Between Dusk and Dawn…

Some *scribble* *scribble* by Ameera

Monthly Archives: January 2009

Saudi Women

These are two very interesting videos that I watched today. Not only did it bring back fond memories of my life in Saudi Arabia, it also served as a timely reminder that Islam and life are not two separate entities. Rather, Islam enhances and defines life, especially for a young Muslim woman who’s trying to discover her role in this world. šŸ™‚

Gratitude

It is possible to learn a lesson in more ways than one. Take ‘gratitude’, for example. You could read and read about being grateful to Allah for what you have, think about it, put it into practice too but sometimes, one little incident will teach you what gratitude really is.

For the past several months, I would often think about and wish for one gadget that I felt I could put to so many beneficial uses – an ipod! Not wanting to demand an expensive toy of my father but hoping to save up for it myself, I knew it would be some time before I could possibly obtain one. We were talking about a year atleast, if my articles kept getting published by the newspapers.

I wanted an ipod so badly – the possibilities were limitless. All those audio lectures available online, Tajweed tutorials, Tafseer sessions, Quran recitation… imagine if you could carry them wherever you went, in your pocket, to turn long periods of nothingness into learning experiences. During long and dull classes at University, I wouldn’t have to put my head down and go to sleep – I could learn Islam! But it was a long way away… or so I thought.

Last month, on Eid-al-Adhaa, I was left stunned when, as I opened a small package from someone, out came a sleek, shiny, black, business-card sizedĀ thing… an ipod nano! I let out a small scream right there. It took an hour or two to make sure the package was really meant for me and not a huge mistake. I can’t get into details on this blog about who actually gave the package to me but sufficient it is, to say that it came from a never-thought-it-was-possible source.

Suddenly, the very thing I’d been dreaming of having, especially in the days leading up to that day, was lying in my lap. It took some days to get used to having it and a few more before I was able to download good stuff into it. It was as amazing as I’d always dreamed it would be, making it possible for me to do long and cumbersome chores like cleaning out my room all the while listening to Yasir Qadhi discuss the Book of Tawheed or Salem Al-Amry giving advice in a lecture titled “O Muslims! Mind your footsteps!”.

With all the excitement and joy came an added responsbility – being grateful to Allah(swt), both, by feeling it within myself and also by, as another meaning of thankfulness to Allah entails, using the ipod nano in the right manner. That meant I should fulfill the promises I had made to Allah(swt) in my heart – “If I ever had an ipod, I would learn such-and-such from so-and-so!” or “Pleeeeease Allah, I’d absolutely love to have an ipod! It must be soooo cool to have it all the time with you!” So, after all that, getting an ipod was also a major test from Allah(swt). Would I remain grateful? Would I keep to my word? Would I use a blessing from Allah in the right manner – to come closer to Him?

The whole experience has also taught me another valuable lesson for life – if you really, really want something (that’s halal), just ask Allah(swt) for it and place your whole trust on Him. Don’t place your hope in money or specific people to get you what you want. In the end, everything comes from and returns to Allah(swt).

(Note: Being grateful to Allah(swt) does not mean one shouldn’t say “thankyou” to the person who serves as a “messenger” for the blessing – the one who handed the gift to you. In fact, as a reminder to myself, the gift should be thanked for by replying in the same manner. =) )

Goodbye, Joggers!

It’s a sign of the times, I guess, that your sister labels you an “uncool doctor” because you wear plain ‘ol joggers! What’s wrong with my joggers? Okay, so they’re plain beige in colour, laces and everything but is that a fashion crime? According to my sister, it is.

I am now in a puzzle – should I get a couple of pairs of the new, stylish, colorful sneakers? Or those suede-like shoes that have replaced the traditional jogger? It’s not the shopping trip that’s difficult – not at all, shopping is a “girl thing” any day – but the whole idea of being called an “uncool doctor” just because I don’t carry the right accessories all the time, is rather frightening.

