Thursday, 31 December 2009

What goes around, comes around...

Assalamualaikum wbt

Last week had been a hectic one for me, but one I thoroughly enjoyed as it was about me 'giving' to others. I was invited by akhi Firdaus Rahim, a 4th year medical student in the Nottingham University to share my thoughts in the recently-concluded winter gathering called Fun with ILuvIslam's Youth Overseas, fondly known as FUIYO 2009, held in Telford, United Kingdom.

The so-called Abang Tampan (don't ask me why), full with exuberance and youth

In lieu with the event's theme entitled 'What You Give, You Get Back', I highlighted the importance of Muslims being on top of the pecking order when it comes to giving to others. Some people believe in the karma of what goes around, comes around. When you help a person today, you might get the payback when someone helps you in the future. I certainly have my own share of the so-called 'karma', when a person I've assisted in the past, helped me to remain in the UK for the crucial treatment of my condition, ie the high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant.

As my mom often reminded me, "Afzal, kita tolong orang ni jangan nak berkira sangat. Sebab satu masa nanti mungkin kita pula perlukan bantuan orang." Yes mom, you are spot on.

However, giving or being of benefit to others should not just be solely done in anticipation of the so-called karma. Not just because you know that your help now will be rewarded one way or another. Rather, helping one another is an inherent quality of a Believer, one that is part of his/her akhlaaq (character).

خَيْرُ النَّاسِ أَنْفَعُهُمْ لِلنَّاسِ

"The best people are those who are most helpful or beneficial for other people." [Bukhari and Muslim]

It is worth noting that giving or helping in Islam should not just be seen only in the form of monetary, such as our sadaqah (donation) and alms. Offering some of our time to listen to our friends' problems or lending a hand with any kind of voluntary work is also equally as important.

Sometimes, we even forget that the simplest but yet profound form of giving are in smiling to others, as well as pardoning someone else's faults towards us. It doesn't require us to fork out a single penny or any of our 'precious' time. But the effect can be just as immense.

"Your smile to your brother is a charitable act." [Hadith]

Learn about yourself to see what form of 'giving' are you most comfortable at. As for myself, public speaking seems to run in my family, thus I have always enjoyed giving talks, be it educational or motivational to people especially the youths. Which is why I have never been bothered with traveling far on trains or buses, or even spending my money just to share my humble thoughts to others. When you enjoy 'giving' and try your best to sincerely perform it, Allah will put His barakah (blessings) in what you pursue, insya Allah.

The meaning of life is about giving to others

To the crew of FUIYO 2009, a job well done guys. I really enjoyed the fresh and creative concepts inculcated in the event, and I must admit that it will be extremely difficult, but nevertheless an interesting challenge for the successors to even equal the success of the event. Well, what is life without its challenges anyway.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Congratulations Jep!

Assalamu'alaikum wbt and Hi everyone,

Having grown up with you for almost 25 years, this occasion of yours just mean as significant to me as it is to you. This event, will certainly be embedded in your memory forever, and it will be in mine too.

Through the thick and thin, I've seen you smile and cry from when you were just a kid until you've grown up to become who you are now. This time, I'm sure you'll be smiling and crying yet again, only that now I could not be there to witness them.

The three of us, always standing up for each other.


I believe you know I would do everything to be there for your big day, but we can only plan so much, but yet the ultimate end of our plannings are in Allah's hands. If only you can feel how shattered I am that I couldn't be there for you when I know you've been there for me before. Nevertheless, I'm delighted to have at least spoken to you over the phone and found out that you've done well with your akad nikah =)

Us@London, December 2008.

Congratulations Jep for your wedding, I wish you and Kak Fifah all the best in life and in the hereafter. Life will certainly not be the same for you now that you have an added responsibility as a leader in your new family. But having known you all my life, I know Kak Fifah will be one happy woman having met you as her soulmate, insha Allah.

"If Allah grants a Muslim a righteous wife, this helps him preserve half of his religion (faith). He should, therefore, fear Allah as regards the other half." [At-Tabrani and Al-Hakim]

‘May Allaah bless for you (your spouse) and bless you, and may He unite both of you in goodness.’

