Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bit and pieces

Assalamualaikum wbt

InsyaAllah in this post I’ll share some bit and pieces on what I’ve gone through while studying in Dublin for two and a half years. Yup, I’ve been there just for a while but alhamdulillah it was a very nice experience for me (All thanks to Allah SWT). Some other sharing that I’ve wrote before can be found and read in under the label musafir, medical world, travelog (ops, i haven’t write my travelog about Spain yet!), ghuraba’, etc (different labels may show the same blog posts)

1. Learnt Islam in a better way, Alhamdulillah!
People say when you are away from you comfort zone; you would value the old life/common practise very much. In my condition, I value it MORE because as a Muslim, we are the minority in Ireland. Over here, the difference between Islam and not Islam is very clear. We are far away from our own tradition and culture, which most of the time assimilated with religion until it’s hard to differentiate between Islam and tradition/culture.  (I second the effort to introduce again the Quran and Sunnah in small halaqa groups, religious gatherings etc. If you found one, join them ya!-and let’s double check our amal/ibadah with authentic hadith/Islamic scholars).

In a few occasions, I was being asked by other sister about some stuff that Malaysian did and she made me to question myself back. I mean, in term of ibadah and certain a’mal that we usually do. They made me to refer back the matter with some ustaz/ustazah that I knew and to start questioning, and applying such ibadah for a true reason/the same way the Prophet Rasulullah SAW did.

In Malaysia, you also have every single facility at the prayer area. Here, you have to be grateful on what you have. And this is where the application comes after learning the concept since we were young.

Few examples..
-Wearing ‘telekung’/prayer gown is not necessary for prayer. So you’ll watch what you wear everyday to make sure it’s suitable for salat(loose, long, no 3-quarter sleeves, hijab covering chest etc)
-Watch your step-you will use the same long skirts/trousers for salat so make sure its clean
-Always have wudu’ at all time as you might be out somewhere and the prayer time usually short esp during winter

2. Tarbiyah without laptop
This was also the title of one of my blog post that I wrote after that incident. Somebody broke into our house in January 2010 when all of us were having our jaulah/travel in UK and Republic Czech for two weeks. There were three of us in that little house, and two laptops were missing including mine. I was stunned by this incident (just imagine-somebody had broke into your house, and he might does it again-who knows-so being inside of the house is not 100% safe anymore!) and starting from that moment, I never feel safe especially at night and I got a new habit of hiding my laptop every morning before I go to the college/hospital. I bought a notebook instead, so it is easier for me to bring it anywhere.
There is no safer place in this world. Doesn’t matter where you live, the danger is still there. Above all, nothing can happen except by Allah’s will, so ask for His protection.
The link to the post : click here

3. Have you ever think about others?
In Dublin, there are a LOT of halal foods. The Muslim communities have been growing from the past 30 years, so we are enjoying the facilities now. Two big mosques (Dublin Mosque-was a church before and Clonskeagh Mosque-very beautiful masyaAllah!), my college (RCSI) with newly renovated prayer room and toilet with water tap each for washing, countless halal restaurants (Arab,Pakistani,few Malaysian), halal meat and groceries and many interesting events to cater the Muslims here.

Most of the airports in UK and Ireland have multifaith room-big,clean and tidy to pray-and some also have their own wudu’ area!(this is the best part)

During my first year, I went to Republic Czech to visit some of my KMB friends there (in Prague, Olomouc, and Hradec Kralove). I was so touched by their story-and they made me realized to never take for granted everything that Allah gave to us, doesn’t matter how small it is to our eyes. Halal meat was only found in Prague, so if you live in Olomouc/Hradec, you have to take 3-hours train journey to Prague to get some of them. Back and forth, 6 hours spent only to have halal meat at home. The only instant option to eat at home is fish. In university, they pray in a small store room; brothers and sisters have to take turn to pray(I’m not sure whether I am exaggerating here, but this is what I remembered back in 2010 and I heard things are getting better now alhamdulillah ie more halal food available, first mosque was now open in Hradec Kralove etc). For Friday prayer, in uni/schools where there are no prayer room available, they use the hall/basketball court instead.