Most people, if not everyone, wish to look good and feel comfortable when they meet others – it’s natural! In the case of a student, it’s all about clothes, bags, shoes, watches, bracelets and of course, cell phones. All these items must, according to the popular demand (aka fashion) be up-to-date, funky, stylish and cool. While there’s no harm in liking and wearing good stuff, it’s the extreme obsession with these things that is scary. I’ll rush out to buy a pair of sneakers that are the latest “in”-thing only to find out tomorrow that I’m as stale as last week’s vegetable lying in a corner of the veggie tray in the fridge. If not that, it would be the bag I take to college – one day it’s too cool for words and the next, it’s forgotten like yesterday’s newspaper!

The real problem arises when something you love dearly is so “out of fashion” that you think twice about taking it out of the house. What would my friend say if she saw those sandals? What are people going to think when they see this (six-months) old bag of mine (that’s still as good as new)? How can I hide my cellphone so that people don’t notice it’s a Nokia 210o? And my clothes! I can’t wear this print anymore,Ā everyone knows it’s from last year’s collection!

It goes on like that and you realize you’re constantly worried about what other people think of your style and your possessions. It becomes serious to the point that you feel you’re aĀ nobody without the latestĀ everything. Crazy, isn’t it? If you’re one of those people who find this narrative exxagerated, then that shows you’re not affected much by the crazy fashion frenzy. However, if, like me, you too have found this spot on, noticed peoples’ appreciation for the latest accessories and total disregard for your usual stuff, then we’re facing a pandemic! (Okay, so that was a bit exaggerated regarding the “pandemic” but anyway…)

In my case, my sister only stated what I’d felt lacking (that is, a couple of pairs of cool sneakers) for a while now. Did I want people to say, “Hey, cool shoes girl! You look good today!” I don’t know about you, but that seems like the logical conclusion for ditching joggers for tennis shoes or pumps. Perhaps it’s just because I like them too. Or maybe, it’s because I should like them… ironically, to stand out from the crowd.

The Palestinian Holocaust

A Palestinian child cries during the funeral for Ali al-Dahdoh in Gaza

The last two weeks have witnessed a great massacre on the face of this Earth. It’s significance is judged not by statistics or the area over which it is occuring but by the fact that it is being carried out by a state that neither cares for world opinion nor is under any sort of real, tangible pressure to halt its unabashed genocide. It’s 2009 and we’re talking of the Israeli Army vs. Palestinian people.

Orthodox Jews look towards Gaza as the Israeli Army pounds the densely-populated land incessantly

It’s been called Operation “Cast Lead” – who cares what that means? They say to the world that it’s because Hamas, the political party-cum-Palestinian patriots, have been violating a ceasefire by launching rockets into Israel. I’m not going to go into details because you can read up on the debate on who fired first – Israel or Hamas. Ā The important thing is that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, despite Israel’s “temporary” withdrawal from the area a while ago, are being punished for existing. They were surrounded, walled off, prevented from entering or leaving freely. Food and all other basic amenities of life, let alone luxuries, became scarce, prices shot up andĀ living became unbearable. It was then that we saw Israel unleash the worst on the defenseless men, women and children.

Norwegian doctors, whom you cannot accuse of being biased or “Anti-Semitic” are now saying they strongly suspect, from the injuries they tended to in Gaza, that Israel is taking the opportunity to “test” new weapons in Gaza. White phosphorus is a terrible toxin that burns and kills you in all sorts of ways… guess who’s using it in their bombs?

A Palestinian man carries his wounded child to the treatment room of Kamal Adwan hospital following an Israeli missile strike in Beit Lahiya

If that’s not enough, there’s the case of shelling a UN school where innocent civillians were taking shelter. Humans – real, living, breathing human souls – died… mostly women and children. Later, it was discovered that a house which has been designated by the Israeli Army as a “safe house” for people to take refuge in, was itself shelled by the Israelis. In another incident, a man lost his wife and all of his children in an attack. It goes on and on.

