My Personal Jihad

Kezaliman yang dahsyat adalah kezaliman si pemutar alam lagi lidah bercabang, lalu dia menghukum dengan sandiwara agama, walaupun inti katanya penuh dusta. 

Yeah, I purposefully constructed a dramatic sentence as an introduction to this post. Read on.

***

It went viral.

The Facebook status of Imam Muda Ammar regarding vaccination in the midst of the horror of a diphtheria mortality case was so controversial, even our Director General commented on it.

When I wrote the post LOGIC & RELIGION two weeks ago, this is just the sort of thing that I mean. This is exactly what I mean when I wrote how religious figures discard knowledge and logic in their ceramah and use religion out of context to accuse you of being deviant when you question what they say.

If you have been following my blog since I was in medical school, you would probably notice that I have a deep-seated mistrust and well-cemented disdain towards religious figures and authorities who do not use logic in elaborating their points in matters of religious creed, jurisprudence, and principles (with the exception of Dr. MAZA, Dr. Zaharuddin, and some International speakers like Nouman Ali Khan, Yusha Evans, Omar Suleiman, Hamza Tzorzis, Sheikh Abu Eesa Niamatullah and a few others. They are the ones whose logic I respect).

To use a psychiatric term, I have the tendency for transference with these sort of people because of something I had to deal with since I was a child. (Questions I had to suppress so that I wouldn’t sound like a disbeliever. Things I wondered about that I kept quiet. Rebellious words I swallowed so that I didn’t sound like ‘orang Yahudi yang banyak bertanya macam dalam surah Al-Baqarah’. Hahah. Illogical stories that I struggled with my iman to accept them…and after all those struggles, only to find out that those stories were actually fake and israilliyat. When I went to Australia, that era of my life was a turning point that marked my age of Enlightenment. Religion was explained by religious figures who possessed scientific minds. Brilliant doctors and medical students who were active in dakwah explained religion to me the way it was supposed to be explained all along. For the first time, I was tremendously interested in my religion that I volunteered to guard our booth during Islamic Awareness Week in the uni. And then I became the treasurer for Newcastle Islamic Society, once. My parents were very surprised by my sudden involvement in religious matters. Hahaha. I myself was surprised. And finally in my fourth year, I decided to join usrah, when most of my batchmates had joined since we were in Year 1 already. I never thought I would ever join them but I finally did, 4 years too late. I was late because like I said, I had deep-seated mistrust against religious figures. It spoke volume of the sort of character and kindness that the seniors possessed that they were finally able to convince me to join their religious gathering at last. With them, I can pose questions without feeling like I was being judged….they may give a wrong answer, or they may not know the answer but at least I didn’t feel like an alien when I ask them stuff I wondered about. Pendakwah kena macam nilah! Dengar, dan jawab soalan tanpa bagi orang yang bertanya rasa macam dia ni kurang iman! Hahah.  I am just so thankful that Allah placed me there and released the knotted points I struggled to untie all my life when I was growing up in Malaysia. I will always be thankful to those people I meet in Newcastle. We keep in touch in Newcastle Whatsapp Group until now. And this means a lot because I am usually not very good at keeping in touch.)

Whenever I look back to the times when I got angry at people (my transference), it is always because they reminded me of illogical ustaz/ustazah in my life. Remember  the blog post ‘The Misogynist Relative’? I lost my temper towards this relative because he used religious term to put me down when I was trying to psychoeducate him regarding the need to be compliant to medication. (in my mind, I went “Kau tu dahlah silap. Lepas tu kau nak bagi ceramah agama kat aku pula macam aku yang salah? Kau ni sama saja dengan the previous religious figures who confused me about my own religion when I was growing up!”)

That relative tried my patience so tremendously, I just snapped! I even snapped at my Medical Assistant (who I know is a kind, religious person. I have nothing against him, usually) because he bowed to the pressure of the misogynist relative and nodded his head when that relative looked at him for support while arguing with me.

