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Maria-Syamsi

From My Heart

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December 2014

Khadija by Resit Haylamaz – A Book Review

When I excitedly ordered this book, I already had four books to finish (by now I have already read three of them; the last one is a leisure read so it’s ok to slow down and indulge). I can’t even remember whether I specifically searched for this book from Amazon, or it appeared during my search for other books.

This book is about Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) beloved wife, Saidatina Khadija (RA). I have always wanted to know more about her, but all this while I knew a little. Muslim women know that she is THE wife, THE woman to look up to, to emulate. Their love story is legendary and you will never find any other like theirs, ever, on this whole wide world.

The book was not as I expected, although I do not mean it in a negative light. I thought the book is like an encyclopaedia about her, with hard cover and thickness of about 200 pages. Having expected that, I did wonder how I was going to finish reading it. The price is quite cheap for such a precious book, priced at around £6.

It turned out to be a thin paperback. When it arrived, I thought, no wonder it’s cheap. Well, it’s entirely my fault that I did not check with Amazon the details of the book. It was good, though, because there’s more chance that I could read it cover to cover (which I did).

My second expectation was I thought it’s written like a textbook, like many other Islamic books. Again, I was wrong. It was written in a narrative, like a story book, so it was easier to read and understand. It made reading faster; I managed to finish the book within three sittings (in between family and work obligations). Reflection of the contents came later.

Yes, the book is written as a narration of Khadija’s life, and Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) life after hear demise. It started with an introduction about her background and her family tree, and proceeded to how she got to know about our beloved Prophet.

Things that I learnt from the book:

(1) Marriage is about companionship
Nowhere in the book is written that the secret to a happy man is through his stomach.
Nowhere in the book said that Khadija was a great cook (although I believe that she’d do her best in everything that she prepared for her beloved husband).
The recurrent theme in the book was how loyal she was to Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) throughout their life together. She was his pillar of strength, being there for him no matter how difficult it became.
She always gave beautiful words of encouragement and support whenever he came to her for comfort.
Marriage is about facing this difficult life together. Their sons passed away when they were infants. Instead of breaking them, they grew stronger as life throws another challenge at them.

(2) There’s more to being a wife apart from staying at home and cook
Growing in an Asian culture in which the women are expected to be the queen of the kitchen, and to safeguard the husband’s house, this book showed a different perspective of marriage.
Khadija RA was a successful businesswoman long before she met the Prophet. She continued to be one even after they were married. Her income helped with the spread of Islam in its early years.
While I do feel that I’d prefer to be a stay-at-home mother than out the whole day working, I believe there’s nothing wrong with working to help the family. Khadija RA showed us that we could do both, even from more than a thousand years ago.

(3) He has his ambitions, and he needs your support
No matter how strong men show themselves to be, I’m pretty sure they’d appreciate it very much if you show your support in whatever he strives for.
There was a time when Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was very concerned with the state of the people around him. At that time, human beings were at a chaotic state. Lies, murder and war were considered normal, their minds and souls were corrupt, little girls were being murdered simply for being girls.
He often left the city of Mecca for the peace and quiet of the Cave of Hira to reflect on the condition of his people, trying to find enlightenment on how to set things right.
His faithful wife, Khadija, did not stop him from going away. She knew he wanted some peace of mind to think of the future of his people. She would send some provisions to the cave; sometimes through a messenger, but sometimes she’d go on her own.
She was the first Muslim; her faith comes from deep inside her soul, believing that there is no God but Allah, and that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is His Messenger.
The same goes to us. These days we have our own dreams and ambitions, and we’d want to achieve those. It is human nature to need support from other people, especially those very close to us. It would hurt more if our loved ones fail to show their faith and support, as compared to complete strangers.

(4) Be good, then good will come to you
Many men would want a wife like her, and women would want a husband like Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
However it’s only going to remain a dream if we do not work for it.
How do we work for it, though?
“A good man is for a good woman.” If you want a great husband or wife, you need to strive to be a better person everyday. It is only fair that we become the kind of person we want to see in others. It starts from ourselves, and the world will become a better place to live in.

