Saturday, 27 February 2010

Muhammad: A Prophet For Our Time

Today is our beloved prophet's birthday. I will write a little bit about his biography that I recently read- Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time, by Karen Armstrong.

(Maybe some wonder why I read this particular book. Some time ago I thought I must read his biography again, and this is the first book that appear on search result of 'Muhammad' from the local library's archive. And the book was also mentioned by Ust Hasrizal-although what he said was he recommended the book for anybody in the West who wants to know more about the Prophet).

Frankly the last time I read about him was for SPM! And this is the first proper biography that I read, the previous ones were children books and exam revision books!

Karen Armstrong's mission on the book was to potray to the West that Muhammad (pbuh) was a man of no violence and that jihad means struggle- not war. She said to know him and to appreciate what he achieved, we must first understand the pre-Islamic Arabia- which is what the first chapter is about.

I just realized that what he bravely embraced was an almost impossible mission.

The most precious moral value at that time was arrogance and honour. He lacked both. He was shy, orphaned and lived on the blessings of his uncles. His small wealth came from his rich wife. He was illiterate. His clan (Bani Hasyim) was not that respectable among the Quraysh (only an inferior clan). Imagine what the elders were thinking at that time. This was the boy that they fed, now he wanted them to follow him? If a man of this profile comes to us now, would we listen to him? Especially in this age of evidence-based-everything.

Even many of the hanifs (people who still followed Prophet Ibrahim's teaching- worshipped Allah one and only) at that time did not follow him (eg Waraqah ibn Naufal-Khadijah's cousin).

At that time Mecca was the central shine of Arabia. The Quraysh gathered all the gods worshipped by various tribes at the Kaabah, so that they would stop to worship there on their routes during their trading journey. This is the main source of income for the Quraysh. So what Muhammad (pbuh) was preaching was a major economic threat as well. No wonder they wanted him dead.

And what great faith Khadijah, Abu Bakar and Ali had on him.

We are nowhere near them. Not when we have faith because we already knew of the Prophet's success, what he said is proven, and when we have the beautiful Quran as a proof of his prophecy.

What proof do we have that we love him? Remembering his birthday? Reading his biography? Visiting his grave?

There is of course nothing new about the Prophet in the book that I didn't know or never heard before, but it is my view of the world that has changed since teenage years that made me look at his struggle differently and hopefully, appreciate it more.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Cooked Ice

Ammar: Surprise for you Mama!

Mama: What is that Ammar?

Ammar: I cook ice for you..(smiling proudly)

Mama: eheh cook ice?(!)'s yummy! (pretending to eat the blocks)

Ammar: is it yummy, delicious and tasty? (oitt, fantastic vocab Ammar)

Mama: yes!

Ammar: I go cook some more..


Now I can eat biscuit..

And crawl under the table...

And play computer!

Friday, 19 February 2010

Recent Memoirs

Recently I read 2 memoirs. Both are very different from each other. Shanghai Tango, autobiography of Jin Xing, a famous Chinese dancer who is a transsexual, and Through The Narrow Gate, which is a memoir by Karen Armstrong (a theologist) during her 7 years as a Catholic nun.

Shanghai Tango

What is your childhood dream? My childhood dream was to become a doctor and to own a chocolate factory. But for Jin Xing, her childhood dream was to become a woman. She was born a man.

I have read quite a number of Chinese memoirs and fictions, and one very very important thing for a Chinese is having a son. In ancient China (I don't know about now), a woman's status in her husband's family depends on whether her firstborn is a son, and also how many sons altogether that she has. You are nothing even if you gave birth to six daughters, but if your firstborn is a son, your status rises significantly (imagine me in ancient China, everybody will kowtow to me). This memoir started with the part when Jin Xing went to tell his mother that her son will soon become her daughter. If you have a tiny bit of knowledge of chinese traditions, you will understand how heavy the news was to Jin Xing's mother.

This book tells about Jin Xing's life as a dancer and also how she came to the decision to change her sex. In medical school we were not exposed to this part of medicine. I was surprised that male to female sex change operation can still preserve whatever nerve endings there are in a male's genitalia. And before somebody is 'allowed' to have a sex change surgery, he/she has to receive psychotherapy for 2 years and another year as 'real life test', meaning the person has to go through life as the opposite sex, successfully before he/she can have the surgery. I also learnt from the memoir that to turn yourself into a woman, a man has to go through a few surgeries. Breasts augmentation, removal of facial hair, vocal cord surgery then finally the genital surgery.

