Is My Disability My Fault?

03 December, 2019
Q The consequence of me being born a premature baby was getting cerebral palsy as a disability. This means mainly that I am unable to walk. When I was a kid, I was learning how to walk, but then I gave up because within the family and their friends they all said I was lazy. One person even said I was pretty, but I would be prettier if I could walk! This is why I gave up. Now that I am older, I regret giving up because it is a bit harder now. Is this all my fault or did Allah will this? I know having a disability is a test, but there are just some days when I find it hard to deal with my entire life. Sometimes I think Allah has given this test to the wrong person and I am not strong even. Though, I realize that Allah does not give more than I can handle. Please help. Wassalam.

Answer

Short Answer: Allah Most High willed at the time your soul was placed into the fetus while you were still in your mother’s womb, that you would be born prematurely and that you would be tested with the disability of cerebral palsy. If this condition has been willed by Allah, the natural question one would be inclined to ask is- why me? However, one of the signs of deep and unshakable faith is that Muslims do not question the will of Allah, rather we appeal to Allah to help us have the will power and the forbearance to withstand the test without losing hope and trust in Allah. Instead of feeling self-pity, we are driven by our conviction to make the most of life turning all the while to Allah, seeking His assistance and His mercy in helping us get through those days especially when it seems almost impossible to live with a particular hardship or condition. To call you lazy was not from the etiquette of good speech. To say that you would be prettier if only you could walk was to question the will of Allah Himself. Your parents and their friends will be held accountable for their words and actions because they hurt you and snatched from you at such a young age, the resolve to try and walk.

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Asalamu Alaikum Melinda,

Thank you for writing to Ask About Islam. Here are some thoughts for your consideration.

First, we understand how difficult your life has been and continues to be due to your disability and physical condition.

We are reassured that you have an understanding of the Islamic teachings regarding the challenges you are facing in your personal life.

Allah is merciful, loving, and just

As you noted correctly, Allah the Almighty is in charge, as He is the Creator of all of us. He tests us all with various challenges so that our faith in Him may be strengthened if we choose.

However, he also does not burden a soul more than it can bear.

We want to reassure you that Allah is merciful, loving, and just; and therefore, you need not ever worry that He has neglected you or chosen to test the wrong person with this disability.

Second, it is worthwhile to review one of the articles of faith, namely qadr or God’s foreknowledge and will. A sound understanding of the articles of faith is necessary in order for you to be able to regain full faith and to contextualize the challenge of your physical condition.

In order to understand qadr, one must appreciate Allah’s omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent nature.

In the human sense of time, for Allah, there is no beginning and no end, He is just always there. The Quran reminds us:

{He [Allah] is the First and the Last, the Evident and the Immanent […]} (Al-Hadid 57:3)

Appreciating His Omnipresence helps us to comprehend His Omniscience

Appreciating and understanding His Omnipresence helps us to comprehend His Omniscience or full, complete, and perfect knowledge of all that is, has been, and will be. The same verse continues to say:

{[…] and He has full knowledge of all things.} (Al-Hadid 57:3)

All of creation exists with the knowledge of Allah, since He attributes to Himself among other powers, the power to create and design. We read in the Quran:

{He it is Who created for you all that is in the earth. Then turned He to the heaven, and fashioned it as seven heavens. And He is knower of all things.} (Al-Baqarah 2:29)

His omnipresent and omniscient attributes complement His omnipotent or All-powerful nature. Again, the Quran reminds us through the use of a rhetorical question:

{Do you not know that to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth? And besides Him you have neither patron nor helper.} (Al-Baqarah 2:107)

Understanding these three distinct attributes helps us to grasp more completely what is meant by qadr.

Why was I afflicted with this physical condition?

There should be no doubt whatsoever that who you are and how you have come to be who you are have all been and will continue to be determined by Allah Most High.

In your case specifically, it is clear that Allah Most High willed at the time your soul was placed into the fetus while you were still in your mother’s womb, that you would be born prematurely and that you would be tested with the disability of cerebral palsy.

If this physical condition has been willed by Allah, the natural question one would be inclined to ask is- why me?

However, one of the signs of deep and unshakable faith is that Muslims do not question the will of Allah, rather we appeal to Allah to help us have the will power and the forbearance to withstand the test without losing hope and trust in Allah.

Say no to self-pity

Instead of feeling self-pity, we are driven by our conviction to make the most of life turning all the while to Allah, seeking His assistance and His mercy in helping us get through those days especially when it seems almost impossible to live with a particular hardship or condition.

You have come this far, you cannot now turn back or give up. You should reflect on how much of your feelings of regret at having not attempted to walk at a younger age are a result of how you were socialized.

Third, there is much that leaves to be desired with regards to how your parents and family friends have treated you, and therefore, socialized you to deal with your physical condition and disability.

In fact, the height of appreciating qadr is coming to terms with the understanding that even the disparaging treatment by your parents and family friends occurs by the will of Allah.

Within the framework of the freedom to choose a particular course of action, the disparaging treatment is clearly a reflection of the choices those people made in how they would deal with you.

Is my disability my fault?

To call you lazy was not from the etiquette of good speech. To say that you would be prettier if only you could walk was to question the will of Allah Himself.

Your parents and their friends will be held accountable for their words and actions because they hurt you and snatched from you at such a young age, the resolve to try and walk to overcome your disability.

They chose to belittle you despite clear teachings in the Quran to the contrary. Allah Most High reminds us in the Quran:

{O ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor let some women laugh at others: It may be that the (latter are better than the (former): Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong.} (Al-Hujurat 49:11)

Finally, we urge you to strengthen your relationship with Allah and to seek His assistance to overcome the challenges you face daily because of your disability, as you attempt to walk and to go about performing activities of daily life.

I hope this answer helps you. If you require professional counseling please contact our Counseling Section. Please keep in touch.

Salam.

(From Ask About Islam archives)

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Making Hajj in a Wheelchair

Reflect on the Mercy of the Most Merciful

How Does Islam Solve Free Will vs. Predestination?