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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Protection and Empowerment of People With Disabilities in Islamic Law


Around the world, the experience of people with disabilities, like many marginalized classes, does not always align with the promises codified in statues and case law. However, inclusive ideals are found in even the earliest of Islamic legal texts, where people with disabilities are included within etymology, storytelling, the duty of almsgiving, and the influence of physiognomy on Islamic Law. People with disabilities are also integrated in contemporary Islamic legal principles, including penal, family, and municipal Islamic law. While it is tempting to contrast the everyday experiences of people with disabilities against the principles declared in laws or religious creeds, this type of analysis requires a sophisticated blend of sociology, theology, psychology, and even anthropology. This Comment seeks instead to survey the protections and power granted to people with disabilities within Islamic law. While this is a primarily legal analysis, the overlap of theology, morality, and scholarship inherent in Islamic law renders sifting out the solely legal principles affecting people with disabilities nearly impossible. In addition to highlighting the work of contemporary scholars such as Vardit Rispler-Chaim and Mohammed Ghaly, this Comment examines classical sources and early works of Islamic jurists.

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