A Letter From Hell

I don’t know why I’m spending this precious Saturday morning writing this letter to a naive junior colleague who is currently working a few thousand miles away from this hell. Perhaps I feel obliged to tell him, or whoever feels that this is worth reading, what this so-called “system from hell” has made us what we are now.

First I have to say, I may have written this post:

https://mariakamalmilatu.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/what-the-public-doesnt-know/

…which may have sounded like just a bunch of complains to some of the readers, feeling that probably I (and many other doctors around me) have lost our integrity, our honesty, to serve the people.

But then, I also wrote this:

https://mariakamalmilatu.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/a-day-in-a-doctors-life-in-remembrance-of-allah-swt/

…because as Muslims, we have our purpose in life, and we need to remind ourselves about it every once and then. It is with this remembrance that we could get back our spirit and motivation to go through fulfilling our responsibilities as true Muslim doctors.

You see, adik, I am, like, you, an overseas graduate. My name is followed by MB BCh BAO (Ire), and I hope, soon it will be followed by MRCP (UK). Not yet, but striving for it. I took a loan from the government and guess what, I’m still paying for it. I could have worked overseas as I am not totally bounded, but I chose “hell” instead. I am also paying for my exam cost in British pounds, with my own hard-earned ringgit.

Is this truly a hell, though?

Those were our thoughts before we start housemanship. We were scared by our seniors who decided to stay back overseas because they heard it is hell here. They have never worked here, so how would they know?

Of course, it was not entirely wrong, but neither was it entirely true!

Yes, all of us wished for shorter working hours. All of us wished that we could go home the morning after being on call. All of us wished we had shift system. We all know how working overnight affects us, we have experienced it, we have tried to do something about it, and things have improved, you see.

You may have noticed that culturally, Malaysian and British are different. I am sad to say that we are more manipulative and cunning in a lot of ways, hence ANY system at all would not be perfect if we aren’t good INSIDE.

If you are responsible, any system is good.

But if you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, brought up having had everything you ever wanted given to you at your doorstep, you would probably grow up thinking that the system should change you. You would end up believing that a perfect system is the only way to cater a good healthcare.

That’s where you’re wrong, adik.

I have to admit, we have all felt frustrated before. Those who have worked in university hospitals would feel frustrated with the lack of service they could offer in a district hospital. Those who started working in a first world country would feel deeply frustrated that the system is not as “perfect” as it was back there in those cold (and wet) countries. Even for myself, who have only worked in two specialist hospitals, have felt some frustration about the service that we have.

Now THAT lack of service bred different kinds of doctors we have in this country.

Some stay back passively and just go with the flow.
Some work hard to spark a change and make the world a better place for patients and healthcare workers alike.
Some quit their jobs to look for greener pastures.

Nobody is wrong in this sense, we all have our own lives and problems to think about.

Before I go any further, I would like to remind you that I’m not saying we should not improve. I’m not saying that the system is unchangeable.

I’m talking about what we should do while change is happening.

I don’t know whether you were a student paid by the government to study in the UK. If you were, then you were obliged to come back and serve the people, like your other friends.

Do you know why you were sent overseas to study?

Or let me rephrase that. Do you know why studying overseas is actually good for you?

I’m sure you were blessed with some degree of intelligence, that you were accepted into a scholarship programme. With that intelligence, you were expected to learn from the mat sallehs and BRING BACK all those good things that you have learnt over there.

Studying overseas opens our eyes to a lot of possibilities, experience, discoveries, and teaches us to maturely appraise a system for the benefit of the patients. The British text books even taught us how to deal professionally with the juniors, with the nurses, with our senior colleagues. Have you come across those texts yet?

So instead of loudly wanting to slap the senior doctors over here, why not do it the mat salleh way? Talk it out in a professional manner, discuss the ways to improve working conditions, and help out each other so that better healthcare is delivered.

You see, adik, a good healthcare is not just about better working hours or conditions. It is up to you, deep inside, to serve your people in the best way that you ever could.

