Celebrating Eid During The Covid-19 Pandemic

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Eid Mubarak to all Muslims in the world. May Allah accept all the good deeds from us and from you.

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Dear readers,

I am so blessed and so lucky that I was able to celebrate Eid at my parents’ house this year even though we are still under the conditional movement control order. There was a time, not so long ago that I thought I would not be able to come back to Alor Setar for Eid and might need to remain in Johor Bahru where I was doing my clinical attachment. Alhamdulillah, things worked out quite beautifully in the end, the details of which I wouldn’t bother you guys with. But it did involve going to the police station and getting the head of the police station to sign a letter of approval saying that I had a valid reason to come back home to Alor Setar. So I was able to make the journey home without much trouble once I had obtained the police’s approval. I made the journey on the very last day of Gerak Malaysia which was on the 10th of May 2020, on Sunday.

Eid while dealing with Covid is a unique experience that hopefully will never be repeated in our lifetime.

So, I thought it would be nice to just have a record of how the Muslims celebrate Eid with Covid-19 in our midst. If this is something you are curious to know, keep on reading. Otherwise, please do something more productive with your time as what I am going to write below is just my own personal experience and I am not going to be imparting any kind of thoughts or opinions on any current issues or any matter related to medicine or psychiatry. I know some of you who read my blog are medical students or HOs or MOs… and you are busy people who lead busy life. It is very important to prioritize in how we spend our time.

So, now that I have written that disclaimer, proceed at your own risk. LOL

Breaking Fast With Mom’s Delicious Cooking

Upon arriving in Alor Setar, I did self-quarantine in my own house before seeing my own parents and other family members (because I came from JB which used to be a red zone and Alor Setar was a green zone at that time. Now sadly, Alor Star is no longer a green zone.) It is really convenient that my parents and I, even though we live in the same town, keep separate household. It comes in handy during the time of pandemic because there will be times when my job as a healthcare worker might involve me having to limit contact with my parents and the rest of the family members, so as not to put them at risk. But my mom, being a loving mother that she is, always came over to send me food for iftaar ever since I got back to Alor Setar. (Ah… one of the best reason to be in my hometown when there were still some days left of Ramadhan was the opportunity to break my fast with my mom’s delicious cooking. Seriously, after staying in a nursing hostel for 6 months when I was in JB, I have had enough of Grab food.  I actually missed doing my own cooking, would you believe it? I don’t even LIKE to cook most of the time.)

Being an adult who is still able to enjoy the presence and the support of her mother and father during this trying time of Covid-19 Pandemic is one of the many blessings I have in my life. There were many times when I had found myself wondering how do other people cope without their parents support? Does anyone ever get used to losing their parents even  though they are already an adult? Alhamdulillah, thank you Allah, for still allowing me the blessing of having my parents with me.

In The Memory of My Tok Wan…

One of the many things I did after being done with self-quarantine was visiting the grave of my paternal grandfather… my Tok Wan. Heartbreakingly, I lost my Tok Wan while I was in JB in the first few days of Movement Control Order. He passed away on Friday afternoon, 20th of March 2020.

I was not able to pay my last respect to him and most of my siblings were also not around at that time and could not cross borders. The fact that my father had to hasten the funeral because of the Covid-19 pandemic made it impossible for me to reach home in time for the funeral to pay my last respect. I checked out various airlines websites, and I found out that even if I could make the arrangement to travel home, the funeral would be over before I could even board the plane. He was buried on the very same day after the Isya’ prayer.

I will always remember him in all my prayers.

I have always known that I was his favourite grandchild. Because he made it so obvious that all my siblings could not fail to notice it, even when we were just young kids. Initially when they first accused me of being the favourite, I had denied it because I felt like he surely loved us all the same. But after some time, we all accepted it as a fact and I didn’t bother denying it anymore hahaha.

He bought me  a piece of gold jewellery to reward me for my UPSR result… he never bought any of my siblings any present for their exam results even though they scored straight As too. He never asked my father where my other siblings were if they didn’t turn up to his house. But if I didn’t turn up to his house (well, I was abroad for my medical study and could not make it home for Raya or for some family events sometimes) he would notice and ask about me. It was me that my parents would ask to persuade my grandfather to be compliant to all his medication. It was me who would teach my grandfather how to use his puffer and when I noticed he could not use his puffer properly I then convinced him to use a spacer with his puffer.

With my parents, none of us knew which one of us is the favourite. We could speculate, but we couldn’t tell for sure, as our parents would treat us mostly the same, and any variations in their treatment of us was not obvious Hahah. I would say my Kak Long is the favourite but she would deny it and cite some other occasions and references in which it appeared as though it was I, or Wani or Izati or Alida who were the favourite. Really, we have no idea who is the favourite child and it remains a mystery for us until now.

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With my Tok Wan

But with my grandfather, I was clearly the preferred granddaughter. I think my grandfather loved me best because I had once stayed at his house for a few weeks of school holiday when I was 7 years old. None of my siblings wanted to spend their holiday in a kampung at that time. But as a child, I was fascinated by the rubber trees, the rubber fruits and the process of turning the rubber liquid into rubber sheets that I didn’t mind being the only one spending the holiday with my paternal grandparents without the rest of my siblings. I made some friends in the kampung too and I was spoiled rotten by the kids in the kampung because I was this young city girl who was having a vacation in a kampung (not that Alor Setar is REALLY a city haha… but compared to Baling, of course lah! Haha). They gave up their hammock for me whenever I wanted to sit on that hammock, I still remember. After awhile, I felt like that hammock was mine and it was my due to sit on it whenever I felt like it. And they allowed it too. Hahha. I was so bad but they were so nice to me; perhaps because I was the youngest among them. I had a great time in my grandfather’s house even though it was a modest house in the middle of a huge rubber estate.  Until now, I love being amidst a lot of trees and quiet nature … one of the reasons I love hiking was because there were a lot of trees. It was calming to my mind to be in nature and greeneries.

I was really sad that I could not be with him in his last moments. This wasn’t how I envision his passing would be. I wasn’t able to write about this a few months ago when I was still dealing with the grief. But now that I have visited his grave and paid my respect, I feel like writing a tribute about him is how I properly put a closure to this. He was the last grandparent we had…. for a long time, he was  the ONLY grandparent we had (because my other grandparents on my mom’s side had passed away since we were little kids).

And with his passing, I have no grandparents left.

I visited his grave a few days before Eid. A lot of Malays like to visit the graves of their loved ones on the day of Eid itself. Actually, this is not advisable and very much discouraged in Islam. Eid is the day of happiness and victory. It is SUNNAH to be happy on the day of Eid. And therefore I made it a point to NOT visit his grave during Eid and wanted to do it before Eid. All sadness must end with happiness. Eid is for us  to be happy and jovial. Not for us to be sad and disheartened.

But this was our first Eid without our grandfather.

May Allah forgive the sins of my grandfather and bless his soul with mercy and love. And may Allah grant him an abode in paradise. Amiin, Ya Rabb.

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إنَّا ِللهِ وإنَّا إلَيْهِ رَاجِعُوْن  *Innalillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un*
اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لَهُ وَارْحَمْهُ وَعَافِهِ وَاعْفُ عَنْهُ  *“Allahumma firlahu warhamhu wa`afihi wa`fu`anhu”*

First Day of Eid : The Eid Prayer

As you guys well know, because of the conditional MCO, congregational Eid prayer in the mosque was banned and the Muslims were encouraged to pray at home with their family members.

For Eid, there were only my parents, and the three middle sisters (me, Izati and Alida) as well as my two brother-in-laws (Izati and Alida’s husbands) and Alida’s three children (Ammar, Arissa and Alana) who would be celebrating together. The eldest and the youngest sister were not around as they could not cross the state borders to balik kampung (Kak Long and Wani, you were in our thoughts as we were eating ketupat, rendang and nasi arab. But never fear, our appetite was not affected by your absence regardless of how much we DO miss you. Heheh)

My father is not used to leading any congregational prayer. I think he has some form of performance anxiety about any kind of public speaking or public performance haha. So, he volunteered to perform the post-prayer doa, instead. Zul (Izati’s husband) also refused to lead the congregational prayer and volunteered to read out the khutbah (religious preaching after prayer) instead. So, it was left to Fairuz (Alida’s husband) to lead the congregational prayer because he was the last one to arrive at our makeshift praying area and did not yet volunteer for anything. So we told him that it was his job to lead the prayer because he was late. He was nervous but he did it. (Being late has a pretty dire consequence in the culture of my family. We are all pretty punctual people. But before Covid-19, none of the consequences involved having to be an Imam hahaha)

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But I must admit, it was really FUNNY having someone other than the usual and experienced Imam leading our prayer. We had to bite our lips and suck our cheeks hard to prevent ourselves from laughing hysterically during prayer. It was obvious that Fairuz was NOT used to leading a congregational prayer. It was the shortest Eid prayer I have ever had as Fairuz had only chosen very short Quranic surahs to recite LOL. Understandably, he was quite nervous for suddenly being given this responsibility just because he happened to arrive late at the place of prayer. Adeh.

And my dad’s recitation of the doa were not without some hitches and pauses too. My mom was red in the face as she tried not to burst out laughing. The khutbah however was not bad as it only required Zul to read the text off his handset but a real Imam would have performed it with more calibre, of course.

But all in all, we did it! We completed our Eid congregational prayer on our own well enough for the first time.

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Us praying…. Fairuz leading the congregational prayer, my dad and brother in law in the next row. At the back, from the left, there was me, Izati and my mom in our prayer clothing. Alida could not pray and was taking our picture while we were praying.

I was proud of the men in my family that they had stepped up and were able to perform the task of an imam, bilal and preacher eventually. Unfortunately, I think they knew that us the girls were finding it hard to control our amusement at the back. Alida who could not pray had taken our pictures while we were praying… and was it her voice I heard sputtering with suppressed mirth? She made it so difficult for me to NOT laugh while I was praying. So, I just smiled instead while simultaneously biting my lips hard. Needless to say, it was not a very khusyu’ prayer. Forgive me, oh Allah.

I remembered learning many years ago that smiling or grinning does not invalidate our prayer but I still experienced some niggling doubts about the validity of my prayer (because of my excessive smiling with intermittent lip biting while praying). So, afterwards, to REALLY calm myself down and settle the doubts, I googled whether or not smiling or grinning could invalidate your prayer. Haha. Good news! It didn’t.

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My instagram story Haha

 

First Day of Eid: The ‘Beraya’ Session

In our Malay culture we have what we call as ‘sesi beraya’ in which we would kiss the hands of our parents and hug them while asking for their forgiveness. And then we will repeat the same process with everyone in the family.

I am not entirely sure whether this practice is in the sunnah or not. I am pretty sure it wasn’t something that was specifically done for Eid during the Prophet’s time. I couldn’t recall learning anything like this in the sunnah. But I do know that during Eid, it is Sunnah to greet each other by saying Taqabbal Allahu Minna Wa Minkum (Meaning: May Allah accept the good deeds from us and from you). So that is how I always say in my Eid Mubarak wishes to others. It is easy pahala to follow this sunnah, right? Just say the words as it was said by the Prophet.

(However, the beraya session is not exactly against the Islamic practice. It is just cultural and it happens to be good practice to always ask forgiveness from each other. However please note that asking for forgiveness should be done whenever we make mistakes and this practice should not be allocated only for Raya time as it was not really done this way during the Prophet’s era. Allocating a specific practice for a specific time when it was NOT done by the Prophet could be construed as an innovation in the religion (Bid’ah) and it is very much frowned upon. Just to clarify that! Muslims should practice based on evidence.)

Below are the pictures of our Beraya session, which is also the time we would usually receive our Raya money. As they are my own family members and we have been living together for one week already, we do not practice social distancing with each other in this session because it would be pointless to do it. We have been inter-mingling so freely for many days already.

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And afterwards, we had our family Eid picture taken. We took many variations of the family picture… formal and cheeky ones of various poses were snapped in rapid succession. All of my sisters love posing in front of the camera and when I am with them I tend to get swept along by their excitement of having their pictures taken. I hardly take any picture or selfie when I am by myself but when I am with them I will play along and actually enjoy the process.

 

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As usual, me and the sisters had our indoor and outdoor photoshoot session. This is usually the time when we would miss the other sisters who could not make it for Raya the most. We didn’t miss them that much while eating our Eid food… but during photoshoot session, they were greatly and fondly remembered LOL. The outdoor photoshoot session has been our siblings’s peak Raya moments since we were small children, when we would pose in our new clothes pretending to be a model (without the height or the beauty. Hahah.) It is our siblings’ tradition! It is the pinnacle of what Raya fun is all about in the family.  (Well, this is what you get when all your siblings are girls… no brothers to put us in our place or check our sense of misplaced vanity Hahha.)

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Aggravatingly, my sisters did not think much of my Raya look this year (and ALSO any other year).

Look, I admit, I have never been much of a fashionista. Alida and Izati are the fashion enthusiast of the family. Whenever I shop for clothes, I prioritize comfort, practicality and economy over beauty or brands. If the outfit is TOO MUCH (too sparkly, too flowy, too difficult to iron) chances are I probably would not wear it again. So I won’t buy such an outfit. And as I am also not a frequent kenduri attendee and nor am I a social butterfly, I have no occasion to wear that kind of fancy clothes again. It just does NOT make sense to spend all that money for such an outfit which is only going to be worn once. Might as well I spend it on gold jewelries (I LOVE gold jewelries, guys…which are ALSO sparkly, but practical… something I can accessorize my plain clothes with. And it is an asset that can be easily liquidated should I be desperate for cash. So, I bought them as an investment… at least, that’s what I told myself. And I could never get enough #MamiJarumIsMe hahah. There was one time when I had a patient who was crying as she told me how her drug-addict husband had pawned off all her jewelries. In my mind I was like “Hmm…so, where did you hide his body after you murdered him?” LOL. Okay, just kidding. Please, don’t murder your husband if he took your gold jewelries. But heck, I would feel quite murderous towards those who stole my gold jewelries from me, guys. I am telling you!)

So below is the pic of my Raya #OOTD.

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Alida was like “Kak Ngah, why is it so grey? Why is it so dull? Will you at least wear a bright hijab with it? Wear a red hijab!” 

And then Izati said, “I thought it was cadar, at first.” (Cadar means bedsheet, guys! Bedsheet! How insulting!)

Can you believe my sisters? Hahah.

Of course I had no choice but to defend my outfit by telling them “Hey, this is in trend. My Raya concept is called monochromatic minimalist look. Google it. My sense of style is impeccable” Well, I had to say that, didn’t I? Cannot allow them to think I have a deficient sense of style.

They just rolled their eyes and continued to tell me how my sense of style is no style at all.  The nerve!

Sadly, even my mother did not really like my Raya look. But she was not as blunt as my sisters in criticizing it. I remember when she used to say how difficult it was to shop for my Raya clothes when I was studying overseas because I had so many conditions about my clothing. “No manik, no labuci, not too much flowers or patterns. Preferrably ONLY one colour without any corak. If got embroideries, the colour must be the same colour as the cloth.” My mom would be like “Susah la kak ngah ni. Mana ada orang jual baju raya macam tu. Pakai ja apa yang mak beli!” (At that time, the term “monochromatic minimalist” look was not popular yet so I  came out with all the conditions for my Raya clothes. Obviously, I was ahead of my time (LOL) and did not yet know that the ‘monochromatic minimalist look’ was the words I was looking for as I was describing my taste to my mom 10 years ago. Seriously Raya clothes is getting ridiculous these days. Like my friends had said in one of her Facebook postings “Depa ni jual baju raya ka baju kahwin?” Hahah. We are doctors… we are practical people. If we are going to buy clothes, we want to make sure we can wear it to work too. And as I don’t really wear baju kurung to work, I don’t really like to buy it.)

 

Eid Pot Luck With Beloved Friends

I still remember how sad I had felt when I thought I was probably going to be stuck in a nursing hostel in JB for Eid. Not exactly an uplifting thought that was. Even though I was not the sort of person who gets severely homesick, but I must admit that after MCO was enforced (and therefore I could not return home to pay my last respect to my Tok Wan and neither could I return home once a month as I had first planned when I decided to do my attachments in JB), I started to feel very acutely the bitterness of being separated from my family. I enjoyed the actual postings themselves and learned a lot too but at the same time, I REALLY just wanted to be home. It was a blessing that Gerak Malaysia happened just in time to coincide with my end of posting.

So I felt so sorry for my friends who could not cross borders to be with their family. It must be so difficult for them. I thought it would be nice if I could spend some portion of my 1st and 2nd Syawal with them too and celebrate with them so that they wouldn’t feel so sad or bored. (Because I could be pretty entertaining when I put my mind to it. Hahaha. Excuse my perasan thought.)

On the first day of Syawal, Hafilah organized the makan-makan first for Isma and Dayah, the two friends of ours who could not cross the state borders. We went to Hafilah’s house in the afternoon and had a great chat about how people are stigmatizing doctors and healthcare workers during Eid. I heard that some people did not allow their family members who are health care workers to balik kampung even though they are in the same home town. My God!

In the social media you guys hailed us as heroes. But at the same time, you don’t want us around you for Raya even though we are in the same home town as you? This is ridiculous. Thank God my family is not like that. And if they are like that, I have all the facts and figures to correct their stigma. (Statistically speaking, the public have a higher chance of contracting Covid-19 compared to health care workers, ok! We wear our PPE all the time while attending to patients. Whereas the public can ALSO contract Covid-19 while doing their grocery shopping without wearing proper PPE and they wouldn’t even realize it. The head of the family could return home after shopping and bring back the virus to the rest of the family members too; just like the health care workers could bring back the virus to her family. But unlike the public, the health care workers are super vigilant about hygiene and using the PPE. So in terms of risks, we are not that different. In fact I would argue that the public have even worse risk when we look at the statistics. There are not many front-liners or healthcare workers who are infected with Covid-19.  What makes you think that you are less risky to your parents than your family members who are health care workers, then?)

Anyway, after that hot discussion, we took some outdoor pictures while still maintaining social distancing. Below are some of the pictures that we took while doing our Eid visit at Hafilah’s home. Please note how we maintained our social distancing while taking our Raya pics hahha

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On the 2nd Day of Syawal, it was my turn to organize a Pot Luck party for Isma and Dayah. Hafilah and Isma requested that I cook the meal myself as I have always jokingly told them how my cooking skill is not so bad. I told them that I cooked very tasty nasi goreng and my Pek Nga is just out of this world. Haha. They were like “Prove it, Afiza. Words are cheap!” 

I told them “Takkan raya nak makan nasi goreng!” I wanted to just order something for my Pot Luck party. But they wanted me to prove that I could cook. Hahah. I regretted boasting about my cooking… because it REALLY was a boast.

