Peace and Tranquility

Thank you for those four amazing weekends.

It gave such a peaceful feeling – sitting and listening to the lectures, focusing on Allah’s words explained by this man, after spending hectic mornings managing our worldly chores.

I had the same out-of-this-world feeling when I attended Ilmfest in Putrajaya in May this year, especially so when I sat through Sheikh Yasir Qadhi’s lecture about the Parables of Light.
Brother Nouman gave longer lectures from the same surah.

It also feels the same as the time I sat with my mother and brother’s fiance listening to Sheikh Ahsan Hanif’s explanation on Surah Al Mulk in Ramadhan this year.

The tranquility was so deep, I did not want to leave any of the lectures. I felt like staying in and listen and listen until forever.

Of course, we can do that in jannah. But not here.

For the whole point of learning the religion is so that we could live our lives in the best possible way, which would, in turn, help us with our lives in the hereafter. The point of listening to these people are partly so that we could go out and face the challenging world, hopefuly making it easier for others too.

* * *
I am having some withdrawal symptoms. Sigh…

During the first weekend Brother Nouman was here, the sound system in the masjid was not so good and I could not see him. Hence I thought maybe it wouldn’t make much difference whether I listen to him live, or from the internet.

Even though it is a nice feeling to know that he’s in the country.

But as the weeks go by, I could feel the difference. The others who were in the masjid near me seemed to feel the same way. We wished we could do this every weekend – get away from this world for a few hours to listen to him talk lovingly about the Quran.

Different people have different influence in my life, even though they all speak mainly about the contents of the Quran. Like Imam Suhaib Webb, he introduced me to the Arabic grammar and how every word in the Quran is a perfect fit. Sister Mariam Amirebrahimi would inspire me to be productive. The beloved Sister Yasmin Mogahed helped me through my emotions. Sheikh Yasir Qadhi told stories upon stories from the Quran. I particularly love his explanation on surah Al Kahfi.

Brother Nouman, for me, has motivated me to do the best in fulfilling my responsibilities. I am at this very low motivational state of which I’d do only the bare minimum of what is expected of me, and even then, with dragging my feet. His lectures reminded me about the hope that each of us have.

He’s only 36 and he’s inspired so many people around him. And I’m just a few years younger but I felt that my contribution in life is way behind. But he reminded me (and many of us) that we should not despair. Allah wanted to see us do the best with whatever we have in our hands. Allah has given each of us different responsibilities, the only thing we need to do is fulfill all. Then we can move on to others.

The above people have, by Allah’s will, helped me get out of bed every morning.
They helped me greet everyone at work with a smile.
It becomes easier to tell myself to not grumble even when I had to stay up through the night, just to keep one person alive until the morning comes.
It was easier to get up and help a fellow colleague when I could have slept the whole night when I’m on call.

* * *
It is easy to get attached to the person whom we listen to everyday, especially if it is the same person.
In my efforts to be careful not to be too attached (the idea is to love the message, instead of being attached to the teacher), I’d try to rotate amongst them as much as I could.
So far it has worked.

* * *

I pray that Allah will grant all of us jannah, so that we could spend forever in peace and tranquility.

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Divorce 2

My heart broke when I read about it.

I was sitting with my colleague and my specialist in an office when I stumbled upon the sad news. She had finalised her divorce. Tears dropped. Everything around me became a blur.

We all knew, as she has written in her heart-moving articles, that she has strong emotions and attachments. Her name linguistically means “a fragile flower, a fighter” which makes you wonder, how could somebody so fragile be a fighter? But I guess it is the wonder of this life. Grass and small flowers usually don’t get damaged in a storm, but large trees get uprooted.

A small part of me said, “now nobody should say anything. Even a pious reliilgious teacher like her got divorces. What is it with all the stigma, then?” No, I was not happy or relieved, but somehow it did give me some consolation.

I certainly hope and pray that she will stay strong through all this. I know she will find strength through the words of Allah, the words that she has introduced to us all this while. May Allah continue to bless her life, and make her happy, the way she has inspired thousands upon thousands of others, including myself, to go through our lives as best as we could, no matter what happens in life.