We were blessed with good grades in school, and to some, it signifies intelligence. But for me, intelligence does not mean a thing if we expected to be served by a “system from paradise”, rather than trying our best to help the people, with whatever we have in hand.

There are people on the top level who can’t prioritise on which sector needs money the most. There are those who think more of entertainment than the health of their people. Sadly there is not much we could do at this particular moment to change their attitudes. Personally I think our best bet is by educating the younger generation to make decisions wisely and campaign against corruption.

What does that leave us with?

OURSELVES.

You probably have heard this quote before: “BE the change you want to see in this world.”

You have not worked here, so you have not met the various amazing consultants who work in government hospitals. You have not met those who have served decades in this “hell of a system” and made a difference wherever they go. You have not met those soft spoken gentlemen, those hardworking ladies, who lead their departments and made the most out of the little budget given by the government.

You have not met those who actually go out of their way to train themselves overseas with their own hard earned money, and come back to be a better surgeon.

Even the not-so-senior ones like me and my colleagues, we are trying to train our juniors in the best way possible. We are trying to be more patient, despite the poor attitude shown by some of our juniors. We strive to be more professional, unlike those horror stories that you heard from here. Of course there ARE seniors who still speak unkindly to the juniors, letting out rude words, attacking personally rather than correcting someone in a proper way.

A good healthcare is not only provided by giving the best medications and equipments, from the freshest looking doctors who work 60 hours per week. Obviously, that would be really great, I would welcome that with open arms and a happy heart.

There is so much more to job satisfaction than just working hours or conditions. It is also about seeing that smile from them after we have tried our best to improve their health, about sitting and talking to them about what has happened in their lives that made them stop caring for their own health, it’s about empowering the patients to get up and work hard for a better life.

It’s also about talking to the loved ones when the worst is coming, preparing them, getting them to come together, make peace with each other and say their final goodbye, or even encouraging them to write their wills, so that when the end is reached, there is no more guilt.

You could work in any perfect system, but still be unhappy and frustrated, as proven by many horror stories that we could hear from the UK.

Or we could work in a seemingly imperfect place, but still be happy and satisfied because we know that we have done to the best of our abilities to help those in need.

In the end, it all comes from within.

Almost There

I don’t know why, this image of a college in London has become one of the motivating factors in my struggle to pass this exam.

Let me recall…

I decided to pay that college a visit, since a close friend of mine was a student there many years ago. We have been walking the whole day, starting from the hotel to visit The Gherkin, and then Lloyd which is actually right around the corner, then another long walk looking for the right train station. We were lucky, because although the day was a little icy, the skies were bright and blue.

We stopped by outside Tower of London for my little sister to play ice skating. I did not join her as I have aged a bit, hence my coordination was not as good as it was 15 years ago. So I watched her and took a few photographs.

We walked again to the Tower Bridge, where we (somehow) spent a considerable amount of time on the top floor itself, in the museum. When we finally crossed the Thames, we walked about to look for a place to pray, before walking again to look for this college which seemed to be quite far from the City Hall.

Well, it was not! We walked through the train station just to find out that Guy’s Hospital was right across the road!

As the building I was looking for gets nearer, I became more excited.

Like I said, it was a beautiful day, with bright blue skies with a few patches of cloud, but no rain. The day was almost dark, it was probably around 3pm at that time. We’d better hurry before the sun sets, and that was not a part of London I was familiar with.

Then we saw it. The red bricked building with the roots of some creeping plants up its facade, which would be replaced with green leaves in summer. The sun shone on our faces. The winds blowing and the brown leaves falling.

It was beautiful.

I stood there reminiscing how it felt to be a medical student, wondering how stressed the students might be in those libraries, and then took a few photos, and then we left to get to Architecture Association near Oxford Street.

While walking through the open halls of the college, I looked around and thought, there must be loads of researches going on in this college at the moment. The people here must have gone all over the world to give lectures and speeches about medicine, from the basics to the advanced sciences, the latest findings and the best manners to deal with patients.

Where did that place me? The humble doctor who’s still struggling to remember, which one of the inotropes would cause more tachycardia, and which one would cause peripheral vasodilation. The girl who’s still asking around what cortical blindness actually means.