So I decided to cook bihun goreng instead. And then I bought some chickens from KFC to eat with my bihun goreng. I also bought carbonated drinks (Pepsi, because I couldn’t find Coke in the gas station shop), to have with my bihun goreng, brownies and kek lapis Sarawak. (Bihun goreng with Coca-Cola have always been my favourite kind of pairing. I still remember how I had insisted that I want bihun goreng and Coca-Cola for my Majlis Khatam Quran when I was a child. My mom was horrified when she said “Kak Ngah, majlis khatam Quran orang buat pulut kuning dgn air sirap. Mana ada orang buat bihun dengan Coca-Cola. Ish, mak hairan la dengan kak ngah ni.” Hahha. But I was so adamant about getting bihun goreng and Coca Cola because I felt like they should give me what I liked to eat as this was a celebration of my achievement. My dad finally said that I should get what I wanted and so my mom gave in eventually. And really, all the kids in my surau enjoyed the meal too. They said it was the best meal they had ever had for a Majlis Khatam Quran. So, when I chose to cook Bihun Goreng for my Pot Luck contribution, I was also reminiscing my glorious childhood days in which I could get away with doing something weird and against the norm but it turned out splendidly well, anyway. Seriously, who made it a rule that for khatam Quran, you MUST have pulut kuning? Where is it written anywhere that we cannot change our menu if we don’t like pulut kuning? Hahha. But really, looking back, I was blessed to have my parents who entertained my weird ways. Even though they were pretty strict parents, in some ways they were quite indulgent.)

I hosted my Pot Luck at my own house instead of at my parents’ house because I wanted to minimize the risk of unnecessary contact with strangers for my elderly parents and my nieces and nephews. Before this, all types of Raya gatherings were hosted at my parents’ house with very minimal effort on my part as everything was cooked and prepared by my mother and we only helped out here and there. This was the first time I  entertained my own guests in my own house and prepared everything myself. It was pretty hard work, guys. After the Subuh prayer, I straightaway came down to the kitchen to prepare my Bihun and only THEN I really appreciated how effortful it is to organize a party. (I felt like such an adult hahah. And it took Covid-19 MCO for me to volunteer as a host. Without MCO, I would never have done it). 

To tell you the truth, I am not the sort of person who entertain people in my own house. When I want to hang out with friends, I find ways that we can hang out and talk with very minimal effort on my part. Let’s just go out and eat and talk. Simple and less time-consuming and more efficient, right? Minimal input that yields the best output!

For me to invite you into the privacy of my own home, you must be pretty close to me. For me to be going through all these efforts, Isma and Dayah must be feeling pretty special (Hahahaa just kidding) I don’t do these sort of things for just anyone, you know. And it might not happen again in the future LOL. So I hope they really had a good time because I certainly did. God knows when I would be hosting again. Next time, I am more likely to just ask them to choose a restaurant instead.

Izati and Alida were like, “Since when are you so sweet to cook for your friends?”

See? Inilah hikmah Covid-19! It brings out the dormant sweet nature in me into the open. Haha.

Dayah and Isma brought so much more food and they were all yummy. There were lontong, kuah kacang, ketupat pulut, ketupat nasi, daging palembang (sedap gila this one!) and a lot of kuih raya too.  Hafilah brought ice cubes because I forgot that I didn’t have them in my house (Alas, a great host, I am NOT).

Below are the pics of our Pot Luck party. In one of the pictures, you can see Hafilah and Dayah eating durian at the front door of my house. They insisted to buy Durian and eat them straightaway. I was like “Please eat your durian by the front door to minimize the smell of it in the air inside the house. After you eat, please throw everything in the bin outside the house.” Hahahaa. (I know I am a terrible host. But that is the beauty of an intimate gathering between ONLY close friends… straight talking is expected and encouraged. Me and Isma are not a fan of Durian. We could eat it occasionally, but we do not like it THAT much. The smell of Durian can be migraine-inducing for Isma. Adeh! But see how we can tolerate our friends’ habits when our friends are worth tolerating? I have my own bad habits that I am sure they have been tolerating pretty patiently all these while. They keep saying I am pretty rigid haha. Thank God for friends who are understanding and accepting of you but at the same time will improve your manners and call you out when you slack off. We all need that type of friends.)

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A trip to Poh Kong And Habib Jewels

Ah… we lose to temptation, guys. We surrendered to the lure of the Raya sales.

Dayah is a fan of gold jewelries too. And I think Isma was heavily influenced (or peer-pressured? haha) by Dayah and me to take an interest in gold too. Whereas Hafilah is more into white-gold, platinum and diamond kind of jewelries. (Well, Hafilah exists at another level altogether with a lot more money to burn than the rest of us hahah.)

So when we found out that Habib Jewels got sales, we went to Aman Central to check it out. #TheTemptationIsTooGreat

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See how excited Isma, Dayah and Hafilah were as they were looking over the jewelry pieces that were displayed so enticingly to tempt us.

Dayah and Isma bought something from Habib Jewels. And I bought something from Poh Kong. We think of it as #InvestmentDuringCov-Eid, in order to soothe the guilt and justify our spending.

Usually, I am not the type who goes to the mall on the day of Eid. But it so happened that because of Covid-19, there were no houses to visit and there really was not much to do at home. At the same time my birthday was just one day before Eid. So, my parents had given me some money as a birthday gift so that I could buy a nice handbag with it. However, since I knew that Habib Jewels got sales, I wasn’t too keen to spend money on handbags. Like I said, I am NOT a fashionista and I am NOT brand conscious. I am not going to spend so much money on branded handbags and I’d rather use the birthday money to buy gold jewelries. (There are only two things I really like as a gift: books and gold. A meal is lovely too. You know, I like practical stuff that I can use or consume Hahha). 

Some people think that it is high-maintenance of us to spend money on gold jewelries. As though we are materialistic. That is so short-sighted! Gold is the only easily-liquidated asset that is worth buying. Gold could see you through bad times. When desperate, it can be pawned off immediately with minimal fuss or paperwork and it can sustain you for quite some time. No other investment is easily liquidated like that.

I will NOT spend money on brands…. I think people who are brand-conscious are the real high-maintenance people. Not us, gold lovers. I prefer to spend money on things that are INHERENTLY and INTRINSICALLY valuable; not because the society says it is valuable… but because it just REALLY is. When something is inherently valuable, its worth will be INDEPENDENT of other people’s opinions and thoughts and its value will stand the test of time. Can you say the same thing for fashion brands? No! Brands are dependent on society’s opinions and people’s tastes and the society’s constant fickle-mindedness. And they are NOT intrinsically and inherently valuable. (Therefore when I have to spend my money on other things – that are NOT gold and NOT knowledge/travel/experience and NOT food hahha – I am very stingy and I always stick to the principles of ‘sekadar cukup’)

So when I got home and showed my parents what I bought, my dad was like “Awat tak beli handbag?” Hahaha. Maybe he also despaired of my lack of style and wanted to induce me to buy something nice other than gold. But ah… old habit dies hard, guys. I would probably buy a handbag as my father had asked me to do if there was no Habib Jewel sales. But the timing was just too coincidental… it was Raya and it was my birthday and there were sales at jewelry shops. See? The stars were perfectly aligned to induce my manic buying. LOL. And look, it was peer pressure as well…Dayah and Isma bought gold too (even though I bought it first at Poh Kong hahah. So maybe it was I who pressure them?) So the element of peer pressure was very real this time when everyone in the group is into gold. (Well… when your action cannot be justified, you blame peer pressure. Classic, am I not? 😉 )

So…anyway, despite Covid, it was actually a pretty happy Eid, guys. Alhamdulillah for the happiness of having awesome family and friends that Allah surrounds me with. After the despair of possibly not being able to come home for Eid, this was a great blessing, indeed.

Book of The Month

Of course the book of the month I will be writing about is The Quran as we have just exited the month of Ramadhan and is currently in the early days of Syawal. I spent my whole Ramadhan only reading the Quran because I did not have much time to read anything else.

This review is a simple review for the non-Muslims who may not know that much about the Quran and would like to have a general idea of what the Quran is.

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Quran is the word of God

As a Muslim kid, it was my mother who first taught me how to read the Quran. I was 5 years old when she started teaching me how to spell in Arabic. Later, I was sent to the local surau to learn my Quranic recitation with an ustazah. I was pretty good at tajweed and I was among the fluent ones who were later asked by the ustazah to teach the younger kids. It was common practice back then for the fluent senior reciters to help teach the more junior reciters especially when the ustazah was busy.

But I didn’t understand what I was so fluently reading.

Because the Quran is in Arabic.

The peculiar thing about being a non-Arab Muslim is that it will be hard for us to understand what we are reciting of the Quran without reading the translation, unless we have learned the Arabic language. (And 80% of Muslims are NOT Arabs. Arabs are the minority among Muslims). We can read the Arabic text of the Quran and articulate the words the way they were supposed to be articulated, but not all of us understand the meanings of what we are reciting.

It is like knowing how to spell and read in Hindi and knowing how to make all the sounds that correspond to the combination of alphabets in the Hindi language but you do not understand a single thing of what you are saying. Well, imagine being able to read out the lyrics of a Hindi song that is written in the Hindi language but you could not understand what you are singing.  (It is a bit like receptive aphasia. You read it and say it perfectly right because you had known how the combination of the alphabets SHOULD sound, but you cannot know what all the sounds mean without reading the translation).

This is due to the fact that non-Arab Muslims MUST learn Quranic recitation in its original Arabic language because our 5 daily worships and some of our special do’a are in arabic. Our worships are not valid in any other language. So the arabic language is the lingua franca in our prayers. Everyone recite the same surah Al-Fatihah for prayers and everything in the prayer is standardized by the usage of the Arabic language. So if I go to a mosque in Australia, or in the UK or Uganda, or Spain, or just anywhere on earth, I can just join the congregational prayer as usual because the prayer is the same anywhere on earth. All of us might come from various different nationalities, but we all pray using the same unified language of worship – the Arabic language. An Ugandan Imam can lead the prayer for other nationalities behind him and they all would know what to say and what to do while the prayer was being led by the Ugandan Imam because we ALL use the lingua franca of worship while performing our worship – i.e. the Quranic Arabic language.

That’s why my brother-in-law can be an Imam to lead our congregational prayer when we had to do our Eid prayer at home (even though he did appear and sound a bit awkward when he did it hahaha). Because all Muslims practice the same way in worshipping…. and therefore anyone can take over the job of leading a prayer if they are confident enough or when desperate times call for their lead. I can lead a prayer too when I am just praying among girls because the words in the prayer are standardized in Arabic. And anyone can do it. (In Australia, me and my housemates took turn leading the Terawih prayers during Ramadhan. Initially, we did laugh at each other’s awkwardness and choice of short surahs. But by the end of Ramadhan, we did actually improve our performance.)

At the end of our standard worship, we can later add on our own specific do’a and our own special prayer/requests to God in our own language – this is the non-obligatory part of the worship where we can have our own unique style of making the do’a and use our own words for it. This is the part where we naturally talk to God in our own way. (In the past, this is the part where I would pray hard that God let me pass all my exams. Haha)

I have explained before, that access to God is granted equally to all Muslims. There is no such a thing as an extra holy practice for the scholars compared to the non-scholar Muslims. So everyone can be an Imam when we have to… and Covid-19 Pandemic has highlighted that part beautifully. We just need to practice more to be less awkward in performing it.

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This is hilarious! Haha.

The Quran still exists in its original Arabic language word-by-word without a single alteration…because we always use it in our daily lives when we are performing our 5 daily worships… and this has been going on for the past 1400 years. The continuity of the tradition is amazing. Arabic is an alive language and is still used very widely (unlike Sanskrit, Latin, Greek, Aramaic… they are no longer that frequently used in conversation or in anything academic. Language that are no longer used will eventually become a dead language. Languages that have become a dead language will not be efficient in transmitting information. So, for any holy book that has its original form existing in a dead language, the knowledge transmission cannot be widely distributed to all practitioners and thus only very few real scholars can access the message of the book and the majority of non-scholars will be left in the dark. Furthermore, translations are full of limitations… and the accuracy of any translation cannot be guaranteed. Have you tried translating any text from one language to another before? I had to do a lot of article translation as a child because that was how my father taught me and my siblings our English and Malay… it can be frustrating when you cannot translate the text just right because of the limitation that is inherent in one language or the other.)

So, understanding the meaning of what we utter in Arabic would require some extra effort for non-Arabs. We must read the translation in order to know what we are saying. But at least we do know that the Arabic language is  still a very alive language and therefore Quranic messages are still preserved in its pristine and unchanged form and the messages are accessible to all the Arabs and also to the non-Arabs who have studied the language.

So whenever I read the Quran during Ramadhan… I have to be really efficient with my time because I need to do double the work; I have to read the Arabic text first (to get the pahala of reciting the Quran in its original form) before going on to read the translation of the Quran (to understand the meaning and the message, which would also give you pahala). So I was pretty much in a rush to finish the Quran during Ramadhan, knowing that I have more work to do because I don’t know Arabic. (I become even more particular about not wanting people to waste my time when I am in the month of Ramadhan.)

When I was just a child, I only read the Arabic version without really feeling like I need to know the meaning of the Quran. I only memorized the translations of some of the frequently used surahs during prayer but I did not bother to know the meanings of the ENTIRE Quran. However while I was doing my IB study as an 18 year old teenager, I finally felt like it was time for me to know the message of the entire Quran. This sudden interest started after my ex-classmate passed away in a car accident. It made me think a bit deeper about life when she passed away. And since then, I always read the Quran in Arabic together with its translation. I started to read the Malay translation first and later on, I moved on to the English translation too (I must admit that I prefer the English one for accuracy)

It was then that I knew how ridiculous it was for any Muslim to NOT know the message of the entire Quran and only reciting them in Arabic. Sure, you will still get the pahala of reciting the Quran in its original language, but in terms of understanding the text and the context of the Quran, how is it different from me singing Hindi songs without knowing what I was singing?

Looking back, I felt like the ustazah in my surau should have insisted that all the kids use the Quran with translations included. It would have been nice to have learned the meanings of the Quran while simultaneously learning my Quranic recitation in Arabic as a child. Children can absorb language pretty fast and I wonder if I could have obtained a more intuitive understanding of the Arabic language if I was exposed to the meaning of the Quran much sooner.

When you read the Quran, you will find that it is not the same as reading a story book. The structure of the Quran is entirely unique and it doesn’t follow the chronological order of the usual book. There were no words like “Once upon a  time… in the beginning…” 

Nope! Instead, when you read the Quran you really DO feel like it is God who is directly talking to you. Because the Quran is the instruction of God to our prophet. God was instructing, advising, directing, calming and soothing Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in many different contexts and situations. God directly told our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on what to tell the masses whenever a specific question was asked. So our Prophet only repeated what God had said to him.

So when you read the Quran, you will find words that are instructive and conversational in nature. God himself taught Prophet Muhammad how to answer it when people asked him about the nature of God by revealing these four sentences from Surah Al-Ikhlas.

1)Say (O Muhammad) “He is Allah, the One and Only (Unique)”

2)Allah, the Eternal Refuge

3)He begets not, nor was he begotten

4) And none is comparable to him

So in the above sentences we knew that it was God’s own words telling our Prophet (PBUH) how to answer his audience about the nature of God. We really do feel like we are reading the words of God. So we don’t get passive storybook sentences like “One day, God told Muhammad regarding how he should describe the nature of God to those who had asked. Muhammad was informed by God to say that the nature of God is that God is uniquely One, and does not beget a son nor is He begotten. Muhammad was also asked to emphasize to the masses that none can be compared to Him….”

Do you see the difference? Storybook sentences are a retelling by someone else who is NOT God. You feel like you are reading the words of a NARRATOR instead of God, Himself. And this is NOT how Quran’s language style is. Quran’s language style is God’s own words. And we repeat them in our daily prayers 5 times a day. Amazing, isn’t it?!

So if you read the Quran expecting to read it like you are reading a story book, you probably wouldn’t get it. You would be confused at first. Take it from me… I was confused too when I first tried to read the translations of the Quran. Because my mind was so used to the usual storybook style and structure that I was quite disoriented at first. But as I continued to read it, I was blown away. I was REALLY reading God’s words… not the words of a narrator retelling a story. I was reading from the direct source; from God himself.

Now that I have passed all my exams, I am quite free with my time. I am thinking that maybe I should start learning Arabic so that my recitation will be more efficient. If I am good in Arabic, I don’t have to do double the work anymore or read everything twice in order to understand the meanings. If any of you have any recommendation of a good Arabic class nearby in Alor Setar, do let me know. Otherwise, I might need to do it online.

The contents of the Quran consisted of 114 chapters and each chapter (except one: Chapter At-Taubah) begins with the words Bismillahhirahmanirrahim which is translated to “In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful”.

In general, the Quran contained topics such as:

  • The Nature of the Spiritual World
  • The Law and Commandments
  • Historical Accounts
  • The Wisdom
  • The Prophecies

When you read the original Arabic version, you will get a sense as though you are reading an epic poem because the sentences rhymed beautifully in the end. When translated into other languages, the rhyme and rhythm are lost to give way for accuracy of meaning in another language. That is the limitation of understanding the Quran from translations. And that is why we need to learn Arabic if we have the means and the time to do it.

Wish me luck, won’t you?

I hope you guys have a sense of what Quran is all about by reading the review above. Do check it out as it is very easily accessible. Even Popular Bookstore sells the Quran.

Until next time, my dear readers.

Eid Mubarak. Taqabbal Allahu Minna Wa Minkum. Much love and may Allah bless all of us.

Ramadhan In The Midst of Covid-19

Dear readers,

I hope it is not too late for me to wish everyone a good Ramadhan (Covid-19 not withstanding) even though we are already in our 9th day of fasting (which means we have entered the 2nd week of the fasting month. Well, I guess, it IS a bit late for a Ramadhan wish LOL)

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You know, I have this ideal image in my mind of how a dedicated blogger should behave and run her blog. In my mind, a good and dedicated blogger should always write a blog post for every occasion and every celebration that is currently going on, right on time. Maybe she should publish a blog post wishing happy new year right on the eve of the new year day, and writes about Ramadhan on the first day of Ramadhan… or wishes all her readers Eid Mubarak on the eve of Eid itself. The blogger should also always be au courant with all the latest issues and write about it as soon as possible when the news is still hot.

Well…

I guess, I am never gonna be a dedicated blogger. LOL

I even failed to keep my promise to write one blog post per month as I didn’t write a single one in the month of April. Life is so hectic right now. *sigh* (One day, maybe…I will write about why April 2020 was such a bad month for me. But, Alhamdulillah ala kulli hal)

I will try to make up for it by writing twice this month, but since we have established the fact that I am not a dedicated blogger, I will not hold it against you if you find it hard to believe that I will write another one this month. I am finding it hard to believe myself. But I am thinking that maybe, Insya Allah, I will write one for Eid at the end of May and spam this blog with a lot of Eid photos of the family (even though some of my siblings won’t be around due to the banning of interstate travel during MCO. Ah… my heart breaks! I will miss playing our usual Raya games with my nephews and nieces.)

