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Maria-Syamsi

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And So They Say…

Current issues, be it nationwide or worldwide. Or family-wide.

Mendalami Jiwa Seorang Gie

Malam ini aku dapat mendalami melankoli kehidupan seorang Soe Hok Gie. Penuh pengharapan bahawa pemimpin negara yang dilihat semakin menekan bangsanya sendiri agar digantikan dengan seorang pemimpin yang adil dan bertanggungjawab. Pergantian itu akhirnya berlaku tetapi keadilan yang diimpikan tidak juga muncul, malah lebih banyak kezaliman yang berlaku.
Aku sendiri dapat menyelami jiwanya. Mengharapkan perubahan yang baik, tetapi nampak seolah-olah mereka yang ingin menggantikan kepimpinan yang ada itu sama tamak kuasa, sama rasis, berpura-pura menolong golongan yang miskin semata-mata ingin meraih undi. Aku belum nampak keikhlasan sesiapa pun di mana-mana pun parti politik yang ada di negara ini.
Maka apakah akhirnya negara ini akan turut merudum sepertimana negara yang Gie diami dan cintai? Yang korupsi meresap di segenap lapisan masyarakat sehingga menjadi suatu budaya yang sukar dipisahkan lagi? 
Beliau berjalan seorangan sambil menyandang beg bukunya ke mana sahaja beliau pergi. Buku-buku dan alam menjadi inspirasi bagi tulisan-tulisan perjuangannya. Aku merasa kerdil berbandingnya. Pastinya pengetahuannya begitu luas dan penguasaan bahasanya begitu hebat untuk bisa berjuang demi masa depan negaranya. Terasa tidak layak untuk berkata apa-apa di alam maya mahupun di alam nyata.

Seperti kata Orchida Ramadhania daripada Universitas Indonesia:

“Saat ini….semua mulut dan jari bersuara, padahal entah buku-buku apa yang mereka baca. Dulu, yang dimusuhi adalah orang-orang visioner dan punya gagasan. Saat ini, hanya dengan olok-olok pada pemerintah seperti ‘kecebong’, atau posting kata dan gambar vulgar lainnya, sebagian orang sudah merasa paling berani dan revolusioner.”

Aku cukup terusik dengan kata-kata itu, nampak benar aku tidak cukup ilmu untuk berjuang tentang apa pun; biarpun soal kesihatan, agama, apa lagi untuk kekuatan bangsa. Yang aku mahir cuma mungkin soal patah hati sambil cuba hidup kembali!
Menonton filem Soe Hok Gie, aku tidak dapat memberi komentar sebaiknya, kerana aku bukan seorang yang biasa menonton filem, apa lagi filem sejarah seperti ini. Aku belum lagi membaca buku catatannya, dan kisah hidupnya sendiri aku baca di internet sahaja, maka sukar untuk ku katakan mana yang benar atau salah. Tapi dapat aku katakan bahawa Gie penuh dengan sifat kemanusiaan, penyayang kepada semua. Gambaran Gie membantu seorang tua berbadan kecil melintas jalan masih terbayang di mataku. Rasa bersalahnya terhadap kebangkitan militer yang akhirnya mengorbankan temannya sendiri dapat aku selami daripada ekspresi wajahnya.
 
Lakonan Nicholas Saputra ternyata begitu berkesan, hilanglah Rangga yang kita kenali. Gie ternyata lebih banyak tersenyum berbanding watak Rangga dalam Ada Apa Dengan Cinta. Jika melihat usianya ketika memerankan watak Gie, Nicholas juga pada ketika itu sedang kuliah di Universitas Indonesia dalam bidang arkitektur, memang cocok dengan usianya. Semakin jauh kisah ini dibawa, semakin convincing wataknya.
Pada akhirnya aku lihat Han dan Gie bermain di pantai, suatu simbolik yang membuatkan aku mengalir air mata. Puisi yang dibacakan pada penghujung filem dengan suaranya yang sudah hampir matang sepenuhnya memang amat meruntun hati, teresak-esak pula aku menangis walaupun aku sudah tahu bagaimana kesudahan hidupnya.

