Join the #DisabilityKhutba Campaign in Our Push for Inclusion, Recognition and Acceptance

By: Dilshad Ali

Originally published on the Muslim Channel, Muslimah Next Door, in Patheos

“He (Musa) said: ‘Oh my Lord! Expand my breast for me and make my affair easy to me, and loose the knot from my tongue (that) they may understand my word … (Quran 20:25:28)”

We are committed to owning our own narratives and taking action in many worthy arenas. But what about the most vulnerable in our communities? What of their families? What about the spiritual struggles of families with special needs — embracing them, including them, connecting them to resources, helping them in the myriad of ways that they need help? What are we doing for Muslims dealing with special needs?

 Not much. And that’s unacceptable for our Ummah.

 I wrote those words more than three years ago during a time when I was a year and a half into chronicling my son’s and our family’s autism journey and harboring more than a decade’s worth of frustration at the lack of our Muslim communities’ inclusion and support of Muslims with intellectual and physical disabilities.

Frustration at my son being left out. Our family being left out. Our needs not being recognized and more so, when we made attempts to join various masjids for Jummah prayers or various halaqas/events, unknowing members of the congregation made us feel less than welcome.

But the landscape is different now. Not vastly so, but the proverbial tides are definitely changing. Awareness is growing and various organizations have made significant headway in helping masjids create a more inclusive environment for people with disabilities, in informing general Muslim communities on the various struggles their disabled brothers and sisters are living with and helping disabled Muslims and their families get connected to more support services.

But there is so much more to be done, so much more growth and change needed. Sometimes we get down about awareness, thinking that our focus must be on action. But the reality in our Muslim communities is that both are needed.

Now, the #DisabilityKhutba campaign is giving us all the chance to participate in disability awareness and action. Join us in urging your masjid to give a #DisabilityKhutba this Friday, October 28th. Check out the EquallyAble website :

EquallyAble, along with a number of other national organizations is calling for observing Friday, October 28, 2016 as the  #DisabilityKhutba Observance Day. #DisabilityKhutba is a national khutba awareness campaign hosted by a coalition of like-minded organizations that are working towards the empowerment of people with disabilities and their families in the U.S. and around the world. The campaign will begin in October, which is Disability Awareness Month in the U.S., and run through December to mark International Disability Day. Towards this end, Friday, October 28th is designated as #DisabilityKhutba Observance Day, a day where people will come together to honor those with disabilities and to promote their inclusion in society.

We are thankful to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), the Muslim American Society DC, ProjectSakina, the Texas Muslim Women Foundation (TMWF), American Muslim Health Professionals (AMHP) EnabledMuslim, MUHSEN, SMILE, and Global Deaf Muslim for their feedback, support, encouragement, and for endorsing the Understanding Disability in Islam guide and this campaign. EquallyAble is also thankful to the many speakers, presenters, and scholars that took inspiration from the Understanding Disability in Islam guide to conduct khutbas, seminars, and presentations.

We need your help to make this a success. We need your help to turn the dial further to help make our Muslim communities more aware, more inclusive and more embracing of those with disabilities and special needs and their families.

Click here to learn more about the campaign.

Click here to join the Facebook event.

Use the #DisabilityKhutba hashtag this week to tweet on this topic – about what you want to know, what you’d like to hear, if your masjid gave a disability khutba and so on.

Help us in our struggle for real, meaningful – not token – inclusion.


“I’m having a hard time with my disability. What can I do?

You are not alone. Living with a disability can be more than just an important dimension of your identity—it can be empowering. However, sometimes it can also feel alienating or isolating. Having a disability is considered a minority status in the U.S., specifically because so many people’s needs and accommodations remain overlooked or ignored. As a result, it is completely normal to struggle when things are not easy, and there are resources to help you cope.

EnabledMuslim hopes to launch its online support network soon, though you can join our temporary support network here.  In addition, there are numerous mental health resources provided by and for Muslims. Mental health care is a crucial component of providing for our well-being, and if you are having a hard time, do not hesitate to seek help from a mental health care provider.

You can find help immediately by contacting these hotlines:

We also recommend finding a mental health provider near you. Many insurance plans include mental health care coverage, and can suggest local providers. Project Sakinah also offer a robust directory of local Muslim counseling services and other social services at projectsakinah.org.

