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Maria-Syamsi

From My Heart

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October 2015

Prophetic Parenting – A Book Review

This is a book written by Dr Nur Muhammad Abdul Hafizh Suwaid, originally in Arabic titled “Manhaj at-Tarbiyyah an-Nabawiyyah lith Thifl”. It was written in 1983, and translated into formal Indonesian in 2010 that is rather easy to understand, except for perhaps a few unfamiliar words and concepts which would have been more accurate in its original Arabic version.

As we face the question of the quality of our education system, we must first ask ourselves, what do we expect from sending our children to school?
What is the outcome measure?

In Islam, the aim of education would be to produce a wholesome Muslim who is God-conscious and could contribute with his own very beat towards his society as well as the nation around him, as Prophet Muhammad (SAW – Peace be upon him) said, “The best of all people are the ones who gives most benefit to his people.”

That benefit would encompass spreading their knowledge, service towards the people, saving lives, spreading smile and happiness, and yes, making scientific discoveries that could benefit mankind for years to come. Each person has his own inclinations and abilities. Recognising this fact is one of the Prophet’s (SAW) traditions, and is evident as seen throughout this book.

This book is a good guidance on raising such a person. It gives us a picture on how Prophet Muhammad (SAW) raised and lead not only his children but the children around him, which became the key to the rise of Islamic civilisation in the 7th century.

Parenting begins with finding the right partner, and of course, BEING the right partner. The journey of raising good children is full of challenges, hence it would lighten the burden if it could be walked through with a partner who shares one’s views and ambitions. It is also to avoid confusions with regards to a child’s beliefs and principles, as both parents would show the same correct teachings. This is one of the reasons Muslims are told to only marry another Muslim, regardless of the colour of their skin, so that they will have similar objectives in raising their children.

It is clear from the beginning until the end of this book that Rasulullah (SAW) acknowledges the fact that every child is born with his own potential. This book guides us on the way Prophet Muhammad (SAW) recognised and encouraged every talent. He did not expect every child to have the same inclinations.

This brings us to our education system that teaches the same thing to every single child, and measures success as the ability to excel in all these subjects. Obviously this is unfair, and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has shown the correct way more than 1400 years ago. Education should not be rigid. It should cater every single child in the nation.

Rasulullah (SAW) also gave room for the child to grow – mentally and spiritually – and encourages the child in what the child loves. He would attend to the child’s questions and teach the child what he knows.

This book also spoke about the eternal bond that exists between parents and their children. It emphasises that this bond is not to be broken, no matter what comes in between them, regardless of whatever mistakes that the parents or children made towards each other. There should be forgiveness and a good relationship is to be maintained.

If every son and daughter complies to the Islamic teaching of caring for their parents until the end of their lives, there would be less elderly people left alone on hospital beds. There would be less unhappiness amongst the older generation and their general health would improve. Therefore this book stressed on the importance of being good to one’s parents throughout one’s life – even after the parents have passed away.

The author went on talking about the three fundamental things to teach a child, as soon as the child could speak (in addition to knowing Allah SWT):
(1) To love the Prophet (SAW)
(2) To love the family
(3) To teach the Quran

What follows is the importance of developing a good character (akhlak). The great Islamic scholars of the past were taught by their mothers to have good manners first before learning other religious and worldly subjects. The children of that era were also sent to other scholars to learn from their manners first before learning about their religion.

We could see the outcome now from Japanese education system of which the young children were taught develop good manners, character and discipline before proceeding to other kinds of worldly knowledge.

Amongst the traits of good conduct that were mentioned in this book were respect, integrity, honesty (most importantly from parents towards children), refinement of one’s appearance, in asking permission, suppression of jealousy and even etiquettes related to food and dining.

In raising a complete person, there needs to be emotional growth and balance. Rasulullah (SAW) himself showed the people around him that love could be displayed with hugs, kisses and play. The importance of listening to our children’s stories, concerns and questions were emphasised to enable a balanced emotional growth.

