New Islamic Directions

By Imam Zaid Shakir

Disabled Society

Posted in articles by Imam Zaid Shakir on 2008-05-14

The following poem is by a friend of mine, Imran Sabir, of Glasgow, Scotland. He shared it with me during my recent visit there. I am sure you will be moved by it as I was. I will let him tell his own story.

Biographical Information

I am 31 years of age.  I have multiple disabilities caused by a rare genetic condition.  To my knowledge there are only five individuals with this condition in the UK. Records show that I am the eldest of these and the most severely affected. The condition is Asian in origin as all affected people all have roots in the Punjab area of the subcontinent.     

The condition affects many essential systems of my body causing blindness, respiratory difficulties and speech problems. I have no useful vision; have a tracheotomy tube inserted into my throat to aid breathing and use a special device to amplify my voice. When I do manage to go out I need to use a wheelchair as I am not able to walk more than a short distance without getting extremely breathless. 

The condition is extremely restrictive causing me to be housebound for most of the time. I require constant care and assistance with many tasks. My family have given me much invaluable support and assistance and I would not be where I am today without their contribution and involvement in my life.

I have not allowed my impairments to restrict me as far as is possible. I am studying psychology with the Open University which allows me to study from home. I live an active family and community life   being involved in a couple of charitable organisations. 

The computer is essentially a part of me and has enabled me to do many tasks that I would not otherwise be able to do.  Email allows me to communicate easily with friends, family and colleagues.  The internet is a source of news and information, which I use to stay in touch with the world and pursue my various interests.  Scanning software allows me to read books and modern advancements are improving things slowly and enhancing accessibility. 

The poem below is not autobiographical but touches on many of my experiences and observations. During my childhood and adult life I have had dealings with many organisations—, public, charitable and community based. Thus I have faced the stigmatisation, negative attitudes and lack of awareness first hand. Many of the issues I have encountered in my life have given me a deep understanding of many underlying issues.  The challenges have made me the person I am today.  Many may call me an activist but I just see my work as benefiting others with my skills and experiences.  My work involves engaging with many of the issues I have written about in my poem and I strive for when there will no longer be such issues and there is true unity and equality in the society. 

Imran Sabir: E-mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

A Disabled Society

Born eighteen years ago
To a Scot and a Pakistani,
First cousins vowing to be true,
Joined in holy matrimony.
His coming having no portent—
All being well in his infancy.
Only a couple of years later
Realising his pathology.

Parents seeking treatment near and far.
Yet finding its incurability.
Only then becoming distraught
At life’s apparent duplicity,
Ending joyous expectations
Seeing his growing dependency.
Hearts shredded   asunder
At his decay and atrophy.

The father withdrawing into work,
Disappointed and angry.
Unable to face the truth.
Hiding away from reality.
Knowing no English or sources of help,
Having no coping or caring strategy,
The mother laboured on,
Through love and maternal duty.

Mother and child unsupported
By friends or family.
Some comment on their special ness
And their chance to gain piety,
Others whispered at a hidden truth
At some long passed infidelity.
The supposed sins of the father
Punished by the mighty deity.

Not accepting a disabled child, 
Or any responsibility.
Leaving love and self-respect
Guided not by rationality
He left wife and son to start afresh
To prove his masculinity.

Mother and child living off the state,
So close to poverty.
Seeking assistance   for her child—
From any statutory body.
Communicating without English
Only leading to ambiguity.
Their impersonal services
Just Promoting conformity—

At school and home
Facing true marginality,
Colour and creed making him distinct
From the white majority.
Situation separating him
From the disabled minority.
Impairments causing rejection
From his own ethnic community.

All attempts at participation—
Manifest futility—
Feared and stigmatised—
Shunned by peers and society.
Thinking his condition contagious
They show only animosity.
His difference too strange—
An unsurpassable   enormity.

Turning to service providers—
Main stream and voluntary—
Experts and places of worship—
Or those working for equality—
Despite the child’s clear-cut needs
Or personal priority
They single out   impairment,
Culture or ethnicity

Now, at the doorway of death,
At the threshold of maturity,
Unable to communicate,
And with breathing difficulty—
Requiring constant ventilation
And remedial therapy.
Confined, restrained, straight-jacketed
By his muscular dystrophy.