4. ‘Izzah to be a Muslim
When you’re living in a small Muslim community, meeting a Muslim as you walk down the road (esp Muslim women because they are easily spotted with hijab) can change your day. They smile and give salam to you (or you give salam first-ini lebih aula/utama), and after that you’ll feel so blessed by their greetings-especially when we are travelling somewhere out from Dublin/Ireland.

I won’t frequently get this feeling back in Malaysia because majority of us are Muslim so the culture to spread the salam is not there as it means too much to give then.
The same things also happened in Dublin city centre. A lot of Muslim, a lot of Malaysian, so you just ignore each other unless you know them before.

Other than this, you’ll also find the mosques in Western countries would function as a true mosque. This means the mosque here becomes the centre for people to interact and doing their daily activities (in mosque area, there are schools, day care, halal shops, restaurant, groceries etc). In country where majority are Muslims ie Malaysia, the additional role of a mosque has been taken by a structured system)

5. Err, ISOC? Why so sudden? and Da'wah to non-Muslim
Being involved in Islamic Society (ISOC) is one of the most wonderful things that I had in Dublin (other than this is meeting my sisters/akhawat here. subhanalllah i missed them so much). I was able to learn so many things about their different culture and experiences. Despite these differences, we are working in ISOC under the same motivation: for the sake of Allah, for Islam in Ireland.

Anyway, my involvement in ISOC was actually unplanned but now I thanked to Allah for giving me this chance. I loved to ask their opinion regarding political issues currently happening in Arab countries ie Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and Syria because I think they knew better as their family belongs there.

There are also a few incidences that made me to reflect back what I’ve got so far:
-i was chatting with my Egyptian friend about so many things, and she suddenly came out with this statement: ‘You Malaysian know a lot about da’wah! Why don’t you share with us?!’.Err, i was quite shocked with that honest line. As they came to know that Malaysian here has a lot of tarbiyah programmes ie halaqa and tazkirah, daurah, winter and spring gathering-and they were asking if it possible for them to join too! Alhamdulillah, FOSIS(Federation of Student Islamic Society)and ISOC are one who responsible to cater these international students. I am glad to know that they’re also organizing winter gathering starting in 2010.

-some seniors in ISOC knew Malaysian very well. Commonly we are shy and silent, especially when you have to speak in English in a big crowd. One day a brother asked some opinion from the members of halaqa, and as usual Malaysian was among the majority in that room-but still, silence. And he suddenly said: “Come on bro, 3 years of usrah-what did you get? Share with us!” Yup, 3 years of usrah, maybe more for some people who started since their A-level/IB program. It reflects whether you are actively applying your knowledge or only became ‘penulis nota tazkirah terbaik’(quoted, and i like this very much. teguran yg membuatkan kita berfikir!)

-there is one sister, who constantly check everything she does to make sure it doesn’t against the quran and hadith.”Sister Huda! Can I ask you one question? Do you know the hadith about cleanliness is part of deen? Is it actually half or part of deen? I ask you because I think you know this!”.”Sister Huda! What do you think about this idea?” “ Sister Huda, do you know this”-etc etc. Honestly, I never learn Quran and hadith subject at school, as I came from a science school. Most of us learnt Quran and hadith by informal teaching which was beyond the classroom(at home, halaqa, etc). Her passion in doing things motivated me to think like her.

-One important thing to discover when you come here: DA’WAH TO NON MUSLIM (it is actually equally important in Malaysia, but I was less exposed to comparative religion compared in Dublin). Yes, this is very important as we are the minority here. Local people don’t know much about Islam, so we are there to explain! I learnt how to answer the non-muslims questions using a structured answer so you won’t miss the BIG thing which is to introduce them to the Oneness of God and to accept Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him as the Last Messenger.