One doesn’t need to be a wife to emulate Khadija. We could all learn from her fierce loyalty, her supportive nature and her beautiful words that could soothe anyone’s worries about this life. We could strive to be stronger in substance to be able to face this life in peace, even when the world around us is an utter chaos.

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Miracles of the Quran: A Short Commentary of a Documentary

I was interested on what this man has to say about the Muslim scientists of the past.

I’d say that this is an interesting documentary. I stayed watching for the whole hour.

Of course, when secular thoughts try to study the Muslim scientists of the past, they often fail to grasp some things, things that they refuse to believe or even try to put themselves in those shoes. They only see things that are visible to the naked eyes but will never be able to feel the curiosity the Muslim scientists had, or comprehend the motivation behind it.

They thought that if they are motivated by money and power, that’s what the Muslim scientists were motivated with. They have never understood how the Quran and Prophet Muhammad SAW’s words encouraged knowledge and scientific discovery to no end.

Science is merely discovery of God’s creations and power. It is the discovery of truth. As scientists, knowledge and truth satisfy them and brought them closer to God, and THAT is the true motivation. I believe that even without the money and power bestowed by their leaders, these scientists would have continued pursuing knowledge.

Hence they seek knowledge from ALL corners of the world, no matter where they came from, because Allah has told us that His sustenance could come from ANYwhere in this whole wide world.

If you read the Quran and have it in your heart, you will never be satisfied with just a little bit of knowledge. You will always want to know more, learn more, and do more things, until the end of your life.

Now THAT is one of the miracles of the Quran.

Science and Islam – A Documentary from BBC

Of House Officers and Hard Work

Reading the grumblings of house officers and reply letters from medical officers, registrars, specialists and even the Director General of Health Ministry made me look back at my own experience during housemanship. It brought about some really great memories throughout those years.

I might write about it later but what I’m going to do now is to write about surviving this two rather difficult training years (which is the beginning of many many long and hard years). I know our colleague Dr Lutfi has written quite a good list of some survival skills:

Idiot’s Guide to Surviving Housemanship

My list is perhaps a little different. We’ll see.

1. The beginning will always be difficult
It is human nature to struggle when we start something. When a baby starts walking, he keeps on falling. But he doesn’t give up. At first he might cry when he falls, but you’d notice that after getting up and falling again, and getting up again, trying to walk, he’d not only start running very soon, but he might also laugh if he falls.
You cannot give up learning. Everyday as a doctor is a learning process – for a house officer, medical officer, registrar, specialist or even a consultant. To start learning is difficult but if you open your mind and heart, you will soon start running.

2. Not only doctors have it difficult. Everyone goes through the same thing too
If you think only junior doctors struggle, you should talk to other people. When my brother started working as an analyst, he worked day and night, with small pay. He had to work weekends and, unlike us, don’t get to claim much “overtime allowances” despite considered a professional.
My grandfather used to complain that my aunt, despite having studied overseas for her accounts degree, worked day and night for the first years in her working life, earning a few hundred ringgit per month!
Another brother of mine started his own business after graduation, working hard weekdays and weekends, and after two years just starting to see some improvements of his income, managed to pay a few workers, and even take university students as interns!
I’m sure you could find lots of other examples. Talk to your parents. Have they gone through difficulties in life? What did those experience teach them?

3. Hard work IS essential
I’m sure you’ve heard the when-I-was-a-houseman story many many times before. But let me tell you this, if you really want to be a successful doctor in the future, look at the consultants. Talk to them. Dato Razak once told me that “you could die standing” if you were a medical officer in his time. You see where he is now. He would never reach his current level of expertise without that much hard work.
Dear parents, please know that all those smart-looking, respectable and/or rich consultants and professors did not reach that level without spending long days and long nights in the hospital. The great quality of care that you feel you may have enjoyed after seeing those consultants in Sime Darby or Gleneagles or KPJ or Prince Court Medical Center could never have been achieved if they have cried to their parents or write a letter to the prime minister saying that work have been really hard on them.