I had to do something. I had to take this short contemplation as a motivation. I must also take those Muslims in their golden era when modern science were developing, when new inventions were produced so that the world would be an easier place to live, for the good of mankind.

I left with a renewed sense of purpose.

* * *

The other day I had the chance to sit with the makcik again.

This time around, she told me about her son, whom she did not need to force to study. He has his own conscience, she said. He would study when he needed to, and he is very disciplined.

I wondered in my mind, how did he make room for everything, seeing how busy he is with his extracurricular activities.

As if knowing my questions, she said, “He’s the kind of person who would get up and do something immediately when it needs to get done. He doesn’t wait, and he moves very fast.” She continued, “He could go up a flight of stairs with just three steps!” Then she laughed.

* * *

I can’t believe the exam is so near.

Actually I can’t believe that I have reached this final stage. It has been a long and arduous journey, challenging me mentally and at times financially.

I am forever thankful for the strong support and prayers from my family, and those who truly love me. So many of them have been with me since the start, and some just recently, but I guess in the end the outcome will have to come from within me, and of course, His Grace and Mercy.

I don’t know why I’m making such a big deal out of this. Perhaps it’s just the drama queen in me.

Or perhaps it really IS a big deal.

Wish me luck.
More importantly, please pray for me.

* * *

Hampir Ke Situ by Mendua
Aku sadar bukan mudah untuk mengejar mimpi indah
Pernah suatu ketika dulu ku punya harapan besar
Kini aku tak pasti
Dapatkah ku miliki

Sudah jauh kita tempuh, kekalkanlah impian lalu
Mungkin ada hikmah yg akan menunggu di penghujung jalan
Biar nanti kecewa
Setidak-tidaknya cuba

Jika halangan menduga perjalanan kita
Janganlah kau putus asa
Kerna ku ada di sisi, setia menemani
Andai semangat mu gugur, genggamlan tanganku
Kita hampir ke situ

Adakala ku terasa
Ketabahan tak setegah
Tetapi apakan andainya
Berhenti separuh jalan
Percayalah padaku
Aku yakin kita mampu

Biar orang katakan rapuhnya harapan
Bukan mereka tentukan tapi kau ada aku, dan aku punya kamu
Dapatlah akhirnya tetap bersama

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It’s the Little Things

Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us could do great things, but we could do small things with great love.”

* * *

March 2010. It was almost sunset. We were on our way down from Kuala Terengganu to Kijal. I was looking hard for wedding presents for a friend who’s getting married that April, but I could not find anything suitable yet. We wondered whether any shops would be open at this time of the day, as it’s almost prayer time.

We stopped by at a small road-side shop selling home decorative crafts (and some useful stuff too), mainly made of mengkuang and rattan. An elderly man came to greet me and showed me around his dusty little shop. For every item I touched, he’d tell me the price, followed by its discounted rate. He followed me around but not in an uncomfortable distance.

Honestly I couldn’t find anything for my friend.

It could have been any other shopkeeper, but this man is different. He is kind, patient and polite. Even when the sun almost setting, he did not ask me questions about why was I still running around at that hour, why was I accompanied by just two ladies, where are the men, etc. He did not grumpily follow me around with a close distance. He did not make any kinds of faces other than a friendly face.

So I bought two items from him, which I found the use a few months later.

* * *

I was in a mamak shop in Kota Damansara very recently. I was eating mee goreng mamak and obviously the sides of my mouth started to feel oily. As there were no tissues, I wiped the oil with my little finger, intending to ask for a piece of tissue from the waiter.

I did not need to ask for one, as when I looked up, one of the waiters was already walking towards my table with tissues in his hands.

Similar thing happened a few years back when I was having lunch with a fine gentleman in a mamak shop. The mee goreng had just been served, and I turned my head to the counter. This gentleman immediately stood up and get the tissues from me, even when I have yet to face the counter.

* * *

My tailor had a problem this Eid season. She got pregnant so she was a little unwell, making it impossible for her to finish all the stitching.

