From My Heart


August 2013

Al Quran – A Miracle for Every Heart

Disclaimer: What I’m writing here mainly is not based on scholarly articles. I’m just writing from my heart.

* * *

Originally written on 31st July 2013, 0214hrs

Ramadhan this year started a little rough for me. A few changes happened in my life within a couple of weeks before the sacred month started, so I felt a little lost and numb. A friend who stayed with me for three years moved out to run after her dreams, the one already chasing his dreams left for peripheral rotations, the one who has already achieved her career dreams moved on to fulfill her personal dreams, and the person who was geographically far but close at heart came close by but distant in the mind and heart. All those on top of preparing for an exam of which I’ve failed a few times, and a few other unresolved and newly arisen issues that are, really, out of anyone’s control.

Obviously the usual advice is to renew my relationship with the Quran, since Ramadhan is the month of the Quran. I guess there’s no better time to move on to a new life than this blessed month.

My kakak Yasmin Mogahed once said that Allah took all those people away from us because He wanted us to focus on Him. Because He’s leaving that space open for better things.

She’s right.

* * *

The Quran is a miracle on its own. It’s sent down from God more than 1400 years ago, beginning in Ramadhan via the angel Jibrail (or some may call Gabriel) to our beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW. He taught the Quran by words and his actions. The very same words has been read and memorised by millions of Muslims since those days up to now. It’s unchanged and will never be changed (although intepretations vary according to a person’s faith and education). Allah has promised to protect it until the end of time.

It is amazing that, whenever we have any problems, open the Quran and you may find the solution.

Reading the Quran gives a certain peace and freedom in the heart that is not comparable with anything else in this whole world. Not even with seeing our mother’s faces. It gives this tranquility very deep inside our hearts that tells us to smile despite all that. That clear path that tells us that there’s hope.

Top that with remembering Prophet Muhammad SAW with his smile and patience and love and mercy, we could smile through hardships in our lives.

The Quran matures us, yet it keeps us young.

It heals all heartbreaks. To some extent the Quran heals our physical beings too. Well, at this point of time I could see that it’s on the way of curing my four-year-long obsession.

Try memorizing the Quran and your memory for other good things will increase too.

Being occupied with the Quran will give us no time to be occupied with unnecessary things. Yet somehow it gives us space in the mind to manage important matters in life.

The more we read the Quran on the daytime, the easier it is to wake up early in the morning for Qiyamullail.

It softens our hearts, makes us kinder, more considerate and somehow have the time and patience to do all that in this fast-paced world in which kindness is going extinct.

It helps us choose right from wrong, and makes it easier for us to choose the right even if it’s difficult.

It’s God’s words. What can be more miraculous than that?

* * *

Prophet Muhammad SAW once said that whoever reads the Quran and practice its teachings, then Allah will adorn his/her parents with beautiful clothes and crowns on their heads in the hereafter. Just imagine, our parents.

He also said that the best person is the one who learns and teaches the Quran.

The Quran will be our protector in the hereafter. So keep it not only in our hands, but we should try to keep it in our hearts. Bit by bit, we shall memorise.

* * *

I do wonder what people who dedicate their lives to learning, memorizing and teaching the Quran might feel. Just a little difference of time spent made a huge difference in the state of our souls. Just imagine what change can it bring when we spend majority of our times with it.

Learning from the Dying – Smile, Even When It’s Dark

This is a story about a man I met during my stay in Palliative Medicine.

Well, not exactly his story, but more of what I learnt from him during the last few months of his life.

Mr Khairi (not his actual name), he was 38 years old at that time, was referred to us from Urology department for pain control, having referred to them from Hospital Kuala Lumpur for further investigation of a kidney tumour. The way he presented was unusual – he had a lump over the jaw, which was quite painful and would not stop growing. Biopsies and scans showed that he had a type of cancer that came from one of his kidneys.

As with so many other patients, it took us a bit of time to introduce him to morphine and how to best use it so that his pain can be controlled and side effects will be minimal. No, it does not cause addiction if used in a person who has real pain, and it does not make someone drowsy for the whole day that they end up only sleeping and do nothing else.

By the time he was discharged, his pain was fairly well controlled, not totally reduced though. Like I said, as with other Malaysians, he’s afraid that he’d “depend too much on the medications” so he would want to keep the dose to its bare minimum. Well, quality of life is what the patient says it is.

He came in and out of our ward mainly for symptom relief. At the same time, he was also seeing oncologists in HKL for treatment of his cancer.

What strikes me the most about this man is the way he always smiled.

He would smile at us even when he comes in with pain or vomiting.

His smile would even become bigger when his pain is reduced, and vomiting has stopped.

Obviously he would smile at us all when he said goodbye everytime he’s discharged from the ward.

His wife was as friendly, but obviously constantly worried about him.

At one point he did another CT scan after completion of some radiotherapy to see whether his cancer has reduced in size, or spread further.

During one clinic review, I had the unfortunate (or honoured?) task of telling him the findings of his CT scan, which showed that the cancer has spread to more organs.

As always, he came in smiling, walking with his walking stick. His wife, with a worried face but smiling nontheless, followed in. He was a lot thinner than the first time I saw him. It looked like if the wind blows, he’d just fall off without the walking stick.

