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Open AccessArticle

Islam, Leprosy, and Disability: How Religion, History, Art, and Storytelling Can Yield New Insights and Acceptance

1
Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60608, USA
2
Medical Education Writer, Framingham, MA 01701, USA
3
Islamic Studies, Hartford Seminary, Hartford, CT 06105, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Societies 2020, 10(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc10010006
Received: 22 September 2019 / Revised: 20 December 2019 / Accepted: 20 December 2019 / Published: 25 December 2019
Age-old fears and misconceptions about leprosy have flourished for centuries and the condition remains both a socially stigmatizing issue and a public health problem in many parts of the globe. In the context of Islam, only a few personal narratives by Muslims living with leprosy exist, and no one has systematically reviewed accounts of leprosy related disability from early or recent Islamic history, including the Prophet Muhammad’s interactions with individuals living with leprosy. In this article, we present previously untold stories about leprosy, from both English and Arabic sources strongly rooted in Islamic values and principles. After an introduction and brief history of Islam, this article is divided into three main sections: (1) The foundations of early Islamic values about illness, leprosy, and disability; (2) Leprosy and stigma in Islamic communities and/or places; and (3) Art, storytelling, and other expressions by people living with leprosy in various parts of the world. The authors also discuss some of the challenges of defining leprosy terminology based on early historic documents. The overall purpose of this article is to describe historical and religious accounts of leprosy and amplify the collective voices and experiences of Muslims who live with leprosy from a disability studies frame. The authors also introduce the ‘House is Black’, a short documentary that illustrates additional insights and commentary related to disability related leprosy. View Full-Text
Keywords: Islam and leprosy related disability; stigma and acceptance; history; arts and storytelling Islam and leprosy related disability; stigma and acceptance; history; arts and storytelling
MDPI and ACS Style

Hasnain, R.; Queijo, J.; Laher, S.; Sandahl, C. Islam, Leprosy, and Disability: How Religion, History, Art, and Storytelling Can Yield New Insights and Acceptance. Societies 2020, 10, 6.

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