(Look,just because someone say something and look at you when they say it, doesn’t mean you have to nod your head at them! That is their tactic to pressure you into agreeing with them. They say something and look at you, hoping you will nod your head, implying your support. When I saw my MA did that, I became angry. “You are supposed to be on my side. Are you agreeing with him, or what?! Have a backbone, and be firm. Don’t you dare contradict me against this male bigots who thinks he is more religious than me just because he uses religious terms taken out of context!”  Yeah…that was what that went through my mind. Unconsciously, at that time. I was angry in a split second that I could not pause and analyse it at that time. And only recently am I able to sit back and analyze why I was so angry!)

I can deal with stupidity. But not when you give it a religious twist and then you were arrogant about it. I am sorry, I just can’t handle it. And this will continue to be my struggle, that I have to overcome in order to be a good therapist. It will be my personal jihad. It is a jihad because it will take all my effort, it will drain all my energy to be nice to people like the misogynist relative and Imam Muda Ammar. I just….haih…penat! It is personally, so exhausting dealing with people like them!

You can go through my blog posts since I had launched this blog in 2009. There were so many posts that I wrote regarding my disdain towards illogical religious figures or religious concept. (only now do I realize that I had written so much about this theme throughout the years…. and no wonder! This is my counter-transference all these times!)

The blog posts below are listed in the order of recent to older posts, extending to the times when I was just a medical student.

1)Logic and Religion

2)The Misogynist Relative

3)Bercerai ATAU Redha?

4)The Week For Spirituality

5)Awak Derma Kepada Saya….Saya Akan Baca Tahlil Untuk Ahli Keluarga Awak

6) Religious Delusion & Religious Snobbery

7)Sains Sosial Vs Sains Tulen

8)‘Kemusliman’ Barat

9)Generasi Muda dan Perubahan

10) Kezaliman yang dahsyat

11) Isu Penggunaan Nama Allah

12) Kaedahnya!

13) Sisters In Islam

And there were some posts in which I wrote about other things as the main topic, but I would squeeze in some rants about illogical pseudo-religious concept in it too.

I realize now that I just could not tolerate these pseudo-religious, quasi-holy type of  people because of my bad experience in the past. But I know that I am going to have to find ways to deal with them in my professional life or die trying! (And making sure I don’t accidentally include them in my personal life. Or else, I shall go insane. Khalas!)

***

The Intellectual Culture!

I have a major weakness. Aku tak pandai diplomasi (I am learning, so be patient with me). Aku tak sabar dengan benda yang aku rasa “hiys, obviously aku betul! Apsal hang lambat sangat nak faham ni?” Hahahha.

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Hahhaha. I am sorry. I am just being honest here.

My patience is kept on a short leash.

Mungkin aku suka persoalkan sesuatu.

Tapi kau pun tak pandai jawab apa yang aku persoalkan. Kan?

Dan aku tak kisah kalau kau tak tahu dan tak pandai jawab, lalu kau cakap “Okey, aku pun tak tau. Jom kita cari sama-sama. Let’s find out and explore this together. It will be fun.”

That is the intellectual culture that I need!

Tapi bila kau tak pandai jawab, lalu kau tak pun cuba menjawab, dan sebaliknya kau kalih persoalan menjadikan aku pula yang suka bangkang dan suka soal macam-macam, jadi aku memang akan bengang. 

Show to me that my question is irrelevant or not important, and then I will concede defeat. Show to me that my rebuttal is wrong.  Otherwise, you are just going to spark my disdain towards you if you not only do not know the answer, you don’t even GET the question. (which means, it never occurred to you to ask and thus it was never in your intellect to wonder about it. So, kalau kau tak pernah terfikir pun nak tanya, macam mana kau nak pandai jawab?)

My best friend, Dr. F is just like me (but the friendlier, extrovert version of me). We get each other so well! She likes to throw question into the air and we would volunteer one theory after another and laugh it out and discard it one by one (our own version of falsification process) Our small talk is big. Our light conversation weigh a ton!