Experts in War Crimes

A few days ago, I switched on Sky News at 7 am local time to see a UN Security Council in session, ready to vote on a draft resolution calling for “ceasefire” in the conflict-ridden region. While it was passed by a vote of 14-0, the US abstained from voting. I forgot about it – it wasn’t going to make a difference anyway and it didn’t – but today, a news item caught my attention. I had not known, as I entually found out in the news item, that the resolution had been drafted with the help of the US. So what made the US turn about at the eleventh hour and stun even the Brits and the French? A call made by Ehud Olmert to Bush while Bush was busy delivering a speech in Philadelphia. The PM of a country smaller than an American state was able to make Bush leave,Ā during the speech, to talk to him. The end result? Condoleeza Rice was forced to make a shame-faced turnabout and abstain from the vote because the Israelis did not allow it. What greater proof for the tight control that Jewish lobbyists and who-knows-what Zionist organizations have on “the most powerful country” in the world? Does this not make the common American worry about the hijacking of his country by a group of madmen who value only Jewish blood?

I am not free from blame. As an integral member of the Muslim Ummah (nation, people), it is my responsbility to play my part and stand up for truth and justice in my own capacity. Likewise, the Muslim leaders have a huge responsibility – they will be questioned by Allah about what they did when the women and children were pleading and praying for help, for someone to rescue them from oppression. What good is our military might if we cannot use it as a deterrence effective to stop a tiny state from terrorising and murdering innocents? The world watches on and we too watch on. In this open court where everything lies clearly before us all, the murderer is once again going to get away scott free while the victim is sentenced to death.

Now Showing: Doctor Discoveries

It’s been about a month since I last blogged but it seems like ages! I had semester finals in December and so life (aka “routine”) eventually started wholly revolving around, or limited to, exams. I don’t know where time has flown, really… I’ve completed my third year of medicine and am about to the start the penultimate year. Just two years more to graduating, InshAllah, and about a year after that, getting registered as a doctor!

Initially, especially at the start of the third year last January, I didn’t really feel like I was a doctor. Sure, we’d studied two years in a medical college but it was all about preparing a foundation for the clinical years, starting with third year. We weren’t studying dieases, rather the normal physiology of the human body, the placement and relation of structures with each other (Anatomy) and the biochemical basis of the human body. Third year marked my first entry into the clinical and pathological (disease related) side of my medical education and wow, was it an amazing year! Our University introduced a semester system too so while caught up with a tangled new system, we also had to learn clinical skills. It all seemed really tough in the beginning… Surgery, Gynaecology/Obstetrics, ENT, Opthalmology, General Medicine and Paediatrics made up the loaded list of clinical rotations for us third years.

We also had new subjects in our college classes… Pathology, Micrbiology, Pharmacology, Foresnice Medicine and Toxicology. Alhamdolillah, looking back now at the end of the year, I’m so happy that we made it through all that! And, no matter how worthless we thought of ourselves initially as medical students, we did learn and we did progress. We had a short clinical exam of the major rotations on Sunday and it was really good, Alhamdolillah. Examine a paraumbilical hernia, percuss the chest wall, take a simple history, conduct a pregnant lady’s antenatal exam, palpate a child’s spleen… these and other things – and we did do it, Alhamdolillah. Sure, we need refinement but this was just the start and, now that we’re well-oriented with studying pathology, I noticed we’re absorbing new things faster than we were a year ago.

Med student

Today, as my one-month vacations began, I started an elective at Liaquat National Hospital in the Cardiology department with friends and two cousins, who’re also medical students. Right on the first day, we met a patient who consented to give a detailed history of her case and then an examination too. She was a middle-aged lady, 50 yrs old, had had six children and was admitted for the fourth time in Cardio. Two of my friends and I took her history and then started a general physical and cardiovascular exam. We made some startling discoveries, things we had read about in our books but not really seen yet. More importantly, we did recognize some important signs of her heart disease and when we asked the incharge doctor about it, she confirmed our ideas. It gives you such confidence to know that youĀ do know stuff and you justy might be better off than you thought.

Alhamdolillah, things are looking up study-wise. There’s a new passion for learning, to explore medicine and develop the self to the level that treating disease is the simple next step after making the correct diagnosis. This year is all about learning diseases of the organ systems in detail in our college classes and then attempting to make diagnosis in the hospital wards. I just wish and hope that, at the end of this, IĀ can andĀ do help people – the main purpose behind becoming doctors. Seeing the situation around the world, especially in Gaza, we simply need more doctors.

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