* * *
The most amazing thing about her is, she did not use her popularity to speak ill against her ex-husband.

She did not use the social media platform to show that she’s innocent and he’s guilty for the breakdown of this sacred relationship.

She carried on with her life as the rest of us should do – with grace and strength.

* * *
I realized, painfully, that as I grew older, more and more marriages break down. Each of the divorces among my friends broke my heart, even when the marriage has been troubled for many years. I thought they managed to figure things out, you see.

I’m certainly not in the position to say anything about all these break ups. In fact 10% of couples get divorced. It’s just that, you wish it is not one of your friends, or your family members. You wish the statistics will go down, and even if it stays, you hope it is someone you don’t know. There are some things in life that you don’t want to be a pioneer in.

And I know for a fact, among those couples that stay together, not all of them are harmonious.

The thing is, I do hope that the fights don’t continue online. I believe in most cases, both sides have their own share of faults and guilt over the break up. Nobody is perfect and there will always be parts that don’t fit no matter how they tried.

I believe that if one continues to say bad things about the ex-partner online, it only reflects that person, not so much of the ex. Yes, maybe the ex has faults, maybe the ex did this and that unacceptable thing, maybe it truly was evil, what the ex did, but that person shared a life with you at one point of time.

By you screaming and shouting online, one could only sum up that you have been screaming and shouting behind closed doors. By trying to smear you ex-partner’s name, you’re only smearing your own reputation. Even when what your ex-partner did was TOTALLY wrong.

The best way to uphold your reputation is to uphold your manners. Then only you will have less to answer, if there ever is a question.

* * *

Do you know that Prophet Muhammad SAW said, the worst thing a man could do is sleep with his wife and talk about it to others the next day?

I know he meant the intimacy. But don’t you think the same goes to everything else that happened in the household? Do you know how much it hurts when someone talks about you, on the thing that is strictly, STRICTLY confidential?

Do you remember that Prophet Muhammad SAW also said, “Those who cover the shame of others, Allah will cover their shame on the day of judgement,”?

Even if the other side is waging a war against you online, in front of everyone you both know, don’t you think it is good manners to NOT do the same?

I know how tempting it must be to let more people know about your fight and struggle, so that they may be able to help you, or at least pray for you. But everything has its limits.

* * *

Having said all that, good manners are not for show. Good manners is a means to get closer to Allah SWT.

Good manners is not used for maintaining one’s reputation, and if we are in the right path, it does not matter what other people say about us. The only thing that matters is how Allah sees us.

BUT good manners do beautify this world, so by having good manners, we help make this world a more peaceful place to live. Isn’t that a nice thing to do?

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Rohingya

During the course of my job, I have met a few of them who managed to get to this city, some of them many years ago.

There was a lady who was ill with cancer and longed to go back to Myanmar, but with her condition, it was not possible. We had difficulties resolving all of her symptoms as she could not speak our language. She had a difficult pain to control, I think we finally managed to reduce at least most of it. She passed away in this peaceful country of ours.

After a few years I met a middle aged Rohingya man. He was very friendly and cheerful, both of us yet to know what was going on inside him.

Naturally as a doctor I needed to find out his social and family background. At that time I have just heard about the situation in Myanmar. So we spoke a bit more.

He felt very thankful that he has reached this country many years ago. This peaceful country is so much unlike his. “The people around me are very nice. They helped me in every way. They were there for me with every difficulties I faced. The people in the masjid took me as their own.”

He told me that the imam of the masjid married him with an Indonesian lady. “They are very nice people, I am very thankful,” he said repeatedly, with a smile on his face.

When I asked him about what is actually happening in Myanmar, he did not want to explain in detail. “You don’t want to know about the horrors that has been happening, doctor.” One of his legs was amputated, he blamed it to the oppressing side.

So I asked him, “Why is it that BOTH sides seek refuge? You Rohingya people are here, and so is the oppressing side.” I gaped at the answer; it appears that there is another side who is lighting the fire between the Muslims and the Buddhists.

But it was all behind him. He has had a happy, peaceful life here in this country, and I can say he is one very grateful man. He kept on praising and thanking Allah for giving him the opportunity to live in peace, and appreciating the people around him who became his family when he has lost his own.