In addition, other educational resources about Muslim mental health and maintaining healthy relationships include the following:

  • The Family & Youth Institute
  • The Journal of Muslim Mental Health 
    • From an American Muslim perspective, the Journal of Muslim Mental Health can provide more information about recent studies specifically related to mental health, stigma, and risk factors in the American Muslim community. (Note: many of these studies are concentrated on American Muslims of Arab and South Asian descent.)

Another way to combat the stigma your diagnosis/es is by checking out the resources from the Invisible Disabilities Association, an important reminder that not all disabilities can be seen or easily understood.

We are continuing to expand our resources for those who are having physical, social, or other difficulties with their disabilities, unrelated to mental health. If there is a specific resource you need or that you would like to recommend, please contact us here!


“I recently developed or was diagnosed with a disability. What resources are available for me?”

In the United States alone, over 1 in 5 people have a disability diagnosis. That’s over 50 million individuals. Many of these individuals are a part of our communities and an estimated minimum of 600,000 of them are American Muslims.

If you’ve just been diagnosed with or recently developed a disability, know that first of all, you are not alone. Local and national organizations and networks are here to help, and EnabledMuslim is the right place to get started.

First, remember that having a disability may have an impact on how you experience life, but it does not have an inherent impact on your value as a person. Numerous companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) lived with disabilities, whether they were born with them or developed them later in life. The Prophet praised many of them, as he did many of his companions who did not appear to have disabilities, and entrusted some with great responsibility. The value of each individual was not related to his/her disability, and we should not make the mistake of seeing ourselves in this way.

Remember that it is not your responsibility to educate others about how to treat you with dignity and meet your needs with your disability. But it is your right to be able to understand the specifics of your disability and feel comfortable sharing that knowledge with others as you choose. EnabledMuslim is here to help you get started on that path of self-education by providing you with guidance and resources. If you are looking for a resource, and it is not on the list below, let us know!

According to the American Association of People with Disabilities, a disability is a permanent physical, sensory or intellectual impairment that substantially affects one or more of a person’s major life activities. (Adapted from AAPD.com, 7/2/14.) There are many different types of disability. Here are some resources about what the term “disability” means and how different disabilities are classified:

Information about Disabilities

Government Entitlements and Benefits

Know your rights:

  • What is the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE)?
    • Passed in 2014, this Act will allow people with disabilities (with an age of onset up to 26 years old) and their families the opportunity to create a tax-exempt savings account that can be used for maintaining health, independence and quality of life. Read more and find the answers to Frequently Asked Questions here.
  • What is the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?
    • According to the Department of Health and Human Services, “The Affordable Care Act puts consumers back in charge of their health care. Under the law, a new “Patient’s Bill of Rights” gives the American people the stability and flexibility they need to make informed choices about their health.” Read about its key features here.
    • Check out American Muslim Health Professionals’ extensive list of links and information about the Act and how to get covered.
  • What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
    • Passed in 1990, the ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities. The ADA also establishes requirements for telecommunications relay services.
  • What is the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)?
    • COBRA requires group health plans to provide a temporary continuation of group health coverage that otherwise might be terminated.
  • What is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?
    • Passed in 1986, the primary goal of this law is to make it easier for people to keep health insurance, protect the confidentiality and security of healthcare information and help the healthcare industry control administrative costs.
    • The Office for Civil Rights enforces the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which protects the privacy of individually identifiable health information; the HIPAA Security Rule, which sets national standards for the security of electronic protected health information; the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule, which requires covered entities and business associates to provide notification following a breach of unsecured protected health information; and the confidentiality provisions of the Patient Safety Rule, which protect identifiable information being used to analyze patient safety events and improve patient safety.

“We Will Not Be Hidden” Video Documentary

Screenshot of "We Will Not Be Hidden" videoThis 2009 video documentary features the lives and realities of Muslims with disabilities and their families living in North America. It includes notable Muslims like tennis athlete Atif Moon and U.S. government attorney Mazen Basrawi, among many others. The video consists of three parts and includes captions.


Some Steps to Help Make Your Masjid and Community Center More Inclusive

Muslim woman reading braille; title is ISNA ConventionAt the 2012 Convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), speakers on a panel entitled, “Improving Inclusion and Accessibility for Muslims with Disabilities,” created and shared a guide entitled, “Where Do We Go From Here?” The guide provides some helpful tips about how to make your mosque or Islamic community center more inclusive of people with disabilities.