On Monday 3 December, the world recognised International Day of Disabled Persons.
The date celebrates the achievements of people with disabilities in sport, business, academia and a wide range of other fields. This year’s theme spoke of “empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”.
We always do what we can to champion values and beliefs that welcome everyone to the table. No one should ever be excluded, or told that they can’t do something, simply because of who they are.
We appreciate that this is often easier said than done. However, we’re going to do our very small part to empower you by showcasing some exceptional Muslim athletes (who happen to have disabilities) in light of this most important of days.
Ali Jawad is a British Paralympic powerlifter who has broken world records in the discipline and represented his country at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics.
Jawad was born without legs in Lebanon. His family emigrated to London when he was only six months old, following an escalation in tension between Lebanon and Israel.
Despite his disability, Jawad was an excellent athlete, excelling in judo before taking up powerlifting. It proved to be a wise move. At the 2016 Rio games, he won the Gold medal in the −65 kg class.
Away from sport, he supports a number of charities that help people with Crohn’s disease, a condition he was diagnosed with in 2008.
Sanaa Benhama is a Paralympic athlete from Morocco who competes in sprint events under the T13 category, which is for athletes with moderate visual impairments.
Benhama didn’t make her debut in the T13 category until she was in her mid twenties. But since then, she has gone on to make a name for herself in the field, winning three Golds at the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics and a string of medals in IPC World Championships—including Gold in the 1500m T13 at the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships (which you can watch above).
Sareh Javanmardi is a Paralympic shooter from Iran. She began shooting in 2008 after deciding her previous forays into volleyball, table tennis and chess didn’t really suit her personality.
Four years later, she took Bronze in the 2012 Olympic games in London. Four years after that, she would make history in Rio as the first ever female from Iran to win Gold in the shooting category of the Paralympics.
Javanmardi, who has a spinal condition due to the effects of Polio, once said her success “tells my people that disability is not limitation.”