We started with the usual chit chat. About how his pain has been. How his life has been so far, what does he do at home with all the time in his hands. How many children he has and how were they coping.

In the end the dreaded question surfaced, “Doctor, how was my scan?”

I explained it to him, in an honest but tactful manner as taught and practiced. The fact that despite treatment, the disease has spread. Probably the oncology side may have something else that they could offer. Since he’s young, they might just go all out to try and stop the spread.

“Actually doctor, the oncologist has already told me even before the first round of treatment. She said this tumour might not respond very well. If the first round was not effective, then nothing probably would…” he said with a quiet voice.

“So now we’ll just wait and see…” said the wife.

She started crying. He stayed in silence.

It was all I could do to prevent myself from starting to cry.

“It’s ok, doctor,” he said. “I understand. They have told me about this earlier.”

He looked at his crying wife. His smile, sincere as always, although smaller than what he came in with, is still there. “It’s ok. We’ll be fine. We’ll be fine.”

* * *

They left the room after his wife has stopped crying, a few more quiet words, and promise to come back if he has any problems.

I closed the door to the clinic, sat on the examination couch, and started crying myself.

What a loss for this world, a fine, polite young man, leaving so early in this life.

* * *

A few weeks later, he came back to our ward. Extremely thin this time, his eyes almost protruding because of the loss of surrounding fat. He smiled, as always, but it looked a little sad and tired.

This time he had low blood sugar. No matter what we did, it stayed low. It was difficult to put in IV lines for him this time around, as he was dehydrated. He did not even complain when we had to prick him a few times.

There’s a period of time before a person’s death that they appear to not be in this world anymore. The way they look at you, the way they smile, the way they stare into space, the way they half-listen to anything anyone says…those signs make them seem like their bodies are still alive, hearts still beating, but their souls are trying to leave their bodies. You could feel that the end is near.

That admission was his time.

It was a Sunday. I was not ready to discharge him yet, but he kept on asking his wife to bring him home. I was worried that she would not be able to cope, and she was as worried too. However, since it was his request, both of us agreed that perhaps it would be best for him to stay at home.

“May I, go home, doctor?” he asked, with a smile, but his eyes staring into space beyond me.

“Of course, of course,” I said.

As his wife pushed him out of the ward, he gave a wave goodbye to me, of course, smiling.

* * *

It was the last time I ever saw him.

His cousin was actually one of our mortuary staff. He brought the news to me one night when I was on call, a few days late.

All I could remember was his smile.

* * *

This song always reminds me of him, everytime it’s aired on radio. The last few verses are so real, it cuts really deep inside.

“Teman Pengganti” by Black and Malique.

Ketawa bersama, menangis bersama

Ku bersumpah harap kita mati pun bersama

Sejak dua menjak ini, makin kerap ku diganggu visi

Bila celik, juga bila mimpi, aku nampak kau, tapi bukan aku yang di sisi

Dia membelaimu dengan izin dan permisi, sentuhan katanya semuanya kau iakan

Sentuhan jari kau diamkan dan biarkan

Aku redha walau tidak ku damba

Walau hampa semuanya dah dijangka

Beberapa purnama dulu cinta bertahta

Kenangan dibina kita indah belaka

Ketawa bersama, menangis bersama

Ku bersumpah harap kita mati pun bersama

Namun hakikatnya, bukan mudah aku sembunyikan gulana-gundah

Segalanya kan berubah

Dengarkan apa yang ku mahu luah

Rahsia ini telah lama ku pendamkan

Tiba masanya segala-galanya ku ceritakan

Aku kan pergi, pergi ku tak akan kembali

Tiba masanya kau cari teman pengganti

Dalam dunia yang maya, prejudis dan bias

Kita tak terlepas dari terkena tempias

Rimas, ditindas, sembunyi dalam puisi dan kias

Tidak kau bidas, tak berpaling walau sekilas

Hanya kau yang tahu kodeksku yang kompleks

Dalam disleksia cuba kekal dalam konteks

Bila dunia seolah tak memahami, kau sudi selami, dalami dan mengalami

Setia mendengar, sentiasa hadir

Ingat setiap ulangtahun, setiap hari lahir

Tiba pagi Syawal, kaulah yang terawal

Syawal yang terakhir ini pasti rasa janggal

70 000 hijab harus ku singkap

Ku sorok kitab balik tingkap penjara hinggap

Dalam diam ada seorang yang ku puja

Kau teristimewa tapi Dia yang sempurna

Sejak dua menjak ini, ku mencari fungsi kewujudan

Dalam persekitaran yang penuh kejumudan

Terperangkap dalam jasad, ku keliru

Mujur ada kau si peneutralisasi pilu

Namun aku tetap murung, berkurung

Tubuh makin susut, menunggu tarikh luput

Komplikasi di halaman rusuk kiri

Makin sukar nak bernafas, nak bergerak, nak berdiri

Lagu ini yang terakhir aku sajikan

Kalau rindu nanti bolehlah kau nyanyikan

Jaga diri, jangan makan hati

Yang patah kan tumbuh, yang hilang kan berganti

Bilik dah ku kemas, katil dah ku rapi

Cincin, kunci, dompet dalam laci

Ada sikit wang, itu saja baki

Moga-moga cukup untuk majlis itu nanti

Aku kan pergi bertemu kekasih abadi

Tiba masanyaKau cari teman pengganti

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