The importance of physical activities in cognitive development was also discussed. It is sad that these days, a lot of school bans all sorts of extra-curricular activities against the kids sitting for major exams in an attempt to achieve greater academic excellence. However, this idea is not in line with the thoughts of our Islamic scholars.

Imam Ghazali said, “After school, a child must be allowed to play, as recovery means from the exhaustion of studying.this is because a child will never tire out of playing. Preventing a child from playing by forcing him to keep on studying would kill the soul and reduce his intelligence. The child’s life would feel constricted, until he intends to escape all that even by lies and deceit.”

Seeking knowledge is OBLIGATORY for every Muslim. Education should begin as early as possible in view of children’s ease of learning, as compared to adults.

Education is at its utmost importance to Prophet Muhammad (SAW), that the prisoners of war at that tine were asked to teach Muslim children to write and read as a pre-requisite to their release. Rasulullah (SAW) also encouraged people to learn multiple languages as it would ease business dealings and spread of the religion.

A man told his children, “Learn all sorts of knowledge, for men are enemies against what he does not know, and I don’t want you to be an enemy to any fields of knowledge.”

The author wrote a out the role of parents and teachers to discover a child’s potential. One of the greatest recognition of a child’s aptitude in Islamic history was when the young Imam Al Bukhari was learning the science of fiqh (Islamic law). Muhammad bin Hassan realised that the science of hadith (Prophet Muhammad’s sayings and actions) was more suitable for Al Bukhari’s abilities. So he adviced Al Bukhari to busy himself with the knowledge of hadith – he grew up to be the most renowned scholar of hadith that the Islamic world has ever seen.

There are many other stories with lessons on how parenting and education should be, to ensure that growth of each and every child would fulfil his own unique potential, so that he could serve the people around m to his best ability.

* * *

This book should be read by both parents and teachers alike. It is also suitable for leaders as it guides a person towards developing a balanced, successful character.

It is a good book for engagement or wedding present, in view of its encouragement for development of exemplary character amongst parents, so that it could be followed by their future children.

I would give this book 9/10, and would keep it for my own reference, even when I don’t have kids at the moment. There are few topics that are a little unclear, or rather, not well integrated by the author into the needs of this age. Having said that, most of the lessons are applicable until the end of time.

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Yes, We Will

Feeling overwhelmingly emotional tonight.

I don’t know how many times I would put this photo up in my blog, but I guess at least until I finally pass this exam.

I know it symbolises something. A few things, in fact. One of those things is that we share one common goal.

* * *

“Adakala ku terasa ketabahan tak setegar
Tetapi apakah andainya berhenti di separuh jalan
Percayalah padaku, aku yakin kita mampu.”

* * *

We came from these places.
We have to go somewhere.
And we WILL.

* * *

“Aku sedar bukan mudah untuk mengecap mimpi indah
Pernah suatu ketika dulu ku punya harapan besar
Kini aku tak pasti
Dapatkah ku miliki?”

* * *

Thank you, my dear, for indirectly reminding me that I have a goal that I need to focus on.
Yes, I’d rather be emotional about this, than about other things that I could not control, things that has long gone from this life.
Rather than things that pulls me deeper and deeper into despair.

Despair. Such a strong word. But it is, a danger.

Without you knowing, of course.

But somehow. Somehow. You could always make me smile, no matter what I felt.

* * *

Can we make each other smile forever?
Please, God?

Yes, I get it. Exams first. Other things later.
Okay.

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Heroes of Palestine and Messages of Hope

Before I started studying medicine, I had in mind that when everything else falls in a country, doctors would be amongst the last ones standing. More than a decade down the line, I managed to see the proof, through the eyes of Dr Mads Gilbert, who has worked in a Palestinian hospital a few times during attacks by the Israeli governmental army.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a talk given by Dr Gilbert, who is an anaesthesiologist, as well as a Professor in Emergency Medicine in a university hospital in Norway. This article is not a verbatim of his inspiring talk, it is rather what I gathered from listening to him. I hope this would deliver some of his message to those who read this article.