4. However, you DO need a shoulder to cry on
While I believe in hard work, I do believe that we will feel stressed, sad, frustrated or burnt out. As much as we love our jobs, our body would feel it and send some signals. The problem with Asians is we expect too much from each other. We expect doctors to work like superman and judge them when they say “I’m tired.” I saw a snippet of a newspaper article saying that “healthcare workers should not feel tired as they should have been mentally prepared for a busy job.”
I don’t think it’s fair to expect someone to work long hours everyday for weeks without end. However in some situations, it might not be avoidable. It happened to me when I was a house officer in orthopaedics and general medicine.
I was lucky that my early years were not only bearable but enjoyable because I had someone on my side. Someone whom I looked up to and would always guide me whenever I have doubts. Someone who had gone through it all and even more. Someone who was protective enough but at the same time encouraged me to move on. Someone who encouraged me to work hard and was patient with me if I had to leave work late, which happened a lot during housemanship.
You NEED social support. You need it whether you’re sad, happy, stressed or feel like quitting the job altogether. Be it your own colleague, your life partner, or even your parents.
I do sincerely hope that parents, on top of being their shoulders to cry on, would encourage their doctor sons or daughters to stand up straight and carry on learning. I hope parents would motivate their children to become compassionate and responsible doctors, the way they expect their own doctors to be.

5. PLEASE be nice to the support staff
If there’s one thing that could help you survive and enjoy housemanship, that would be to be nice with the support staff. Mainly the nurses. A house officer and the nurses spend the most time in the ward with patients. Please don’t look down on the nurses. Many of them know better than you. There’s so much we could learn from them.
Talk to them with respect, say your please and thanks, be friendly, maybe buy them supper when you work nights with them, even take your short break with them (in turns, of course). Nothing else get Malaysians closer than having a meal together.
The ward attendants and even the cleaners are also great helps when you need them. Just look around, they are there for you.

6. Take a break
This is related to point number 4. It is not always possible, but try to plan some leave, some quality time with family, or just for yourself. Discuss with each other, take turns. If you could ALL learn to do work more efficiently, I think your seniors would not mind having less house officers to work with. The important motto is: “as long as the work is done.”

7. Remember your purpose
I’d say that this is the first principle. It’s the same with everything in life.
First you need to get your purpose right. Then you need to gain the knowledge to achieve your purpose, and you must use the knowledge you have for that matter. In the end, you must reflect on whether or not you’ve achieved your objectives, and are there any collateral damages of not reaching your targets.
Example (1): Your objective: manage atrial fibrillation with rate control, rhythm control and anticoagulation. Knowledge needed: medications, procedures, side effects. Apply knowledge. Reflect: review heart rate, rhythm, symptoms of failure, presence of side effects.
Example (2): You’re a doctor. Purpose: save lives and/or keep them comfortable, maximise quality of life. Knowledge and application: from years of long days and hard work. Not achievable by missing in action and spending energy complaining the whole time. Also not achievable by being calculative with friends and seniors. Reflect: the amount of confidence others have in you. So if you’re not off-tag after two weeks, or extended in the department, please think deeply of what you have not achieved. Your seniors mostly want you to be safe when you finish housemanship. Imagine, if your best friend said he trusts you for his mother’s life, would you be able to trust yourself?
Example (3): As Muslims, we believe that the purpose of this life is to serve Allah as His humble servants, in order to get His blessings for an eternal happiness. It can be achieved by fulfilling specific obligations that He has prescribed, and giving benefit to the mankind. One of those ways is by working hard, helping other people, being kind and friendly, and avoiding things that would distract us from remembering Allah. By being responsible doctors, we ARE fulfilling our purpose. Gain knowledge (ilmu) and apply them (amal). Reflect (muhasabah): Look back on how we treated our patients. Would Prophet Muhammad SAW be happy if he saw us like this? Do we need more knowledge? We will ALWAYS be in need of more knowledge.

