Sticks & Stones

O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers. (49:11)

On the authority of Aisha (radi Allahu `anha – may Allah be pleased with her), the Messenger of Allah (saw) is reported to have said: “Allah is kind and He loves kindness in all affairs.”  (Bukhari)

It is really easy to get lost in the culture that we live in.  Things that are problematic Islamically get normalized and when we try to strive a little harder to be meticulous about our worship and character we may be deemed an “extremist” even by other believers. I am interested in being (or at least trying to be)  meticulous about my worship, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.  I have been thinking about my own struggle to purify my speech on multiple levels especially as  I am soon expecting a child.  As challenging as it may be I would like to encourage my child to feel comfortable in their own body and to respect the bodies of other people with an understanding of how privilege and oppression work.

The words that we use are a reflection of our consciousness and what is in the heart.  One aspect of common speech that really bothers me is related to conversation about bodies in multiple forms–words that whether “jokingly” or more maliciously mock, attack or punish people who have different bodies.  I am specifically thinking about language rooted in ableism as well as discrimination against those who do not fit conventional standards of “beauty” (examples are comments about someone’s nappy hair, big nose, or being too fat, too skinny, etc.) Such language is really problematic because it requires us make comments about Allah’s creation that are offensive, hurtful, and unnecessary. Ableism is the systemic favoring of able bodied people over disabled people. Institutionalized discrimination of the disabled.

 

A few points below . . . from What You Said, What you Meant to Say

People use ableist language all the time and oftentimes don’t even realize it. I, personally, am hurt when people use the word lame to talk about something they don’t like – because that is me – I am lame (sometimes) and I am someone’s reference point for something unlikeable.

Here are some of the more common disablist words that people tend to use. Think about the language that you use and how it work to reinforce negative views of disabled people and work to change it. For a discussion about why I now use the term disablism rather than ableism, click here.

What You Said What You Meant to Say Origin, and other tid-bits
Blind Careless; ignorant; insensitive; oblivious; rash; thoughtless; unaware; unquestioning
Confined to a wheelchair Wheelchair user. This implies that wheelchairs imprison people which is far from the truth. Wheelchairs help people get around and are libratory rather than confining.
Crazy Batty; bizarre; busy; chaotic; erratic; intense; weird; wild Actually people who are described as crazy are usually people who deviate from social norms, are marginalized and/or who see hear or experiences things others don’t.
Cretin Obnoxious; clown; creep; loser From the French meaning “dwarfed and deformed idiot”
Crip[ple] Disabled; break; hurt; immobilize, incapacitate; sideline; undermine “Crip” has been reclaimed by some disabled people and is used with pride.Used by non-disabled people, it is offensive.The word “cripple” as a verb, means to break or make unworkable and is always offensive.
Crutch Prop; need; support Something you are dependant on and cannot get by without. It has a negative connotation when used this way but crutches are not negative in the lives of the people who use them.
Deaf Not listening; oblivious; obstinate; pigheaded; stubborn; unhearing Cultural group
Disable[ed] Break; damage; destroy; disarm; hurt; impair; mar; ruin; sabotage To make unable to move or act, to render inoperative
Dumb Bad; defective; foolish; inadequate; ineffective Dumb
Duh Hello; as if; what? Allegedly, this is the sound people with intellectual disabilities make.
Gimp disabled
Handicapped disabled In game play, this is an advantage (i.e. spotting points) given to one of the players to equalize the odds as they are unable to win on their own.Some people believe that this term was applied because people on the streets were pan-handling with their caps in hand.
Insane Batty; bizarre; busy; chaotic; erratic; intense; weird; wild The origin of sane is healthy, so insane means unhealthy.
Lame Bad; boring; cheesy; faulty; inadequate; inefficient; in sufficient; unconvincing; unpersuasive; unpleasing Derogatory term for physically disabled, particularly referring to one’s gait.
Moron Unintentional; haphazard; goofy; foolish The psychological term refers to one who has a mild intellectual disability. From Greek for foolish.
Needy Deprived; lacking Everyone is interdependent. Rugged individusalism is just another way of saying that someone doesn’t recognize their support network. This word should not exist because it puts those who acknowledge and vocalize their needs into a negative context.Negative term for someone who wants too much.
Nuts Batty; bizarre; busy; chaotic; erratic; intense; weird; wild
Psycho Batty; bizarre; busy; chaotic; erratic; intense; weird; wild Short for psychopath.
Paralyze Daze; debilitate; freeze; halt; incapacitate; numb; petrify; stun
Retard[ed] Ass; blockhead; cretin; dork; fool; loser; nerd The origin is slow, or late (tardy).
Schizo Scattered; all over the place Short for schizophrenic.
Sick Bad; disgusting; displeasing; revolting; gross; sadistic Also, sick is being used to mean something positive now.
Slow Intellectually disabled
Spaz all over the place; Batty; clumsy; everywhere at once; energetic; goofy; hyper; inept; squirrelly From the word spastic or spasm.

Thans to Cody for their tech skills on this page.

 

Guarding the Tongue-Nouman Ali Khan-Qur’an Weekly

 

Sheikh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq – Sins of the tongue in perspective – Part 1 of 6

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