I was told by my mother that she called the day before and told my mother that she could only finish one set of baju kurung for us. So I went to her shop just a few minutes from my parents’ place on the day before Eid. Only her sister was there.

The sister showed me a pair of green baju kurung and it wasn’t mine. She told me that that’s the only pair of baju kurung that she was told to give away. The rest is still not done.

Now that’s not a good news to hear, especially a few hours before Eid. So I asked her, are you sure? As it was my mother who told me that the baju were done, it MUST be ready by now. The girl just stood there and said there are no other pair of clothes done. Just the ones that she showed me just now.

I asked her again, are you sure that it’s not placed anywhere else in the shop? The shop is kind of messy so it might be hidden somewhere. But she was still standing at the same spot and repeating the same answer.

Out of desperation I started searching for them myself. I went through the cupboard and another rail of clothes, and the stack of bags at one corner of the shop (this tailor usually puts the finished clothes back into the bag we sent them in). I managed to find our bag but the only thing in there were the sari material that have yet to be stitched, not the green ones i was looking for.

I wasn’t entirely annoyed that the clothes weren’t done. We have other nice baiu kurung that we could wear during Eid.

What made me angry was that the girl did not even make an attempt to help me with the search. She stood at the desk with her handphone in her hand and a passive face telling me if it’s not this green one then it’s not done.

You see, at least, even when she’s so convinced that the baju kurung was not done, just go through the shop and look, at least an act, just to show that she actually cared, and at least reassure me that she will confirm with her sister afterwards.

* * *

There is a ward in this hospital that is taken care of by a specialist. He has never shown any appreciation towards any of his staff, be it the nurses or the doctors. No kind words of encouragement ever escaped his mouth.

One fine week, he was not around. Another specialist took over for the week. One day this person was doing rounds with the rest of the staff, and as always, the house officer would present to him the cases, helped by the medical officer.

After the house officer finished talking about he patient, the specialist said, “very good.”

The nursing sister of the ward who heard that felt very light in the heart, as if her troubles melted away. Just because of the simple kind words that was given by the specialist.

This particular specialist is rather generous with his praises. Those who worked with him regularly were used to it, and at times don’t think that half the praises were deserved.

But for those staff who were deprived of any kinds of appreciation, a simple phrase like that made a huge difference to their day.

* * *

Narrated ‘Aisha R.A, The Prophet Muhammad SAW was asked, “What deeds are loved most by Allah?” He said, “The most regular constant deeds even though they may be few.” He added, ‘Don’t take upon yourselves, except the deeds which are within your ability.”
– Sahih al Bukhari, The Book of Heart-Softening Narrations, No. 6057

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We Were Supposed To…

Those trips that never happened.

We were supposed to go around the country
Driving through the old roads
Stopping in small towns, discovering new things
Maybe go into the national park
Or Tasik Kenyir

We were supposed to go to Kuantan
Visit his old joints
Eat at that Japanese restaurant, if it still exists
Then drive up to Kemaman
To have some drinks at Hai Peng coffee shop
Just the two of us

Then we were supposed to go to Penang
Visit my old joints
Eat at Amandari, with its nice Malay food
Walk along Feringghi beach
Have durians from Balik Pulau

We were supposed to visit Sabah again
Our first trip was just amazing
The second would be deeper in the jungles

We were supposed to go to Perth
For a few days, just the two of us
Looked for shopping areas, because that’s what she loves
Travel around town, or perhaps go to the outskirts
But I did not get days off

We were supposed to go to Turkey
The three of us, and her parents
Trying all sorts of delicacies
Visiting the historical sites

We were supposed to go
All over the place
But then we moved on with life

She moved out of the country
He moved out of my life
She got married and went on with her life
She has exams, just like myself

I won’t stop planning
There’s someone else who can come with me
Someone dear and precious
Even when we don’t share the same interests
But she knows me very well, and I know her too

Here’s to many more hours of travelling
Of discovering new places
Meeting new people
Opening our eyes
And our hearts too

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Gym

Today in the afternoon I sat in the library, as usual, trying to study. Monday was a productive day, Tuesday was alright, but today…today I lost all focus. Maybe it was the mediocre scrambled egg set I had in the cafe, maybe it’s the lack of caffeine (I’m not a coffee addict, though), or maybe it’s just one of those days.