Your brother,

Thursday, 17 December 2009

I know what you do not know...[part 2]

Assalamualaikum wbt and Hi everyone,

I'm sure a lot of us have come across this simple yet profound saying,

"Kadang-kadang Tuhan hilangkan matahari, dan turunkan hujan, menangis-nangis kita mencari matahari. Rupa-rupanya Tuhan ingin berikan sang pelangi yang indah kepada kita selepas hujan"

Yes, we sometimes whine for losing the ray of sunshine. Yet without us knowing, Allah sends upon the beautiful rainbow after the falling rain. And that is when we kick ourselves for hastily complaining rather than showing patience.

I remembered how in the story of Khidr and Prophet Moses as recorded in Surah al Kahfi, a seemingly innocent boy was killed by the former, prompting Moses to react rather fervently;

‘Have you slain an innocent soul, that is, a pure one that had not reached the age of [legal] responsibility, [one slain] not in retaliation for another soul? Verily you have committed a dreadful thing’ [18:74]

Killing the boy was one out of three rather 'distasteful' acts done by Khidr, the detail of which can be found in the aforementioned chapter in the Qur'an. They were so unpleasant in the eyes of Moses that he couldn't abide by their initial agreement where Moses cannot denounce Khidr for any of the latter's actions which Moses find offensive. Why would Khidr commit such acts???

How surprised was Moses to later find out that for every of Khidr's acts of which he condemned, Allah showed via al-Khidr the hidden reasons.

"And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared he would oppress them by rebellion and disbelief. So we intended that their Lord should exchange him for them for one better in righteousness and nearer to mercy.'' [18:80-81]

Prophet Moses did not know that the boy was actually destined to be a disbeliever from the day he was created. If he had stayed alive, he would have been the cause of his parents' doom, both of whom are Believers.

If we let emotions ride over us, we may feel this story as being cruel and lacking justice. But this is Allah's way of showing to Moses, as well as to all of us, that we should be content with the decree of Allah, for the decree of Allah for the believer, if he dislikes it, is better for him than if He were to decree something that he likes for him.

"...and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know." [2:216]

Allah allows some things to happen within His dominion which appear to us as unfair (ie children suffering from cancer) because they serve a greater WISDOM which we, mere mortals cannot comprehend. And for things that we cannot comprehend, we must try to understand and accept, just like how we will accept a doctor's prescription when we fall ill because we acknowledge the doctor's specialty in the field. And Allah's specialty is absolutely boundless, one that has no comparison whatsoever.

Nevertheless, children afflicted with cancer will always have a place in my heart. For their courage, belief and strength at such a young age. I can really understand how hard it must be for them, and it was not a surprise that this video touched me immensely.

You are not alone, my little ones.

p/s 1: Salam Awal Muharram to all my dearest Muslims, all over the world. Let's start a new chapter, striving ourselves into becoming better servants of Him.

p/s 2 : Salam takziah untuk adinda Hilman atas pemergian ibu, yang berjuang menentang penyakit leukaemia semenjak 2 tahun yang lepas. Pastinya pemergian itu sesuatu yang perit, tetapi bagi yang beriman, pastinya ia manis kerana detik pertemuan dengan Allah menjelang hampir.

Monday, 14 December 2009

I know what you do not know...[part 1]

Assalamualaikum wbt and Hi everyone,

I must firstly express my deepest condolences to the family of almarhum Mohd Ariff Abdul Kadir and Teh Affifah, may Allah provides the strength to accept this loss and serve as a reminder that we will all eventually face death. I have met him on several occasions when he was studying in United Kingdom and he appeared to me as a person very committed to the work of Deen. May Allah bless his soul and grant him Jannatul Firdaus.

Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about the concept of destiny in Islam, and Almarhum's story has further prompted me to pen my thoughts down this blog. Teh Affifah has only been married to the deceased for about 3 hours, looking forward to living with her partner in life, only for Allah to decide differently. How sad can it be for her?!

In the eyes of some of us, life may seem so cruel and unfair. Especially when you think about the things that happen in this world, the innocent people that are inflicted with things you feel they don't deserve to get.

If only life is fair.

Having experienced what I've gone through over the last one year living with cancer and realizing how difficult it was to me, sparked a rather challenging thought in myself;

How could the Creator let children suffer in life, especially when they have done nothing wrong whatsoever in life just yet? On the same matter, I thought to myself, how can God test innocent children with cancer, a disease so frightening it sends chills down the spine of anyone who hears it??? We know that God sometimes tests someone with an illness as a way to expiate the sins they have comitted, or as a way to test their belief in God's plannings.