Kita pastinya perlukan ramai anak muda seperti Gie. Di Indonesia, di Malaysia, malah banyak tempat di dunia ini. Berilmu, dan berani menentang kemungkaran biarpun disisihkan oleh insan lain.
* * *
Puisi nukilan Soe Hok Gie bacaan Nicholas Saputra dalam filem Gie:

Puisi oleh Soe Hok Gie

What’s With Love and Politics

“Saya senantiasa ikut Pemilu,” he said.”Kamu pilih siapa?” she responded.

He smiled. A meaningful smile.

She smiled back.

“Kiranya kita memilih yang sama ya?”

They still smiled at each other.

“Kecewa?” he asked.
For some reason, I feel that this is the sweetest conversation in the whole movie. Just two people who used to love each other (and perhaps still do) talking about something as real as a national election. Not about sweet promises, not about the past, not praises towards each other.
I guess politics have been a small but significant part of the movie, the first one even more. Rangga had to follow his father to New York 15 years ago because of political pressure. Some of the scenes in the first movie were set up indicating the political situation in Indonesia at that time.
Now that their political landscape has changed, the issue still popped out, but in just a dialogue rather than as part of the story line.
Perhaps I found it sweet because it showed the depth of their relationship. They understood each other’s love for the country, the way they think, the way they see others around them, the way they see the world. 
For me, personally, I grew up not knowing what my parents voted for. They would never ever tell us no matter how we asked. I doubt they even told each other. They held very tightly to the rule that your vote is to be kept secret.
And in this movie, they did not say who they voted for, what they were frustrated about, but only gave such meaningful smiles to each other.
And personally, I’d appreciate that kind of relationship, where we could share similar wavelength about many things, having similar opinions about the world around us. That’s why I’d prefer a man who both reads (not only text books) and travels. 
Since childhood, I have always been amazed with Indonesian’s patriotism. I found that they are extremely passionate about their country and would do anything to defend their name. If you see them during sports tournaments, their energy is extraordinary, and I believe patriotism is part of it.
I tried to shake off that feeling that Indonesians love their country more than Malaysians do ours. But even when I’ve grown up, I still get that vibe from them. Maybe they really do, or maybe it is just because their population is larger.
At least they still speak their language while many of us Malaysians either never spoke Malay, or lost the ability to do so.
These are my gut feelings. I might be wrong.

So what I’m gonna do this year onwards, is to find out whether I’m right. 

From Mecca to Jakarta (With Sweet Dreams and Poetry In Between)

“Dicari karya Chairil Anwar tapi gak ada. Langsung dibaca perjalanan hidupnya dulu.”

Since I had two cups of coffee today (and the latest was at 8pm 😰), I gave myself the rights to ramble. Hahah.

(1) One of my few resolutions for the year is to finish four books per month, and one journal/guideline per week. I am trying hard and rather pressured to fulfill this, just because I really really wanted to. I have been too slow in the books division and there are so many things I need to learn, to expose myself to. For January, I need to finish these books:

– Adik Datang by A Samad Said

– The World Atlas of Coffee by James Hoffmann

– The Muse by Jessie Burton

– The House of Wisdom by Jonathan Lyons

Four very different genres; two of them are fictions. The cheating part is I have started reading the non fictions about weeks to months ago. Yet I’m struggling to finish it.

Not forgetting the ESC ACS guidelines that I started reading last Wednesday.

(2) I have not gone out since coming back from Umrah. What with my cough and multiple oncall days and weekend rounds, I have not even gone to the gym. So today I managed to get some exercise, went for dinner in Kinokuniya, and browsed its shelves after that. So I got myself these books. Yes, despite not reaching my January goals yet.