* * *

“Imagine, you are a doctor. You are staying at home with your four children, your parents, and your grandparents. Then you received a call from the hospital, asking you to come to work because your city has been bombed.

What would you do?”

* * *

Dr Gilbert spoke at first about Tromso, the city in Norway he came from. Then he spoke about Norway being one of the best places in this world to live in, with its safety, economical and political stability, good education system and a great healthcare. He worked in a hospital of which every specialty is available, the system is good, and they could get any medicine that they needed.

“But of course, with prosperity, we have a duty to share,” he said. “I had to think about the less fortunate.”

While helping out in Shifa Hospital in Palestine, he learnt a lot more about the people, their faith, and their strength.

“I am not the hero of this story,” he told us. “The real heroes are the Palestinian doctors, nurses and paramedics. They never left their patients, and never left their people.”

As a doctor myself, his words touched me deep inside.

“Yes, I will come to work,” was the attitude of these heroes.

They are such a dedicated group of people that all healthcare workers around the world could learn from, especially us from privileged backgrounds. Not only that, the hospital staff were probably the best in the world to manage mass disasters, and the world could learn from them too.

Photos of their hospital might have captured total chaos, but according to Dr Gilbert, there is a good triage system in place of which patients are categorised according to the urgency of treatment needed.

During the 51-day siege of Gaza in 2014, 8592 patients came through the doors of their emergency department. 1802 of them were admitted, and among them, 842 people (including children) needed emergency surgery.

How did they cope with the amount of casualties and the limited resources?

“The Palestinians are masters of improvisation,” said Dr Gilbert.

In a normal hospital, one operating theatre would have one operating table. However, at times of dire need, they would at times fit in two operating tables in one room, so that two surgeries could run at the same time. In fact, the hospital could have up to 15 surgeries running together at the same time.

“How much resources and energy are we willing to spend to save just ONE life, in our daily work?”

The cases were, most of the time, complex. One patient would need expertise from at least two to three specialties, for example, neurosurgery (brain surgery), orthopaedics, and ENT (ear, nose and throat). In first world countries, these kinds of surgery would need a lot of planning and mobilisation of various resources, but Palestinians would immediately jump to their feet and try to save these lives.

Electricity cuts happened very often, and the hospital could not always use their generator. So when it gets dark during surgeries, Dr Gilbert would use his torchlight for the surgeons to be able to see what they were doing. Sadly, he was the only one with a torchlight because as a white man, he was able to bring it in. The Arabs of Palestine were not allowed by the Israeli government to bring in torchlight. So the doctors would use the lights from their handphones to continue with their surgery.

“They do exactly what is needed, and they save lives.”

Even the hospital cleaner worked very hard in this setting. He showed a photo of the hospital cleaner with his mop, smiling to the camera, in a room filled with blood, linen strewn all over in the hurried attempts to perform life-saving surgeries. This cleaner would clean the operating theatre within FOUR minutes, so that the next surgery could be done as soon as possible!

The ambulance paramedics risked their lives to save their people. Despite international laws prohibiting the attack of ambulances and hospitals, the Zionist army had damaged 47 Palestinian ambulances in Gaza in 2014 alone. 17 of Gaza’s 32 hospitals were damaged, and six closed down as a result of their attacks in 2014. 104 medical staff were injured or killed during that 51-day period.

There were paramedics who rushed out to fetch patients from disaster sites, but came back as martyrs themselves, brought in by other paramedics, because one of the bombs hit his ambulance. There was a staff who was brought in without any visible injuries – it seemed that he was too exhausted to go on. But after a few hours of rest in the hospital, he got up and started working again.

Dr Gilbert showed us a photo of a doctor attending to a patient. He pointed to a thin black wire hanging on the doctor’s white coat. “You know what that is?” he asked. “That is an earphone, attached to the doctor’s mobile phone. And he’s not listening to music.”