Sadly he passed away not so long after that with a ruptured cancer.

A year passed and I saw another man. Another colleague of mine was taking care of him. He was found having seizures and was brought to the hospital by an ambulance. He could not speak any Malay or English, he could only tell us he’s fron Myanmar. He said he is Muslim.

So my well-meaning friend called the Myanmar embassy to ask them to help this man get a place to stay when he’s discharged later. They told her, “He’s not from my country.” But this man kept on saying that he is from Myanmar. My friend and our specialist and consultant were bewildered.

When I was on call one weekend, I told the specialist. “He’s from Myanmar, but he’s a Muslim. I don’t think they want to take him back.” He asked me why.

I asked him back, “Do you know what is happening over there?”
“No, I don’t,” he answered.
So I told him about the crisis in Arakand and how the Rohingyans were oppressed. That’s why some of them ran away.
“Oh, I did not know all that.”

“If we send him back to his country, he might just be murdered as soon as he landed there. If we wanted to do that, we might as well have not saved his life at the first place. So he’s staying here,” I gave my opinion.

Two weeks down the line, he was well, but still in the ward, getting chubbier each day. “He eats a lot now, doctor,” the nurses told me. “We’d give him extra food from other people who did not eat theirs, and yes, he could finish two plates of rice at one sitting.”

I hope he has found somewhere to stay.

* * *

I hope and pray that our country will remain peaceful.

Any racist thoughts and ideas should be nip in the bud. Although in some people, racism has put a firm grip on their hearts.

The oppressing Myanmar who seek refuge here would find that he’s treated by Muslim doctors.

The same goes in our country too. No matter who you are, where you come from, what colour is your skin, if you come in with a heart that has stopped pumping, we would still do a CPR for you. We would still try to save your lives.

And by WE, it can mean people from different colours and belief system.

Because despite whatever difference we have, we are all still brothers in humanity.

So Happy Together

I could pretend
That we are together

I could pretend
That we love each other

I could always tell you all my worries
Coz I know you would listen to all my stories

Not only that, you would say beautiful words
So my heart would smile, the wounds no longer hurt

But you said it’s enough, you won’t give more than that
Although you don’t know, those gave springs to my steps

I’m sure you’ll be there when I needed to cry
But what’s the point, we’re floating in the skies

Coz when you have to go away
My heart would break

That’s why being apart
Would bring peace to my heart

Thank you for your smile
Thank you for saying hi
Thank you for leaving behind whatever that has passed by

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The Inspiration to be Thankful

It takes a lot of effort to be thankful when so much of what you already have is being taken away one after another.

Your family, good companion, motivation, memory, energy, strength…

But when you start counting all your past blessings, and when you remember how all those good and seemingly-bad-but-actually-great things that has happened in the past made you the kind of person you are now, it gives you the strength to go on, one difficult day after another.

Nouman Ali Khan on 46:15

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The Festival of Knowledge 2015: Optimism At Times of Tribulation

Disclaimer: This article is mainly about my experience attending the conference, rather than the contents of it. I have shared some of the contents elsewhere, and I will, insyaaAllah, write a few more articles about the jewels that I managed to pick up from there.

I may have mentioned this before, but I’ll say this again. Ilmfest 2015 was held in Putrajaya in May, at the same time I finished my neurology posting. It was also held after two emotionally and spiritually challenging months for me. I had the worst (best?) emotional roller coster ride since 6 years ago. It was a ride that had me asking “what is the point of all this, really?”, one that had me feeling that something shattered me as if none that I have worked for all this while has worked, one that had me open my eyes to hope, to the sunshine after the rain, and that had me look back and say “the hard work I put in actually paid, alhamdulillah!”.

With the theme of “Optimism At Times of Tribulation”, it was definitely what I needed the most.

All of us go through difficulties in life, in one form or another. It is the nature of this life in this world. It has been promised to us that all of us would go through tests, and the level of difficulty would depend on our views in life, our faith in what is going to happen next.

It does not matter whether you’re tested with problems of health, finances, knowledge, authority, marriage (or the lack of it), friendship, work or anything at all, the answers in the Quran are the same. We may start wondering why, but that is not the only question we should ask.