(3) The place I’ve been, the place I will be. From Maqam Ibrahim to Jakarta. In between there are sweet dreams and poetry. And hope. A lot of hope.

(4) Browsing the net for information about a city is probably much cheaper than buying a book, and as far as I know, information in travel books might be as (in)accurate as travellers’ blogs. But with my job and all the reading I need to do, I don’t think I will have time to do a proper research for my short trip there. So I decided to grab a book about Jakarta (it is not cheap 😰). I hope it will be useful.

(5) I am not happy with the quality of Malay books these days. Many books in the market are basically compilations of tweets, Facebook statuses and blogs. However, the language is often too rough, even when they are written by young ustazs. Apparently these kinds of books sell better. “As long as the message gets across.” But I don’t believe in compromising language for marketing/popularity purposes. We need to be more responsible. 

Using simple language is alright, but using rough slangs and inappropriate, incorrect words are just unacceptable.
Therefore I get back to classics. 😊

(6) The movie Ada Apa Dengan Cinta managed to re-ignite my love towards Malay poetry. I recognised the book “Aku” from afar, and excitedly, I grabbed a copy. It is not written by Chairil Anwar but it is based on his life and his works. I do wish to get a copy of his works one day. Maybe in Jakarta.
So good night. I hope I will be able to sleep well despite the coffee. 😴😴

Food and Greed – Because Every Single Tree Matters

More than a year ago, the East Coast experienced a disaster – a big flood which was bigger than it usually was. And recently our country went through a bad haze, a man-made disaster. Both events had people blaming one particular activity as the reason for all this, that is deforestation to make way for oil palm plantations.

It made me wonder, why would palm oil industry be the sole blame, since people cut down trees in so many other places, for a multitude of reasons? To plant vegetables, and plants like soya, a lot of areas need to be sacrificed. People don’t plant cabbage under tropical forrest, do they?
So do people need homes to stay. Do they think the areas they are staying in now have always been barren lands? Are they aware that their housing estates were once forests, or plantation lands?
It all brought me to three of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)’s hadiths:
(1) Aishah RA said: “From the time they went to Madinah, the family of the Prophet (peace be upon him) never had their fill of wheat-based food for three continuous nights until he died.” 

*This means that they did eat their fill on many occasions, just never three days in a row. 
(2) The Prophet (peace be upon him) encouraged his people to be moderate in taking food. He said: “A person does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach. A few morsels to support him is enough for him. But if he is insisting on having more food, then he should allocate one third of his stomach for food, one third for drink, and one third for air.” [Musnad Ahmad and Sunan al-Tirmidhî] 
(3) Once the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked a person, who was performing Wudhu (cleaning up before prayers): “Why are you wasting water?” The person enquired: “Is there Israaf (waste) even in Wudhu?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “Yes indeed, (do not waste) even if you are at the bank of a river.” (Ibn Majah)
Let’s look at how the three concept relates to life as a whole; we could see that they prevent from greed, obesity and laziness, and saves the environment too. We should reflect deeper about these hadiths, they should make us stop and think before spending on something.
Hadith number (3) does not only apply on wudhu’. It is to be applied on many other areas in life – food, money, or other natural resources.
Just think about it.
Imagine that human beings eat 60% less than what we eat right now.

Imagine if all of us only eat to fill up a third of our stomachs for each meal.

Imagine if we only take small amount of water, petroleum, gas, trees and land to live our lives.
Wouldn’t we cut down less trees?

Is it not that less demand cause less supply?
Would anyone dare to open up more lands if they think they will not be able to sell more palm oil or vegetables?