Let’s strive to serve our purpose. We have people’s lives in our hands. There is no shortcut to perfection, there is no easy way to succeed. Not many will appreciate our hard work, and they will always complain no matter how hard we try to explain that we are humans. But first, do no harm. That could not be achieved unless you start and continue learning.

Good luck.

* * *
This article is in no way defending abusive attitude of some seniors. By abusive I meant those who shout and swear for no reason (nobody should swear), calling names, and even sexually harassing (directly or indirectly) junior colleagues. These bullies exist in ANY profession. You might run away from this job but others have it hard too.
This article does not defend those unreasonable seniors who extends house officers without valid reason. In the first place you should look into yourself and gain some insights on how you’ve performed so far.
Colleagues please try as much to be honest, even if that person is “somebody’s” son or daughter. It’s sad that such a culture still exist where you don’t “touch” certain doctors just because they are connected. But that’s another story altogether.

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Early Morning Finds

Today is the first time I went to the Big Bad Wolf book sale. I have heard about it all this while, and almost all of the cheap books that I saw brought back were old books. However this year I decided to give it a try.

We don’t like crowds, we hate traffic jams, we prefer not to queue, so we left home at 4.30am. True enough, there were many people but it was not crowded. It was quite comfortable to browse for books.

We have set in mind a certain genre to look for, because there will be too many books to browse through.

These were my findings, and I’m happy:

The Diabetes Companion
It was not my intention to buy something medical-related. There were so many books about diabetes, but this one attracted me because it was written by an Endocrinologist. Deviating from my usual inclination to British-written books, this is written by a Singaporean. It is written for laymen in simple language, which would be great for me to educate my patients.

Real Simple Solutions
This book has loads and loads of pictures (which I love!). It teaches you tricks, short cuts and alternatives in our daily tasks at home, in the kitchen or in the office. It also gives you ideas to simplify elaborate events like entertaining and celebrating. I could use some tips as I always end up not meeting my own deadline whenever I have guests (who, 99% of the time, are my family members).

Save With Jamie
A proper Jamie Oliver cookbook, complete with how to choose your steak and joint your chicken, and meals that take less than 30 minutes to prepare. Would have been perfect for Anis as she lives in the UK and most of the ingredients are easily obtained there, and cheaper too.
I love the way he writes his cookbooks because he often gives detailed instructions on how to prepare the food.

Flower Gardening
“When I was in Melbourne the other day, I saw some small white flowers, but I don’t know what they were. So I was reminded of you. I wanted to take a photo and send it to you, but I had no internet connection at that time,” he told me.
I told him, “Guess what. Even though I love to photograph flowers, and I do love flowers, but I do NOT know most of their names!!”
It so happened that about a week before that conversation, I had a thought to myself, that perhaps I should get a book on the names of flowers. I have loads of photos of flowers but, as I said, I couldn’t name them!
The latest Cecelia Ahern’s book spoke about gardening, and she described different flower characteristics. I could not picture any of them.
Hence this book.

Just One Pot
I sort of grabbed this book on my way out. I think it is suitable for someone like me, who’s always in a hurry to do a lot of things before I get too tired. I need to be more efficient, so I guess this is one of the ways to do it.
It includes soups, stews and even baked goodness!! 🙂

