Are hearing-impaired (deaf) people regarded responsible religiously? It is said that such people will not be held responsible as people who can hear.

The Details of the Question

Are hearing-impaired (deaf) people regarded responsible religiously? It is said that such people will not be held responsible as people who can hear.

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- In Islam, nobody is given a responsibility greater than he can bear. Therefore, handicapped people are held responsible in accordance with their strength. You cannot ask a person who cannot talk to read the chapter of al-Fatiha in prayer.

However, the parents of a hearing-impaired child should teach him how to read and write, and enable him to learn religious knowledge from books. They should do their best to enable him to worship, especially to perform prayers and fasting. If they are not done, not the hearing-impaired child but his parents will be held responsible. 

Besides, thanks to the services with different methods for hearing-impaired individuals today, they can read the Quran and memorize the chapters and duas; they can also listen to the sermons translated into the sign language. 

To sum up, the responsibility of each individual is directly proportional to his strength and ability. A hearing-impaired individual is held responsible for all of the things that he can do. Besides, deafness does not prevent a person from worshipping. However, it causes problems in learning through hearing. It is possible for a hearing-impaired individual to overcome this difficulty with the help of his family - by learning the minimum knowledge from them through appropriate methods though limited. His responsibility is decreased in case the possibility is limited.     

- According to the majority of the Islamic scholars, belief consists of saying one's belief with the tongue and approving it with the heart. It is enough for a person who cannot speak to approve his belief with the heart. In fact, approving with the heart can be enough in a sense. As a matter of fact, Imam Maturidi holds this view. (see Sharhu’t-Tahawiyya, 2/275-Shamila)

Such a belief makes a person a believer in the eye of Allah. However, a person should declare the existence of his belief through his tongue so as to be treated as a believer in the world. A person who expresses his belief through the tongue but does not approve it through the heart becomes a munafiq (hypocrite); he is treated as a believer in this world but he will be treated as an unbeliever in the hereafter. As a matter of fact, the Prophet (pbuh) addressed some munafiqs as follows:  “O group of people in whose hearts belief has not entered, who believed only through the tongue!” (cf Baqillani, al-Insaf, 1/18-Shamila). There are similar expressions in the Quran.

Besides, according to Malikis, Shafiis and Hanbalis, deeds are a complementary element of belief though it is not a basic principle. According to them, a perfect belief is defined as follows: saying with the tongue, approving with the heart and practicing with the organs. (see Sharhu’t-Tahawiyya, 2/275-Shamila)

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