People may come from various background-academician, professionals, philosophers, teenagers searching their purpose of life and even people who want to challenge the Muslim. My first ‘official’ involvement(non-official semestinya di tepi jalan, bus stop, kelas, kedai etc) in da’wah to non-muslim was when I joined the Dublin Mosque Open Day and da’wah stall during Islamic Awareness Week(IAW) organized by ISOC. Both of the events totally gave me an adrenaline rush! (my recent involvement: Daurah Da’wah Fardhiyah last winter-the content was superb masyaAllah). At the same time I was worried of my little knowledge and English fluency-but as the time went by the skills improved alhamdulillah.

Some of their question can be read here: Mosque Open Day-Expect the Unexpected (with my immature answer-that was back in April 2010)
How to give a better, concise answer? My suggestion is to watch the youtube videos from many popular and outstanding Islamic scholars ie Dr Zakir Naik, Yoshua Evans, Yusof Estes, Nouman Ali Khan, Sheikh Tawfique Chowdury, Hamza Andreas, and many more. Just type the question, and you’ll find the videos that would related to it insyaAllah.

6. Irish Movement for Palestinian
Yes, an Irish Movement. I can confirm that they also involved in May 2010 Freedom Flotilla with Mavi Marmara. They frequently opened a stall in Grafton Street for people to join them. And they still sending aid to Palestinian till now, while raising the awareness among the Irish to boycott the Israel occupation. It is embarrassing to be a Muslim and just ignoring the cause!

7. Hijab causing vitamin D deficiencies?
“People who are covered from head to toe are more likely to get vitamin D deficiencies.”
He stated that clearly while giving us a glimpse and then he continue on the topic.
“Psst! Did you notice that? He was looking at us just now”, said my friend who sat next to me in the lecture hall.
The doctor made me wondered if there any study has proved the statement he just said. Well it’s obvious that Muslim women are not well exposed to the sunlight-the logic is there.
I browse in Pubmed, and found a few articles that can be read from this link:

1. Prevalence and predictors of vitamin D inadequacy amongst Lebanese osteoporotic women.

I used the keyword 'Muslim women' and combine it with 'vitamin D deficiencies'. It gave few more articles on this topic but I think these three were the closest to what I was looking for. Well, vitamin D deficiencies are not solely cause by insufficient sun exposure-many other factors influence the vitamin D level ie kidney failure, dietary intake, malabsorption etc. In fact, we have to consider the geography, climate and culture when the sunlight exposure is taken as a variable. 

8. The bus, taxi driver, internet worker, ...
The Dublinbus driver: “Hey, are you a Muslim? Will your country punish you if you don’t 
                                cover your hair? Are they gonna throwing stone on you if you take it

The taxi driver: “Don’t you ever want to wear skirts like those girls on the street? Why do
                         you have to cover everything?!”
                        (when we reach the destination)”Ok, I hope to meet you again with the
                        skirts, ladies!”

The internet worker who came to set up our wireless modem: “Why do you have to cover yourself when I came in? I don’t believe in religion. I know people like you have your own stupid belief that you adhere to.”

An 80+ years old (I think) lady in Athens: “Why do you have to cover your hair? Are your God and Prophet so jealous so they made this rule? You will look more beautiful without it!”

Some random people: “Both of you are Muslim, right? Why are you covered but your friend aren't?"

And etc.
You can see that wearing hijab is a BIG issue for them, and a never-ending question that Muslim women have to deal when we’re in the Western countries. The most important thing that I learnt is how to answer their questions + promoting the faith at the same time. I need to show to them that hijab is not a burden and this is the way of protecting myself-which means Islam is protecting the women.
Sometimes I felt unsatisfied with the answer that I gave to them(it was not easy to find the right word for the right people-it was really depend on how they view the hijab) so I did study a bit on how to deal with non-Muslim questions and I joined few da'wa courses here.

