Trying to push the inaccessible doors for disabled people like Jahangir Khan
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), disability is any restriction or lack of ability (resulting from an impairment) to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.
Disabled Peoples’ International defines disability as “the loss or limitation of opportunities to take part in the normal life of the community on an equal level with others, due to physical or social barriers.”
Teachings of our Faith
Islam teaches us to treat persons with disabilities with kindness and affection. Islam doesn’t approve misperception that disability is the outcome of evil or some wrong doings committed by their parents.
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) eliminated discrimination based on disability which was widespread during pre-Islamic eras. As stated in history, The Prophet Muhammad (SAW), appointed one of his close blind companions named Abdullah Ibn Umm Maktoom, as a caller for prayer. It is also a known fact that, The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) also made him the leader of Madinah when the Prophet (SAW) had to travel outside the city.
Many people with disabilities are not provided with opportunities which they deserve to excel in life.
But in this world of materialism, Jahangir Khan 28, a simple man with disability. He has no desire for personal material prosperity. His strict adherence to Islamic values keeps him away from the temptations of ordinary life.
“I look around and observe people every day, they have everything but still remain unhappy all the time. I wonder why many people don’t thank Allah. Ma Sha Allah, I am satisfied with my life. Allah has created people different from each other but they are equal as human beings.” reveals Jahangir Khan who suffers from Hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP) (A disease which shows contraction and stiffness in the lower limbs).
Plight of Jahangir
Jahangir khan was born in 1992 to a poor rice-seller Niamat Khan. He hails from the village Azi khel Katlang of district Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Jahangir’s father died 20 years before. He has 4 brothers and 4 sisters.
Accessibility is one of the major issue for people with disabilities face in developing countries like Pakistan. Inaccessible government offices, transport systems, hospitals and schools pose a great challenge of creating barriers to people with disabilities, excluding them from mainstream social life.
Our Islamic history shows that such issues related to persons with disabilities were resolved on the spot. For instance, Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (RA) provided a house to a blind man near the mosque because he used to miss congregational prayers due to his disability.
No one can deny the immense importance of knowledge for a Muslim in Islam but unfortunately, accessibility also affected the education of Jahangir Khan.
Jahangir can neither read nor write as he couldn’t get admission to school because that was inaccessible for him. People of the village appreciate him for his intelligence. They often discuss that Jahangir could have been a good doctor, a teacher and even an engineer if he had been offered an opportunity for learning in a school.
“I had no wheelchair when I was a child. The primary school near my village has stairs in front of classrooms. My family members used to take me in their arms to shift me from one place to another,”. Jahangir regretted. “It was only in 2012 that I received a wheelchair from a non-government organization that changed my life. I realized that I was very helpless without a wheelchair. Now I can move around and meet people, “. Jahangir added with a smile of satisfaction on his face.
One of Jahangir’s sisters Zahida Bibi also suffers from the same type of disability. Zahida likes to stitch clothes at home. She also got a wheelchair which enabled her to go sometimes along with her family to see her relatives.
“I love the time spent in the mosque, learning Quran and receiving knowledge about Islam. The mosque near my home is also not accessible as it has high stairs. Alhamdulillah I have good friends there, who take me to the mosque in their arms,” Jahangir expressed as his eyes sparkled with happiness.
The most impressive thing about the personality of Jahangir khan is his unshakable belief in never-ending life after death.
“Alhamdulillah I am Muslim and I am happy. This life will soon come to an end. I am looking towards an everlasting life after death. I have only one desire in this life and that is to go for Umra or Hajj,” as Jahangir uttered these words, tears erupted from his eyes.
(Written by Ijaz Ali, a development professional from Pakistan. He has a Master Degree in European Studies from Germany and can be reached at [email protected])