But Ramadhan is a month of blessing (even with the prospect of a less celebratory Raya in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic.) Some of my non-Muslim friends think that Muslims suffer so much throughout Ramadhan when actually, Ramadhan is not that hard. It is just like delayed gratification when you think about it. It was just about missing lunch, folks. It wasn’t THAT physically exhausting. So please don’t feel uncomfortable or apologize for eating your lunch in front of any Muslim because I don’t mind at all and most Muslims don’t either. The test of Ramadhan is not physical. And even if it is a physical test, it is a beneficial one as fasting brings a lot of health benefits as well. Intermittent fasting is all the rage and so trendy these days.

The test of Ramadhan is spiritual and psychological – which to me personally, is the same thing. (I cannot separate my psychological being from my spiritual being. Is there any REAL distinction between the two, anyway? Argument is still on going regarding this. I would argue that for religious people at least, they are one and the same. Psychiatry is translated as Perubatan Jiwa! Jiwa, ok! Can refer to the mind or the soul or BOTH! I personally make no distinction between my psychological health and my spiritual health. If there is any distinction, it is purely academic rather than practical. There’s a lot of semantics in studying Psychiatry, to those who don’t know.)

The purpose of fasting is to attain righteousness and God consciousness (taqwa). At the end of Ramadhan, it is not REALLY Eid that you get as a gift (even though Eid IS pretty awesome.) It is taqwa… having God consciousness. That is why Ramadhan is not a physical test. It is spiritual and/or psychological in nature.

fasting taqwa

The only thing that can cause you to restrain yourself from eating from dawn till dusk for 30 days straight when nobody is looking… is taqwa. That’s it.

If you VOLUNTARILY forego your food and drinks when no one is there to witness your action, it is because you truly believe that God is around and sees what you do. Otherwise why would you even bother? Young Muslim kids who first learn how to fast sometimes secretly break their fast when no one is looking because their concept of God is not perfect yet. (I admit that I also secretly ate as a child. *walk of shame* haha) As these kids mature and attain God consciousness, they believe that God sees them even when no one is around and therefore they fast properly and no longer cheat by eating secretly. Throughout the day as they experience thirst and hunger, their bodies remind them on and off to eat and drink, to disobey Allah…. But their minds tell them to hold on and wait until Maghrib, to delay that gratification. As they mature into their adulthood, they will fill up their Ramadhan not only with just proper fasting but also Quranic reading and non-obligatory worshipful acts on top of the obligatory ones. And for each subsequent Ramadhan, they continue to improve their performance and increase their worship of Allah, attaining taqwa gradually but surely throughout their lives. This constant need to improve their taqwa continues until the day they breathe their last air. They grow in piety… from a young Muslim kid who would secretly eat when no one is looking… to an elderly person who would cry when they are told by their doctor not to fast because their physical health does not allow it.

That is what Ramadhan means to Muslims. Taqwa. God consciousness.

So please don’t think that Ramadhan is about food and Bazaar Ramadhan only. Haha. We are not THAT hungry that we are so hung up about food. I had one Chinese colleague when I was a houseman who asked me “So you guys fast during the day, and then eat the whole night long, is it?” Hahaha. Apparently, they believe that we suffer so much during Ramadhan that we will make up for it by eating the whole night long until Subuh. But that is not true guys. After breaking our fast, we immediately perform our Maghrib prayer, Isya prayer, Terawih prayer, and then we will go to sleep early because we need to wake up early for other night prayers later on, as well as for sahoor (the early morning breakfast before the Subuh prayer). And of course, we work and study as usual during Ramadhan. When would we have the time to eat all night long? LOL.

But can’t really blame them for thinking that we behave like a hungry piranha during Ramadhan. The culture of Ramadhan in Malaysia unfortunately revolves around food…. Where else can you get so many open houses invitation a whole month long after Ramadhan other than in Malaysia? I don’t think such a culture exists in other Muslim countries. Based on my experience in Australia, the Arabs in Newcastle mosque only broke their fast with dates and some bread and then they would rush to perform their Maghrib prayer, leaving the Malaysian students still eating our rice and chicken to our hearts’ satisfaction. Hahaha. (Tak sanggup nak buka puasa with only dates. I need my rice, man! So that I can concentrate better in my Maghrib prayer. Hahha. So my eating rice is also for the sake of my prayer, right? Justified, isn’t it? 😛 )

Other people in other countries only celebrate Eid for one day and then they immediately start their 6 days Syawal fasting  (Puasa Enam). In Malaysia, you have to plan your Puasa Enam properly so that your fasting won’t coincide with various open house events around you… because even though fasting is supposed to be easy after one month of doing it, it is not so easy outside Ramadhan when every one of your friends seems to be attending daily food party all month long hahaha. And the fact that Puasa Enam is not compulsory, it makes it hard to deal with the temptation.

So you see, Malaysians are passionate about food. And therefore our Ramadhan culture is a bit skewed towards food-related concerns.

It is not so in other countries.

Ramadhan Is About The Quran

Actually Ramadhan is about the Quran rather than the food or the actual physical fasting.

Because the Quran was revealed in the month of Ramadhan.

When I was in Australia, I witnessed how the Arab Muslims carried the Quran all day long (at that time, we didn’t yet have smartphones with Quranic App) and would read the Quran cover to cover throughout Ramadhan. They read the Quran in any spare time that they got… while waiting for the bus, in between classes, a few minutes after the five obligatory prayers and so on and so forth. (Most Malays confine the reading of the Quran to when they are properly at home, wearing their prayer clothing and sitting on their prayer mat before they proceed to open the Quran. The shy Malays prefer to read the Quran in the privacy of their own home or in the mosque rather than publicly. But I think this self-imposed limitation is unwise and inefficient, especially in the month of Ramadhan when time is precious and we might not have enough private time to finish reading the Quran in Ramadhan. So, just discreetly read it on your phone when you have some spare time in between your daily activities. More efficient use of your time, right?)

Most Muslims will try to read the whole Quran in that month to celebrate what Ramadhan means in relation to the Quran. How many religious people in other religions can claim that they have read their religious book cover to cover in their lifetime, let alone reading it cover to cover every year? Most people only pick and choose which verse from their religious scriptures to read and practice. But Muslims cannot do that. The knowledge of the Quran is revealed for the whole of humankind in its entirety. It is not only for the scholars of Islam… but FOR ALL.

People think that being a Muslim is difficult. Like, Islam is too strict. They should read their own religious scriptures and try to follow them all before thinking that Islam is too strict… some of the religious practice in other scriptures are even harder to follow and therefore most of them simply abandon the practice to the priests or monks of their religion. But really… it doesn’t make their religion easier than Islam just because they don’t practice what they are supposed to practice were they to properly follow their own scriptures.

In this month of Ramadhan, I wish people would understand that Islam is not that hard as people had perceived. It appears hard in comparison to other religion because they DO NOT practice their own religion the way it is outlined in their own religious scriptures. Read your own scriptures cover to cover. Go and truly immerse yourself in your own religious book. And come back and tell me… can you follow the rules in your religion? Regular Muslims like me follow what is outlined in the Quran, which by your standard is too strict. But as strict as it is, it HAS been followed by the majority of practicing Muslims all over the world. As strict as it is, it is doable to most practicing Muslims. In fact the difference between one Muslim to another is only in scholarship status, not in religious practice.

For example, an ustazah and other Muslim women who are not ustazah are BOTH required to pray, fast, and do all the practices in Rukun Islam…and they are all required to wear the hijab regardless of whether they are a religious scholar or not (So, not following the compulsory rules is a sin… not just for the ustazah but for everyone). There is no particular set of dressing just for the ustazah and another type of dressing for the non-scholar Muslim women. Whereas in many other religions, priests/monks/nuns have their own kind of dressing (Nuns wear differently, covering their whole body including their head, than other Christian women who are not nuns, for example. Monks also wear differently than the rest of the non-Monks even when they practice the same religion). In Islam… there is no such a thing. The rules are THE SAME for everyone, scholars or not.

In Islam, one might be a religious scholar, one might be a doctor, one might be an engineer, one might be a cleaner… but when it comes to religious practices, we are the same. A pious cleaner might have a higher status in the eyes of Allah because of her diligence and good deeds compared to the ustazah. It’s just that the ustazah has more depth of the intricate and detailed knowledge about the religion because that is her area of study. But in terms of religious practices, there is no such a thing as one set of practice for the scholars, and another set of practice for the regular guy and girl. Anyone can work towards attaining a higher status in the eyes of Allah by increasing their level of piety. In that sense, we are all equal regardless of our worldly status. The most noble among us is the ones who are most righteous (having taqwa/God consciousness)… not the ones who are most scholarly, or possessing a certain type of skin color, or having a certain social status. Caste system…. well, we don’t recognize that in Islam and we frown upon it wholeheartedly and unreservedly.

Equal

 

Our Imams do not need to forgo marriage or sexual intercourse in order to be an Imam. He is an Imam by the virtue of him having studied the religion and becoming an Islamic scholar… not because he is required to do some extra practice or has to commit to some vows or rituals that other Muslim men don’t have to do. Just like any other Muslim men who are not Imams, the Imams can have sexual intercourse too within the bounds of marriage. Again, no difference in religious practice or religious rules… only in scholarly knowledge (which anyone can decide to pursue if they want to).

There is no requirement in Islam that you need to seclude yourself in some temple, and shave off your head, or eat vegetarian diet, and dress in plain cloth in order to be recognized as extra-pious or extra-holy compared to other people in the same religion as you. Imam or not, we all must pray five times a day. Ulama or not, you are not allowed to eat pork. Mufti or not, you have to pay your zakat and perform the Hajj pilgrimage. Ustazah or not, we all have to wear modest clothing (The rule is for every woman. Those who do not follow the rule KNOW that it is a sin regardless of whether she is an ustazah or not). See? Our practices are  the same regardless of whether you are a scholar (ulama) or not. There is no such a thing as one rule for the scholars, and a more relaxed, more convenient rule for a non-scholar person. Access to a better relationship with Allah is by STANDARDIZED practice and worship… and ANYONE can access that relationship without having to go through any intermediary in the form of a scholar.

The scholar can be challenged if he says the wrong thing. There is no such a thing as “I have had this divine dream… because I have better access to God than you guys, the regular people. You guys must follow what my dream says. It is God’s inspiration for me.” Nope! No way! By the time Prophet Muhammad passed away, all divine revelation had ceased coming. He was the last messenger and Al-Quran is the last divine scripture for all humankind. If something is not in the Quran or in the Hadeeth, then it is not evidence-based (not scripture-based) and it can be challenged by anyone. We can demand proof and textual evidence from the scholar before we are obligated to follow their opinions. (In fact, those who use their dreams and mystic practices to falsely elevate their status among people…usually belong to some religious cults that have nothing to do with Islam.)

This is what I love about Islam. It makes sense. It celebrates our natural human inclination. Absolute obedience is only to Allah and the teaching of the Prophet. And the rule is THE SAME for everyone, regardless of their level of scholarship in the religion. And everyone has equal access to God regardless of their level of scholarship. They just have to be willing to perform the worship and that’s it! Access granted! The only difference between us in the eyes of Allah is our level of piety.

So again, is Islam that hard or difficult? How can you say that when regular non-scholar Muslims like me can practice in the same manner that a scholar Ustazah/Ulama/Imam does? Again, just because you don’t perform everything that your scriptures told you to do and leave them to only be practiced by the priests, the monks, the nuns and the extra-holy among you… doesn’t mean Islam is a difficult religion. Think about it.

If you ever find something that doesn’t make sense, search further. Either the fact is wrong, the context is inaccurate, or the reasoning is manipulated by parties who have some conflict of interests. Or maybe the fact is right but it doesn’t make sense to you because you do not have the knowledge yet that will make it sensible to you. It’s okay… just keep on researching until you are satisfied.

Because the older I get, the more I realize that our knowledge is limited and we have to continue learning for the rest of our lives. In order for us to be so convinced that anything that does not make sense to us is not true… then we must be confident that we have all the relevant knowledge to come to that conclusion. But we do NOT have all the knowledge… and things may not make sense to us because we are just stupid in that particular topic. Haha. And therefore, we have to learn continuously.

As a child, I couldn’t wait to grow up so that I wouldn’t have to go to school anymore. Haha. I thought adult life was fun and easy without having to learn so many things. Now, we all know better. Adult life is just a different level of difficulty.  So… I have resigned myself to continuous learning till the day I die. My formal learning is my medical/psychiatry training and that is still on-going (Ah… penat dah dengan formal learning actually. But persistence is a virtue, and that is what I am doing. Being persistent LOL). But my informal learning is the fun one…. The fiction, the non-fiction, the documentaries, the travel, the volunteerism, the experience. I live for those stuff. I work and receive my salary so that I can spend that salary on my informal learning. That’s why I am so particular about time… I need enough time to pursue my informal learning. That’s why I have never done a single locum in my entire life as a doctor. Outside office hours… is my own time for me to pursue other non-medical stuff. Not gonna spend that time doing locums, LOL.

The fact is, our non-professional life sustains our professional life.

If you abandon your non-professional life, prepare for your professional life to suffer as well. If you love your professional life, please take care of your non-professional life. If my professional life (not the psychiatry part, but the admin part and the technical bureaucratic, red tape part) diminishes my non-professional life (family, principles, ideals, causes I care about, my other interests), I will abandon my professional life eventually. If my professional life oppresses my ideals or my principles, I will walk away from it with no regrets after having done a risk-benefit assessment in my head.

Read the excerpts below on why it is so important to have other passions in your life.

A study of self-reported success and personal satisfaction by Garfinkel et al (2001) found that:

  • the perception that one’s non-professional life sustained professional life was the one lifestyle characteristic that predicted the perception of success
  • the best predictor of personal satisfaction was overall satisfaction with non-professional aspects of life.

Roberts (1997) makes the following observation:

When asked, “What would you like to do if you were not practising medicine?” doctors come up with an amazing range of activities and enthusiasms which for the most part have nothing to do with helping people. The challenge is not to see these as alternatives, but to make space for them to complement and invigorate our work.

We need to look after ourselves, yet we frequently neglect even the most basic considerations of exercise, diet, relaxation and play. It has been my experience in running burnt-out workshops for doctors that less than one in four (sometimes none) of those attending is satisfied with how they look after themselves. Those that are tend to have an established inner discipline such as meditation or prayer.’

So, this is the take home message that I am going to repeat; “Our non-professional life sustains our professional life.” Remember that. (It just so happens that I am one of the lucky ones who ALSO happen to love my professional life. Alhamdullillah, Allah placed me in a field I love.)

Ramadhan Series

In the spirit of Ramadhan, I would like to recommend to you guys to watch this Ramadhan series on Angels by Imam Omar Suleiman on You Tube. I love this series. The video is only 3-5 minutes per episode. And  they will post one episode per day for each day of the Ramadhan month on You Tube. You can even watch it in between your Terawih prayer when you feel a bit tired and need to freshen up before continuing on with your night worship. Below is the trailer for the series.

I also would like to share with you guys one of the best Sami Yusuf’s songs that I absolutely adore especially during Ramadhan. This song reminds me that many people truly suffer in the most unimaginable ways especially in other parts of the world and in war-torn countries… and my little, puny, insignificant struggle in life is really just that! Puny! Little and insignificant!

May Allah forgive me for my occasional lack of gratitude whenever I whine over something paltry.

Books of The Month

Because April was such a hectic month for me, I was only able to read two books. That is pathetic by my previous standard. Gosh… adulting means not having enough time for the fun pursuit in life even though you can now afford to pay for that pursuits.

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So the first book that I read in April is The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom which I bought in Popular at a Blockbuster price of MYR19.90. (And a hard cover book with such a price is a rare find in Popular. I was lucky!)

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I have read plenty of Mitch Albom’s books and if you are familiar with him, you would know that he is quite thoughtful and philosophical. He would compromise believability of plots to enhance a philosophical idea. In this case, the narrator is Music! Haha. You know how when we were a primary school student, we were asked to write a short anthropomorphically-narrated essay such as “Saya sebatang pensel.” Well, in this case, the narrator is a Musical Talent (an anthropomorphic narrator), telling a story about someone he had bestowed some of his ‘musical soul’ to, named Frankie Presto. Musical Talent had watched over Frankie Presto since the day he was born because Frankie was his so-called disciple, performing music to the audience. So the life of Frankie Presto was told from the point of view of Musical Talent. A lot of flashback techniques and jumps between timeline went on in the narrative. Through the life of Frankie Presto, the author carried us through the music industry in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s…and further. We get to meet Elvis Presley, and many other great musicians that Frankie Presto had collaborated with (whose names I don’t bother to commit to memory because I am not into music of that era and quite unfamiliar with them).

Do I like this book? Well… I give it 2.5 out of 5 stars.

I like the language style… some of the sentences are musical and lyrical. Some of the contents in this book stir your mind, but that is one of my issues with this book. They only STIR your mind… rather than PROVOKE it.  Only by provoking my mind will an author TRULY engage my interest. And I am the sort of person who prioritize plot over anything else… if the plot is average, no amount of dressing up with flowery languages will make up for it. I am the sort of person who needs certain closure, neatness and believability in my plots, you know. Sure, I like reading about magic or fantasy… I read Harry Potter as a kid too. But Harry Potter books have got a proper plot development. There is a proper setting, a conflict, a mystery to solve, a climax to the story that requires proper resolution through creative problem-solving skills and a show of bravery by the main characters… and at last, there is that happy ending (so important!) with proper tying up of loose ends. I shut the book feeling satisfied. But this book is just about Frankie Presto’s life from when he was born until he died…and along the way he suffered some ups and downs. At the end of the book, I was like, “Okay fine, now I know the whole life of a fictional character by the name of Frankie Presto… where is the excitement? Where is the a-ha! moment? Where is the punch line, for God’s sake?”

In any story, the plot is the substance… whereas the language, the philosophical elements, and the characters are the ‘cosmetic ingredients’ that beautify and strengthen the substance! I need a good plot, first and foremost. Satisfied with that, I will then evaluate more kindly on the rest (But I do put a lot of emphasis on philosophical elements and characterizations too in order to enjoy a  good plot). So I would say that this book is average. I finished it. It was okay. I would not read it again. It doesn’t mean that Mitch Albom is not a talented author, because he really is. But maybe this one just doesn’t do it for me.

But, again you guys should read other reviews and make your own decision. I guess this book is of a different genre than the usual crime/mystery/thriller that I usually read. Maybe this type of book is just not my kind of tea. This book is categorized as Domestic Fiction genre. I regret to say, it’s just not for me.