Wouldn’t there be more cows, chicken and fish ALIVE now compared with if human beings consume with greed?
If human beings follow only these three habits and advice of Prophet Muhammad SAW, don’t you think the world would be more green? And that there would be less man-made disasters?
If there is less greed among human beings, would there be need for bigger houses, bigger cars, bigger kitchens, more money? 
If we all live in less than moderation, there is no need to cut down that many trees or slaughter that many animals.
But no.
We wanted big houses and big cars and many options for food. We thought we need to fill up our stomachs six times per day, and for many Asian, being hungry is like a sin. As a consequence, we need to make more money to buy more food. Food industry thrives and they will need fresh produce. Where do fresh produce come from?
Think. Just think.
We need less.

We could settle for less. 

Especially in an age where 15-20% of people are overweight, with diabetes, hypertension, heart and renal disease are increasing rampantly, man-made disasters occurring more frequently, we NEED to settle for less.
I know they say we need this much food and that much water to survive. But we know many people who thrived with less.
That’s the reason Allah SWT chose a human being as a messenger to guid mankind. Not an angel, not a special being. He is a human being who has needs for food and shelter like all of us.
He settled for less.
Can we do it for the sake of the environment?

Don’t Force Your Kids to be Doctors

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m a doctor. I love my job.
But I have worked for almost ten years and have seen too many people who were forced to study medicine, or forced to become doctors. I have also seen people who thought they wanted to become doctors (after being convinced by their parents or teachers), but they could have done better with other things.

It is sad. Very sad indeed.

Dear parents,

Medicine is not for everyone. Being a doctor is not the only way to succeed, and I can tell you, if you think that being rich equals to success, you are totally misguided and will be deeply frustrated. Of course, it is a professioon where you try to help others to your maximum ability, but it does not mean that you could not help others by being in other fields. Personally, the job satisfaction as a doctor comes when we help the poor and needy, when we listen to their worries, when we attend to their needs. I can tell you that those will not come with million dollar paychecks, but the contentment is beyond measure.

Medicine is not for the fainthearted. It is not for those who can’t answer to others. It is not for those who are calculative and unfair. It is not for those who only think of money and nothing else. It is not for those who are not ready to study and read books all their lives.
It is not for people who are NOT INTERESTED.

I am very sure those students who excel in their studies have other ambitions than becoming doctors. Some might want to be chefs, architects, fashion designers, teachers, interior designers, farmers. Some are interested in agriculture, history, fine arts or literature. Many wanted to become religious teachers or imams.

So be it.
We need people who could excel in their studies to excel in these fields. Some students may not excel in their SPM because none of the subjects above were taught in schools! In fact, so many things are NOT introduced in schools that the interests and potentials of all of these students were not discovered. Society labelled them as slow, so they were left behind or even drop out of school, when they were simply not interested with what was taught in school.
Do you know what kind of students or doctors they will be if they are not interested?

They become lazy, unmotivated, sad, stressed up for even small things, unfriendly, calculative, angry doctors. When they study they fail often (which would waste parents’ or even people’s money). If they went on to become specialists, they are the bitter ones who throw files around at juniors and call others names. Are these the kind of doctors you want your kids to be? Are these the kind of doctors you want treating you?

I’m not saying that all “forced” doctors are bad doctors. I have friends who were told to study medicine and they excel in it. They became great doctors because they have accepted the fact that God has given them this path for a good reason. They are nice to patients because they know it is the right thing to do. They know they made their parents happy so they are happy too.

All I’m saying is, there are so many options for your children. Watch them and listen to them. Let them choose what they are interested in (with halal means, of course, as Muslims) and support them towards their dreams. You will later find out how much it means for them.

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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What Did the Arabs (Not) Do?

Recently Brother Nouman Ali Khan came over to this country. He told us, “When I take a ride in a taxi, I would ask the driver to switch on the radio. I wanted to hear what you guys listen to in the news and the music.”

O’oh. I started to cringe.

“You guys listen to the same filth as people do in the US!”

* * *
I became angry, sad and confused when I read the news about Syrian refugees recently.