With my set of friends, our catch-up talk is filled with wondering out loud “Kenapa diorang macam ni? Kenapa sistem dia macam tu? Kenapa kita tak boleh ubah macam ni? Kenapa begini dan begitu? Apa salahnya kalau kita buat macam ni? Tak pa…bila kita jadi specialist, kita jangan jadi macam tu.” Hahaha.

But sometimes, I do come across ‘feelers and empathizers’ who make me pause and think.

“Afiza, walaupun kau betul, you don’t have to shove it in their face. Kalau kau tau dia jenis lambat pick-up sikit, why don’t you be the noble person and teach? Be kind. Don’t just stop at showing off about how right you are and leave them hanging feeling stupid and unappreciated. What would it accomplish? Mungkin kau akan puas hati sebab akhirnya diorang mengaku kau betul. But then, what? What else after that? They will resent you. Bila depa rasa macam tu, of course diorang ada ego dan takkan terima punya. In an ideal world, no one has an ego and will acknowledge the truth no matter who says it. But we are not living in an ideal world. When you irk them with your disdainful know-it-all retort, they will not see the truth ever. Apa salahnya kau pun jadi pendakwah yang macam kau nak, yang macam kau jumpa kat Aussie tu? Sit them down, charm them with your smile and explain nicely, kill them with your kindness sampai depa terharu… then the truth will be easier to swallow by them. At least,  kau dapat pahala juga for making them see the truth and gain new knowledge through your act of patience. Daripada kau dok bising2 sebab depa lembap nak paham, kemudian kau just give up on them macam tu. Not so nice, kan? In any interaction, why don’t we set the goal to be the person with the bigger heart. Kalau depa tak faham, kau ulang sampai depa faham. Nabi Muhammad S.A.W berdakwah pun bukan cakap sekali saja. Mesej yang sama diberi banyak kali, dengan pelbagai cara, dalam occasion yang berbeza-beza. Kalau semua orang cepat tak sabar bila orang tak faham, then no one will see the truth.” said the nice Miss A.

Okay.

Once in a while, I come across ‘feelers’ who make sense. And touch my heart (because they make sense. Hahha. See? You only touch my heart by being logical and making sense, first. Then my heart is an open door. hahah) Not many feelers can do that. Some feelers only feel without thinking, so they cannot explain what they feel properly. (And thus, I will never see it.) Some feelers have the same understanding as Miss A but they don’t have the eloquence of speech to be able to explain it the way she did.

When Miss A said it that way, I got it. She was right. She made me reflect. What she was saying is:

What does it matter if people are a bit slow in understanding where you are coming from? When you lose patience and scold them, you have buried the opportunity to make them understand and educate them. They won’t listen to you anymore because they don’t like you being an arrogant Miss-know-it-all. (But I didn’t mean to be arrogant. I was just so angry because the truth is so obvious!) But if you just sabar kejap and take this as an intellectual challenge to entice them to hear the truth, you will gain something more than just the acknowledgement that you are right. You pass the knowledge on. You do something good. Take it as an intellectual puzzle… the puzzle of how to make them understand….then maybe it would be easier for you to be nice.

See? You wanna argue with me, make me SEE it like Miss A did. So that when I was wrong, I could see it! I need to SEE it. I cannot just agree with you just to be polite. I need to understand. (Blame my INTP trait!)

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Miss A made me understand that it was not about being right. The truth is the truth no matter who says it. Be the bigger-hearted person by making people see it too, even though you have to struggle with your frustration, first. And in order to do that, you have to be nice!

Now I can see that being nice has a purpose! It is not a weak, fluffy concept in the dreamy white cloud anymore. Miss A explained being nice as the thing that makes sense to be done! Now according to Miss A, being nice makes sense and has a higher purpose to it!  When she presented being nice in that way, everything clicks into place and I am no longer reluctant to do it! Hahha.