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Okay, I am more excited to review this book (Save the best for last, I always say). The Plague was authored by Albert Camus, a Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1957. This book which was originally written in the French language (titled La Peste) narrates the experience of Dr. Rieux in handling the outbreak of The Plague in the town of Oran in Algiers.

I was so impressed by how thoroughly Albert Camus had done his research in order to write a book on the challenges of dealing with an outbreak. In the midst of dealing with Covid-19 pandemic, reading this book will give us a lot of insights on human behavior in dealing with the difficulties and the uncertainties of life.

I remember thinking, “My God! This book was written in 1947! And yet… nothing has changed in terms of our human psychology and behavior in dealing with an outbreak. The behavior of health authorities, the thoughts running through the heads of the policy makers, the over-religious preaching by holier-than-thou religious figures, the knee-jerk reactions, the panic buying, the rushing to the police station to get a letter that would allow them to cross borders and travel to their loved ones,  the despair of being separated from your family members, the reactions of the masses to defy quarantine order, the stigmatizing of people whose family member is known to be infected, the anger at health authorities for wanting to take their relative away to be quarantined, the involvement of the police in helping the health care providers… these are exactly the same as what I am seeing in my own time with this Covid 19.” I was blown away!

I had massive amount of respect for Albert Camus at the end of this novel. He really did deserve the Nobel prize if this is an example of his work!

Guys, technology might change… in this novel, they communicated via letters, public notices, telegram… but human behaviour at all levels of society from policy makers to healthcare workers, to general public remains the same since 1947 until now. In fact, I would say that no matter in which period we live in, when facing the uncertainty of a disease outbreak or a life-threatening catastrophe, we will all behave the same way.

I think all doctors must read this book, especially if they are working in public health. Such an illuminating read. I was very impressed by a quote in this book that I actually wrote about it in one of my Facebook status. The quote summarized how we as the public must think and act in dealing with an outbreak. It says “Officialdom can never cope with something really catastrophic”.

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It struck me that in times of need and desperation, we must rally as a community and not being too dependent on the official channel to provide us with what we need. We must be proactive and settle the problems that we can settle ourselves. We can see our nurses/sisters/matrons sewing their own PPE rather than simply waiting for the official channel to provide them with that. Yes, by rights, the official channel is responsible to provide for you. But the fact of the matter is, ‘officialdom’ CANNOT cope when something is truly catastrophic. Selflessness, volunteerism, and gotong-royong spirit are what work.

And in this book, it narrated about how this character named Tarrou had rallied the whole community to help and volunteer with the cleaning and the sanitation in the community. It was that community rallying combined with the successful development of a vaccine that the town of Oran was finally free of The Plague. At the end of the book, I was amazed by how much Albert Camus must have done in terms of research. This is a book that is relatable until now. And I guess, that is the hallmark of a great literature… the social criticism (kritik sosial) is evergreen and stand the test of time.

In case I haven’t made it clear to you guys, I LOVE it! I love it!

So… I will give this novel 4.5 stars out of 5. The plot is great and neat and all loose ends were properly dealt with. The research is superb. The language is excellent. There is various pearls of philosophical wisdom being randomly dropped here and there throughout this novel. I was very pleasantly surprised that I had enjoyed this literary work.

Guys, you must know that not all classic literatures are enjoyable. Reading literature is not always fun. It is not like reading commercial fiction. Reading literature is usually a practice in managing boredom and a training in developing persistence haha. There are times when you have to force yourself to finish reading a literature by telling yourself “I should know this literature because it is so famous and it will be embarrassing if I haven’t read it. Haha.” But The Plague (La Peste) is certainly different. It has the virtue of being BOTH a great literature AND an enjoyable read. And that’s all I need to declare that Albert Camus was a great writer par excellence.

If you are interested to read classic literatures, most of the books written by Jules Verne/Mark Twain/ Jane Austen/ The Bronte sisters/ Arthur Conan Doyle are very good. Please choose from these authors first if you want to enjoy your first experience of classic literature. My first classic literature was by Jules Verne, ‘The Journey To The Center Of The Earth’ when I was 12 years old. I discovered it in my school library one afternoon, when I escaped from sport practice (latihan rumah sukan) to hang out in the library where it was air-conditioned hahah! And I was so attached to it that I didn’t want to return the book to the library (But of course I did return the book eventually. Not without a crack in my heart, though. And then, many years later, I purchased the book myself. Now, I have my own copy of this book in my bookshelf). I also love The Professor by Charlotte Bronte. And I have read everything on Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. So guys, please do yourself a favour and start reading one of them. You will be like “How could I have not known that these delightful stories even exist? Have I ever truly lived? Hahha”

Ok, enough gushing for now. Haha.

If it were up to me, I could talk for hours about the books that I have read. This is my all-consuming obsession that I may never be cured from. All my friends were like “Terus excited muka Afiza bila cakap pasal buku cerita.” I could not even hide it, lol. Whenever we hang out as a group, I secretly hope that someone would open up a conversation about books, so that I can jump in. Of course I can open up that thread of conversation myself but I have come to realize that most people do not get to read that much anymore and I might ‘syok sendiri, excited sorang-sorang’ talking about books. So I just keep it to myself. (Ah… the suffering, guys! Maybe, I should join a book club… but yup, time is a consistent constraining factor).

Well, it is time to end this post because it is too long already. I will try to find exciting books to read in Ramadhan and I will insya Allah review them in my next blog post.

So, have a great Ramadhan guys. May Allah accept all our good deeds in this blessed month. Take care. Much love and may Allah bless all of us.

Political Cleansing!

Langkah Sheraton

 

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The great Plato had once said “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics, is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

What a man of wisdom Plato was.

I cannot help but think that politicians are our inferiors in a lot of ways. They couldn’t see the forest for the trees. By bickering and fighting for power constantly and consistently, they demonstrated the spirit of the famous Malay proverb “Menang sorak kampung tergadai,”

What is the use of being the political power of a poor and dysfunctional Malaysia? Even if you win in the end, Malaysia’s economy is suffering and you end up with a lot more headache and little pleasure of winning.

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If you guys are anything like me, you might find yourself in a state of acute attention deficit (LOL) while completing the chores of your daily life… because the bulk of your concentration has been swallowed up by political issues in the social media.

Well… I certainly admit that I sure was distracted and kept on refreshing my newsfeed every now and then in between patients, just to be up-to-date on the progress and repercussions of Langkah Sheraton by the Azmin camp (I couldn’t help but think that perhaps Tun M was the mastermind behind the move regardless of what other people say to the contrary. He is a cunning old fox, that man!)

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The political scenario in Malaysia has never been more interesting. But at what cost? One has to wonder, is it worth the sacrifice?

To me, it is worth it. If it means we can take DAP out of the picture, it is worth it. Because I believe, judging by the various racial and religious issues for the past 2 years, Malaysia desperately needs political cleansing.

***

DAP IS A LIABILITY

Have you ever tried working with a difficult person? How efficiently can you do your work when you have to navigate the myriads of attitude problems, incompetence and dramas that ensue due to the person’s difficult behavior? Sure, you might still be able to complete your task at the end of the day but the end result would not be as good as it could have been if  only you had teamed up with a better person who shared your vision.

And Malaysia is desperate enough to need an efficient leadership that can focus on delivering good results for the people rather than having their leaders being embroiled in a lot of dramas secondary to excessive politicking of issues (Isu arwah Adib, isu kuil di tanah haram, isu jawi, isu tanglung, isu ponggal, isu LTTE, isu LGBTQ, isu menteri perpaduan racist). There are so many racial and religious issues these days that are politicized ad nauseam, ad infinitum…until politicians could not channel the bulk of their time towards governing.

I kind of empathized with Tun M’s need to do something drastic to change the whole cabinet working under him. There might be times when he feels like his hands are tied from doing what is right… because ministers under him listen to the direction of their respective parties which prioritize their own party’s agenda rather than the agenda of the country. There is no unanimous idea of what constitutes the Malaysian aspirations anymore. Politicians from different parties that make up the government are pulling Malaysia in many different directions that at the end of the day, we don’t move at all. In fact, we regress!

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Maybe this is what we need now to move forward for a better Malaysia. But most political analysts are saying that we are not ready for it.

 

DAP will always champion the dubious concept of Malaysian Malaysia while at the same time turning a blind eye on how vernacular schools is not conducive to the concept of Malaysian Malaysia! There will be no true unity when the future leaders of Malaysia go to different type of schools in their childhood and each race grow up being distrustful of another race because they could not agree on something as basic as the content of the Malaysian Constitution. They screamed ‘discrimination’ when things don’t go their way, demanding the Malays to sacrifice their privileges bit by bit,  but at the same time  they are not willing to meet us half way by agreeing to be educated in the same school to promote unity. I have always said that we should stop with racial-based quota if other races would agree to be schooled in the same system. Let’s declare that the first batch who enter the national stream will no longer be subjected to racial quota. I am trying to be fair in which all races sacrifice and compromise. You want to gain something, you must give up something too. Jangan kiasu!

Remember, the social contract exists because their forefathers were given citizenship en masse… and their forefathers had insisted on vernacular schools because initially, the Indians and the Chinese had always wanted to return to their Motherland. The vernacular schools existed initially as a preparation for them to return to their respective countries. What is the relevance of vernacular schools now when they all claim that they are as much of a Malaysian as the Malays and demand people to stop treating them as second class citizens! At the same time,  they go “oh even though I am Malaysian, I am learning the syllabus of another country and so please recognize the UEC ya.” They play victim all the time. The Facebook status of a fellow netizen, Mohamaad Jamalee below, illustrate my point so perfectly.

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You cannot have it both ways! And then, you shamelessly play victim when we don’t allow you to manipulate us into allowing you to have it both ways. We are not that stupid to not see the game some of the Chinese chauvinists are playing!

In a way, I applauded UMNO’s decision to insist on exclusion of DAP from future government! These chauvinistic Chinese should not be allowed any more leeways until they learn to compromise. Most Malays I know are saying they will never again vote for any coalition that has DAP in it! And I am one of the Malays who are saying that.

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***

The Propagation Of LGBTQ Agenda

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In the West, the pro-LGBTQ people have succeeded to push their propaganda on innocent kindergarten kids!

Some non-Muslims are not trying to champion their religious values of Hinduism or Buddhism or Christianity… but they are championing the immoral values from the West instead. This kind of trend is becoming more prominent after PH won GE14, 2 years ago.

Look, let’s be clear here. NO RELIGION has ever endorsed homosexuality. A devout Muslim/ Christian/ Jew/Hindu/Buddhist will similarly frown upon homosexuality. It’s just that Islam is more vocal about it in the context of Malaysia. Some Malaysians from other religions are also too timid to profess their true stand about homosexuality because they are so afraid of being labeled ‘backward and intolerant’ by these pro-LGBTQ people. But Muslims do not have a choice of being silent about this… keep on reading, and you will know why we don’t have a choice of being silent when we see something like this is being championed.

Let’s examine our worldview first. Some of our fellow Malaysians are championing the freedom to “do whatever we want as long as we don’t harm others” (I have talked about it in my previous blog post. Click HERE   https://afizaazmee.wordpress.com/2019/12/17/how-did-you-know-that-who-told-you-that/ ) and are trying to impose THEIR worldview on the religious people of the country.

It is THEIR worldview that they can do anything they want as long as they don’t harm others. However, OUR worldview  as a religious person is “we are not free to do anything that we want even if it doesn’t harm others because things that we do that don’t harm others might still harm ourselves and those things are still wrong in the religion!”

So now, we have two different worldviews… BOTH are saying that the other is imposing their view on them.

So, you must understand that your opinion, your ethics, your culture, your religion… they are all personal to you and others might not agree with you. A good debater can argue both sides of the argument and espouse BOTH causes convincingly if he/she is in the mood to play devil’s advocate (I also tend to do that in my head as a form of mental stimulation and intellectual exercise). So your opinion and your idea of what is ethical is always a grey area, ok! Your idea of what is right is not objective and not absolute!

But!! What is not grey is the law!

In Malaysia, the law (Section 377 Penal Code) clearly states that homosexuality is wrong regardless of your own personal opinion and your worldview! Until you can change the law, you must abide by it.

Bullying fellow doctors to support homosexuality, making them feel less-of-a-good-and-ethical-doctor by saying things like “As a doctor, we must not discriminate our patients. We must be professional and treat everyone the same. We must be tolerant and do not impose our religious views on others!” is not going to work in Malaysia.

Yes, I treat everyone the same. A gay patient who is depressed will be given the same kind of  bio-psycho-social-spiritual model of treatment just like how it is given to  a heterosexual patient. So that’s not an issue. I also do not preach or propagate my religious values while I am doing my work as a doctor or as a therapist. I make sure to the best of my ability that my patients are heard when they narrate their issues  to me and that they receive the help that they are entitled to without them feeling judged. But that is my professional life!

In my personal life (including in my blog and in my Facebook) I retain my freedom to propagate whatever I wish as long as it is in line with the law of the country. And so far, we haven’t changed the law of the country to accommodate the LGBTQ society like what is happening in the West.  So if you propagate for LGBTQ causes in Malaysia, you are actually propagating the committing of crimes!

So don’t you dare to manipulate your fellow Muslim doctors to renounce the tenets of what is wrong and right in their religion by forcing them to agree with the LGBTQ agenda. Muslims CANNOT say homosexuality is right… Muslims may commit homosexuality acts themselves but they themselves would not say those acts are right. Saying something wrong in the religion as right is almost as bad as renouncing the religion. In fact, some ulama are of the opinion that “menghalalkan sesuatu yang diharamkan dalam agama” is already murtad. A Muslim may not wear the hijab, but she would never say “menutup aurat tak wajib” because she knew it would render her murtad. If I go around saying “arak itu halal” or “homoseksual itu tak ada masalah dalam Islam”, it can nullify my status as a Muslim because I had “menghalalkan sesuatu yang jelas haram dalam Islam”! This is serious, ok! You may commit the crime yourself but you cannot say that the crime/sin is allowed in the religion because it will nullify your status as a Muslim.

So jangan harap kamu akan berjaya buat semua Muslims suddenly sokong LGBTQ no matter how hard you propagate. Islam has a fail-safe mechanism in preserving the values of the religion and this mechanism guards us from saying things that are wrong as right when we are under societal pressure to do so. Our religion guards us from bowing to societal pressure by asking us  to choose “do you want to please people or do you want to be a Muslim?”. I rather be continuously pressured and looked down upon rather than being a Murtad. Most Muslims also do think like me. So Insya Allah, the majority of Muslims will never wake up suddenly and say “Oh, we approve LGBTQ”! It would stretch my imagination quite a bit to think it might happen in Malaysia en masse. Because if I know anything about Malays and Muslims, they LOVE their religion to death if they are true Muslims who really understand their religion (Sebab tu ada peribahasa “biar mati anak, jangan mati adat”. To the Malays, Islam itu lebih kurang sama macam adat and so intimately intertwined. And this can be problematic sometimes because some Malay’s adats actually have no basis in the religion. It causes misunderstanding about Islam because some idiotic Malay adats are being thought of as stemming from Islam.)

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This is a simple matter of science, biology and genetics! XY is always gonna be XY no matter how much of a woman you feel deep inside, ok!

The best thing you can do to manipulate Muslims to support LGBTQ causes is just to shame them into feeling as though they are ‘less professional, less ethical, less good, too judgmental’ as a doctor for not agreeing to your concept of sexual freedom. But most Muslims (kalau mereka ada jati diri yang kukuh) would have stopped caring what you think about them anyway, by now. In fact, maybe like me, they will become so angry by the purposeful attempt to malign their image, that they will start hitting back and counter all your propaganda with their own counter-narrative. We have the weight of religious tradition of multiple religions, biological science and scientific facts to back up our stand that homosexuality is wrong for the society. So be warned. Malaysia still recognizes Islam as Agama Persekutuan and the law is bound to follow the constitution! So pick your battle wisely.  (If you notice, I don’t really talk about stuff like this before. But I have started doing it recently when I notice how some non-Muslim doctors are trying to make Muslim doctors feel ‘less than’ just because we do not support LGBTQ. As though religious doctors who do not support LGBTQ are less intelligent, less rational or less ethical than them. I belong in some forums consisting of doctors and I have witnessed what they are saying about Muslim doctors, kononnya religious doctors are “imposing their religious values on their patients”.  Heck, doctors are also bound by the law. Don’t you forget it! With the way the political scenario is going in this country, I have had enough of being silent! And I have started hitting back. And once I have decided on a particular cause, you won’t stop me talking (or writing) until I am ready to stop. And I won’t be ready to stop until you too stop propagating your idea of sexual freedom in a Muslim-majority country of Malaysia. We are all bound by the law. Capisce? If I feel the slightest threat to my freedom to propagate for what I believe as right just because I am a doctor or a civil servant, I will start fighting back.)

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Civil Servants/ Doctors Cannot Be Political In The Social Media?

Don’t be ridiculous! There are MANY doctors who are political in the social media. I am one of them and I have never hidden that fact. I used to openly state my political views around GE13 while I was still an UMNO supporter. I openly renounced the BN government and openly campaigned for PH around the time of GE 14. I openly announced that I was a PACA (polling agent and counting agent) for Pakatan Harapan in Parlimen Pokok Sena and DUN Bukit Pinang in the last GE14, while BN was still in power. Yes, even though I was a government servant! And when I am upset with the current government now, I also write about it openly in my blog and in my Facebook too. Alhamdulillah, so far I have not been called up to defend my conduct. But if that were to happen, I am ready to defend myself.

I have never hidden the fact that I follow political news and am passionate about politics without being bound by any party. My principles cannot stand being bound to any political party. My support for any party is based on issues that are close to my heart.

And PH had promised freedom of speech and expression! Remember?

So, I really don’t understand it when one particular acquaintance of mine had said “Tak sesuai la letak isu-isu kontroversi kat social media as a doctor. Bukan boleh ubah apa pun! Social media untuk connect with friends and foster good relationship… nanti jadi gaduh pula.”

Oh, God. Have you been living in a cave all these while? Tak boleh ubah apa pun, you said? What do you mean?? The fact that our government had revised their decision to abolish critical allowance for junior doctors was because we made a big issue out of it in the social media. And don’t you forget that! Social media can be a battle ground in and of itself! Whoever propagates strategically and efficiently via the social media would have ensured that half of the battle is won. That is the very reason political parties spend a lot of money hiring cybertroopers! Do you think politicians hire cybertroopers for nothing??

Wake up to the real world, please!

Just because YOU use the social media to post pictures of where you go for vacation or to show off your latest material acquisition or to tell people about your daily life (yang orang tak lah berminat sangat pun nak tau haha), doesn’t mean EVERYONE shares your view that that is the only thing social media is good for. Self-promotion and self-absorption are not exactly attractive attributes, ok?