At first I saw that Western media claimed the Gulf countries did not welcome any of the refugees, worse being Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Then there are some Muslims who were kind enough (some might say naiive) to back the Gulf countries up, saying that they do help set up refugee camps but not within Saudi Arabia itself. Furthermore it makes more sense to walk in a cool weather into Europe, than walk in the scorching heat of the desert into Saudi Arabia.

Then there is a third group of, sadly, Muslims, who said that there might as well not be Hajj season this year and next year, so that the camps in Mina could be used to house refugees, rather than pilgrims.

Wait…WHAT???

Now, I’m not in the position to comment whether or not any of those reports are true. Neither do I have the reliable sources to investigate the truth of the matter.

My issues are:
(1) Let’s face it. CNN, Fox News and whatever else Western media agents has been spreading lies upon lies about us, Muslims. We all know for a fact that they have a propaganda against us. They made ignorant (and some innocent) people believe that Islam equals to terror.
Now, the same Muslims BELIEVE the news they spread about Gulf countries NOT helping out on Syrian refugees, just because “it looks like it”?
Is there any logic behind believing a known liar?

(2) I believe there is some rational behind deciding which path to walk through – short journey, lined with trees, rivers, cool weather, OR long route, no trees, no rivers, just mirage, on a scorching hot desert.

(3) If you put the three-question rule into play, on whether or not to believe in a certain news, you may find one news is better than the other.
The three questions would be: (i) Is it true? (ii) Is it good? (iii) Is it beneficial?
If we look at the news from Western media…is it true? I don’t know. Is it good? No. Is it beneficial? I don’t think so.
Now the other news…is it true? I don’t know. Is it good? Yes. Is it beneficial? Maybe.
So there is more reason to believe in the latter news about the Gulf countries helping out, isn’t there?

(3) I know many Muslims are angry with the Saudi government, whether or not influenced by Western media, for their own reasons. But can we not lash it out to the pilgrims and the Hajj system altogether?
We all know that Hajj is an obligation for a Muslim to perform at least once in a lifetime. And it HAS to be done where Prophet Muhammad SAW did it all those years ago, which is in Mecca.
We can’t deny the rights of those Muslims who could afford it to go whenever they can, because God knows maybe next year they would not be alive anymore. And we all know stories of people who spent their lifetime saving for this long-awaited trip.
Most of them are not rich people.

It so happens that at this moment, that area is ruled by this current government which SOME Muslims believe are making money out of these trips. It so happens that the current governing people is claimed to be “ignorant and greedy” by many.

It does not change the fact that Hajj season has to go on no matter what. The blessed month of Dhulhijjah is going to come every year no matter what. I know there are many who agreed that “the welfare of a society preceeds the welfare of individuals.” But rather than denying pilgrims altogether, why not suggest building similar amount of tents outside Mina, to house the refugees? I am pretty sure the Arabs have more than enough money to do that.

(4) It is also unfair to judge all the Arabs by some photos or videos that we have seen. We have seen some pretty disgusting videos of what they do in their free time, but just look back at ourselves: don’t we all have disgusting videos from our countries too?
Refer back to the things that Brother Nouman said, right at the beginning of my rant here. About the people of this country listening to the same filth the US are listening to.
Imagine people thinking that ALL of us listen to the same thing. While we know there are Islamic radio channels, and some of us do listen to Islamic lectures on CDs or smartphones on their way to and from work.
We all know, while there are corrupt leaders and people in a country, there are honest leaders and people in that country too.
When evil seemed to overshadow all else, there are good people who try their best to fight this evil in their own little ways.
There are people who take it in their own hands to educate the masses, when the government failed to provide quality education (in terms of honesty, integrity and good character).

Just look at Brother Ahmad As-Shugairi. He has travelled the world, filming, to bring back to Saudi Arabia and show his people the good culture of the countries he visited. He worked hard to open the minds of the Arabs, to wake them up, for them to realize their true excellent potentials.