I already planned to work out in the gym after work, but with the poor progress with my studying, I considered cancelling that plan. After all, they said we need to leave everything else and get focused for this (super expensive) final part of exams.

Late afternoon we had a teaching session with a dear friend of ours. I had so many flaws and obviously am not ready for the exams, but I felt good because I could scrutinise myself positively. Now I could see where I’m lacking and how I could improve myself.

Then I decided, as the studying progress had improved a little, I could spend some time in the gym.

The traffic was super good, I got my favourite parking spot, but the gym is (as Dato always complained) warm and crowded. That’s fine with me. At least people are moving towards healthier lifestyle.

I put on my Sony walkman (I don’t carry my smartphone around, a habit since endocrine rotation days), then I started my routine on the treadmill.

As I walked faster, my heart pumped more quickly, a smile begin to appear on my face.

I put on more upbeat songs (it seems that I have more slow ballads in my playlist…erk!); one of those is Shanti and Marcel’s Hanya Memuji.

By the time I reached 15 minutes, I had Lady Gaga’s Born This Way on. My steps faster, I put the inclination higher, I was so happy that I thought I could dance and jump on the treadmill itself.

I was also pretty sure that I could work hard enough to pass this exam.

“Believe capital H.I.M….I’m beautiful in my way, coz God makes no mistakes….I’m on the right track, baby, I was born to SURVIVE!!!”

Of course, I can!

I came down from the treadmill after my targeted time finished. I had a bit of a drink, and continued my workout on another machine for another 15 minutes.

As I came down, Michael Buble’s Haven’t Met You Yet was on.

“I might have to wait, I’ll never give up,
I guess it’s half timing, and the other half’s luck.”

I felt so cheerful like I could start dancing on the gym floors itself.

Obviously I did NOT do that.

“I’m in the room, it’s a typical Tuesday night, listening to the kind of music she doesn’t like. She’ll never know your mommy like I do..you’ve got a smile that could light up this whole town..”

Evil. Heheh..THE big joke of the year is on me.

Anyway..

I’ve worked in medicine for almost 8 years now. I’ve seen people suffering from diabetes-related complications, obesity complications, and I have to say, personally, I think they suffer more than cancer patients. Their quality of life is worse, and it gets worse when they are admitted to the hospital.

I looked around the gym and I won’t be surprised if any one of them suffered a heart attack, or end up with diabetes anyway. Even for myself, in fact.

But at least we tried. It’s that part in us that whispered to us to be thankful of the health we’re rewarded, to take good care of it while we can. It’s that survival instinct, and perhaps, in some of us, belief that it will all be taken away especially when we take it for granted.

In Islam, it’s the effort that matters, Allah will decide on the endpoint. Whatever He decided for us, is His will. Everything is good, as long as He’s happy.

* * *

I have to say, the euphoria that I experience during workout (be it in the gym, or playing squasy with my dear friend, or swimming with my little sister and cousins), I’ve never felt anything like it elsewhere, doing some other things. It’s that endorphin surge while we exercise, and focus on it, that makes us cheerful.

And studies showed that the feeling lasts long after exercise.

Multi-level marketing people might sell their health supplements claiming that they could get healthy without exercise. They could slim down and get that wanted muscle bulk without having to work it out. “Avoid all those injuries,” they say.

They could all drink and eat whatever vitamins they want, but I’m pretty sure they have never appreciated the mood and motivational surge that we feel during and after exercise, to be saying all that.

For a person like me, I definitely need all that motivation and mood lifts I could get.
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Religious Intolerance

We are all in need of a little more respect for each other.

* * *
First let me explain a few things.

Azan is a call to prayer that is done five times a day, according to the five obligatory prayer times that Muslims are supposed to perform. In the olden days when there were no speakers, it was called from the top of a minaret, so that more people could hear it. These days the minaret would bear the loudspeakers.