You can google Jin Xing, she is in wikipedia. You can also see her dance on you tube. She is prettier than me :P

Although it is against my religious belief to agree on this issue, I picked her memoir from the library just so that I can understand her (and people like her). It is hard enough to understand and be non-judgemental to 'normal people'. I hope in the future I will be able to see them with clear eyes

Through The Narrow Gate

Karen Armstrong is a famous theologist. She has written many books on religions- Islam, Christianity, Judaism etc and she also has written a number of biographies of religious idols, including of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw). She was born a Catholic and at age 17 she entered a convent to be trained as a nun. She was searching for God.

I think generally we can say that nuns are peaceful people. They always smile and look happy. It is not easy to become as peaceful as one. The nuns' aim in life is to be united with God, in order to do so one have to detach oneself from anything worldly. The training is very harsh. It is designed to make you not to feel any joy in life, because the real joy is only in hereafter. A common phrase that they use is 'let yourself die'.

As one reader reviewed in Amazon-
The process of becoming a nun, as Armstrong describes it, is a rigorous program of self-denial. One is not to complain, be tired, be mournful, be happy, be questioning, or let onesself feel any of the things that come with the territory of being human. Rather, it was taught that the pinnacle of the spiritual life was the abillty to shed one's humanness, to think and feel only about one thing - God.

Among the trainings are the practice of the Great Silence. There are only 2-3 hours in a day that a nun-in-training are allowed to talk or discuss, but the rest of the day they have to be silent (except in emergencies, of course) and meditate. Another practice is not to enjoy the food. They only can eat to survive. Karen Armstrong actually developed anorexia nervosa because of this practice.

Once they completed the training and passed whatever necessary to become a nun, a ceremony will be held for 'graduation'. The ritual in this ceremony actually resembles a funeral where the nun is laid and a cross is put on top of her to symbolize death- meaning her worldly-self has died. And when a nun can be dead to herself then only she can serve Christianity to the world. They are then allowed to further their studies so that they can teach in convents and also become missionaries. So Karen was sent to Oxford University where she studied literature. This is where she became more critical and finally left her Order. This actually has been nicely described by one of her Mother Superior- that Armstrong could not 'die' because she was full of 'intelligent pride'.

She continued to search for God. She is now a freelance monotheist (believes that there is only one God but does not follow any organized religion).


Reading memoirs can really connect you to the particular time in history that the author has relived in a book. Don't you think teaching history lessons in Malaysia should be done by using published memoirs instead of textbooks? So that we learn history through somebody's eyes, so that one can 'feel' and empathize, not just learn and memorize.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

More on Islamic Parenting

Masih dalam topik 'Islamic Parenting'..

Saya terlupa nak tulis sesuatu yang diketengahkan oleh penulis buku 'Cinta Di Rumah Hasan Al Banna'.

Dari Surah As-Shaffat, ayat 102..

Nabi Ibrahim as: Hai anakku, sesungguhnya aku melihat dalam mimpi bahawa aku menyembelihmu. Maka fikirkanlah apa pendapatmu..

Nabi ismail as: Hai bapaku, kerjakanlah apa yang diperintahkan kepadamu, insyaAllah engkau akan mendapatiku termasuk orang2 yang sabar.

Kita sering diingatkan tentang pengorbanan Nabi Ibrahim dan (anaknya) Nabi Ismail as. Terutama sekali ketika musim haji. Bagaimana seorang ayah yg sanggup mengorbankan anaknya kerana perintah Allah swt dan bagaimana redhanya seorang anak mentaati bapa dan Tuhannya. Tapi kita sering terlepas pandang yang Nabi Ismail as tak akan jadi begitu tanpa didikan tauhid luar biasa oleh Nabi Ibrahim as (atau ibunya, Siti Hajar). Mungkin inilah model ibu bapa terbaik untuk kita.

Terima kasih kepada Mynie yang mengetengahkan artikel ini 'Raising Children in Deen and Dunya'. Bacalah, di samping baca jurnal2 untuk masters/phd tu. Dan saya letak sini 2 ayat dari artikel tersebut untuk kita fikirkan..

A sign of someone whom Allah loves is that when you see him/her, you remember Allah.

On the Day of Judgment, you’ll be standing with the ones you loved most in the dunya,” reminds another well-loved scholar, “so choose your friends wisely"


Di kala hati susah dan fikiran buntu, Engkau datangkan pertolonganMu dari hamba-hambaMu yang tiap kali ku pandang mereka, mengingatkanku pada KasihMu..

