The Handicapped Sign

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The nearest parking spot. It always looked so appealing, so tempting. But then again, it also always was clearly marked with the “Handicapped Only” sign, along with all of the nearby alluring spots. Not that I ever put much thought into that. It just meant we couldn’t park there.

But one day, all of that changed. There, while looking through my car window into the oppressive August heat, I experienced an epiphany.

It was a sweltering afternoon when my mother left us kids in the car, right next to those desirable, full “closest parking spots”. Bored, I stared out of the window into the blazing white outside. I noticed two women approaching a gold-colored van parked in the front. A tall white-haired woman pushed a crippled young lady in her wheelchair, lugged a baby carrier, and gripped several grocery bags. Despite the short distance, the exhausted elderly woman stopped for a moment between her car and the sidewalk. She had the first parking spot, I thought to myself with a twinge of jealousy. Why would she ever stop?

Feeling odd, I moved forward towards the window to see what had caused her to stop. I watched as the elderly woman opened the car door and made way for a ramp which rolled out of the car to accommodate the crippled young lady in the wheelchair. Whilst the young lady slowly maneuvered herself into the car, the older woman quickly seated the infant in a car seat. To my amazement, the older woman then seated herself in an adjacent passenger seat while the crippled young woman fit her wheelchair in front of the wheel and  slowly began reversing the car out of the parking spot.

I slumped back in my seat in humility. For so long I had thoughtlessly begrudged those troubled people the convenience of a mere few steps…

And then it struck me. I did indeed have this unfortunate habit of being jealous of those who actually deserved my pity. However, wasn’t it worse that I envied the short-lived comfort of the spiritually-crippled far more often?

That sting my heart felt when seeing a girl in a fluttery summer dress (haraam, the sign in my head simpered) while I walked in somber colors. That time I bit my lip when I realized everyone else was passing with flying marks by cheating (haraam, the sign taunted) while I was failing miserably due to my honesty.That set face when I hurried past a music classroom where the choir practiced (haraam, the sign jeered). That day when I would have given anything to go to that concert (haraam, the sign-in-my-head yawned) but went home instead. That night when nothing but the perfect makeup (haraam, the sign smirked) on a certain acquaintance’s face kept me from sleeping peacefully. That moment when my fist clenched tightly because someone pointedly mentioned how much fun the party (haraam, the sign mocked) had been the day before.

Foolish me. I had been reading the handicapped signs in my head wrong. “Disabled Morality” one read. “Disabled Modesty,” another said. “Disabled Conscience”, claimed a third. The fourth – the scariest – proclaimed “Disabled Submission”. Submission to God. A Conscience. Morality. Modesty. The lack of these is what I had been envying. And what I should have pitied. For a few days’ pleasure, I looked with green eyes at the eternally bereft, the crippled, and the disabled. They were so near the destinations they so ardently sought. Yet, they were so far. Far from what the true destination ought to have been. The destination that I am and will always be willing to walk the distance for, Insha’Allah.

Never again did I wish for the first parking spot.

Sarah Saeedah is, in three words, happy, blessed, and most of all, Muslim. Although she spent most of her childhood in the sparsely populated but lush and green Arkansas, Sarah reluctantly moved to the brown, bustling Arizona in 2006 and is now wavering between majors in her first year at Arizona State University. Sarah enjoys being commonly mistaken for different ethnicities, hearing brilliant Muslim speakers, consuming strawberries and tangy sour ribbons, reflecting on Dawud Wharnsby’s poetry, concocting desserts, reading, reading, and a little more reading, running programs for her alma mater Islamic high school, doing henna, soaking in rain, and dreaming positively about the bright, happy future of the global Muslim community. Sarah has served as Editor for her high school newsletter and blog, and assistant editor for both the newsletters of the Islamic Social Services Association, USA and CAIR’s Arizona chapter. Sarah joined MYM primarily because she was intrigued by the idea of a community of Muslim youth writers across the country, as well as in order to preserve and reflect on her experiences growing up as an American Muslim. Please keep her in your dua’as as Sarah’s most fervent dream – (ehem, goal) – is to attend the Bayyinah Institute’s Dream program in order to learn traditional Arabic.


  1. I thought this was a very insightful article, Masha’Allah. I also thought that it would just be one of those “Forgive me when I whine”
    type of articles but was pleasantly surprised to read about the
    epiphany that you experience. For one to change from having an
    inferiority complex to feeling a sense of pity towards others is quite a

    One of my favorite passages was “A tall white-haired woman
    pushed a crippled young lady in her
    wheelchair, lugged a baby carrier, and gripped several grocery bags.” It
    was the complete opposite of everything you would ever normally
    imagined but was a reminder that irregularities can happen to any one of

  2. I really liked where you took this piece. I thought, like Arif, that it might be a simplistic story to remind us to always appreciate what we have.

    But extending it out to being jealous of others who “get” to do things that we, as Muslims, can’t was awesome. We do often forget, when we start looking at what we can’t do, that our way protects us from greater evils. Loved this piece mashaAllah!

  3. this.was.simply.amazing! masha’Allah this was soooo different and so insightful that it was just amazing! please keep writing sister, this was great! loved the last part, it left an impression.

  4. MashaAllah! This was such an amazing read. The last paragraph worked as a much needed sunnah slap. I hope i get to read more of your musings inshaAllah.

    Welcome to the MYM fam Sarah jan. May Allah ta’ala bless you with all good in both this world and the Hereafter ameen.

    much love,
    Maryam <3

    • Sarah Saeedah Reply

      JazakAllahukhairan for your sweet welcome! Ameen for you as well! I didn’t even bother to go back to look for comments before lol, I’m getting used to this :) 

      many hugs, 

  5. So when I first read this piece, I had just glazed over some penalties for parking in a space designated for the handicapped… it was awesome to read something about the penalties in this life and then read this piece about the penalties in this life and in the next! MashaAllah, a really great and unique article. I was expecting it to be the usual “I saw a handicapped parking space that I really wanted but then I saw a poor handicapped person and felt bad so I realized Ididn’t want it,” but it went way beyond that! Awesome (:

    • Sarah Saeedah Reply

      SubhanAllah! I’m so glad people were intrigued by the persective :) JazakAllahukhairan for your kind comments!

  6. Wow… great article. It really puts certain things in perspective and makes you think about how we view the world. A very thought-provoking piece.

  7. i can relate myself to all of it,, and these lines are remarkable.
    “Foolish me. I had been reading the handicapped signs in my head wrong. “Disabled Morality” one read. “Disabled Modesty,” another said. “Disabled Conscience”, claimed a third. The fourth – the scariest – proclaimed “Disabled Submission”. Submission to God.”

    beautiful article. mashallah

  8. Ruqaiyya Maryam Reply

    Wow, this piece is absolutely amazing! 
    The intense deepness to it hits you, (In a good way).

  9. This has got to be the most thought-provoking reflection I have yet come across. I loved your writing style and the uniqueness of your line of thinking and how you turned it on its head to deliver a powerful message.

    BarakAllahu feeki, and please write more articles! 

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