Some of us use social media MAINLY for propagation and advocacy of the causes we believe in! Some of us do not feel the need for others to validate (by the number of likes) every single mundane, mindless, pathetic thing we do that we posted on the social media. Some of us do not crave the number of likes based on the beauty of the photos that we posted. Furthermore, I certainly do not use social media to connect with friends. With friends, I go out and meet them and talk to them face-to-face or on the phone. That’s how I really form my connection. Social media is not how I maintain my connection to my family and friends.

So really, for me personally, I use social media MAINLY to spread issues and awareness, to propagate, to advocate and also to counter-narrate! And hence, I don’t care if people are butt-hurt by the opinions I have stated on my Facebook as long as I believe I am propagating the right thing and supporting the right causes.

Propagation is dakwah! It is our beloved Prophet’s biggest Sunnah to follow! If you don’t like to do it yourself, that’s ok. You do your own thing. But you don’t get to stop people from propagating what they believe as right just because you don’t have the spine or the courage to do it yourself or because you don’t think social media is a good place to do it. Because you are wrong! Social media is an EXCELLENT place to do it. In fact, I would argue it is the most effective way of doing it in these days and age.

Some people do not live for ‘wake-up, eat, go to work, earn money, sleep and then do it all over again the next day until the day we die’ routine. Some people care about other bigger, more important things that give their lives meaning, okay? So, live and let live. Capisce? 

I don’t care what causes you want to propagate in YOUR Facebook page. And you should not stop me from propagating what I want to propagate in MY Facebook page. At the end of the day, may the best propagator win in influencing the lawmakers to create or maintain the laws and policies that will swing in our favour!

Nanti kawan-kawan Cina/India terasa…

The same acquaintance of mine who had admonished me for posting a lot of political issues in the social media had also said “Kawan-kawan kita yang Cina/India terasa. Don’t you care about their feelings?”

Look, in my daily life as a doctor or as a person, I get along well with any race as long as they don’t say or do something that I believe as unfair, unjust or untrue. If they do, I will just work it out with them in a polite discussion. I have always been very outspoken even with my own bosses. If I believe their decision is unfair, I will let them know as politely as possible. It is simply not in my nature to pretend to be okay when I see something is unfair, especially if it affects me as well. (There was one time when the MOs were asked to see all psychiatric referrals even though some of the referrals were not indicated or not urgent .… and we were being paid passive calls only.  I voiced out my concerns and said that we have no problems to see all cases but let us claim active calls la… otherwise allow us to stick to passive calls and screen referrals based on urgency. Alhamdulillah my bosses are so nice and they are reasonable people. I am so lucky in my superiors. In other places, what bosses say are regarded as law even if it is unfair. I really detest that kind of bosses and it would trigger my rebellious tendency, LOL. Fairness and justice are my core belief. I don’t let anyone violate it. And I will not passively bow to it without a protest.)

I certainly do have Indians and Chinese colleagues… some of them are pro-vernacular schools. So we simply agree to disagree. I would not feel hurt if they decide to propagate for vernacular schools or to propagate for pro-DAP agendas, or to voice out  their support for LGBTQ in their own Facebook page. When they posted such a thing, did they think about my feelings? No! And I don’t expect them to, anyway!

But I also would not stop posting my anti-vernacular school stand in Facebook. I also would not stop posting about the liability of having DAP in any political coalition. I also would not stop posting about my anti-LGBTQ narrative even though I am sure some of my friends in Facebook are part of the LGBTQ community or pro-LGBTQ. And they also should not expect me to think about their feelings while I am doing my own propagating and awareness spreading.

Truth (or what each of us believe as the truth) trump feelings every single  time! I don’t expect you to care about my feelings when you are propagating what you believe as true. And I also wish you would understand that I have my own version of truth that I am going to continue to propagate regardless of your feelings about it. No offence, ok?

If you don’t allow our differences in opinion to affect our friendship or our working relationship, it shouldn’t be an issue.  We can always continue as usual… politely and professionally go about our daily life. But if you are going to make our differences as a problem in our relationship, then it is on you. Because I personally can work with or talk to anyone I disagree with if my work requires it, but I will not stop the propagation of my causes.

Know that every narration has a counter-narration. Know that every propaganda has a counter-propaganda. Sometimes the side that ends up winning the battle is not the side of the truth. And therefore, if you believe you are on the side of the truth, the onus is on you to speak up and propagate for your own agenda.

I have said it before, an agenda is won when we can cause the law to swing in our favour. Because regardless of your religion, your worldview or your personal opinion, people don’t have to follow them UNTIL it is made as law! The law is the ultimate recognition of  the truth as it is accepted in your country (but not necessarily in other countries. So you have the options of migrating to other countries if you want to escape the law of your own country, ok?) The law is made in the parliament. The lawmakers in the parliament (our politicians) listen to what is popular. That’s why if we want our causes to win, we have to propagate just as diligently and as loudly as the other party! Otherwise, we would lose. And what a shame to lose if we are on the right side. In the West the LGBTQ propagation has won and the law has changed in their favour. If we are not careful, the same thing can happen in Malaysia too. All of us have a part to play in making sure this will never happen.

This is why Islam made it compulsory for us to do whatever we can in our capacity to right a wrong, as evidenced by the hadeeth below:

“Sesiapa dikalangan kamu yang melihat kemungkaran maka hendaklah dia mencegah dengan tangannya, sekiranya dia tidak mampu hendaklah dia menegah dengan lidahnya, sekiranya dia tidak mampu maka dengan hatinya. Dan itulah selemah-lemah iman.”

So what Muslims have to do now is simply not to fear “celaan orang-orang yang mencela,” and keep on propagating! That’s what we have to do!

Say what you believe as right and stop caring how other people are trying to emotionally manipulate or guilt you into agreeing to their concept of freedom and worldview. Insya Allah, that kind of emotional manipulation will never work on me. Because whenever I experience cognitive dissonance, I reserve my judgment, I research and I read up until I am satisfied. Only reasons, rationale and truth would win me over. Not any emotional manipulation or inducement of guilt that are based on paltry sentiments! That NEVER work with me! In fact, it would make me so annoyed that you had tried to manipulate me emotionally that I will fight even more (Haha…. agreeableness is never part of my personality strength, unfortunately).

And speaking of reserving judgment, researching and reading… this brings me to the next section of this blog; the books of the month section. (Because reading is one of the best things you can do to nourish your mind, no?)

Books of The Month

The month of February has been so busy for me that I was only able to finish two books in the entire month; one fiction and one non-fiction.

The first book that I read this month was The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly who is one of my favourite legal-fiction author. (I like his works much more than I like John Grisham, and I like Grisham quite a lot. So that might give you some idea of how much I regard Michael Connelly as an author.)

the fifth witness

Synopsis of the Fifth Witness:

Mickey Haller is a criminal defense lawyer who, due to lack of business, had to turn to handling foreclosure cases in order to get some income. But his real passion has always been criminal defense. As fate would have it, one of his foreclosure case clients, Lisa Trammel, was accused of murdering the banker who was involved in the foreclosure of her house. So the mystery revolves around whether Lisa Trammel was guilty. The book also went into very good and detailed explanation of Mickey Haller’s defense strategy. We were also given some insights on the relationship between lawyers and prosecutors inside and outside the courtroom. If you do not know much about court procedures (well, the ones in the US at least), you will have a rough idea by the time you finish this book (or any Michael Connelly book that features Mickey Haller as the protagonist).

What I like about his books is that they are always full of great courtroom scenes. Just when you think the protagonist lawyer might lose the case, something unexpected happens, LOL. The plot twist and turns are always engaging too. Some of the dialogues are funny and I laughed out loud a few times. So, yeah, if you are interested in fiction based on law/legal issues, please do check out Michael Connelly.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars (which is really good by my standard. The only reason I don’t give 5 stars is just because I have given 5 stars to The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini before, and so far not many books have come close to make me feel what I felt while reading The Kite Runner. So yeah, please do read The Kite Runner as well, LOL).

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I learned so much new philosophical ideas in this book, and hence I placed a lot of those colourful bookmarks for easier future reference.

The next book I would like to promote is by Hamza Andreas Tzortsis, published in 2016 by the title of The Divine Reality: God, Islam and The Mirage of Atheism. This book was written to deconstruct atheism and provide a compelling case for the rational and spiritual foundations of Islam.

If you are a student of Theology, you should read this book. It teaches you the philosophical aspect of learning how to think about materialism and metaphysical knowledge. In this book, you will learn why atheism has a lot of contradictions and has very weak foundation philosophically, scientifically, intuitively and rationally. It will blow your mind.

Some of the questions that this book tries to answer are:

  • Does hope, happiness, and human value make sense without the divine?
  • Do we have an ultimate purpose?
  • Can we have consciousness and rational minds without God?
  • Did the universe come from nothing?
  • Does evil and suffering negate Divine mercy?
  • Has scientific progress led to the denial of God
  • Are revelation and prophethood myths?
  • Is God worthy of our worship?

Interesting questions, don’t you think? I certainly did enjoy reading some of the philosophical concept I didn’t know exists. Some of  the thought-provoking concepts are:

  • Occam’s razor: a philosophical principle that basically says the simplest and most comprehensive explanation is the best one.
  • The question of: Is something morally good because God commands it; or does God command it because it is morally good?
  • The concept that ‘science is forced to restrict its attention to problems that observation can solve’. But there are a lot of questions that observation alone cannot solve, right? Things that are not observable…. how do you make sense of them without science?
  • What are the criteria for truth to be called as self-evident? If someone says to you that the past doesn’t exist and asks you to prove that the past exists…. is that rational? Or because the existence of the past is self-evident, therefore the more rational thing to do is to question the questioner “what evidence do you have to prove that the past doesn’t exist?” (Basically, when someone questions a self-evident truth, the onus lies on the questioner to come up with reasons for rejecting something that is self-evident. For example if I question the fact that someone must have written this blog post and I argue that this post was just there and no one had actually written this post… I must provide my reasoning why I believe this blog post was not written by anyone and it just happens to be. Because it is self-evident truth that someone must have written this blog post and uploaded it on wordpress. There are other more complicated arguments in this book, but you must read it yourself to appreciate it better)
  • The concept of Solipsism – that you can only be certain that your mind exists. Solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one’s own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside the mind. (Can you imagine how a Schizophrenia patient in the midst of a hallucination would feel… knowing for sure that the voices are real… but actually only in their minds that those experiences are real. They cannot know whether or not things are real or not real… until someone told them it actually wasn’t real. But what if that someone was also wrong?) Interesting, isn’t it?

So, I give this book 4 out of 5 as well. And I highly recommend this book for all Muslims and non-Muslims who are seeking for knowledge of the big questions in life.

Unfortunately, this book is not sold in Malaysia and I had to order it online via Book Depository (free shipping, ok!). And seriously, it was worth the money spent and worth the agony of having to wait for the arrival of the book all the way from  the UK (almost one month waiting time, guys).

The price of the book is MYR69.13. Not too bad for a 332 pages book (The actual content of the book is only 301 pages. The rest consists of bibliography and references.)

Before I end this post, I will just discuss a little bit on the author of this distinguished book. Hamza Tzortzis has a Master in Philosophy and currently pursuing his doctorate in Philosophy as well. He is also a student of Theology and a renowned public speaker and writer. You can find a lot of videos of his talks in You Tube as well. I have watched many of his videos and he is a very good, rational, and convincing speaker. So do check him out on You Tube before you decide for yourself if his style of reasoning is much to your liking. If you like his speeches, chances are you will like his book too.

Until next time, my dear readers. Much love and may Allah bless all of us.

How did you know that? Who told you that?

There have been a few hot topics in the social media that I am personally interested in and have been following for the past few weeks.

  1. Polio virus made a comeback after 27 years of eradication in Malaysia. (heartbreaking, really)
  2. A famous da’i who had previously rejected 18 proposals from other women finally could not resist the aura of the 19th woman and got married to her, who also happened to be a fake doctor, before divorcing his pregnant first wife. (#DramaSangat)
  3. The (old) news regarding the change in the landscape of HIV transmission in Malaysia received a lot of emotionally-charged comments on the social media.

Do let me know if you have any opinion to share on these topics. I have personally shared my opinion on these in my Facebook and I don’t feel like repeating myself in my blog.

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The Conversational Impasse

The Atheist: Why are Muslims against LGBT? They are very nice people. It’s just  that they have different sexual orientation. They don’t harm other people. As long as they don’t harm others, let them do whatever they want.

The Believer: Who told you that? Who told you that “it is okay to do whatever you want as long as you don’t harm others?”

The Atheist: Memang macam tu pun. Why should we curb other people’s freedom to do what they want when they don’t harm others? I don’t believe in your religion, so I am not going to follow what your religion says about LGBT being haram and all.

The Believer:  I repeat, who told you that “it is okay to do whatever you want as long as you don’t harm others?” I assume, you believe there is no objective truth… no absolute right or wrong in this world?

The Atheist: Stealing is wrong. It harms others; taking the rights of other people is wrong. Murder is wrong…. It takes life away from others. But in things that don’t harm others…. Why should we bother to push our religious beliefs onto other people?

The Believer: How did you KNOW that “it is okay to do whatever you want as long as you don’t harm others?” Was it something you read? Was it an opinion of an author you had read? Which philosopher told you that? Or is it just your opinion?

The Atheist: What are you getting at?

The Believer: There is NO OBJECTIVE TRUTH to your statement that it is okay for us to do anything as long as we don’t harm others. In fact, you are pushing YOUR OPINION, YOUR IDEOLOGY, YOUR WORLDVIEW on me. I don’t believe that we can do everything that don’t harm others. I believe that in certain things there are clear-cut rightness and wrongness. Yes, I call them good deeds and sinful deeds… but that’s just words and semantics. You have your own internal bias that clashes with mine. You believe that people can do anything that don’t harm others. I don’t believe that.

The Atheist: But I don’t believe in your religion. So don’t push your religious values on me.

The Believer: And I don’t believe in your opinion. Why are you pushing it on me?

The Atheist: I am not pushing my opinion on you. I am saying, be free to do anything that don’t harm others.

The Believer: And I am saying, that there are certain things that we should NOT do even if it doesn’t harm people. Not all sinful things harm others… but I don’t believe it is okay to do it. Because things that you do that don’t harm others may actually harm yourself. Religion is not meant to just protect others around you but also to protect yourself. Things that you do that don’t harm others but harm yourself is still wrong. You want to indulge in alternative sexual lifestyle… go ahead. But if you ask for my opinion, I am not going to lie and pretend that I don’t think it is wrong. Am I not free to state my opinion? How does my opinion harm you? Why am I not free to state my religious belief as long as, ehem, it doesn’t harm others?

The Atheist: But your religious opinion harm others!

The Believer: Says you! I think, your opinion harms others too. Impressionable Muslims/Christians/Jewish kids, for example. It confuses their minds. They will start doing dangerous things that harm themselves…maybe take drugs/indulge in extramarital sex leading to teenage pregnancy for example… because they don’t believe they are harming anyone by doing it. They are just harming themselves and destroying their own future…. but to you, that is okay? It’s funny! You think your opinion doesn’t harm others… but you think MY opinion based on my religious values harms others?

The Atheist: Your opinion causes others to discriminate LGBT people. You call them deviants, deny them their rights to marriage, destroy their political careers and their reputation. Is that okay?

The Believer: Your opinion causes others to discriminate religious people. You call them backwards, orthodox, kampung, and distort other people’s impression of their intellect by labelling them religious bigots. Is that okay?

The Atheist: It seems like we are at an impasse. You don’t believe in freedom.

The Believer: You are wrong! I believe in the freedom to do what is right. I don’t believe in the freedom to do what is wrong… to lie, to cheat or to distort truth! I believe there are things that are right and things that are wrong… and at the same time, there are things that we are free to do because they are neither right nor wrong and God simply left it to our own preferences and discretion. In Islam, we call it halal, haram and harus. If two adult siblings engaged in sex consensually, it is STILL wrong even if they don’t harm others. If a parent and his/her adult child choose to have sex with each other even when they don’t harm others, it is STILL wrong! And when it comes to homosexuality, my opinion is that it is wrong and I am not going to change my opinion. I don’t go around shouting my opinion to others unnecessarily… but if anyone specifically asked me for my view on homosexuality, I am not going to lie and pretend that I think it is okay just to please them. As a Muslim, I CANNOT say it is okay… and forcing me to say things I couldn’t say as a Muslim does not reconcile with your concept of freedom of speech, does it? My worldview will always clash with yours but it doesn’t mean I am pushing my worldview on you…. because then, I can also say that you too are pushing your worldview on me. See? Truth is not objective because none of us can agree on one similar worldview. In this world, where no one can agree on what is the truth… what is right becomes debatable to the public.

The Atheist: Yes, we cannot agree on what is the truth. I will continue to say what I say. And you religious zealots will continue to say what you say.

The Believer: And each of us will continue to propagate what we believe as right. Each of us will try to gain followers for our cause, influence public opinion, lobby our MPs to change laws in the parliament! In this world, the truth is acknowledged by the law because everyone in that particular place will have to follow the law. And the law in Malaysia says that homosexuality is wrong, period. In fact homosexuality was wrong even in the West not so many decades ago! Because in this world…  we can never agree on what is the truth. We can’t even agree if there is a God. And even among those who agree that God exist… they couldn’t agree on which is the right religion… and among those who can agree which one is the right religion, they could not agree on which mazhab/sect within that religion is the correct one. But if you change the law, you can change the truth as it is perceived in  this world.

The Atheist: I guess, the word ‘truth’ becomes a study in grey. Nuanced. Uncertain.

The Believer : That’s why various groups from different ideologies will continue to push their opinions on others… will continue to try to influence public opinion and public policy. People go to war to champion their ideologies until now! In this world… what is the truth is best determined by policies and laws. If your country approves LGBT and creates pro-LGBT policy… that is the truth of what is accepted in your country. But in Muslim-majority countries, we have a different truth. Likewise, I cannot go to the Western countries demanding my idea of the truth to be upheld there until I can change the law there. Just like you cannot demand your idea of the truth to be upheld in Muslim-majority countries until you can change the law here. Our truths are reflected by the law. You change the law, you change the truth. That is kind of sad for the truth but that is how it is. In the West, LGBT is winning and the laws are gradually changing in their favour. Isn’t it funny how what used to be wrong is now right? Isn’t it sad how subjective truth can be in the hands of human beings who are always at the mercy of their conflict of interests? Over time, I wonder if consensual incest can be made right too as long as they, ehem, “don’t harm others”.

That Atheist: So we are engaged in an ideological war? Where truth is subjective and whoever can influence the public opinion more and whoever can cause the law to change in their favour will win?

The Believer: Exactly! It’s been like that since time immemorial. Didn’t you notice? May the best propagator win! To you is your belief. To me is mine. And we will see which one of us can influence the society more. And which one of us can cause the law to swing in our favour.