The prayer times are set according to the position of the sun throughout the day. It starts with the break of dawn and finishes when there is total absence of sunshine. The time varies throughout the year in accordance to the position of the earth in relation to the sun.

Azan is not done to show off how faithful we are, and not done because we are afraid of losing our faith. It is a medium to call for prayers, with specific words glorifying God, acknowledging Prophet Muhammad and call to succeed in life.

* * *
We have lived together in this country for so many years yet there still are people who could not tolerate differences in our daily needs. Even worse, it is sad that it seems like there are more intolerance these days than there ever was before.

Before someone comes along and say, “Easy for you, you are a Muslim and you like the loud azan. What about the rest of us?” let me tell you about my own story.

I live in between two houses of Buddhists. They burn their joss sticks and prayer papers everyday. The thing about burning is, the papers fly into other houses, and yes, everyday I would find the debris in my porch. MY porch.

You see, I don’t have kids who would play in the porch, no husband who would make all sorts of mechanics or carpentering in the porch, and my car doesn’t leak oil. So my porch is supposed to be clean. But no. I could see rubbish strewn all over my porch every single day, and they are NOT mine.

What do I do? Well, I’d sweep off all the rubbish and debris that obviously came from my neighbour’s house, and put them in MY own dustbin, not theirs. Why? Because I know they need to perform their worship, that it makes them happy, and perhaps will make them nice people too. So what if some rubbish happen to be carried into my own porch by the wind?

That does not include the smell of the smoke coming from both houses. They drift into my nose every morning and cause me to sneeze, and in worse days, cough, as I have sensitive nose and airways. I really love fresh air and I don’t get that because of the daily, early morning burning. Did I shout offensive words at them? No. Because they are fulfilling their spiritual needs, the way I fulfil mine.

I lived in Dublin many years ago and there were many churches in the city. On Sunday mornings, the bells would start clanging loudly to call the Catholics to the churches for their congregation. I had no reason to complain, and believe me, none of my friends who still stay over there had the reason to complain. They went on with their lives and have their Sunday morning sleep-ins despite all the bells clanging left right and center.

If I stay in India, let’s say in an area where there are many Hindu temples, I’m pretty sure I’d hear their bells ringing everyday, from early morning. Their people will be chanting in prayers and the crowd may be large. But does that give me the rights to complain?

The thing is, tolerance is what we decide to tolerate. There are so many other annoying, disturbing things in our daily lives that we chose to tolerate but why are we picky when it comes to religion? Just because there are some pseudo-religious people out there who act like jerks, or who are actual jerks, does not mean every faithful person is like that.

For example, our neighbours dogs. Some are well behaved but some bark at random things at random times, even in the wee hours of the morning or in the middle of the night. You might argue, dogs can’t control themselves but human beings should be able to think. But you see, if the dogs are disturbing the neighbours then why can’t the owner SELL the dogs? It’s under their control, right?

But no. We don’t tell our neighbours to sell their dogs. Most of the time we don’t even tell them that their barks has annoyed us, disturb us from studying, from sleeping, wake our babies up when they have just fallen asleep. Why? Because we chose to tolerate their barks, our neighbours love their dogs, and we love our neighbours!

Another example, people staying near a busy main road, or a hospital. I’m pretty sure many people of all race and religion stay in a noisy area, where the traffic is busy from 6am to 10pm. The grounds and buildings would shake if large lorries pass by, ambulances pass by with their sirens every five minutes. All the sounds and bustling could have woken any sleeping babies up, and disturb any sick person.
I did live like that for one year, then I moved to a quieter place but with joss sticks burning around me every morning.

Why did we choose to tolerate that situation? Nobody posted on their Facebook walls, swearing about how noisy the lorries were. Many of those lorries did NOT respect the rule that they can’t use the city main roads during rush hours anyway, but nobody gave a care. Why?

Because we chose to understand that perhaps their journey is necessary. The ambulances need to be loud. The cars need to leave early for work.

So if you could respect people’s need for money, why can’t you respect people’s need for spiritual fulfilment?