Now that Miss A has made me see it, I cannot stop seeing it. I have to admit, it’s time to launch my personal jihad. Being nice.

Just last week, while awaiting my turn at the post office, I actually prolonged my small talk with the lady stranger sitting next to me (which is something I would never have done before unless in desperate situations such as during kenduri when I have to be the host). She asked me where I lived. And I answered her. And I actually asked her back about where she lived. In the past, I would never bother asking! And when she asked me whether I have an online business (she thought I was mailing my products to customers like she was doing), I said no. Usually, I would just turn away and stop the conversation. Because why would a stranger want to know about my job? But on that day I prolonged the small talk even more by asking her about her online business that she was excited to tell me. And then, I switched on my psychiatry-listening-mode, nodding my head on and off. The lady seemed satisfied with that interaction. I think Miss A would be proud of me. hahah. At that moment, I was positive that I didn’t seem aloof, cold and unapproachable anymore.

After the experience at the post office, I thought to myself, “This being nice business is not so hard, actually. I can do this. I can fake it. I just did it!” Hahah.

I am going to have to be nice.

Oh God help me. I don’t think I can do it consistently without failing once or twice (or several times). But I will struggle on. If I die trying to be nice, hopefully, I will get pahala jihad. Hahah.

Pluviophile + Bibliophile + ‘Coffeephile’

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Imagine this. Post- terawih,  it’s raining at night in the blessed month of Ramadhan.  Imagine lying in bed with a book and an aromatic cup of steaming hot coffee by your bedside. Imagine that.  A bibliophile-pluviophile like me think that this kind of moment is perfection personified. 

 

 

Whenever it rains, I think of You.

Whenever it rains, missing You I do

Not that I don’t think of You often anyway,

Not that I won’t miss You on any other day,

But when it starts to rain,

When the breeze clears the pain.

At the first touch of the raindrop,

At the first caress of wind ruffling my top

My head swims with You in my thoughts

I want to shout; on top of my lungs

Of my love for You; fiercely sprung.

 

 

What is it about the rain,

That makes me think of You more,

More than ever before.

The pain so poignant, so raw,

The ugly memories previously in a shroud

You wash it away with the water from the cloud

You give me a fresh, clean, brand new start

That has nothing to do with putrid flesh and blood.

 

 

What is it about the rain,

The serene picture You paint

Of riches being dropped from the sky

To remind us that we can’t deny,

Of the blessing for all creations,

That You bestow without questions.

 

 

What is it about the rain,

The Majesty of You…

The Mercy of You…

Your Bounty…

Your Generosity…

The Splendor…

The Grandeur…

That energizes my soul

That makes me whole

So that I bow my head low

My gratitude for you in show

You are the Greatest of all,

Allah, Allah, Allah.

 

-Afiza Azmee-

P/S: This was composed a few years ago on a similar night like this.

Logic and Religion

Never have I ever been more interested in my religion until someone inspiring and oh, so logical, explains it the way Nouman Ali Khan explains it. He is the man! Haha. I think that if I had a religious teacher like Nouman Ali Khan growing up, I might be more invested in religion than I did before. And I personally also adore Dr. MAZA. He makes sense. It is important to people like me that our religious teachers and authority figures make sense and they get bonus mark if they are also efficient in their instructions to us.

We like people who make sense. In fact I would go so far as to say that I could love them. Truly, madly, deeply! Hahaha.

Okay, the You Tube video above is quite long. But the most important part (that I am going to talk about in this post) is explained by Nouman Ali Khan from minute 19:30 onwards. So if you are pressed for time, just srcoll until you reach that part…it was sooo enlightening and something I had been struggling with since I was an IB student in KMB when I first heard my naqibah in KMB told me “Kita kena buat semua benda niat kepada Allah. Baru dapat pahala. Kalau tak sia-sia kita buat.”