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“Doing the right things start with knowing the right things.” In what way does responsible action depend on sound critical thinking?

That was my Theory of Knowledge essay question that I had to answer as an IB student back in 2005. I got an A in that essay, Alhamdulillah. And since then, I do believe that Pendidikan Islam must be taught this way. Ask the students to write an essay, UTILIZING and APPLYING their knowledge.

I have spoken about this before, how very unsatisfied I was when ustazah and ustaz gave me half-baked answers and an incomplete picture of a story. “What do you mean Al-Quran is a miracle? What do you mean gaya Bahasa Al-Quran tak ada siapa boleh tanding? Ada judge ke yang come up with who is the winner? Ada pertandingan gaya bahasa ke zaman Nabi dulu? Give me examples of the Quranic verses that are so miraculous that the Arab poets were stunned speechless? Who were the poets involved? I am thirsty for details! Give me some details!” Don’t simply give me simple one liners in answering things like this! Because my default mode would be to question and question and question… until I am satisfied. And I am glad I did that… because now that I have found the answer, I am a confident Muslim and I know that Islam is the truth. But there are SO MANY people… even dah adults…. who STILL had no idea how to answer basic questions of creed like this! Tapi ada hati nak jadi ustazah/ustaz ajar impressionable kids and the gullible public! We have people with questionable intellect and dubious honour being a loud self-proclaimed spokesperson for our religion (And they are products of reality TV competition with titles like  Da’i and  Pencetus Ummah. Gosh!)  #18/19Aura anyone?

Why can’t we have more Malay Muslims like Dr. MAZA or Dr. Rozaimi to make up the majority of our religious leaders? Why do I have to turn to International speakers or revert Muslims in order to gain more knowledge about Islam? Why do we make reality TV personalities famous when they usually smear the beauty of our religion? There will be no market for mindless poor-quality entertainment if the majority of Muslims in this country are serious-minded and demand more thought-provoking TV programs.

As Muslims, we should really work on our critical thinking. We should really hone our ability for clarity of thoughts. We should practice how to vocalize our point of view so that truth would resonate from every single syllable of our words. Because as we all probably realize now… truth can be buried under false propaganda when the said false propaganda has the ability to gain more public favour. So it is our responsibility to be a competent propagator. Because at the the end of the day, the best propagator wins. Remember?

kebatilan terancang

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This is the fact that most men are ethnocentric. They believe there is only one true morality and it is their own. It makes it difficult for people to know what is right and what is wrong.

But if you CARE enough….if you REALLY want to know the truth, you would have found it. Eventually.

6 or 9

Take the picture above as an example. People love to reference this situational picture to show others of how every perspective, every point of view can be right or wrong depending on which angle you see things. As though there is no absolute truth in anything in this world.

Well, I beg to differ.

In real life situation, depending on criteria and the weightage of the criteria, you can always come up with what decision is more right to be done.  For example, there are ways we can know whether the number should be 9 or 6. I would resolve the situation by hearing the arguments on each side of the party…. why he says it is 6, and why the other party says it is 9.  Perhaps, a few metres down the road, there was another number carved on the road as 7… and therefore it makes sense that this one should be 6. Find out la! Jangan malas! Hear all arguments…. Hear everything. If things are still blurry, I would find out who wrote that number 6/9 and I would search for that person, call him up and ask him myself, “What did you mean to write, actually? 6 or 9? Why did you write that number in the first place? Was there a purpose to the writing of the number?”

The thing is, when something is important enough to me, I want to know everything there is to know about the answer to that particular question! I want to be convinced.  I am not easily satisfied by people’s laziness in answering “Bergantung kepada situasi. Bergantung kepada factor-faktor tertentu.” Aduh! You should elaborate and tell me “Bergantung kepada situasi yang macam mana? Faktor yang macam mana? In what way would things change if the situation or the factors change?” Don’t give me half-assed answers that satisfies no one. At least have the honesty to admit that you don’t know and you too would love to explore further. Admit your ignorance and vow to find out the truth and clarify the matter.

There are ALWAYS ways we can find out the truth! Either you want to go through that effort or not… is up to you. So in trivial things like the picture above (6 or 9), I might not go to the trouble of finding the person who wrote the number because it just wasn’t important enough to me. Effort should be proportionate to the significance of the expected outcome. Our time in this world is limited. Choose where we put our effort accordingly.

But in finding out about whether or not you are following the right way of life, in finding out whether or not your worldview is right (your religion/ your life philosophy/ your political ideology) I believe you have to go ALL OUT and search for the truth until you find it! It is worth finding. If you can invest so many years of your life to become a doctor, why can’t you spend some time just reading on philosophy, World Religions, comparative religions, watching philosophical and religious lectures on You Tube. This is only a very small effort on our part. It amazes me that people can be satisfied when things don’t click! It amazes me that people are not bothered by contradictory facts that don’t connect. It amazes me that people can live with cognitive dissonance and continue to believe things that they doubt deep inside. And they can brush off their worries and concerns that they might be wrong… just because they have been brought up with an unconscious internal bias.

Examine your mind properly… how did you come up with that opinion? Is there an objective truth to it? Or does it ‘seem’ to be the truth because it is the law of the country or the sentiments of the majority of the people in your circle?

I hope my readers will do one thing in their life whenever they are confronted with a new information, a new thought, a novel ideology. Always question and verify that information! Ask them… how did you know that information? How did you come up with that opinion? Do you have a reference? Do you have a book I can read on that topic myself? Is there another possible explanation? (Even in learning worldly matters like psychiatry… I am like that. For example, don’t be offended if I question some stuff in Psychoanalysis. To question is to learn. Be worried if your students don’t question everything you said. How interested are they in learning what you have taught them if they don’t have ANY question and ANY doubt at all?)

Al-Hasan al-Basri said: “The believer reserves judgment until the matter is proven.”

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Book Of The Month

Dear readers,

I have decided to end all my future blog posts with books that I had read in the previous month. I have been reading 2-4 books per month since I started working as a doctor (previously when I was a student, I was able to read 2 books per week. Those were the good old days when I still had the energy and the luxury of time to indulge in my hobby). But I rarely shared with my readers about my thoughts of the books I had read. I think this should change. Reading is a large and important part of my life and by sharing my thoughts on books that I read, I hope to inspire you guys to read them as well. It would be a shame not to tell you guys about books that you might possibly enjoy reading too.

So from now on I would end all my blog post with the section of Book of The Month. And if you are not fond of reading, you can simply skip this section in my future blog post.

 

 

So in November, I had read Animal Farm by George Orwell and The Silence of The Lambs by Thomas Harris. You guys are probably familiar with the film version of The Silence of The Lambs, featuring Hannibal Lecter as the genius psychopathic psychiatrist. So, I don’t think I should say anything more about the book. It was not a bad book, but it wasn’t exactly awesome.

But I am more impressed with Animal Farm.

I recommend Animal Farm to all my readers because it is a very thought-provoking satire on politics and society. The plot is a thinly-disguised political criticism of Russia’s Bolshevik revolution. To those who don’t know about The Russian Revolution, Vladimir Lenin was the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution who had chased away Tsar Nicholas II, the last Russian Emperor. Vladimir Lenin then passed away and Joseph Stalin took over the leadership of the Revolution. Joseph Stalin had used a lot of unscrupulous methods and various propaganda to eventually betray the ideals of the deceased Vladimir Lenin in The Russian Revolution.

It taught me that people tend to distort truth (in the novel: the truth is dubbed as ‘commandments’) with the passing of the time in order to justify the conflict of interests of the society leaders. Animal Farm is only a thin novella… but it is one of the greatest books in history and arguably Orwell’s finest work. So, if you are interested, do check it out.

1984

 

I also recommend you guys to read 1984, also by George Orwell. But if you are new to political satire, you might have more tolerance and patience to read Animal Farm first before you move on to read 1984. (In my case, I read 1984 first… and became interested with George Orwell afterwards. And only recently did I have the opportunity to read Animal Farm.)

If you guys have any book recommendation for me, do let me know. I always appreciate people recommending me a good book to read. After all, I was told that “seeing someone reading a book that you love is like seeing a book recommending a person,” I think that this is quite accurate. I can make an educated guess of what sort of person you are just by knowing what is your favourite book.

book recommend

 

Until next time, my dear readers. Much love and may Allah bless all of us with knowledge of the truth. And may Allah give us the strength to be steadfast in practicing the truth and speaking the truth that we had painstakingly found. Amin.

Revising The Islamic Education Syllabus. It’s High Time.

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Recently my Facebook newsfeed exploded with a piece of controversial news involving Ministry of Education (again. Hahha). Some keyboard warriors among netizens have lambasted Teo Nie Ching, our Deputy Minister of Education, for allegedly sticking her nose into the Islamic Syllabus of Muslim students in Malaysia. Racial slurs could be read in every other comments on Facebook, it was positively nauseating.

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To those who are still in the dark regarding what has been going on, let me just give you a short update of the matter just to give you guys a heads-up (please google the news further for more details).

The Ministry of Education, via the National Education Advisory Council (Majlis Penasihat Pendidikan Kebangsaan /MPPK)  had launched a national survey to revise and upgrade the Islamic Education Syllabus for Muslim students in Malaysia. Our Deputy Minister of Education, Teo Nie Ching, had then innocently shared the link to the news via her social media. Suddenly, the netizens blew the matter out of proportion by accusing her, a non-Muslim, of trying to stick her nose into the Islamic Education. The UMNO/PAS politicians and supporters started to politicize the matter with religious and racial themes in their fear-mongering campaign against PH.

Maszlee Malik defended his deputy by saying that “Kaji selidik tersebut dikeluarkan di laman web Kementerian Pendidikan, kemudian Nie Ching kongsikan maklumat tersebut di media sosial beliau. Ada orang tangkap layar dari media sosial beliau dan timbulkan isu bahawa timbalan menteri mahu campur tangan isu Pendidikan Islam, itu tidak benar dan tidak timbul isu campur tangan,”

In other words, Teo Nie Ching was only sharing on her social media of the latest initiative by her ministry (because she works there, okay?). It just so happens that the latest initiative by the ministry (in which she is THE DEPUTY MINISTER) is about our Islamic Education. However, because she is a non-Muslim, she was accused of sticking her nose into the Islamic education of Muslims. *sigh* 

There haven’t been many occasions in which I was supportive of the Ministry of Education. But in the matter of revising the Islamic Syllabus for Muslim students in Malaysia, I am all cheers! I think, it is high time we have a deep and conscientious thought about what sort of Muslims we want to produce in this country.

I have said it before, and I will say it again now. I learned MUCH MORE and in GREATER DEPTH about Islam when I was in Australia (by my own initiative and with my seniors in usrah) than what I had learned in 11 years of FORMAL Islamic education in school. Our Islamic Education syllabus in Malaysia is very superficial, focussing more on ritual than it focusses on creed (akidah); emphasizing more on superficial memorization than in-depth understanding; rewarding shallow knowledge than higher-order-thinking skills (HOTS/KBAT).

11 years!! of formal education was wasted on me! I found it so difficult to question things that I didn’t understand in the religion because it was so taboo to appear to doubt what was taught to you. Because it was a tacit understanding that questioning things that you don’t understand would somehow reflect badly on the strength of your iman. So, I just performed the rituals of prayers and fasting without any real “penghayatan” about what being a Muslim meant.

Want to know what I mean? Read on!

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Question #1: Who creates God?

Don’t kid yourself! Don’t deny it! Everyone – including YOU, my dear readers – MUST have thought about this question at some point in their lives. But most of us swallowed it and brushed it off, didn’t we? Because some of us were told “Kalau kita tanya banyak sangat perkara-perkara ghaib, iman kita tak kuat. Benda ni kena percaya sebab rukun iman.” And then we were told to mengucap and say astaghfirullah for having doubts.  I had asked this question to adults since I was 8 years old.

But could the adults in my life answer my question to my satisfaction? Not really.  They would say something like “Mestilah Allah tak diciptakan. Kalau Allah tu diciptakan, Allah bukan Tuhan lah.”

Oh ok… so you are answering my question based on YOUR DEFINITION of God. I see.

But I wasn’t satisfied. You told me only JUST NOW that “semua benda di dunia ini diciptakan.” So, wasn’t it natural for me to just ask, “Jadi siapa cipta Tuhan? Kan semua benda di dunia ini diciptakan. You just told me that!” And now? You couldn’t answer it yourself! Or you think your previous answer satisfied me? Well, it didn’t! But because I could sense your discomfort and your disapproval, so I put off questioning you further.

I learned eventually to brush it off and bury my doubt deep inside my heart. Even when I was just a child.

But how long could I bury it? On and off it would bother me again and again. And I said astaghfirullah again and again! (And I believe this is the case for many Muslim kids as well. I was not alone, here. But because I am the ruminating, over-thinking type, hahha… it bothered me more than others, perhaps. I certainly knew that even my Kak Long had wondered the same thing and I had discussed this with her as a kid, and then later as a young adult. So jangan kata aku sorang yang tertanya-tanya benda ni! Mustahil aku sorang yang wonder pasal benda ni. This is basic akidah yang FORMAL EDUCATION di sekolah TAK MAMPU address dengan baik! Basic akidah, weh!)

Until at one point, I couldn’t bury the question anymore. After my friend passed away at the age of 18 from a car accident, I was so shocked to the core that I felt like I could not postpone answering this question any longer. It MUST stop bothering me once and for all.

So I did my research and somehow (Alhamdulillah) I happened to pick up a book by Harun Yahya entitled Timelessness And The Reality of Fate and I devoured the book in 2 days. From the very first few chapters of the book, I got the answer already. The answer that I had been wondering about since I was 8 years old… it was hidden in this 97-pages-thin, ordinary-looking  book! Amazing! The best, most-worthy book purchase I have ever made in my entire life to date!

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I couldn’t recall the specific words of the explanation but it basically goes something like this:

“In order for anything to be created, it must be in the system of time. ‘Before and After’ only exists in the system of time. The system of time itself is created by God. God is not bound by the system of time. So, it is scientifically impossible by the law of physics to ask a question of who creates God because the system of time existed after God had created it. In fact, the question is unscientific and irrelevant.”

See? The book even talked about the science of physics when it discussed the system of time. Siap dengan quotes by famous scientist and physicist of the world! Barulah convincing! It makes sense! I could accept it easily enough! Think about it! Malam dan siang adalah masa kan? Macam mana nak wujud malam dan siang kalau matahari dan bumi pun tak wujud lagi. Planet, bintang-bintang dan matahari pun tak wujud lagi, macam mana bumi nak beredar untuk menghasilkan peredaran masa atau malam dan siang itu? So, everything must be in place first (the whole universe, the planets and the stars, must be created by God first! The system of time must be there first before you can ask who creates what! The creator exists BEFORE the creation. The creation exists AFTER the creator. But BEFORE and AFTER are the terms in the system of TIME. And the system of TIME did not exist until God created the universe, including the earth and the sun. This is what we mean when we say God is beyond creation. That is why when you ask who creates God, the question is unscientific! Your question is unscientific because that is THE LIMIT of the science of creation in this physical world.)

Now, ask yourself: Boleh ke ustazah sekolah rendah dan sekolah menengah ajar macam ni? Can they explain as comprehensively and thoroughly as above? Boleh tak depa address BASIC matters of akidah sampai student puas hati? Mana mungkin boleh kalau ustaz/ustazah sendiri jahil fakta sains! Lepas tu membuat ‘insinuations’ yang orang yang bertanya itu yang kurang iman! Padahal, mungkin mereka yang tidak pandai jawab! (Sorry if I sound emotional. This is a raw topic for me! Sampai sekarang, aku tak boleh terima orang-orang agama yang jahil kemudian berlindung dengan imej agama untuk MEMBULI orang yang hanya bertanya untuk kepastian. Tiba-tiba dijawabnya kita kurang iman!)

 

Question #2: How do we know Islam is the right religion? 

Again, don’t lie to yourself. I am sure EVERYONE must have thought about this at some point in their lives!

In fact, inilah caranya orang-orang dari agama lain boleh menemui jalan untuk memeluk Islam. Sebab mereka sendiri bertanya dalam diri mereka sendiri, is my religion the real truth? And then they did their research until they come across Islam.

Ini adalah NALURI (instinct!) yang Allah kurniakan kepada SEMUA manusia supaya manusia mengenali diri-NYA. Just because you are born as a Muslim, DO NOT EVER THINK that you have real faith! Your faith doesn’t mean a thing if it was never challenged. Your faith may not be true  if you’ve never had  to answer the challenge and come to your own conclusion. That’s why we are tested in this life… to TRIGGER us to seek REAL CONVICTION and REAL BELIEF (the death of my friend was MY trigger. I have met people whose trigger would be different. It might be ‘divorce’… it might be ‘cancer’… it might be bankruptcy…. it might be ANYTHING) Kalau kita hanya mengikut arus just because we were born into Islam (but we were never really convinced in the first place) what good is that belief? Apa beza kita dengan orang-orang yang dilahirkan dalam agama lain? Kita pun hanya mengikut agama nenek moyang juga kan (it just so happens yang agama nenek moyang kita Islam)…. sedangkan belum tentu kita betul-betul percaya.

Allah tests us until we can find Him. So regardless of what religion you were born with, you are not given a free ticket to Paradise. You WILL BE TESTED as a proof TO YOURSELF whether or not you have put in the effort to come to real faith. You yourself will know whether or not you truly believe or if you are simply following the tide of societal pressure! You will know what is in your own heart and you are accountable for it!  Allah says in Surah Al-Ankabut: 2-3 “Do the people think that they will be left to say “we believe” and they will not be tried? But we have certainly tried those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful and He will surely make evident the liars.”

I guess the verse is asking… Adakah kamu berfikir kamu hanya akan dibiarkan menyatakan “Aku orang Islam” sedangkan belum tentu hati kamu betul-betul percaya? Sebab kamu tak pernah jawab apa yang bermain di fikiran kamu! You brushed off your doubts! And you think everyone is supposed to blindly believe like you?

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Jadi semua ujian yang datang dalam hidup kita adalah untuk TRIGGER kita bermuhasabah dan menjawab the important questions in our lives! Please take the opportunity to answer those questions!

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There is NO PLACE for blind belief in Islam! We are asked to do inductive reasoning when we are learning the religion! This is Quranic method in pondering the questions of faith! Al-Quran encourages us to question stuff! So jangan kau pula pandai-pandai nak menghalang orang lain bertanya kalau kau sendiri tak pandai jawab! Siap nak label orang yang bertanya tak kuat iman!