Maybe our society is not as spiritual as we were before. Let me say that spirituality is a lot like love, you can only understand it if you have experienced it. It is such a sensitive issue because for many people, spirituality and/or faith is closer to our hearts than our own parents, our own children. Therefore, lack of respect from others hurt even more than seeing our kids fall from a swing.

It doesn’t hurt to pay attention to each other’s feelings once in a while, and respect (or even celebrate) our differences. We ALL have practices, habits or even pets that would have intruded our neighbour’s lives, so it’s worth considering some respect and tolerance.

* * *

I wouldn’t say that there is no way around it. I know that it some places the azan sound louder than other areas. Like my housing area, I can’t hear any, or on the days that it’s audible, it’s very faint. Back in my kampung, I could hear azan from 13 mosques, but it’s all fine because we’re all Muslims.

I would suggest that if the are has more non Muslim than Muslim population, perhaps they would want to turn down the volume a little, especially in the morning. Or maybe shorten the duration of the azan, keeping is simple without melody, just enough to call Muslims to prayer. In those areas, maybe you’d want to keep the morning azan once rather than twice, as it is true, some people may have insomnia, or unwell, or young babies who are light sleepers.

I would also suggest the imams to switch off the loudspeakers outside the mosques when they start praying (especially in the non-Muslim majority areas). The short azan may be tolerable enough but to read long verses of Quran very loudly in the morning for the whole housing area to hear may not be acceptable for many.

You might say that the azan and Quranic verses would bring peace to our hearts. Yes, it is, for us Muslims, and some religious people of other faiths. But not for many other non-Muslims. They don’t understand it, and for them it’s all noise. In order to live along peacefully together, we need to give up some things, and the rest need to give up some too.

If the mosque is in an all Muslim or Muslim majority area, it’s really up to the community and the mosque itself.

Discussing peacefully is obviously better than swearing at the whole Muslim population on Facebook, isn’t it? Such an obnoxious behaviour only reflects your upbringing and/or your inner peace (or lack of it), if one day you decide to show off your disrespectful side.

Dear Muslims, the most important message that I want to share is please, PLEASE answer that call to prayer. Please answer that azan. Wake up early, drive to the masjid, pray in congregation. The reason for the increasingly controversial azan is to call us to prayer. So what is the point of fighting for it, when we don’t answer it?

Be thankful of what we have. Our Muslim brothers in the west do not have this privilege of calling for prayers to the community, they could only spread the azan inside their mosques. Being thankful is answering that call to prayer and come in congregation to the masjid. As we all believe, Allah will take back whatever we aren’t thankful for, so let us show our gratitude to Him by answering this call to prayer.

As much as we want them to respect us, we need to respect them, and respect ourselves. Be fair, be kind, be understanding. If we believe that Prophet Muhammad was sent as a mercy to mankind, then let’s be merciful. Let’s live up to it.

For the best dakwah is with our akhlak. Our good character.20140803-223547-81347902.jpg

The Sacrifice

Today my father made me cry.

The day started early. We sent our (little) sister Nadia to the airport as she’s flying back to wherever she’s studying. That was quite early in the morning. Then we went for roti canai, I went to the gym after that, then come back for a big lunch in Cik Fuah’s place next door.

That’s where it happened.

We were talking about little kids flying. My uncle Wak Halim has five very young grandchildren (age 4 years old and below), four of them needed to travel on the airplane for this festive season. Some cried the whole journey and some would not cry if the flight is on daytime. Then my mother said, one of my brothers would cry for the whole journey (when he was a baby, of course), and would only be pacified by playing in the sink at the back of the airplane.

I said, “Well, Nadia used to cry only during take-off and landing.”

Then my father said, “She used to cry when YOUR plane took off.”

My eyes started to well up.

He explained to the rest, “She’d cry whenever we sent Maya to the airport all those years ago when she was studying. Then embah used to try to pacify her. She’d say, softly, ‘your sister went there to study…'”

I cried.

Not the sobbing kind of cry but my tears flowed rather steadily.

* * *
She used to count down to the day I get home. She would circle the date, and cross the calendar everyday up to the day I come back.

Now I would do the same for her.