Kepada warga Malaysia di Leeds, UK, terima kasih. Hutang budi kalian kami sekeluarga bawa ke mati.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Cinta Di Rumah Hasan AlBanna

Kita lebih mengenali Imam Hasan AlBanna sebagai seorang da'ie dan reformis Islam zaman moden. Tetapi kita kurang pendedahan tentang dirinya sebagai ketua keluarga. Konsep buku ini bagus. Ia sebuah buku 'Islamic Parenting' menggunakan Imam Hasan AlBanna sebagai role model. Penulisnya, M.L. Nur Aulia telah mengumpulkan beberapa temubual dengan anak2 Imam Hasan AlBanna untuk memberi gambaran Imam Hasan AlBanna sebagai seorang ayah.

Walaupun buku ini sangat nipis dan bagi saya banyak yang boleh diperbaiki, tetapi tak perlulah kita bincangkan kelemahannya. Saya cuma ingin berkongsi beberapa sifat Assyahid (insyaAllah) Imam Hasan AlBanna yang tentunya membezakan antara dia disisi Allah swt dengan saya, kamu dan kamu.

Peribadi Beliau

1. Ketika beliau masih kecil, ayah beliau sering mengadakan majlis2 ilmu di rumah mereka yang dihadiri cendekiawan2 Islam. Jadi sejak kecil dia sudah biasa dengan majlis2 ilmu. Ketika umurnya 9 tahun lagi rutin sehariannya bermula selepas solat subuh dengan membaca jadual harian kepada adiknya "pukul 6 mengaji Quran, pukul 7 tafsir Quran dan hadith, pukul 8 fiqh.."

2. Walaupun beliau pemimpin Ikhwanul Muslimin, gerakan Islam terbesar ketika itu, namun rumahnya hampir kosong. Semua perabot, permaidani dan langsir yg mereka ada digunakan di pejabat2 sekretariat Ikhwanul Muslimin. Satu ketika rumah mereka termasuk dalam senarai rumah yg akan dihancurkan (tak pasti kenapa), isteri beliau meminta beliau membelikan rumah kecil sebagai ganti. Tetapi beliau menjawab, "Wahai Ummu Wafa, istana kita menanti kita di syurga. Allah tidak akan mensia-siakan kita di dunia".

3. Berapakah wang simpanan kita sekarang? Atau berapakah caruman bulanan kita untuk masa tua? Berapa pula jumlah simpanan Imam Hasan AlBanna? Jawapannya ialah tiada. Mungkin kita terfikir apa bodoh sangat tak menyimpan? Tapi hakikatnya, pendapatannya hanyalah untuk belanja bulanan keluarganya, belanja persekolahan anak-anaknya, dan membeli buku2. Selebihnya semua diinfaqkan. Ini tentunya bukan aras keimanan kita, yang mementingkan sekuriti hidup di dunia. Beliau hanya mementingkan keselamatannya di akhirat.

4. Seorang yang berjaya seperti beliau, sibuk berdakwah sana sini, menimba ilmu lagi, hal keluarga lagi, dari mana datang masanya? Masa hanya diperolehi orang yang mencarinya. Beliau tidak tidur banyak, malam atau siang. Ketika dia penat, seperti yg diceritakan anak perempuannya Dr Tsana, beliau memintanya buatkan air teh dan kejutkan dia selepas 7 minit (!!!).

5. Menurut Ahmad Saiful Islam, anak lelaki tunggal beliau, nasihat yg paling berharga dari ayahnya ialah "Hati-hatilah, jangan sampai kamu menganggap ayahmu bermanfaat untukmu di akhirat kelak".

Beberapa kaedah didikan Imam Hasan AlBanna kepada anak2nya

1. Beliau memberikan 3 jenis wang perbelanjaan kepada anak2nya. Wang harian untuk belanja sekolah, wang mingguan setiap hari Jumaat untuk disedekahkan (kepada siapa dan cara disedekahkan itu terpulang kepada anak2 sendiri) dan wang bulanan untuk membeli buku (bukan baju, kasut, game atau selainnya). Beliau mahu sifat memberi / berinfaq dan mencintai ilmu itu sebati dalam diri mereka. Bukan sekali sekala bersedekah, bukan di bulan Ramadhan sahaja.

2. Setiap anak diberikan rak buku sendiri (beliau mempunyai 6 orang anak). Mereka boleh mengisikan rak mereka dengan buku2 yang mereka beli dengan wang bulanan.

3. Di antara kebiasaannya ialah memanggil anak2nya sebelum Maghrib dan beliau akan membaca AlQuran sambil anak2nya yang menyemak bacaan beliau (terbalikkan?). Mungkin dia akan silapkan bacaannya untuk anak2nya menegurnya? Tak tahulah. Dan perlu diingatkan yang ketika ini anak2 beliau masih kecil kerana beliau pulang ke rahmatullah pada usia muda, iaitu ketika anak sulung baru 17 tahun dan yang bongsu kurang 5 tahun (seorang masih dalam kandungan).