Bedridden hours expended
In examining history.
He tries hard to understand
Life’s justice and equity.
Seeking meaningful answers,
Solace and serenity,
Yet ever returning to despair,
Wholesale regret and uncertainty

The barriers posed by impairment
And an indifferent society—
Invisible but hard as concrete
Abounding in their multiplicity,
Nurturing rejection and isolation
And all manners of impropriety.
Conveying the world’s begrudgement
Of deviance   to normality.

Barriers restricting life’s joys—
Life unfulfilled incomplete empty,
Time spent in futile struggles
In seeking meaning and identity.
Not belonging to any world,
Lacking wholeness and integrity,
That is the lot of a south-Asian
Person with a disability. 



By Adnan on May 1, 2008 at 5:23pm

May Allah bless Sidi Imran, increase him and give him all good in this life and the next. Ameen. This poem was simply beautiful... Alhamdulillah, I was fortunate to meet Imran last August. He is an amazing brother. Please keep him in your duas Imam Zaid. Wassallams.

By suhaa on May 2, 2008 at 9:24pm

asalaam alaikum warhmat ALLAH wabarkatu: i was touched by this. as an occupational therapist and having worked with chronically and severely disabled children and adults i have seen an array of behaviors which are not becoming of people. here are some tips that we should all remember next time we see someone who is incapable of something we are capable of doing. 1. say alhamdulilah & mean it 2. make duaa for them-even if they can't see you (theres a reason why Allah placed your eyes upon them) 3. greet them with a smile-even if they do not speak 4. never show them you are sympathetic-be empathetic instead 5. realize that just as you might be able to offer your help, that they might be able to offer something lacking in yourself. inshaAllah i am about to begin a research paper of how computer technology can aid in the reading and study of al-Quran for the King Fahd Quran Printing Complex in Madinah, KSA and am asking if you would ask this brother's permission for contact information so I can ask him how technology has helped him and use his wisdom and experience as a reference. or if it better for you to ask him on my behalf i would appreciate it. may Allah reward him and reward you for posting an important issue that the Ummah needs to pay closer attention to, because on the Day where there is no shade except by Allah's Will-we will all be asked what did we do to assist, udnerstand and support our brothers and sisters? jazakAllah kheir

By anonymous on May 3, 2008 at 11:00am

I cannot gather words to describe my emotions. After reading this poem, I have learnt that what I thought where difficulties that I face are nothing. Being hearing impaired, I am able to speak, able to see, able to walk, able to have independence that I, admittedly, take for granted. I often forget to thank Allah for my capabilities, be it in words or action. Oh Allah, help us to remember you, thank you, and worship you in good worship. The things that I struck me were the fact that Imran doesn�t let anything stop him from seeking education. In college we forget how lucky we are to be in that very place, sometimes even complain. Another thing is how it is always our families and our true friends that stay by our side in times of difficulty. i'd like to thank Imran for writing this poem and Imam Zaid for posting it.

By suhaa on May 4, 2008 at 1:44pm

asalaam alaikum warahmat Allah wabarakatu; my daughter is also deaf..but can hear, and alhamdulilah with Allahs grace can speak 2 languages by His miracles because He has given her a cochlear implan and many opportunities that go denied by many others wa'alahmdulilah..thes challenges she faces are minimal to none, but assuring there are batteries there, that she got all that was said, that she isnt discrimnated against and being her advocate are ongoing tiny obstacles that Allah places upon our family to humble ourselves before Him in gratitude for His Blessings. its all about perspective and the one we take upon our challenges is how Allah judges on..He gives us challenges He knows we are capable of handling because He is the Most Fair..whether we handle them appropriately by putting our trust in Allah or not is a choice He gives us.. may Allah reward you all..

By Ayanleh on May 4, 2008 at 11:47pm

Reading this poem, I realized that many of us who strut across this planet are truly disabled for we lack the depth and insight that his brother has gained through faith and patience.

By UmmSahil on May 7, 2008 at 9:08pm

May Allah SWT reward you and multiply your rewards in many folds.