(5) Simply believing any news that came to us, and further condemning what seemed to be “the truth”, reflects the state of the ummah now.
We don’t trust our own brothers, and we don’t even make ourselves trustworthy.
We’d rather believe in compulsive liars, than open our hearts to give hope for our own brothers.
Perhaps we did not give others the reason to trust us anyway.

* * *
What shall we do now?

First we have to remember the ayat in the Quran:
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It is as clear as the sunlight. There is no need for further explanation.

Since none of the news sources are entirely trustworthy, we shall not spread them further, nor shall we make a judgment out of those news.

How to help the refugees? Honestly, I have no idea. The most that a small person like myself could do is perhaps find a trustworthy charity organisation, and donate throught them. We could also send lots of prayers for their safety in this world, and the hereafter. We could also pray that the Muslim world will wake up from our slumber and start moving towards peace in this world, not only racing amongst each other to build the tallest building in the universe.

One major contribution that all of us could give is with education. Educate the people around us, young and old, about kindness, about living in peace and harmony, about respect, about appreciating and handling differences of opinions, about the dangers of greed, ignorance and even gluttony. Personally, I think, education is the only way to stop the wars from continuing, prevent wars from starting, pave the way for a harmonious life in this world.

As Muslims, we should stand shoulder to shoulder. Encourage everyone to pray jamaah in the masjid. Prophet Muhammad SAW told us to stand close to each other and keep the congregation in a straight line “so that you will stand united in thoughts and believes.”
If there is not even a congregational line to begin with, how can we stay united, then?

* * *
This is the theme song for the TV series Khawater season 9.
Khawater 9 theme song by Maher Zain.

* * *
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* * *
Together, we’ll become stronger.
Disunited, we break.

Indeed Allah has chosen us, with sound minds, to govern this world.
To fulfil the needs of this world and help make it prosper.
Can’t you see, at this age, human beings often change their minds?
Indeed, we have not used our minds to ask for guidance, to ask, to hope and to think.
Our ignorance is worrying because we do not care about this world around us.
Hence the light of goodness is no longer seen.
And the thirst for knowledge, have gone to waste.
The news and knowledge from outsiders are those we honor more.

We shall contribute our thoughts.
We could only be freed from ignorance when we start to seek knowledge.
In life there should be goodness, knowledge will bring good to us, and in turn we could bring good to our people.

Allah has chosen us, who have sound minds, to lead and to think wisely.

The worry of being ignorant would enlighten us.
To do good and ask Him for guidance.

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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The Library Is (Not) A Quiet Place

Recently, out of desperation, I started a habit of studying in a public library. Perpustakaan Raja Tun Uda in Shah Alam, to be exact. I heard so much good things about it, so I decided to check it out.

True enough, the opening hours are long, it opens everyday (except during public holidays). The lighting is just right, the air conditioner temperature is just right, even the height of the tables and chairs are just right. There are many types of seats we could choose from; the traditional table and chair, different types of couches and soft benches (like sofa but they are not).

The books? I can’t really comment, because I knew they wouldn’t have the books that I need for my exams, and I prefer my own books. But I could see what seems to be a great collection of Islamic reference books, which would probably be very useful for those pursuing tertiary level Islamic studies.

However, when I finally sat down to study (after exploring the library for the first time), I felt a little perplexed. I tried to study at first but the confusion continued to bug me, so I went to the librarian counter.

I asked him, “Is this floor supposed to be a place for discussion?”
He answered, “No.”

“Then why are those people making a lot of noise? Is it allowed here?” I asked him.
“No, they are supposed to keep quiet,” he replied. So I became more confused.
“Then why is nobody telling them that?”
“Miss, if you want them to keep quiet, we’d prefer visitors like you to advice the noisy ones,” he told me confidently.
“But that’s your job, right?” I wondered, did I miss anything here?
“Yes, but they won’t listen to us, you see. We could tell them to stop talking but they will start again after five minutes.”
So I said, “No. That’s not why I’m here. I’m here to study. So could you please tell them to be silent?”
Luckily he said, “Yes, I will.”