4. Apakah rekod anak2 kita yg kita simpan? Mungkin surat beranak, MyKid, passport, kad imunisasi dan rekod kemajuan sekolah. Tapi Hasan AlBanna merekodkan hal2 setiap anak2nya dengan sangat terperinci seperti rekod pegawai CIA. Setiap orang mempunyai carta masing2. Bermula dari sejarah kandungan dan kelahiran, setiap surat dan preskripsi doktor beserta dengan nota2 kecil komennya sendiri (berapa hari makan ubat, bila sembuh, adakah semua ubat habis), catatan prestasi sekolah juga dengan komennya sendiri seperti "Saif perlu lebih peningkatan dalam...". Kesimpulannya beliau sangat teratur dalam menguruskan setiap amanahnya.

Itulah serba sedikit tentang beliau yang saya dapat dari buku ini.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Lemas Dalam Lautan Ilmu

Hari tu saya ada cakap pasal luasnya lautan ilmu Allah. Ni nak sambung sikit lagi.

Ilmu sentiasa berkembang dan membiak sampai kita rasa lemas dalam lautan ilmu (aduhh terasa bodohnya kita hahaha).

Baru2 ni saya ada subscribe (percuma) MedPage Today (link di kanan blog) iaitu satu buletin perubatan yang berpusat di US. Setiap hari mereka hantar berita2 terbaru bidang perubatan melalui email, sama ada research2 terbaru di jurnal2 perubatan terkemuka, online CME (Continuous Medical Education) yang diberikan oleh ahli akademik di sana, notifikasi FDA (Food and Drug Administration), blog2 perubatan dan macam2 lagilah.

Tetapi hasilnya makin berserabut otak saya adalah hahahaha sebab banyak sangat. Ini baru perkembangan terbaru perubatan di US, belum Eropah atau Asia punya.

Ada bidang perubatan di sana yang tiada di Malaysia, contohnya 'wilderness medicine' - salah satu bidang dalam Kecemasan dan Traumatologi khusus untuk aktiviti menyelamat di kawasan pergunungan, gempa bumi dan sebagainya.

Siapa kata terlebih berat badan bahaya untuk kesihatan? Semua doktor kata, of course :P Tetapi dalam satu kajian yg baru diterbitkan dalam Journal of American Geriatrics Society, kenyataan gemuk bahaya untuk kesihatan tidak benar untuk golongan warga emas (lebih 70 tahun).

Ini kajian epidemiologi, bukan randomized clinical trial. Tapi tentunya tak boleh pandang sebelah mata je. Ia melibatkan 9000 subjek warga emas.

During 10 years of follow-up, overweight study participants had a 13% lower risk of death compared with normal-weight participants (HR 0.87, 95% CI 0.78 to 0.94). Obese participants had a mortality risk similar to that of normal-weight participants (HR 0.98, 95% CI 0.85 to 1.11).

Self-reported sedentary lifestyle doubled the mortality risk for women across all BMI categories (HR 2.08, 95% CI 1.79 to 2.41). In contrast, sedentary lifestyle increased the mortality risk for men by 28% (HR 1.28, 95% CI 1.14 to 1.44).

eh apasal hah? hah tu lah tak perlu risau sangat kalau overweight kuang kuang kuang (perhatian; overweight (BMI 25-29), bukan obese (BMI>30). Tapi hidup kurang cergas (sedentary lifestyle) masih membunuh.

Dan software untuk pesakit yg mempunyai masalah pertuturan seperti autism dan Down Syndrome pada IPhone?

isk isk isk..

Itu baru bidang perubatan. Kalau saya time travel ke tahun 1995 dan bagi tahu pada Saya-yg-berumur-15 tahun, bahawa pada tahun 2010 nenek saya akan meninggal dan saya berada di UK tetapi masih boleh bersama dalam majlis tahlilnya yg diadakan di Seremban (melalui Skype), tentu Si-Remaja-Saya tercengang2 dan ambil keputusan mendalami bidang IT.

Apa yang menunggu kita 15 tahun lagi?

Macam2 boleh buat sekarang dengan adanya broadband. Tapi tesis Papaboyz ialah tentang Ultrawide band...err "apa tu?" saya bertanya pada Papaboyz. Jawabnya "sesuatu yg lebih advance dari broadband"...(huh?)

"tapi apa contoh kegunaannya?"
"supaya data yg lagi besar pun boleh di-wireless-kan. Macam PS3."

(APA?! PS3 pun wireless?)--- oh tidakk.. /no

Inilah setitik ilmu kita. Menuntut hingga ke liang lahad.