While he paused, the image of Ron Weasley in the movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came into my mind.

“This doctor, and the rest of the staff, were listening to radio reports on the areas attacked by Israel. They would want to know whether the area of their homes were being bombed.”

Let me elaborate. In that Harry Potter movie, Ron Weasley was traveling with Harry and Hermione to search for ways to destroy Lord Voldemort. It was war time for the magical community, and people got abducted and killed all the time. He was listening intently to the radio just to make sure that none of his parents or his six other siblings were killed in the war.

I did not know that this kind of thing happens in real world. Until yesterday.

* * *

It was Ramadhan when Israeli army decided to bomb Gaza. In total, there were 6000 airstrikes within 51 days, which means there were more than 100 attacks per day. There were sounds of war planes and drones and bombs all over.

The Muslim doctors continued to fast. So Dr Gilbert himself fasted together with the Muslims as a sign of respect and solidarity. He said, during surgery, when iftar (breaking fast, and yes, he said iftar) time comes, they could not stop their operation. Someone would come and open their masks to feed them some sustenance so that they could go on.

“What keeps me going?” he asked. It was the resilience of the Palestinians.

Gaza, for him, is about humans, humanity, dream of freedom, children and youth, the air and the sea. He is amazed by the strength of the people there.

“Because of their Islamic faith, they still smile, stand tall, and not surrender,” he told us.

* * *

“How can we contribute to their freedom?” he asked.

(1) Some doctors may be tempted to volunteer in Palestinian hospitals. Dr Gilbert’s advice was to only go if you were invited by the Palestinians.
He then elaborated. Many people only went there for a few days, take photos just to show off to the world “that we volunteered in Palestine”, and go back to their own countries.
Palestinians are very generous people. When someone comes over, they will need to arrange for transport, lodging and food. They will need to risk so much, and as it is, they have so little. Hence we should only go there if we think we could contribute. Otherwise, our presence would only be a burden to them.
“I mostly stayed in the hospital and fast together with them,” he said.

(2) Help spread the awareness to the people and the government. The occupation of Palestinian land is an oppression to a nation. It is a failure for humanity if we let this monstrosity continue.
Our leaders need to be alerted so that they could give pressure to the international community, so that justice would be served.
“Malaysia is a chair of OIC,” he reminded us. “There is so much that you could do if your leader could push the rest of the Islamic world to help.”
With that I felt sad. It seems like we’re stuck in this matter.

(3) Boycott, divestment and sanction movement was initiated in Palestine as a measure to bring pressure against Israel so that they would comply to international law and give Palestine its rights. Similar movement has succeeded in banishing apartheid from South Africa, it is hoped that this would bring an end to the Zionist oppressive regime.

This is the link to their website:
Boycott, Divestment and Sanction – for freedom, justice and equality

“Be a change maker yourself,” he adviced.

* * *

Messages of Hope

Dr Gilbert showed us a heart-wrenching video made by a journalist, Ashraf Masharawi. The video was showed during a charity dinner to enlighten the crowd about the plights of the Palestinians. There were visuals of the intact Gaza city, its people, its children; and then there were videos of the bombings.

The inter-war montage showed rubbles upon rubbles around the city of Gaza. Then there were short interviews – Palestinians spoke about their fallen houses, their burnt factories, and their plans for the future.

I could hear sobs from where I sat, and it seems that the video provoked tears among the men too.

It amazed me the most when a young boy said, “When the war has stopped, and supplies could come in, we will build Gaza again, and it will be more beautiful than ever.”

It is such a wonder that despite all the destruction, all the catastrophe, they could still see the light at the end of the tunnel. They still have hopes and dreams and have yet to give up on life.

Dr Gilbert did say, “They (the Israelis) will fall one day. There were no empires that have lasted forever. This occupation will definitely end one day.”

He closed his talk with these words:
“There is a good time coming, being it ever so far away.”

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