And all these time I kept thinking “Takkanlah hangpa semua belajar medic, berhempas pulas tak tidoq malam, langgah ayaq kopi bercawan-cawan PURELY for the sake of Allah? Mesti niat hangpa nak pass exam juga kan? I mean….come on! Get real here, please!” 

(And knowing me, even though I can fake and pretend as good as the next person, but I am very self-aware about what I really feel and what I really think. Really, I can fake acceptance, liking, enjoyment, extraversion….I have learned how to do it. I just don’t like to do it constantly and consistently and therefore would limit the time I have to spend with people who make me feel like I have to pretend or suppress. And with most religious teachers or authority figures, I have gotten so used to suppressing my inner thoughts because when I voice them out, I feel like an alien. Tapi bila balik bilik sembang dengan kawan-kawan, semua orang pun sebenarnya pikiaq benda yang sama ja dengan aku. Exactly the same thoughts! They just didn’t have the need to point it out to their naqibah as much. But I did…so that was my problem!)

And sometimes the usrah mates will organize a ‘jalan-jalan’ around Australia which they term as ‘Jaulah’. They also told me that we should correct our intention and travel for the sake of Allah. So maybe, if we travel for the sake of Allah, we get pahala. And if we just say ‘kita jalan-jalan’ (instead of saying ‘jaulah’ with the right intention) then we only get the ‘dunya and not the akhirat’.

And deep inside, I was  thinking “Aku boleh nak guna term ‘jaulah’ untuk cakap yang aku nak pi jalan-jalan. But really, aku pi jalan-jalan sebab aku memang nak jalan-jalan lah! Susahlah aku nak pi kalih niat aku jadi for the sake of Allah pula. Pening weh!”

I had a friend who told me that when she first met her husband, she fell in love with him for the sake of Allah.
Aku macam skeptikal jugalah. In my mind, I went, “Hang dok whatsapp/message dia malam2 tu for the sake of Allah ke? Macam pelik jer. Hahah.”

When you say you smile to me for the sake of Allah, what do you mean? I don’t smile at people for the sake of Allah. I smile at people because I am genuinely happy to see them.
Does that make me a bad person? Not akhirat-oriented enough, maybe?

 

Then, I thought, I might be so dunya-oriented that I could not even pretend that I was doing everything for the sake of Allah. I was so conflicted by it that I actually wrote a blog post about it when I was a senior HO, reminiscing on my conflict of interest all my life with regards to my lack of PURE INTENTION. (cognitive dissonance, folks!) The post that I wrote then can be read H.E.R.E.

Reading back the post, I wish that I could have found the YOU TUBE video above sooner to sooth my conflicted confusion and my cognitive dissonance at that time. Really, we should stop making people feel guilty about their real intention. Just listen to the video from the minute 19:30 onwards! It’s such an eye opener that makes so much sense, I wanted  to weep with relief. You won’t regret the time spent! That video is a gem!

***

This brings me to the topic of logic and religion.

I believe that religion should make sense. No, I am not talking about the matter of ‘perkara ghaib’ (jin/ syurga/neraka/israk mikraj/mukjizat).

But in matters of general principles and creed and jurisprudence, it MUST make sense. It MUST be fair and just. It MUST be justifiable through logic and dialogue. You MUST be able to reason it out! You MUST! Otherwise, it would create the sort of cognitive dissonance that would turn people away from the religion.

If a concept in the religion does not make sense, then there are usually a few reasons for it:

  1. Your own maturity and knowledge is lacking to be able to perceive the truth in it
  2. It was misrepresented by the ustaz/ustazah
  3. It was a fake hadeeth.
  4. It was an Isra’illiyyat story that has no basis in Islam.

And truly, religious people like to tell us that we are ‘reason number 1’ when we question them, rather than look at reason number 2, 3, and 4.

When I was in KMB doing my IB studies, another religious 2nd year senior told us the story of “Hassan Al-Basri Dan Wanita Cantik.” in a religious gathering. I am sure we are all familiar with that story. Let me simplify the story to jog your memory.