So, how do we know that Islam is the right religion? Well, by studying comparative religion! Of course! There is always a course of Comparative Religion / World Religion/ Theology in any university, even in the Western countries! If you can spend YEARS studying to become a doctor to complete your dunya, can’t you spend one semester of learning comparative religion for your akhirat? Sometimes, you can even do it informally by reading books on world religion during your free time. Tak payah pun nak masuk formal class bagai. Learn about other religions and compare between them! Sheikh Ahmed Deedat had done such a splendid job when it comes to comparing Islam and Christianity! In fact, that was how I had come to be convinced of Islam as the religion intended by God for his slaves. I read The Choice by Ahmed Deedat when I was 18 years old.

The-Choice-Ahmed-Deedat

You yourself must go through this journey of discovery. No one could do it for you. Every one of us has their own unique journey in discovering faith and spirituality. This is why one of my favourite YOU TUBE videos are conversion stories. My personal favourite was the conversion story of Yusha Evans and I recommend it to all my readers.

Now ask yourself: could any ustazah/ustaz in your previous school tell you in details regarding why Islam is the right religion compared to Christianity? Were you convinced? Or did the ustaz or ustazah never really answer your question? Or perhaps, you yourself never question it? Again… this is BASIC CREED. Kalau benda tu pun tak settle, no wonder lah kita asyik takut anak-anak kita murtad. Isu penggunaan nama Allah di kalangan Kristian di Sabah/Sarawak jadi havoc sampai pecah alam. Padahal memang kat Middle East orang Kristian guna nama Allah juga. Kita kat sini sibuk-sibuk nak halang orang Kristian guna nama Allah…sebab takut anak-anak kita cepat keliru!

Macam mana SEBELAS TAHUN belajar akidah  di sekolah, masih boleh keliru? Allah itu satu VS Allah itu tiga! Beza kan?? Apa yang nak kelirunya?? Yang kelirunya adalah sebab ORANG DEWASA pun keliru tak reti nak ajaq anak-anak depa! Tu pasallah takut sangat! In fact, kita sepatutnya fikir yang orang Kristianlah yang keliru! The WHOLE WORLD associates the word ‘Allah’ with Islam… orang Kristian di Malaysia la yang patut lebih keliru bila nama Tuhan mereka adalah sama macam Tuhan orang Islam.

Bila kita lokek ilmu dan lokek hujah, kita akan sentiasa rasa takut dan terancam! Dan bila kita lokek ilmu dan lokek hujah, semua pertanyaan tiada jawapan. Alih-alih suruh orang lain jangan tanya dan tuduh orang yang bertanya tak kuat iman! *facepalm*

Did you know that in the Quran, we are taught to do inductive reasoning? Allah always asks us to look at specific examples in order to reach a conclusion. He asks us to look at the moon. Look at the sun! Look at the mountains and the seas. Look at the signs in the human embryology. 

Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) did inductive reasoning before concluding that his GOD was NOT the sun, the moon or the stars. He had explored one option after another and then another before he finally arrived to his conclusion. Just like our revert brothers and sisters had  to go through one religion after another and then another before arriving to Islam. 

“Those who listen to all statements, and then follow the best of it. These are the ones whom God has guided, and these are the ones possessed of minds.” (39:18)

Question #3: Why Is Quran Considered As A Miracle? 

This question was one of my struggles in understanding the religion.

Your ustaz or ustazah would ask you to memorize a few ‘skema jawapan’ talking about language style of the Quran which ‘proves’ that Quran is a miracle.

And in my mind, I was like “Kat mana yang hebat sangat bahasa Quran ni sampai jadi miracle dan mukjizat? Boleh tak bagi contoh? Ayat mana dalam Al-Quran yang miracle sangat ni sampai penyair-penyair Qurays boleh terpaku dan speechless? Awat aku tak rasa apa pun? Boleh tak elaborate dan bagi contoh?! Convince me, please!” 

Your ustaz would also teach you to write “Al-Quran ini mukjizat kerana ia tidak boleh ditiru. Ramai orang yang tidak berjaya menandingi gaya bahasa Al-Quran walaupun telah dicabar untuk melakukannya.” And then, the answer stops there. Adoi!!

I was like, “Okay…. boleh tak bagi contoh siapa orangnya yang cuba attempt nak bertanding dengan gaya bahasa Al-Quran? Is it Ka’ab Bin Malik? Abdullah Bin Rawahah? Both of them were great poets, right? Apa ayat yang diorang produce? Kat celah mana yang diorang kalah? What is the criteria yang diorang kalah tu bila dibandingkan dengan Al-Quran? Ada hakim ke yang dilantik untuk judge gaya bahasa siapa yang menang?” 

Faham tak? Look at how I overthink stuff? hahha. Jadi adakah aku akan puas hati dengan jawapan-jawapan one-liners yang superficial macam tu? Sedangkan banyak lagi soalan tak terjawab dalam kepala otak aku ni. Hahha.

Do you get it? There is just NO DEPTH!! in our learning of the religion! I was a student who DID NOT UNDERSTAND in which part of the Quran yang kau cakap gaya bahasa hebat sangat ni? Aku baca translation of the Quran dan aku rasa macam biasa saja. (I have since come to know how difficult it is for translations to convey the beauty of a text’s original language. For example, can anyone translate a Malay pantun into English while maintaining all the rhymes and the rhythms? No, right? The beauty of any language will be lost in translation. The language miracle of the Quran can only be appreciated in its original Arabic language. But there are other aspects of miracles in the Quran. For example, there are medical and scientific aspects of the Quran too!) 

As a student at that time, pelajaran agama adalah pelajaran SURE DAPAT GRED A punyalah! Because so simplistic punya skema jawapan, anyone can get an A in it! We students devoted MORE TIME for Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Add Math because they were more complicated and interesting dan belum tentu dapat A. Hahha.

But with pelajaran agama, hafal sikit-sikit, pakai common sense sikit-sikit… terus dapat A. Mudah macam makan kacang! When the fact is, learning arts (including religion/theology, history, political science and philosophy) requires inductive and exploratory reasoning involving the understanding of contexts, nuances and depth! BUKAN simple one liners!

But after years of learning to brush off my doubts, I followed the tide of peer pressure by simply burying my questions deep inside my mind!

So when did I FINALLY find the answer?

Well, I found the answer regarding why Quran is a miracle at the age of 20+ when I was listening to the lecture of Nouman Ali Khan in You Tube about The Miracles of The Quran. The video clip only lasted for two hours! Two hours! And that was enough to answer YEARS of wondering to myself about the miracles of the Quran! Below, is one of the examples of the video produced by Nouman Ali Khan’s team regarding the language miracles of the Quran. If you have time, you can watch the lecture yourself. It is very good, (better than the one I listened to years ago) because this one is illustrated.

I also learned about the Quran from books like Medical Miracles of The Quran written by Dr. Sharif Kaf Al-Ghazal.

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So, can you see HOW PATHETIC is the Islamic syllabus in our formal education?? How unhelpful the syllabus was in perfecting my aqeedah and my understanding of basic Islamic principles!

Perfect the Aqeedah FIRST! Simultaneously, you can also learn the technical stuff of ibadah, muammalat, munakahat, syariah etc etc. But the Aqeedah is always a priority!

Look, there’s a reason why the Prophet PBUH spent 13 years perfecting the Aqeedah alone in Makkah! Because that is the most important thing! Only in Madinah did the Prophet proceeded with the teaching of the Syariah! Once your aqeedah is settled, the rest would be easy!

 

Question #4: All the questions I had about illogical Israilyat stories that were told to me. 

I had talked about this so many times in the past! About the fake story of Hassan Al-Basri & A Beautiful Woman and also about the bogus tale of Siti Mutiah! Hahha. So, I am just not going to elaborate on this further. But it highlights my point that MOST ustaz/ustazah are not equipped with enough knowledge to soothe our thirst for real conviction. They do not address our confusion and our sense of incredulousness.

If you are going to be ‘guru agama yang mengajar budak-budak aliran sains’, you better know how to present your content! Science students are taught to QUESTION stuff!

If you are passionate teachers, your target SHOULD NOT be to finish the syllabus cincai bocai! Your target is to make sure your students understand and are convinced by your presentation. (Tu pun kalau kau memang nak jadi a great teacher lah! Otherwise, no use for me to elaborate further). You must encourage questions among your students and you must equip yourself with knowledge too! Teach beyond the syllabus! Read stuff! Relate your religious contents with current issues and scientific phenomenas! Buatlah homework sikit…. you are teaching the religion! How much pahala will you get if because of YOU, your students attain real faith that goes beyond getting an A in Pendidikan Islam!

***

So, below are my ideas of how religious syllabus should be revised.

1)Ask students to do a critical essay on any topic of aqeedah. An essay! A CRITICAL ESSAY! NOT simple one liners! 

2)Give them reading tasks that requires them to summarize, review and state their own opinion. 

-suggested topics for their reading tasks include comparative religion, theory of evolution, Richard Dawkin’s The God Delusion.

2) Review You Tube videos of comparative religion and encourage voicing out of questions and doubts. 

3) Invite doctors, engineers, professors and physicists to talk about verses in the Quran that relate to their respective specialty! Show the students that religion is NOT SEPARATE from the practical aspects of worldly life! Show your students that religion is RELEVANT and PRACTICAL! 

***

Examples of exam questions and assignments at the secondary school level could be something like these:

Question 1:

It has been a widely popularized propaganda that Islam was spread through the edge of the sword. By using your knowledge of the Quran, your knowledge of the world history and the Islamic History, write a CONVINCING commentary to dispute this preposterous libel.   (Not less than 2000 words)

-this question requires the student not only to know the Quran alone, or the history alone. It requires the student to know BOTH;  and then to integrate those different knowledge and connect them together to produce a good essay. They must provide evidence and quotes by historians and ulama as well to get an A. 

Books
This is one of my favourite books to answer the above question. Full of references. Written by a Non-Muslim some more!

Question 2:

By using your knowledge of The Quran, The Bible and the History of Pre- and Post- Council of Nicaea, discuss the concept of trinity in Christianity.

-The question makes it clear that the students need to know some basic knowledge regarding what trinity is all about; what the Quran says about Trinity (this requires the student to know specific Quranic verses that talk about trinity); what the Bible says about Trinity (that means the student must memorize some biblical quotations allegedly alluding to trinity); and what happened during Council of Nicaea.

-After knowing the basic knowledge, the students then need to apply those knowledge and try to connect them together and arrange them into points of natural sequence so that the essay would look good and professional.

-In short, it requires application of knowledge and critical thinking! KBAT at its best! Not simply memorize and vomit the memory into paper. Takkan matematik dan sains saja nak KBAT! Adakah pelajaran agama tak penting untuk KBAT??

 

Question 3:

An Atheist came to you and declared his conviction that there is no life after death. How do you convince this atheist to the contrary? You are allowed to use your knowledge of The Evolution Theory, your knowledge of biological science and your knowledge of philosophy to produce your argument in not less than 1000 words.

-Whoa. Imagine if religion is being taught this way at school! The ustaz/ustazah will give you this question for homework with next week as a deadline. So, students are required to do proper research into Evolution, other aspects of biology as well as philosophy….and the challenge is how to connect all these knowledge into a religious article. The students actually have to put serious hard work and energy in researching and then thinking about these topics in order to produce a good essay.

-The ustazah can discuss the answers to this essay in a very interesting lesson.  For example, she may invite the school biology teacher or a philosophy lecturer from outside to sit in the class and discuss all the points together.

-How INTERACTIVE and INTERESTING Pendidikan Islam would be if it is being taught this way, can you imagine?

***

We have to revolutionize our education system of memorizing without thinking. It is imperative for Muslims to recognize that we should change and it has to be done from NOW, starting from the teaching of our youngsters at school.

After going to Australia and experiencing a dramatic change in how knowledge is supposed to be taught, I must admit that I became HYPERCRITICAL at our education system and I have a tendency to always question first whatever is being told to me if it sounds dodgy to me. I have promised myself many years ago that I will NEVER AGAIN believe in something that sounds weird regardless of who says it until I do my own research. Which is kind of why, even in learning psychiatry, I prefer to explore knowledge by myself rather than going through the master system. It might be harder, it might take longer, I might have to spend some of my own hard-earned money…. but I still prefer it that way. (I was asked by one of my colleagues while discussing psychiatry “Afiza, kau kena psychoanalyze kenapa kau tak suka psychodynamic.” I didn’t answer anything but in my mind I was like…. aku tak perlu nak psychoanalyze kenapa aku tak suka psychodynamic. Aku dah tau kenapa aku tak suka. Because some of the dodgy-sounding stuff in Freud’s psychodydnamic REMINDS me of the same dodgy stuff I had to swallow as a child because I was told it was part of the religion and part of being a good Muslim. And then it turned out that actually, they were wrong! And now you are trying to sell to me that accepting some of the ridiculous theories in psychodynamic is part of being a good psychiatrist?! Come on! Don’t kid yourself! There are MANY psychiatrists who DO NOT BELIEVE in psychodynamic, themselves. In fact,  Dr. Jeffrey A. Lieberman, the President of American Association of Psychiatry from 2013-2014 had written a SCATHINGLY CRITICAL analysis of the history of psychodynamic in America in his book “Shrink: The Untold Story of Psychiatry”. He wrote about how the theories WERE FORCED UPON THEM by their previous seniors and anyone who even attempted to question psychodynamic at that time was being bullied into submission rather than being given a proper well-thought out answers! Sebiji macam apa yang berlaku dalam pelajaran agama di sekolah! So, aku tak payah pun nak psychoanalyze kenapa aku tak suka psychodynamic! Aku dah tau pun! Hahah. One day, in a separate post, I will Insya-Allah write further regarding how I developed transference reaction towards psychodynamic. Hahah) 

It’s time we begin a much-needed paradigm shift. 

And I hope Dr. Maszlee and the National Education Advisory Council will deliver an exciting change in the teaching of Islamic Education in Malaysian schools. May Allah guide us all.

I leave you guys with a very famous video of Muslim spoken words regarding the meaning of life. Another one of my all-time favourite You Tube videos. I especially love the final part of the video that says, “If you disbelieve, READ!” I myself found real conviction through reading the books that I had mentioned above. This is why I always advocate for people to READ! In fact, I find it VERY LOGICAL that the first verse of the Quran that was revealed to the Prophet PBUH was Iqra’! Read! This is one aspect of the Quran that is so appealing to a reader like me.

So, enjoy the video, guys! Until next time. Much love and may Allah bless all of us.

Addendum:

P/S: I just had a phone conversation with my Kak Long about this particular issue. She told me that just a few days ago, Aayra, my 5 year old niece had asked her the exact same question of who creates Allah! Kind of proves my point that this question is a natural progression of a growing mind and it will come to every one of us, sooner or later. My Kak Long tried to answer the question to Aayra’s satisfaction but she could see that Aayra was not convinced even though Aayra did not ask further. One day, I will lend my Kak Long the book Timelessness And The Reality of Fate. And her task is to simplify the answer to Aayra in a way that would make Aayra understand.

Heartbreaking News In New Zealand

NZ

When I first found out that there was an ACT OF TERRORISM being committed at two mosques in Christchurch New Zealand on Friday resulting in 49 Muslims killed and many others injured, I was devastated.

I had  to stop my studying for awhile and just devoured the news that were spreading like bushfire in my Facebook newsfeed. I wanted to cry. But I couldn’t. My eyes just refused to cooperate to tear up. So, I was left with deep heaviness in my chest instead. I know that the heaviness will go away if I just cry. (This is my problem. It is always difficult for me to cry. I think if I could just cry, I can relieve this ache in my chest.)

I have been to Christchurch when I was a medical student. I went there  with my housemates for a holiday during the first semester break of my 4th year of medical school. We enjoyed our New Zealand trip very much because New Zealand is just such a beautiful country. I never thought that this tragedy could happen in New Zealand because my impression was New Zealanders were much more tolerant towards ‘other’ people compared to their Australian counterparts. They are more progressive in terms of giving their indigenous people (the Maoris) their rights and privileges. The rights of the Maoris in New Zealand are better preserved and protected than the rights of the Aboriginals in Australia.

So when something heartbreaking like this happened in Christchurch, I just could not process it!

And then I found out that the evil perpetrator behind this massacre was an Australian who has a Neo-Nazi political leaning.

Well…. I love Australian people. Most of them are lovely and kind. But some of them can be such racist rednecks! Five years in Australia taught me all I need to know about white supremacy and racism. My experience in Australia shaped me into the kind of person I have become now. I am a person who is super-sensitive to any form of racism or supremacy or ‘budget bagus’ group. You can judge anyone as an individual if you are so inclined. But don’t overgeneralize the whole group because of any mistake done by some individuals in that group. I COULD NOT tolerate that EVER. Muslims living in the West post 9/11 would understand the kind of suffering we had to endure when we were all painted with the same brush. To them, either we were evil terrorists or oppressed Muslim women! Either way, we were treated with suspicions and being looked at as inferior just because we wore the hijab outside the house.

I remember how I felt like I had to prove myself as a Muslim medical student in Australia. I had to do MORE to get the same kind of respect or esteem that the Australians effortlessly enjoyed. As an introvert, it took some adjustment for me to push myself to be extra-friendly, to be outspoken in tutorials, to join group discussions, to mingle with people (now doing these things is much easier for me these days… especially the outspoken part. Haha)  I had to do all these extra efforts in an attempt to contradict the degrading narrative of what being a Muslim woman was perceived to be (when actually, I really preferred to keep quiet and just went home and read my books). Whenever I couldn’t answer any question in the tutorial group, I felt so embarrassed (more embarrassed than I would have been if I were in Malaysia) because I felt like I was feeding the stereotype that Muslim women are stupid by my inability to come up with a sensible answer. I felt like I had to say something (anything!) in the tutorial even when I had nothing to say. I felt like I had to fill up my speech quota of the day in order to appear fully switched on and involved in the tutorial discussion. I felt that way after finding out that some tutors had complained to the admin that “the Malaysian students are too quiet and not participating in the tutorial discussion”. So during each tutorial session, I doubled my effort to appear extrovert because apparently, the more you talk, the more intelligent people think you are. *rolled eyes* (And yes, Australians are very extrovert! And so, people who are too quiet would be thought of as less intelligent or less capable) So, I strove harder in order to contradict the stereotyped image of what being a Muslim woman was. My sweetest moment was when my assignment on Health Equity Selective was being put up on my uni website (in our students blackboard page) as an example to the juniors in the batch below mine on how to write a Health Equity Selective project in the category of Psychiatry.  Me, an International student whose English is only a second language, got the opportunity to display my assignment as a guidance for the juniors to emulate when doing their psychiatry Health Equity Selective… I was over the moon! (Yup, I had chosen Psychiatry for my Health Equity Selective project. I have been interested in Psychiatry since I was a medical student and had chosen that field for my elective.) I was over the moon because I felt like I had proven a point. It was like, I was saying “See… a Muslim student is not that stupid. If we don’t talk as much in our tutorial session, it is because some of the things are obvious already… that it is not even worth mentioning. And English is our second language… it takes more energy for us to come up with any sort of conversation compared to you guys. If we are a bit slow in articulating our thoughts, that is only to be expected, isn’t it? Besides, we just don’t feel the need to stand out all the time.”