“Whatever misfortune happens to you, is because of the things your hands have wrought, and for many (of them) He grants forgiveness” [As-Syura,42:30]

But how can similar things be said of children?? It was difficult for me to imagine how these poor kids go through things I have experienced myself;

Chemotherapy and its side effects, bone marrow biopsies, Hickman line insertion, endless pricking with sharp needles, and the list goes on and on...

Bone marrow biopsy

These thoughts bothered me a lot.

But that is when as a Muslim, we should all return to the book of Allah, the Al Qur'an, to seek for an answer.

Allah says in Chapter 2 (Surah Al Baqarah), verse 30:

Just recall the time when your Lord said to the angels, "I am going to appoint a vicegerent on the Earth." They (the Angels) humbly enquired, "Are you going to appoint such a one as will cause disorder and shed blood on the Earth? We are already engaged in hymning Your praise, and hallowing Your name".

Allah replied, "I know what you do not know."

Allah knows that of we have no knowledge about. There is always a wisdom behind everything that He does. There MUST be a wisdom why Allah tries these innocent children with what we see as 'sufferings' in their life.

In Part 2, I wish to share a story mentioned in the Al-Qur'an about the wisdom of Allah's plannings that even a Prophet couldn't comprehend initially, only to learn that his Creator is indeed the best disposer of all affairs...

To be continued.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Goodbye my companion...

Assalamualaikum wbt and Hi everyone,

It was my closest companion for 3 months. Whenever I went to sleep, I made sure I didn't impede on my companion for fear it might be damaged. I was very careful with my daily activities just to make sure that my companion is 'safe and sound'.

But last Wednesday, I bid farewell to my closest companion, my Hickman line. It was removed, for what I hope will be the very last time. Insha Allah. It had been literally part of me for the last few months, playing a pivotal part in my treatment.

Whenever the doctors need to take blood, or administer my Chemotherapy drugs or any other chemicals for that matter, the Hickman line has made it possible without the need to prick me with needles.

This is how it appears like attached to the body.

At the moment, I am recovering well from the high dose chemotherapy and transplant. My appetite has been brilliant, and my energy levels are improving with time, alhamdulillah. I've also been going out a lot more than I thought I'm able to, and I attributed that to the presence of my dad and my sister, Aiysha, both of whom are currently in UK for 2 weeks. Their presence has certainly provided me with the extra motivation to get out of bed and show them, Aiysha in particular, of what UK has in offer especially during the winter season. Although Aiysha doesn't seem to enjoy the weather so much I reckon.. =)

Aiysha's first ever visit to United Kingdom, accompanied by Dad...

Apart from plenty of rest at home, I am also scheduled to attend regular clinic appointments to assess my response to treatment, with the next one being on the Wednesday 16th December 2009. I am also due to have a scan done 3 months after my high dose chemotherapy, one that sends shivers down my spine, considering what happened with the previous scan I had after finishing my ABVD treatment.

But life must go on, and until that time arrives, I must tell myself to remain optimistic and positive. Believe in Allah, His plannings, and to not waste my time on uncertainties.

Before I sign off, I'd just like to extend my deepest gratitude to those who made the effort to visit me at home, some even from outside of Sheffield. The visits just kept on coming even though I'm no longer in the hospital, and I thank Allah for showing me the beauty of ukhuwwah (friendship). Not forgetting those who dropped by with messages of support and prayers via my blog, Facebook as well as text messages. I'd like to share with all of you this very moving hadeeth Qudsi (divine hadeeth).

“Allah will say on the Day of Judgment, ‘O son of Adam, I was sick and you did not visit Me.’ He will say, ‘O my Lord, how could I visit You, when you are the Lord of the Worlds.’ Allah will say, ‘Did you not know that My servant so-and-so was sick and you did not visit him? Did you not know that if you had visited him, you would have found Me there?’ Allah will say, ‘O son of Adam, I asked you for food and you fed Me not.’ He shall say, ‘O my Lord, how could I feed you and you are the Lord of the Worlds?’ And Allah will say, ‘Did you not know that My servant so-and-so was in need of food and you did not feed him? Did you not know that if you had fed him, you would have found that to have been for Me?’ ‘O son of Adam, I asked you for water and you did not give Me to drink.’ The man shall say, ‘O my Lord, how could I give You water, when You are the Lord of the Worlds?’ Allah will say, ‘My servant so-and-so asked you for water and you did not give him to drink water. Did you not know that if you had given him to drink, you would have found that to have been for Me.’
(Muslim, Hadith no. 4661)