We shall all respond in a positive manner – to find the solution, fully believing that Allah has the answer to every problem. We just need to find it.

We shall also look back into ourselves, what did we do wrong? Why did we, as humans gifted with forebrains and a complex limbic system, let this happen? So that we could learn a lesson and become better people, and not to learn to blame others (including God, or for some, the absence of God), for whatever is happening around us.

It is only when we look into ourselves, that we could remain upright. It is only when we correct ourselves, that we could move forward. Nobody in this whole world will do that for us. Nobody in this world will prepare us the right environment for us to thrive. We need to do it ourselves, then only we could be at peace no matter what life throws at us.

Whatever calamity that occurred to us has only one purpose: to build us up. They are not there to bring us down to despair, not to crush us that we could no longer stay upright.

“Everybody grieves, but you should not let your grief paralyse you,” said Sheikh Abu Eesa.

They also taught us to focus. Not to let any of the trials deviate us from our goals. In fact, those tests could be reminders for us to refocus, to stay on the right path. If we are focused on our targets, the trials will appear smaller and easier to handle.

* * *
The speakers.

They are such amazing people. To see them lined up in the stage was one of the most life changing experience.

Why?

These are the people who spent hours upon hours studying the book of Allah. They studied the Quran, they memorised the Quran word by word, they studied about the entire life of Prophet Muhammad SAW, they studied the books written by the people who studied the Quran, and there are thousands of those books!

These are not the only books they studied, some studied psychology, social science in college, some pharmacy, arts and design, chemical engineering and many more.

We could see that they are in love of what they are doing.

The was they smile when they were giving their lectures.
The way their eyes light up when they spoke about our beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW.
The way their faces brightened up for just imagining having dinner with the Islamic scholars of the past.

The way their voice softened and that gentle gaze appeared when they mentioned their wives, who sacrificed by being thousands of miles away from them, so that the husbands could go around the globe and spread knowledge.

The way they joked with each other, those peaceful-no-trolling kinds of jokes that are funny but did not hurt anybody.

The way peace and serenity seemed to descend on this earth when Sheikh Yasir Qadhi gave the talk on the Parables of Light. It was an out-of-this-world experience for me.

The gentle, friendly way they spoke to each other, as if they were brothers from the day they were born.

Well, they are, and we are, brothers and sisters in Islam.

The different sizes, skin colours , original ancestries of each of them, each of us. We all look different but none of that mattered at all. We are one, because we believe in one God, and we believe that Prophet Muhammad SAW is Allah’s messenger.

I love the way they say their prayers at the end each lecture. Praying that we will all be continuously guided, that we will all be at peace with whatever life throws at us, that we will all become more united, that the world will one day achieve a peaceful state.

Most importantly, that we should all continue to increase our contribution to the people of this earth, and become better servants of Allah SWT.

* * *

I could not thank Allah enough for giving these speakers guidance, that they could spread the light to people like us.

I could not thank Allah enough for giving us the opportunity to attend this conference.

Words could never describe the gratitude I have for those who sponsored this event.

All praises and gratitude is to Allah for sending down the Quran, as the guidance for all mankind.

* * *

If you asked me, did the conference fulfil my expectations?

I’d say, it exceeds expectations. :)

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The Doctor’s Advice

When the doctor tells you to quit smoking,
It’s up to you to follow his advice.
If you do not, you might or might not suffer the consequences.
It’s your choice.

When the doctor tells you to lose that extra weight,
It’s up to you to follow his advice.
If you do not, you might or might not walk with painful knees, get diabetes, or have sleeping problems.

When the doctor tells you to give birth in the hospital,
It is up to you where you choose.
You may or may not bleed to brain injury, and your child may or may not suffer even worse brain injury.
Your choice.

When the doctor tells you to vaccinate your kids,
You may think it is up to you.
But you have to know, it is a social responsibility to vaccinate, never really a personal choice.

BUT

If the doctor told you to come back and see your ill mother,
You would better do it.
You don’t have a choice.

Because it often means she is leaving this world.
If she does, and you did not follow the doctor’s order, you will regret it in your entire life.

Doctors could try to save lives.
But doctors could not wake up the dead.