whys of the growing power and leadership of Yasin
have been tossed around in the media since his
assassination on March 20th 2004. On many written
accounts by reporters about Yasins evolution of his
revolutionary activism and his thinking of the
Palestine people have linked his rise in status to his
personal experiences of his youth. For example, the
stripping of the land in the Israeli war of
independence of 1948 thus living in a refugee camp,
his football injury that left him a quadriplegic at
age 12 and the injustice of the justice system that
imprisoned him twice in his early fifties. All of
these experiences have formed what Yasin was.

In 1984 and 85 Gill Sedan, a journalist, also talked
about Yasins disability as one of his key components
that placed him as one of the most powerful figures in
Palestine in her March 22nd, 2004, article on
Cleveland Jewish News.com detailing her interview with
Yasin. She wrote, Yasin was a classic example of an
Islamic leader who derives his political power due to
his disability- like the Sheik Omar Abdul Radman, the
blind Sheik from Egypt now in prison in the US.
Although Sedan didnt go on to explain how Yasin used
his disability as a tool to power, we can come to the
conclusion that his disability like his poverty drew
him closer to his people and gained their trust.

Many reports concluded that the 2000 break down of the
peace talks and outbreak of new Israeli-Palestinian
fighting, Hamas and other groups were linked to an
upsurge of suicide bombings. These reports go on to
say in 2003 in response to suicide bombing, Israel
intensified targeted killings of militants and
declared top Hamas leaders marked for death. In
one recent article from www.Reuters.com wrote that the
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie accused the
United States of giving Israel the green light to
assassinate Hamas leaders. The focus solely on suicide
bombings and violence of Hamas from the Israeli
government and armed forces has put a target on all
Muslims from ordinary civilians like the killing of a
deaf, mentally disabled man, Sameer Sady Sababn, in
GAZA to the assassination of Sheikh Ahmad Yasin.
Their disability didnt play a role in their killings
just the fear of Muslims and Hamas has triggered
Israelis military, to shoot without questioning
leaving even the disabled in the crossfire.

Also we, as advocates, scholars of revolutionary
movements and disabled activists have to remember that
Yasin was a true advocate that didnt filch on his
stands of a free Palestine, and independence from
foreign influence through economics. As a true
revolutionary he knew his days were numbered so he
worked to put his plan in place on what to do after
his assassination. This reminds me of the late
hip-hop artist & poet, Tupac Shakur, because he also
knew his days were numbered and he was up front about
it in his messages in his music. Yasin also worked
tirelessly on the poverty that has stricken his land
and also gravely increased his poor health. Yasin was
quoted many times in saying that freedom is earned,
not granted on a silver platter and that which is
taken by force can be only recovered by force!

Whatever the controversy that hangs over Sheikh Ahmed
Yasin of being involved with the execution of suicide
bombings, his work and how he did it as a disabled
Muslim at that time must be studied by disability
scholars, revolutionaries and activists all around the
world. How did he, as a disabled young man in the
early fifties, get into college, became a well know
and highly respected preacher and then formed a
militant group, Hamas? It also tells us a lot about
Muslims Brotherhood and their acceptance to have a
disabled participate who is in a leadership role.
Hamas at the time of its creation was the strongest
political rival to mainstream Fatah movement of
Palestinian leader Yesser Arafat. Many only know the
arm struggle and suicide bombings that has been linked
to the Hamas by the US and Israeli government. Very
few have given recognition to how the Hamas provided
an effective social welfare system of schools, clinics
and hospitals that provided free services to
Palestinian families that Shaul Mishal and Avraham
Sela points out in their book, The Palestinian Hamas,
Vision, Violence, and Coexistence.

The fear of suicide bombings has lumped almost all
Muslims in one category for Israeli army and law
enforcement even disabled ordinary Muslim civilians.
The case of Sameer Sady is a good example of the fear
of Israeli army on Muslims and the assumption of being
a suicide bomber. On March 17th, 2004, three days
before Yasins assassination, Israeli army shot Sameer
Sady Sababh in GAZA City. According to Islam Online
News Service, Sameer, a deaf and mentally disabled
man, was walking home from work on March 17th when
Israeli troops ordered Sameer to raise his hands. He
just stood there stunned, silent and scared but it
didnt keep the soldiers from shooting him and then
caring his body into a Palestinians house where they
proceeded to set the house on fire. An eyewitness
told IslamOnline, I told one of the soldiers who
speaks Arabic, Sameer was Deaf. They ordered me to
shut up, then shot him in the legs, belly, chest and
head. Then the soldiers dragged Sameers body into a
Palestinians house and set the house on fire.

In both cases Sheikh Ahmed Yasin and Sameer Sady
Sababah were Muslims accepted in the Muslim faith and
the Hamas movement but were only seen as dangerous and
connected to the violence in Palestine. Although at
the time of their death both were walking home unarmed
according to witnesses, Israeli military say both were
involved or planning to execute suicide bombings. I
wonder what would the Shariah (Islamic Law) say about
the killing of Sameer and the assassination of Yasin
and other disabled Muslims? As I read the Quran, I
look outside and Im scared of this world!

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