Hassan Al-Basri ternampak wanita cantik berpurdah berjalan-jalan di pasar. Terpesona dengan mata wanita itu. And keep following her around. Akhirnya wanita itu korek biji mata dia dan hadiahkan kepada Hassan Al-Basri. At last, wanita itu mati. (in other narration, wanita tu tak mati) Kononnya inilah wanita yang sangat warak kerana rasa bersalah kecantikan matanya menyebabkan lelaki tergoda. Lebih kurang macam tulah kisah dia. Pi google kalau nak tau lebih detail dan lanjut. Just type “kisah hassan al basri dan wanita cantik”.

When I heard the story, I squirmed in my seat, feeling sooooo ….angry!  Angry that I had to accept this story “because it is religious”. And also feeling guilty that I felt angry about this religious story. I questioned my iman for not accepting that story as religious. I went back to my room and ask my roommate the rational of the woman to korek biji mata dia and at last dia mati (?cause of death ?was it profuse bleeding? Garghh…I don’t know!).

I ranted to my roommate “Hello! Bukan salah dia lelaki tu suka kat mata dia. Dia dah berpurdah. Dia dah cover everything. Mata pun nak kena cover juga ka? Bila pula lelaki tu sendiri nak kena sedar diri nak tundukkan pandangan? Kenapa korbankan deria penglihatan kau…sampai kau mati pula tu…kau just nak prove a point ke apa ni? I just don’t get it! Awat perempuan tu buat macam tu?”

And on and on I went. (My INTP trait was showing. Once we latch on a topic that mystifies us, we just can not stop)

My roommate was well-versed with my habit of ranting out when things don’t make sense or illogical…pasrah ja dia mendengar. Hahaha.

When I went to Australia, I learned from another naqibah that that story is an Israilliyat.

Darn it, I knew it!!

***

Another story that I struggled with (also in KMB, my goodness! KMB is number one IB school in the world during my time. We were the best! Tapi tengoklah….ada doktrin2 yang pelik2 kat situ)

Perempuan pertama yang masuk syurga sebelum anak kesayangan Nabi S.A.W, Siti Fatimah, ialah seorang isteri bernama Siti Mutiah yang sangat taat kepada suami sehinggakan dia akan sediakan makanan berserta rotan kepada suami dia. Kalau makanan sedap, it’s okay. Kalau makanan tak sedap, rotan itu akan dia serahkan kepada suami dia untuk pukul punggung dia. (Go and google Perempuan pertama yang masuk syurga bersama Siti Fatimah)

I actually struggled with myself SO BADLY about this story, that I wanted to kick something (or, rotan someone) Hahah. And guess what, it is a fake hadeeth. (Tip Religion 101: if things don’t make sense it’s a fake hadeeth or it’s Isra’illiyat. Remember this until your final breath!)

And you know what? That story contradicts with  hadis sahih about wanita pertama yang masuk syurga. Tak tersenarai langsung Siti Mutiah! Ada empat wanita pertama masuk syurga: Khadijah Khuwailid, Maryam Binti Imran, Asiyah (isteri Firaun), dan Siti Fatimah.

Mai mana Siti Mutiah??! Come on! Stress aku!

I know I may not look like I am so religiously knowledgeable. My dressing is not so alim kan? haha. But I read a lot!  Beyond medic, beyond fiction…I make myself read other things for the sake of a well-rounded knowledge. Benda yang aku tak puas hati, semua aku pi baca balik (when I am interested enough).

And I learn through multiple repeated experience, that religious concept MUST make sense. When it doesn’t make sense, something is fishy somewhere and you better find out before letting yourself be sucked into the delusion.

So aku sangat tak suka kisah-kisah yang konon ‘ada nilai-nilai murni’ tapi hangpa reka sampai orang boleh misinterpret and menyebabkan fitnah kepada agama. Can you imagine if the two stupid stories above were told to non-muslims? Wouldn’t our religion look bad in their eyes? And that is the reason why Nabi Muhammad S.A.W said very clearly:

“Siapa yang berdusta di atas namaku, hendaklah dia menyiapkan tempatnya di neraka”.