Everything You Need to Know About Everything You Need to Know About the Universe
Recently I got interested in astronomy after reading a post in buzzfeed about the size of the observable universe through the Hubble telescope. Couple that with verses in the Quran about the creation of the sun, moon, earth and the stars, as a sign of the existence of God, I totally fell in love.
I browsed through amazon.co.uk and found some books about astronomy. However some of them were a little biased, written by some close-minded people who, despite seeing all the greatness of this universe, failed to see anything BEYOND all that.
Oh, well..Allah has spoken about them in surah Yaasin, about how some people have walls in front of them, and walls behind them, hence they could not see. So I’d better keep calm and read, because these people do exist.
This particular book is more of a glossary, rather than a narrowed opinion about what the universe actually is.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio 20
My sister and I happened to be in London when the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition was held in the Natural History Museum. We went to the museum as Syazwan suggested, and found that this exhibition was on. We decided to pay for it and it was worth every pound!!
The photos were breathtaking as much as enlightening, the photographers were as young as 10, and I even resolved to enter the competition as an amateur. Well, I have nothing to lose.
But I did not enter the competition. At least not this year. Heheh.
I was browsing through the photography section and saw this. I was glad I took this with me, because the pictures were as amazing as the ones we saw in the museum.

Complete Photography Manual
I went by this book a few times before deciding to buy it. I already have two, but somehow this guide has more graphics than the ones I had (or more of from what I remember).

Work – The World in Photographs
I might have said this so many times before: one of the reasons photography attracted me was National Geographic magazines. In the Big Bad Wolf book sale, there was a specific table just for their books, but sadly there were only a few. This is one of the few photography books that they had, and since I love their capturing of daily activities, I guess I would love this.

I’m rather pleased with my selections. I’m going to start on them very soon. 🙂

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True Love

There are three things that I wanted most in this life.

Within 18 hours of this day, it has proven that none of them is getting nearer, and tonight, two of them seem to be getting further away from being a reality.
* * *

It was just yesterday evening that a thought came to my mind. I thought, perhaps I do not understand the meaning of hope and prayers with regards to making du’a to Allah SWT. Well, actually I do understand some things, but when I ponder upon it, I guess it was all too superficial.

We know Allah is the Owner of everything in this universe. He is so Rich, we could ask just about anything from Him. He is so Merciful, that He would grant everything that we ask for. Of course, in His own terms that He deemed best for us:

(1) Right away
(2) Later when we’re ready
(3) In exchange with something else better for us, which includes a place in heaven instead of hell, simply for believing in Him, having such a faith to have prayed towards Him. Yes.

While we pray to Allah for many things; wealth, safety, a great life partner, healthy children, a good job, nice boss, good business, to pass exams, for our parents’ health, it all seem so…..dunia. Worldly. Temporary.

I’m speaking about myself. I think I pray too much about what I wanted in a short term, rather than in the distant, more important future, which is the hereafter. Those three things I wanted not only consume my mind when I pray, they consume my energy throughout the day.

But somehow the largest issue, the reason for my existence, the end result of everything that I do in this life, gets side-tracked. It occupies a slightly smaller part of the du’a.

Yes, we know we can ask Allah SWT for anything at all. He could move mountains and stars and planets, why can’t He move hearts? Of course He could! Although, shouldn’t our main prayer, main wish, main NEED, be His blessings, so that we could get into His Jannah? Shouldn’t it be our aim, no matter what happens in this life?

We asked for this and that to make this life perfect, when the actual aim is, no matter what happens, the most important thing is that we get His Mercy and Blessings, so that we could enter His paradise, forever and ever.

No matter if we don’t pass our exams, no matter if we couldn’t get that person as our life partner, no matter if we weren’t millionaires in this life, no matter if we’re only blessed with two kids because we got married late and had too many pregnancy complications, no matter if our children do not win best student award every year.

As long as we become better people in His views, as long as we could overcome all the obstacles in life with patience, as long as we could survive all of life’s challenges with strength and grace, the way He taught us to, as long as He blesses us with His Mercy and Compassion, that should be good enough.

No, I’m not saying that it’s wrong to ask for all those worldly things. He could grant us anything, seriously.
But we need to remember our main purpose in this life, as that is the only sure way to eternal happiness.

* * *
You were right, my dear. I don’t care about it.

I just care more about you than you ever knew.

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