My Malaysian juniors were like “Kami bangga sangat tengok Health Equity Selective Kak Afiza masuk dalam blackboard. Malaysia boleh gitu!”

I laughed.

I am proud of my juniors too. I was proud whenever I see my Malaysian juniors were more well-adjusted and had assimilated better with other Australian students compared to us, the seniors. The juniors learned from our own mistakes and put more effort in making Australian friends. They experienced less criticism that “the Malaysian students do not mingle with people. They like  to keep  to themselves and don’t put in any effort to assimilate with the whole batch”.  As the years progressed and we started getting more Malaysian students among our junior batches, I thought, we were doing such a good job of portraying that Muslims were not as bad as what were shown in the media. Slowly but surely, I felt like the stereotype against Malaysian students were eroding. My heart burst out with pride when I saw how Malaysians were very heavily involved in our university Islamic Society (I myself was the treasurer of University of Newcastle Islamic Society at one time) and we were always the front-liners when it came to interacting with non-Muslims at the Islamic booth during Islamic Awareness Week. Compared to the Saudi or other Middle Eastern Muslims, Malaysian leadership shone bright in the Islamic Society. (Perhaps because our command in English was better than them). We could answer controversial questions about Islam quite well while guarding the booth. All in all, we were making pretty good progress.

But it could get pretty tiring. Always having to prove yourself over and over again is tiring. Whenever there were new incidents of terrorism and bombings in the Western world, I felt like all our hard work to prove that Muslims are good people were completely undone. And we had to do it all over again. Prove ourselves all over again. It was exhausting. Mentally and physically draining.

But I never regret any of it! Because the struggle that I had gone through made me who I am today. There is beauty in the struggle that we have to face in order to live up to our Muslim identity and Muslim ideals when we are living in a non-Muslim country. Looking back, I was my best self in spirituality when I was a medical student in Australia. Because of the struggle I had to face in Australia, I was more conscious of God and more connected to my religion than I ever was in Malaysia. I invested more time to learn about Islam properly (partly because I had to prepare answers for the questions that non-Muslims liked to ask). I was my most patient self when I was in Australia… because I was carrying the image of a Muslim and I did not want my bad behaviour to tarnish the name of my religion. In Australia, I had a purpose GREATER than my own self because I had to be a small ambassador to my religion! So despite all the struggles and the difficulties, I was very motivated. Our social support were the usrah-attending seniors who kept reminding us to be good, to do good, to strive for the hereafter and not just the dunya. (This is the part of myself that I miss the most, now that I am in Malaysia. I miss the Afiza who was nice. Because the current Afiza is not so nice! Hahah. Somehow, after coming back from Australia, I have retained my outspokenness but have not retained being nice. Perhaps because Malaysians are not always nice too….they are not always ethical…they don’t have values of respect or punctuality or cleanliness or efficiency…. they can be lazy…  they can trample on your rights… and if I am too nice and not outspoken enough, I will be oppressed. And I don’t want that.)

***

Allah had planned my life so beautifully, Alhamdulillah.

At 18 years old, I was grieving the death of my friend. Looking back, maybe I had an existential crisis at that time because I was so shocked by the fragility of life. That my friend could die at such a young age! I wondered, what was this life all about? For two years, I was wondering to myself about existential stuff, but afraid to vocalize them out for fear that they would label me “tak kuat iman”. And then Allah sent me to Australia where I met religious people who could answer all my questions. Alhamdulillah, my existential crisis resolved then. I became a firm believer. I came across someone in Melbourne who answered my questions patiently, systematically… scientifically, even! Suddenly, I felt a sense of spiritual awakening that I had never experienced before that summer, which was my first summer in Australia. I knew then that Islam is logical; that it makes sense! If things do not make sense, you must double-check whether it is truly religious in the first place. I was ecstatic and grateful for all that I had learned that summer.  It is nice to have real faith!  (I was so relieved! Finally, the horror of the Israilyat stories I had to swallow in KMB can be vomited out once and for all without feeling any guilt. That’s why I will always love Australia, the place where I had experienced an exponential growth, mentally and spiritually! There would never be a time when I think of Australia without a sense of nostalgia. It’s just not possible. Some of the things I had learned in Australia STILL influence my behaviour until now!)

I believe, some Muslims would have an existential crisis after witnessing this current heartbreaking incident. Some of the family members of the deceased might experience what I had experienced during the period of grieving. They would start questioning… why are there so many dreadfulness in this world? Why do people do evil things? Why didn’t God do something about it? Why didn’t He intervene? Why is this world so unfair? Why was I even created? What am I supposed to do in this life? Is Islam really the right religion? How do I know that? What if I am in the wrong faith… what will happen to me when I die, then?

They might have all these questions as they deal with the death of their loved ones. And hopefully, they will go through the cognitive process of finding the answers… and finally be at peace in their faith. You cannot bury these questions and silence your conscience. Repressing your doubts will not help you find peace. You must actively engage with your intellect and answer the questions that you have about the religion, about faith, about life after death. Otherwise, you will always be in doubt. And it won’t be real iman. You will not experience true peace that comes with firm belief. You will not feel confident to take any action, to speak up, to do what you believe is right… because you are not even REALLY sure if God is real and that He will help you out of any trouble.

So, don’t bury your internal existential crisis or your philosophical conflict. Answer them! Seek and you shall find! And believe me, what you find will be beautiful and priceless!

1771957-Yasmin-Mogahed-Quote-Your-life-is-nothing-more-than-a-love-story

 

***

Screenshot 2019-03-16 22.45.22
My Facebook status on the act of terrorism at the two mosques in Christchurch.

I have been busy preparing for my CASC exam these days. As usual, I am at my most neurotic self while preparing for exams, LOL. I would start thinking about how much money will be lost if I fail my exam. I would start thinking about “ah, aku dah tak larat nak study! I just want to be a chronic MO.” Hahha.

Sometimes, I mourn my lack of time for fiction reading. It is ridiculous how much I sweat the small stuff.

I forgot that there are other more important things in life other than being a nerd and passing your exam. I forgot that my fiction-reading are trivial, picisan stuff! Stuff of amusements and ‘main-main’.

Siapa yang melaksanakan kewajiban, mereka diberi PAHALA, dan bag

In other parts of the world, people are fighting for their lives!

On the same day that the mosques in  Christchurch were attacked, Israel had also launched series of airstrikes across Gaza! We have thousands, if not millions, of our Muslim brothers and sisters in various parts of the world undergoing physical and mental suffering… all at the same time! And I am worried about exams? And about reading fiction? Gosh, Afiza… you are preposterous!

Screenshot 2019-03-17 08.22.45

Sometimes, I have to admit, I can be really stupidly ridiculous. I am done worrying about trivial stuff! Because there’s more to life.

For as long as I can remember… everytime I was overwhelmed by my study, some sort of tragedy would be breaking news and made me realize that my struggle was not significant at all in the general scheme of things. For example, in 2010, while I was preparing for my final General Medicine exam, the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which was a civilian ship bringing aid to the Palestinians, was attacked by the Israel Navy in May 2010. The attack by the Israel Navy was bravely resisted by the civilians on the ship; nine activists died and many were wounded. I was worried sick about my exam at that time. But after reading about what had befallen the Mavi Marmara ship, I had felt similarly ridiculous as I am feeling now for being too worried over small stuff when people are fighting for something greater than even their own lives!

I composed a poem for Mavi Marmara at that time entitled FORGIVE MY SCOWL which I had uploaded into the poetry section in this blog. I composed that poem after taking a pause from studying my General Medicine notes in order to clear my muddled head and to lift up the overwhelming heaviness in my chest.

This is also why I am taking a pause from my CASC studying and writing this post today. To clear my head. To lift up the heaviness in my chest. Because I just couldn’t cry. Because to compose a poem, it would take a much greater mental strength than I possess. Because I am too mentally exhausted by all the bloodshed.

I pray, that all Muslims would unite together and peacefully respond to this sad calamity in a positive way. I hope, there will be no revenge bombing by Muslims because it would only make matters worse for our brothers and sisters in the West. Trust me, I had enough experience of how terrible it is to be in the West when so-called Muslims commit an act of terrorism somewhere. (Nak masuk lecture hall keesokan hari pun rasa nervous! Rasa malu! Belum lagi rasa takut kena attack bila terpaksa jalan berseorangan.) Please, no revenge bombing targeting innocent people, be it Muslims or non-Muslims. Please, no more bloodshed.

***

I leave all my readers with a reminder to live in this world like a traveler or a stranger. Because, really… isn’t that what we are? Until we reach our final destination, we are only a traveler along the path of life. Hopefully, we will find something precious and beautiful along the way.

stranger

Afiza’s Philosophy On First Impression

first impression wrong

Did you know that the original title for Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was First Impression?

If you are a fan of classic literature, your answer would have been yes… because it is one of the most common trivia among ardent book readers.

history of pride and prejudice

Just like it is common trivia that Charlotte Bronte, Anne Bronte, and Emily Bronte had published their manuscripts under male pseudonyms of Currer Bell, Acton Bell and Ellis Bell because female authors were discriminated against in those times. Charlotte Bronte had said “We did not like to declare ourselves women, because we had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice.”

There is that word again! Prejudice!

Elizabeth Bennet was prejudiced against Mr. Darcy whereas Mr. Darcy was prideful towards Elizabeth Bennet, hence the change of title to Pride & Prejudice….maybe. I don’t know why Jane Austen changed the title, actually. For commercial reason, perhaps? ‘Pride & Prejudice’ certainly sounds more thought-provoking than ‘First Impression’, no?

But my post this time is not going to be on Jane Austen’s highly acclaimed novel. It is going to be about the pitfalls of first impression and why we should never give it more value than it is really worth.

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Some people place too much importance on first impression. They would quote to you quips that they think as intelligent such as “Two things remain irretrievable; Time and first impression”. Or they would say “First impressions are the most lasting.” Then, they sell their products to you… be it whitening cream, clothing, shoes, tudung, perfume… with the tagline of “First impression is the deepest”. Haha.

But in my opinion, to be relying so much on your first impression of others, obstinately refusing to change your opinion even after you have had the opportunity to revise your first impression, is the height of wilful idiocy.

The word first impression itself is quite self-explanatory. It denotes lack-of-depth, lack-of-accuracy, lack-of-assessment. In short, it is just lacking, period!

And for those who insisted on how important first impression really is… well, MY first impression of such a person would be “You are too superficial! And we will probably never see eye-to-eye in most matters if this is the way you persist in making your judgment.” But then unlike them, I am more open to changing my opinion about them if they are able to show me evidence of the depth of their thoughts in our future encounters next time. Because again, unlike them, I NEVER put much faith nor stock in my first impression even when my first impressions have turned out to be right many times in the past (because I ALSO remember the times when I turned out to be wrong and I don’t want to persist in the stupidity of making snap judgment).

judge man's life

***

“So you don’t think first impression is important? How about when you are going for an interview? Would you dress shabbily? Would you arrive late? Would you not want to appear competent and successful?”

Look, first impression is important… but only up to a point…. and then, no more. THAT is what I am driving at! I repeat, first impression is only important up to a point… and then no further.

If it is as you had said “First impression is the most lasting”, I would be quite skeptical of your ability to learn new information and unlearn false information… there is something wrong in your cognitive flexibility (or your brain plasticity) if the first impression – regardless of accuracy – is the most lasting one for you!

Don’t you think?

Most of the time, I don’t remember my first impression of anyone. Perhaps, because it was never that important to me. I distrust it.

But once I have had enough opportunity (by the means of multiple encounters) to form an impression, then you will never get me to change my mind because THIS TIME, I have had enough encounters with you to be able to form a fair and accurate judgment of your character and temperament.

Still, it doesn’t mean I am not optimistic that you might later change some of your bad habits. But just go and change those bad habits first… then I will re-assess my judgment of you, even when I know that my first judgment of you was correct AT THAT TIME (because I actually made an effort in coming to that judgment, in the first place. I did not simply rely on my first impression and I actually have observed you multiple times before I arrived to that judgment). But now I am re-evaluating you because you have made some changes. If I change my mind about you, it wasn’t because I was wrong the first time…. it was because you have changed now and therefore I am willing to change my impression of you, accordingly.

That’s all.

umar
See? That’s why we should always reassess our initial judgment!

***

Muslims in general should not be putting stock in first impressions. I remember the story of Saidina Umar Al-Khattab R.A when he first arrived in Jerusalem after the Muslim army had been successful in their campaign to conquer the holy city from the Christians.

Abu Ubaidah R.A, the commander in chief of the Muslim army and himself a very pious man, suggested that Umar change his clothes so that the people of Jerusalem, accustomed to the pomp and grandeur of kings and emperors, were not dissuaded from handing the keys of Jerusalem over to him. Umar hit Abu Ubaidah hard on the chest and reminded him that the Arabs had once been a disgraced nation. What had brought them honour and elevated their status was Islam. Should they seek honour from anything else, they would surely be humiliated again.

Lesson learned: Don’t seek honour through the superficial means of your clothing/shoes/brands in an attempt to make a great first impression. Instead, seek honour through strength of character. And this is not something you can tell upon a first glance! It doesn’t work that way!

By all means… wear nice clothes to an interview. But not as a means to hide your real character, but rather to enhance them. Work on your character first…then you work on other superficial things that would reflect your real character!

By all means, be polite and speak nicely in order to create warmth and mutual good regards. But above all else, mean your words! “Say what you mean. And mean what you say.” Say what you really believe… not what you think the others or the boss want to hear just because you want to make a favourable false impression. (I always try to say what I mean… I am just not very good at doing it politely especially when I am too upset. I am learning to sheathe my blunt honesty with a scabbard of politeness… but it takes practice, of course)

***

There are a few reasons why I feel strongly about not trusting first impression. It was because I have been subjected to one numerous times.

The most common first impression about me was “sombong” or “unfriendly” or something along those lines. Which I think, is really unfair. Just because I was quiet and slow to warm up to strangers, doesn’t mean I am arrogant. It takes time for me to be comfortable to open up to people, and I generally become close to people as I interact with them through work-related necessity rather than socially. I am generally not good at friendly banter… but I can do it when I have to, in order to be polite and to reciprocate your own friendliness. If you initiate the contact, I will mirror your attitude accordingly. So, how is that ‘sombong’? Serius, aku tak faham!

The next common first impression about me is shyness, or “diam”. This one… memang semua yang kenal aku akan gelak terbahak-bahak! Because I am not shy… AT ALL! I am an introvert… but there are 4 types of introverts; social, thinking, anxious, restrained.

The anxious ones are the shy ones!

I am the thinking one! Give me an interesting topic that I have thought of to talk about… I will have no problem airing my opinion. In fact, I can sound quite earnest and enthusiastic about it until I will get accused of being too emotionally involved. Since people have seen me being quiet most of the time, they think that when I am speaking so ‘bersemangat’, so enthusiastically… that MUST mean in this particular matter, I am losing my objectivity due to some sort of emotional involvement. But that is not true. I rarely get emotionally involved. When I am interested in something, I have always talked earnestly. Hit upon something that pique my interest, oh boy, I can really talk your ears off, making me seem totally different from my usual reserved self! (And this is when people would think I am too affected by something…when they see how I deviate from my taciturn quietness. When actually, I am not affected in any way, shape or form…. I am just interested in getting my point across because this is important!) When there is nothing interesting to talk about, no points of interest in any particular case, just the same old mundane thing….I will be quiet again especially when I am in a new environment. That’s just how I am. (And then I get accused of being sombong. Damn! Haha)

***

There was one time when I was late on the first day of one of my numerous postings. In my own defense, I wasn’t late through any fault of mine. The formal black-and-white letter that I had received had stated clearly that upon arriving to the place of posting, I should report to the Unit Sumber Manusia first. I actually arrived early at 7.20 and had been waiting at the Unit Sumber Manusia for what felt like ages before I was finally informed that I was supposed to be meeting my boss at another place, instead. So, it would be quite easy for people who didn’t know me at that time to have a first impression that I was not a punctual person. My boss had even insinuated that he was a ‘punctual person’ and I should try to be on time in the future, to which I had just replied “Sorry, but the letter I received had told me that I was supposed to report to the Unit Sumber Manusia first and that was where I’d been for the past one hour,”

If he had formed any first impression of my being late, would it be a correct impression, you think? When in actuality, I am very OCPD about time. I am quite anal about it! Hahah. I treat everybody’s time as equally precious, regardless of whether I am dealing with my superiors or my juniors. Whenever I am on-call with my HOs, if I told them to meet me at any particular ward to review a case at this particular time, I would whatsapp them 10 minutes before the designated time if I knew beforehand that I might not be able to make it on time. I feel anxious when I know people are waiting for me. I apologize sincerely whenever I am late even to my subordinates…. but I was not gonna feel so sorry if I was late through no fault of mine. In fact in the particular case of my being late in my posting, I was the aggrieved party here! I was misled by the letter that was given to me, so whose fault was that? I was even more upset than my boss because I am OCPD about time! (My whole family is OCPD about time, thanks to my father’s military-like training).

I respect everybody’s time…. my superiors’ time are not any more precious than my juniors’ time or my patients’ time. And I expect my time to be given equal regard, as it should.

So, can you see how misleading first impression can be? So, what is the basis of us putting so much stock on first impression?

In fact, why bother having a first impression, anyway?

But if you are gonna have one, you should have the right attitude and the right philosophy about it. For example, my philosophy of first impression is “I have this idea about you straight away based on my first impression of you… but I will reserve my judgment about you until I get to know you better. But if we are never again to have any future encounters, then I would not even remember my first impression of you because it doesn’t matter anymore. But if we are to become close in the future, it would not be BECAUSE OF or DESPITE OF my first impression….it would be because I have thoroughly assessed your character and have decided I like you, whatever my first impression of you had been. In BOTH cases, either I meet you again and we become close or not meet you again for the rest of my life, my first impression does not carry much weight at all. See?”

And to the ladies, please be highly suspicious of any man who says that they fall in love with you at the first sight. Instead of being flattered, think about what it means to have someone falling in love with you because of how you look! That is casanova alert! Aren’t you scared?Think about the cheapness of such a sentiment… to be loved so easily with just one look?? In the future, God knows with which beauty queen he would find himself in love with at the first sight AGAIN! Haha.

Love-At-First-Sight-Is-Often-Cured-rfg210desi14
Yup! In fact, don’t just take a second look…but take multiple looks first, ok! LOL.

***

Let me end my post with the saying of Saidina Umar Al-Khattab again. (You guys know that I think of Saidina Umar as my superhero) 😀  Read it, understand it and internalize it. Think about the day of the ultimate judgment. Perhaps, it will humble you.

Until next time, my dear readers.

umar judgment