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.

4 thoughts on “My Personal Jihad

  1. Morning Dr Afiza, I’m a Houseman currently residing in Sabah and I was wondering if I could ask you further on being a psychiatric MO, as I plan on venturing into this following path. Do you have an email I can send my enquiries to?

    Like

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