Finding Our Voice: Sharing our Disability Experiences to Seek Empowerment and Affect Change

Understanding disability is a rising issue among the Muslim community. It is a topic that is not frequently discussed and often ignored. As a result, Muslim individuals with a disability feel left out affecting their self-esteem and thus their mental health. To combat this issue, simple steps are being taken within the local community to bring change. The first step is engaging in active dialogue with the community itself.

Each year, the ISNA convention showcases presentations on numerous diverse topics that are relevant among the Muslim population. There is a lot of great work that is being done in improving the wellbeing of the Muslim community and ISNA provides a great platform to showcase these efforts.

I feel that sharing more stories creates an engaging dialogue that would, in the future, lead to change – the change of including and interacting with disabled individuals within our community.

One of the sessions that I attended was titled “Finding Our Voice: Sharing our Disability Experiences to Seek Empowerment and Affect Change.” This was a panel session hosted by Inshirah Aleem, Safiyyah Amina Muhammad, Sara Minkara, and Omar Suleiman. The topic discussed was disability awareness among the Muslim community.  According to the moderator, Dilshad Ali, disability awareness has raised in the past five years. Although this is a great achievement, there are still individuals with special needs that feel shamed or “not included” within the community.  Omar Suleiman commented on how we as a community should create an inclusive environment, where we include individuals with special needs rather than overlooking or ignoring them.  He further elaborated that this can be done by starting locally in our mosque, such as improving handicap access on the premises. A small change like this would yield larger results.

Panel members shared their unique experience dealing with a disability. Hearing each story was not only eye opening but thought provoking as well. It reminded me of a Healthy People 2020’s objective that hopes to increase the proportion of people with disabilities who participate in social, spiritual, recreational, community and civic activities to the degree that they wish (healthypeople.gov).  I feel that sharing more stories creates an engaging dialogue that would, in the future, lead to change – the change of including and interacting with disabled individuals within our community. The panel members have overcome many hardships that today have created a positive change, a success story, and have become an inspiration for us all.

References:

Disability and Health (2015). Objectives. Retrieved from http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/disability-and-health/objectives

 

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