So, most people would just shrug their shoulders and said “Ala, ni kisah untuk pengajaran. Tak payahlah hang nak ambil pot sangat. No need to be so intense. Yang baik kita ambil. Yang buruk, kita tak payah ambil”.

Hahha. Inilah orang-orang yang akan menyebabkan aku lagi meluat. Personality clash habis! Aku pula  yang kau kata intense? Kau yang tak sensitif dengan penipuan menggunakan nama Nabi. Tempat kat neraka tu, tak payah nak intense ka? Aku bengang kot kena tipu macam tu! Macam mana kalau aku ni jenis lemah iman and terus question the authenticity of my religion because of these stories? Think about it! Do you think nabi saja-saja habaq yang berdusta atas nama dia masuk neraka? The impact of such stories is HUGE!

So really, I am not intense! You are the one who do not posses critical thinking and too blunted! Or maybe, you just don’t care enough to feel anything, anyway. Kan?

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You only bother to be intense about things that affect you directly; like your cheating husband, your naughty drug-addicted sons, your annoying parents and siblings. Your world revolves around them only, you are like a katak bawah tempurung who cannot venture beyond what you deal with daily…and you feel nothing about higher concept like truth, justice, fairness …well, until untruth, injustice and unfairness happen to you. Waktu tu baru you nak intense la kan? Because it affects you directly. When it doesn’t affect you, you just don’t care.

(And I really cannot stand this sort of shallowness in others. I can’t. This sort of people remain my acquaintance and can never be upgraded to close friends. Because we care about different things. And I guess, that’s okay, too. I mean, not everyone is the same. Some people are the diplomats of the society, some are the warriors of the society, some are the thinkers of the society, some are the feelers and empathizers of the society. And everyone is equally important. It’s just that, due to those differences, some people can never be ‘your people’. They are not meant to have a seat in your table. And you should just wave them along in their own journey and you continue with ‘your people’.)

***

I do believe that the best presenter is someone who imagine himself/herself presenting to a hostile audience. Imagine me as your audience. Imagine the loudest, the most critical, the most intense person questioning you after your presentation.

And prepare your talk exactly for such audience. (Of course when it comes to religion, people like me have learned to suppress our logical thoughts from you. Takut kena label. But we do go back home and debate it out among friends, you know. At least, among my set of friends, we do that a lot.)

Have you ever watched a debate?

You have to prepare your talk with evidence and convincing arguments as though your audience will debate you out. Prepare your religious talk as though you are presenting it to a non-Muslim who does not have any obligation to sooth the tone of his/her skepticism about this religion! Only then, you would be able to know that your talk may not be up to snuff! At least, not to educated, professional people.

(I am not saying yang aku ni educated sangat, terer habis. No! But with the two stories above, it doesn’t take an educated people to feel uncomfortable about it. Not educated pun boleh fikir. Budak-budak pun boleh fikir yang this is weird. Talk to the kids who have such pure conscience and have not yet learned to suppress their thoughts for the sake of political correctness. They would say “Tapi mama, kenapa dia korek mata dia? Lepas tu dia mati lah, mama? Kesiannya dia…” So it’s not about your level of education yang menyebabkan kau boleh detect kepelikan dalam cerita macam ni. Just listen to your own conscience! Listen to it! Listen to your fitrah. Cumanya, orang yang educated lebih berasa ‘the urge’ untuk tanya kau balik. sebab diorang lebih konfiden. Kalau kau untung, dia mungkin tak malukan kau depan audience and ask you privately.)

When I was preparing for my departmental audit competition, I remember that my supervisor told me that I was over-thinking my points. “Afiza ni pikiaq banyak!”