9. Our controversial lecturer
We only met him once, only on that very day because he was an imported lecturer. He made us (Muslims) felt totally uneasy throughout the one-hour lecture and it was obviously bias! He was giving hundred of examples of torture in Muslim countries, where he was born. He left the students confused after exposing the story, and some people may ended up with wrong perception towards Islam.
What happened after the lecture? 
Silence. Many of us were looking to each other. And regret for not having the bravery to speak out.

10.Twice with Jehovah Witness
Can be read here: bismillah aja
(the second time he came, i gave him the booklets that I forgot to give during the first meeting. Allah izin pertemuan kali kedua, i was rushing to catch the bus because i was late for an appointment!tak sempat nak berbincang panjang..)

11.Argh! Language barrier! @_@
No comment! I’m still practising and will continue to learn the language. The key is to practise and read more. Sometimes you’re being force to speak when there are no friends around to help you.
Well, you can also notice that I don’t include any bombastic words in my English posts in this blog-and honestly I can feel that my vocab isn’t improved so much. Hmm, the environment really affects your survival. 300 people in one batch and almost 1/3 of them are Malaysian. You totally need to push yourself to practise the language!
Arabic language, I still need guidance. I felt bad for not knowing to speak Arabic when I met Muslims who can’t speak English. It happened in Turkey and Spain-and I felt so helpless. A sister was crying in the airport and we just couldn’t understand what she said! :(
 In learning the tafseer of Quran, knowing Arabic is the key to understand better. Anyway alhamdulillah I am grateful for choosing Arabic over Japanese language during my secondary school-mom always knows best :)
Note: language barrier is also a problem for Malaysian students during bed-side teaching. Belum masuk lagi bab patient yang datang dengan accent negeri/negara masing-masing..

12. Dublin one-day floods
I was never involved in any floods in Malaysia, and Allah gave me such experiences in Dublin. It was a rare incident ever for the Irish, and two persons were killed on that night. Read more here: sekali bah, sekali pantai berubah

13. More to share from jaulah and gatherings: clink on the link to MEKAR and Jaulah Turkey part 1, part 2 dan Greece sahaja.

Well, I do have a lot more to tell but these are what it is basically. Not so much about the hospital and patient, as I am about to discover the clinical world in Penang insyaAllah.
These are my bit and pieces that I would like to share, and verily, Allah is the best Reminder.

I seek forgiveness from Allah for my weaknesses and wrongdoings from the day I born, till I die.
I seek forgiveness from Allah for the words that I said, I wrote and I typed and there is no other better Protector except You, O’ Allah.
I seek Your Mercy in all circumstances that I face, as I am weak but You give the strength, I am poor but You give the wealth, I am sick but You give the health.
I bear witness there is no God but He, and Prophet Muhammad SAW is His Messenger.

Allahu a’lam.

Yang masih bertatih,
Huda Mansor.


kingspreacher said...

Assalamualaikum wbt huda.

I really miss you. :(

Thank you for sharing this with us. Please pray for us here. Hope that we can gain more experience here during this very short time before going back for good.

Now I feel a bit regret coz not participate actively in ISOC. :(

alhuda said...

waalaikumsalam wbt akak :)

i miss you too!selagi sempat buat something, buat la..kt msia ni huda tak menang tgn sbb byk komitmen.beza kan bila dah balik for good ni..

about isoc, huda pun tak jangka nk join alang2 dah join, huda go on je..alhmdulillah, dapat sikit sisi lain memandang dakwah islam itu-iAllah dlm konteks yg lebih luas.xpe akak, equip urself dgn skills sbgai pendidik...u hv hundreds of souls that would listen to u one day iAllah :)

kingspreacher said...

Subhanallah huda. Jazakillah khairan. You are right!

Baik! Akan berusaha. Kita jumpa di Malaysia nanti..inshaAllah. Selamat meneruskan pengajian di penang. Sampaikan salam buat faiza dan kawan2 huda yg akak kenal di sana :)