He did, after a few minutes.

You see, what confused me at the first place was there were groups of students studying and discussing LOUDLY in the library. As I understand there are discussion rooms available in the library (which needs a small fee to be paid, which is less than RM8), but these students are discussing in the open floor! As a matter of fact, I knew they were medical students because I could hear what they were talking about.

The librarian was right. The groups of student stopped their discussion for a few minutes. After that they were back to talking loudly.

The week after that was worse. There were even more students, and I tried to tolerate the noise, but by afternoon it got too much. Again, I had to go to the librarian (this time a different person) and complained.

It seemed that this occurred EVERY weekend and he has given up reprimanding those students. He told me he does not know what else to do with them. He has even asked the security guard to tell those students off but nothing changed.

“Do you expect me to kick them out of the library, then?? It’s not very appropriate, is it?” he asked, exasperated.
I said, “Yes, if that is what you need to do to teach them the etiquettes! If these kids were overseas they would have been kicked out a long time ago!”

I almost made a scene, some the library visitors were staring at me, but I don’t care, because something needs to be done.

“Miss, why not I give you this one room, it is very quiet. If this place is too noisy for you,” he offered.
“What do you mean? Is there any chair or table I could sit in?” I was getting even more angry.
“Of course there is. It is a nice room, right opposite this space. Come, let me show you.”
“So you mean, I’m the one who want peace and quiet, I’m the one being kicked out???” This is too much.
“Just come and see the room first!” he said.
I told him, “Sir, this is not the point. I know I want quiet but these kids need to know RESPECT! I’m more bothered of their attitude than the noise itself!”

But I followed him to the room anyway, although I was frustrated that I could not get my point across.

Indeed it was a very nice, very quiet room. It was Selangor Info Hub, which apparently includes the Sultan’s collection. There was an even nicer seat, a nice table just for one person, slightly cooler and very very quiet. I was alone there. For the next two hours I was rather happy, but a small part of me still felt angry because just being in a quiet room was not the whole point.

* * *
One might say, what else would I want? I already had a nice, comfortable by myself, why should I worry about those (medical) students?

You see, my main point is those kids need to learn respect. They need to know and understand that the main library hall is a place where people go to get some peace and quiet, for them to be able to focus on their studies.

Not everyone is blessed with a quiet house. Mine is, in fact, very quiet, but there is a very comfortable bed which is not available in the library.

Just think about this.
We ran away from home for some good reason. As comfortable as the library is, it might not be as good as home.
Many of us work while studying, and most have kids at home.
Those who are full time student might not live in a house conducive enough to focus in their studying.
Some of us really prefer to study in peace and quiet; no talking, no music.
Like me, my house is peaceful but I have distractions, so the library is the best place to be.

Please respect our rights. If we wanted somewhere noisy, we would have just sat at any mamak stall and study. We could have ordered any snacks and eat them while studying.

If we weren’t desperate, we would not have gone all the way to the library. We needed to dress up (appropriately), drive, find a car park, walk all the way from the parking place, and leave our bags outside the hall (which actually annoyed me because not many of the lockers could function anymore).

If we did not need this peace and quiet, we probably wouldn’t have bothered coming.

Please show us some respect. Be quiet when you’re in the library. If you need to have a discussion, use the discussion rooms. They are available in every floor. If you don’t want to pay for the rooms, then discuss somewhere else, in one of your houses, perhaps.

I have never done any discussions in the college library when I was a student. It was always done in one of our houses.

So please. Show respect.

Be quiet when you are in the library.

* * *
Personally, I don’t think it is the librarian’s job to maintain the peace in the library.
As medical students (yes, most of the noisy kids were medical students!!!), they should have already understood the bulk of information that people need to digest. They should have already understood that the library is supposed to be a quiet place.

Hey, I thought it is COMMON SENSE???

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