By Gadija Esau-Ahmed on May 9, 2008 at 10:51am

As they would say in Glasgow 'pure dead brilliant' A'brave heart' Scotland can brag about you and your invaluable contributions to society and above all sharing your feelings. MashaAllah to you and your beloved Mother and family. Remember us in your duahs

By UmmHasan on May 9, 2008 at 12:33pm

I was directed to this blog entry via deenport. Words do not express how touched I was by reading this. Brother Imran has given me a much needed reality check as well as a clearer perspective. jazakAllah khayr, may Allah ease your pain and elevate your status - aameen.

By Ummu Alwi on May 11, 2008 at 5:01am

BismilLah. My heart goes to Sidi Imran. May Allah bless him and make everything easy for him in this world and the next. He taught us so many lessons.. JazakumuLlahu khairan

By Ginny on July 17, 2008 at 6:06pm

Assalamu alaikum, I am totally blind, and I could identify with many of the thoughts/feelings/emotions expressed in this poem, however, My "disability" is nothing, compared to many who have worse to deal with than me. Blindness is my only "disability", though it doesn't really feel like a disability much of the time, just a minor inconvenience. I think that most of the problems I face are not from my own limitations but from others' attitudes toward me, that I encounter almost on a daily basis. May Allah reward Imran for his struggles and for his outreach in educating others. The poem touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes.

By Zarlasht on September 21, 2008 at 2:25am

May Allah bless you and your family Imam Zaid for introducing brother Imran Sabir's story and his poetry to us. Brother Imran may be immobile physically but his talent is clear- his words have wings because each one took me on a flight of dhikr to the Creator! Subhan'Allah! Alhamdullilah! La illa ha illa la! Allahu Akbar!

By Farah Gowani on October 27, 2008 at 7:13am

Hi, I read this poem, and felt much concern for Imran. I too suffer from a kind of disablity, a mental illness. its extremely hard to talk about it, as there is much stigma associated with this subject. It is great to see the courage Imran has for sharing his poem. I would like to share one of my poems with Imran. Many of my friends like it, and I find that it gives me much hope in times of sadness, and hopelessness. I hope it can do the same for Imran. Thanks. Farah You are dream You are hope You are dream You are purity bathed in sweet buttermilk You are colored by turmeric and the reds of henna You are the rose on a pillow His aspirations for a home full of laughter and joy You are your parents

By assad on March 3, 2009 at 7:05pm

May God bless the soul of the deceased brother Imran, may we all be blessed with Gods mercy at our great time of departure. I pray his family and friends have a soothed heart. Indeed the passing away of a friend is difficult,

By Mohsin baig on March 4, 2009 at 12:35pm

Aslaam Alkium Hardship is test from Allah (swt), it is important in tough circumstances that people with disability remain resilent and show agressive determination to utilise the time and energy in order to engage their life towards religion and contributing into society in many ways. Imran, undoubtedly, act's as a positive role model to those who suffer similiar disabilities. Equally it also goes to show to those who dont suffer any disability what people can potentially achieve. If indivduals like imran can push the extra mile in disability, then those without disability can push even extra harder. One should live and act positively as much as possible. Continous reading of positive literature, and reading about those who have achieved the impossible in life will undoubtedly act as a good source of motivation and fuel for the mind. The poem is very intriguing indeed and shows alot of depth and insight about his life experiences and emotions. May Allah (swt) accept all the duas of the all the muslims in the world, and also that of imran. Ameen.

By Amatullah on March 4, 2009 at 2:45pm

Inna lillahi Wa inna ilayehi rajioun, this beautiful brother passed away. May ALLAH Grant him Al firdaus Ameen.

By Babar Saleem on March 7, 2009 at 10:08am

Salaam to everybody. He was my wife's nephew.The previous comment says everything. What a legacy he has left behind despite all his apparent handicaps and disabilities.This blessed individual passed away on 04/02/09. The world is a darker place without him, but because of him, Allah has projected rays of light for many others without sight and with disabilities. We normal human beings could never hope to achieve such levels. What we leave behind can never match the now invisible but indelible footpath of this human being that was truly blessed by Allah s.w.t. Is not Allah, truly The Greatest? Please make du'a for his mum and family. Wa Salaam

By Ummu Alwi on March 15, 2009 at 5:38am

Bismillah. Inna lilLahi wa inna ilayhi rajioun. May Allah bless Sidi Imran, shower him with His mercy, forgive his sins and increase his rank. May Allah give him better place and better company now... He is indeed one in a million..

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