I thought and re-thought my standard criteria over and over again like an obsessive freak. Why? Because I imagined a hostile jury and a hostile audience who would question my audit! Of course I did! It was a competition and I wanted to win. I prepared my audit report with hostile juries in mind.  Lucky me that my supervisor was so patient and able to tolerate my neuroticism even though sometimes I was too argumentative with him and… yeah, intense. Hahaha.

And Alhamdulillah, we won the first place for that competition. They said that my report was complete and they had nothing much to ask and only wanted to clarify a few points. When I entered the HSA competition, again we won the first place.

So, prepare your work with a hostile audience in mind! This is especially important to religious leaders. We do not want to misrepresent our religion, do we?

***

On a lighter note, someone told me “You marah sangat dengan cerita tu sebab you takut you kena rotan selalu ke setiap kali sediakan makanan?”

ROFL. Yeah, such a funny person!

I am not exactly a Masterchef. Really.

But I do cook at home. I just never bothered to tell people that I cook. Seriously, mana ada orang grad oversea tak pandai masak. Makanan halal mahal kot nak beli hari-hari. At least basic cooking tu pass lah. Hahah.

But I don’t feel the need to impress anyone with my cooking. The best I have to offer to others (future husband included) are my thoughts and my intellect (limited as it is) and my style of conversation which not many people with different wavelengths can adapt to. That’s the best I have about me. If you are not gonna be impressed about that, then nothing else about me will impress you (certainly not any of my womanly talents like cooking, haha) and I have too much pride to even try to adjust myself for anyone.

(You see, I believe in adapting to life circumstances. I do! One day, I might even cook consistently. Who knows? But most of the time, I adapt by making other people adapt to me. Yeah…I am resistant to change. I adapt to work commitments, environments, schedules, responsibilities…. but not to people’s habits and thoughts that I find illogical or senseless.)

I know what I want in a friend and in a partner and in a conversationalist. Someone who thinks like I do and has values and principles similar to mine is what I want. Otherwise, you are just not ‘my people’. So, why bother to talk about cooking (unless you are the one doing it) when I am more interested about thinking (yours and mine)? My cooking is a bonus only. Not my duty! The task should be negotiable (or scheduled. Hahah)

When people ask me, do you cook? I said, no! I only eat. Haha.

A cook is not the noun for me. (Kalau kena rotan sebab masak tak sedap, mungkin hari-hari  lah aku kena rotan).

A doctor is my noun in partial only.

A reader and a knowledge-seeker. Those are my nouns in full.

***

I have to be thankful for all those ‘perasaan tak puas hati’ that I felt towards so many religious figures in my life. They made me want to seek better and then I found more than I could ever know to dream of. I may not be a perfect Muslim but really, Islam is the best thing I have in my life when I know it in depth.

Every misconception I had about the religion appeared into my life for a reason. It made me wonder and dig deeper through all the dirts and ended up finding the real gems in the ummah. Those like Nouman Ali Khan, Mufti Menk, Sheikh Eesa Niamatullah, Omar Suleiman, Yusha Evans, Abdul Rahim Green, Hamza Tzortzis and Dr. MAZA…they are the precious glittering gems people like me need. You would notice that most of them are not local. I just think that International speakers speak more or less the same thing as the locals but with better logic and better analogy. Dr. MAZA is one of the few local religious leaders I really respect.

Ironically, I found my better self when I was in Australia where Muslims were the minority. The culture of knowledge there is so so vastly different than in Malaysia. There is no problem for you to question your lecturer there. There is no question too radical to put forward, in religious matters or secular matters.

In Malaysia, kau argue dengan lecturer or boss, kau memang saja menempah maut secara percuma. (So, tu pasal aku anti-authority and avoid them. My life becomes a heck of a lot easier.)

I leave my dear readers with a quote by Yasmin Mogahed which I always follow on Facebook. This lady has a way with words that speaks directly into my heart, and I hope yours as well.

quote-your-life-is-nothing-more-than-a-love-story-between-you-and-god-nothing-more-every-person-yasmin-mogahed-87-43-50