(November 22, 2011) – Canadian Muslims will mark the upcoming International Day of Persons with Disabilities with a community-wide awareness blitz in mosques during the Friday prayer services on December 2, 2011.

“We are hoping to raise awareness among community members to shift misplaced cultural attitudes toward disability and promote a greater understanding of the Islamic tradition with regards to inclusion and dignity of people with disabilities,” Rabia Khedr, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities (CAM-D) told IQra.ca.

The International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1992.

The annual observance of the Day aims to increase awareness and understanding of disability issues and trends, and to mobilise support for practical action at all levels by, with and for persons with disabilities.

This year’s theme for the U.N. day is “Together for a better world for all: Including persons with disabilities in development.”

The ‘Khutba Campaign’ will see Imams dedicating their Friday sermons to the topic of the rights of person with disabilities, as well as, the Islamic tradition of disability rights and the Muslim’s  obligation to include everyone.

“There have been a few outcries about how disenchanted families have left because of the treatment they have received within mosques due to the misunderstood behaviors of their children with Autism,” Khedr said.

Princess Hissa Althani of Qatar, the former United Nations Rapporteur on Disabilities, has endorsed the campaign and hopes that it will result in greater inclusion of persons with disabilities in their Faith community.

“Let’s ensure that people with disabilities feel a sense of belonging in our Muslim communities around the world,” said Princess Althani.

Imam Zaid Shakir also advocates for improved access of disabled persons in Muslim gatherings.

“Let’s work together for a better world where our sisters and brothers with vision loss, hearing loss, intellectual disabilities like autism, physical disabilities, mental illness, all forms of disabilities and their families, have access to our mosques and Islamic centers, at our events and activities, and our programs,” said Imam Shakir.

CAM-D is hoping to expand this year’s campaign with more congregations expected to join the initiative.

“Our first campaign in 2009 mobilized 22 Islamic congregations in 4 provinces and we have worked to grow this momentum internationally,” said Rabia Khedr.

The Canadian Council of Imams has issued a call to Imams and Khateebs to join the campaign.

“I’m asking and appealing my fellow Imams and Khateebs in North America to support this initiative to shift the attitudes of our communities toward s our brothers and sisters with disabilities” said Dr. Hamid Slimi, Chairman of the Canadian Council of Imams. “On December 2nd, please dedicate your khutbas to the topic of disability.”

For further information on the campaign, visit: www.camd.ca