Saturday, May 22, 2010

THE ROAD LESS TAKEN: the experience with the Arabs

By: Mohamed Afiq Hidayat

It was about half of a decade ago, when I was craving my target on a piece of paper. They were 5 of them, the five golden aims that started my whole journey until I’ve been able to step my foot in Egypt. 3 aims accomplished, 1 failed and another one,stay steadfast in praying.

Being a medical student is an absolute aim for myself. However, being in Egypt is not the exact aim that I’d pointed out 5 years ago. Being among the Arabs, are far more impossible for me to point it out.
But now, why I am in Egypt as a medical student?
Throughout my days in Egypt for the last 7 months, I’ve been asking myself the same question each day. By attending medical lectures in fully-spoken local Arabic language, helped me a lot in gaining sympathetic stimulation that rapidly spread all over my body. Stumble, sadness, loneliness, anger, confuse, low self-esteem,and demotivated are words that are able to describe me for the last 7 suffering months. It is more than a lingualistic problem when you failed to really understand the local Arabic accent. You should be stumble,when you fail to understand the first lecture of the day,which in my case, being infected to the second lecture. Then,with the first and second lectures that just thrown me into thousand of confusions in my head, I was as cutting myself into pieces when entering the third lecture(not binary fission). Burst into madness!
There were jokes during those lectures,and none of them you were being able to understand. Your Arabic friends,being sitted beside you,they are from Egypt,Jordan,Yemen,Somalia,Palestin,etc –all are laughing like mad while you are alone, lost in nowhere, suffocating for attention of what the jokes actually were.
What was I supposed to feel if every single day of my class for the last 7 months were as much as the same situation? What should I do to look a little bit smarter than yesterday jokes? Again,why I am in Egypt? Question remains unanswered,yet for a few months only.
I have a sister. A beautiful sister. She was a final year medical student of Ein-Syam University, nearby my university. Sometimes,I phoned her whenever I feel depressed. She was just like me,the same situation,the same experience,but only time was different. She kept motivate me with her stories of hardness,that end up teaching her something in her life. Experience is the best teacher. Honestly speaking, my condition is more or less the same like hers . We are both freshly flew from Malaysia to Egypt, without any preparation programme,thus having zero knowledge of the Egyption Arabic language.
However,one months ago,she was certified as a graduate of Ein-Syam University. She is now a doctor. A good role model- the nearest one for me.
“If you feel like giving up,it is not your fault to have such feeling. But do remember,the longer it be, the more wasted time you’re actually spending. Get up,and work hard,” she adviced me repeatedly.
As she have had her own story that ended up with success, I keep telling myself of why I want to feel despair, if it is already proven that being a medical student in Arabic class is not an obstacle. It need patience,passion,hard toils and dedications.
However,my days are alternated with joys and tears. Deep down to the bottom of my heart,I felt really lonely. Thinking of just putting myself into the Malaysian class and just follow the crowds.
There was one day that I suddenly felt the same feeling. Ahmed Shuaibi,my friend from Yemen insist to know the reason of why I looked a bit gloomy that day. He said he is my friend, and I am his friend. And to a certain extend, we are brothers because we are Muslims. He said that there is no difference whether you are not an Arab or so, but it is a certain that we are all Muslim.
“Just look around you,my friend.. Everyone love you. You have Subhan from Afghanistan, you have Hashed,Sameer,Ahmed,Arafat,Rafaet,Akram,Ridhwan and Faeez. All of them are your friends from Yemen. You also have the Somalian friends, Abdel Rahman, Abdel Malik, and not to forget the nice Egyption, Ali,Yehia,Hisham,Walid,and Mohamed. And our beloved Palestinian friends,Yusuf,Anas, and Saaji. Aren’t they meaning something to you? Am I someone in your heart??”
Before he was able to finish his last sentence, I already burst into tears. How ungrateful I am to Allah the Almighty. He showered me with his bless by giving me sincere and helpful friends. As I remembered, it is a must for them to ask me the same question before we went back home after class.
“Do you need any help?”
“Anything can I do for you?”
“Do you have anything to ask?”
I have great friends, but I was so blind to realize it before. Allah,please forgive me.
It is now already to the end of my first year as medical student. The beginning was the most torturing phase, but the experience was superb. For the past 7 months, I’ve been able to develop my Arabic very well gradually. My friends are the most helpful Arabic language teachers for me. The Yemeni thought me the Yemeni Arabic accent,the Palestinians also did theirs. As a result,more or less I already got the blend of Arabic culture inside myself. “Learning one’s language meaning you are learning their culture,”my teacher always said.
To give ‘Salam’ among each other upon meeting, to ask about his/her health,to offer any help before going home, and to gratitude and thanking Allah for every good news are some of the good culture.(Of course there are bad Arabic habits, but sooner or later you will be able to develop your own patience and avoiding yourself from imitating the bad ones.
There was one day where I sat in an Islamic class (or better called ‘ceramah’), where the ustaz in the first place had already answered my question in the beginning of his speech.
“My dear brothers in Islam,let us think for a while. For a couple of minutes,have you ever think of why we are sitting here together tonight? And why don’t just we do our own works now? And why we are in Egypt now separating ourselves from our beloved parents? And why don’t we rather choose European countries to further our studies?
My dear brothers, sometimes it is better for us to stop asking Allah for the answers of all the questions. It is far more a necessity for us to look back throughout our life. How much have we said ‘thank you Allah’ for giving us the spaces and the chances everyday with soul to live. How much have we done ibadah for Allah as you feel that you still don’t have enough easiness in facing life??
My dear brothers in Islam, maybe it is now the right time for us to stop hating being in difficulties,with most of the time keep complaining and murmuring about how hard the life is. And maybe to stop hating being in Egypt for no reasons. Just open up our minds and see with our heart. There are a lot of syeikh around the place where you live now,and how much have you make benefit of that golden chances meeting them? There are a lot of oppurtinities for you to prepare yourself in becoming real Muslim doctor, but how much have we prepare ourselves right now?”
It would cost hard toils in becoming a great person. Prophet Muhammad,Imam Ghazali,Salehuddin Al-Ayubi –name any great person,and you will find the hardness that they faced throughout their life in their histories. Their time was even harder. You are in Egypt because you want to be somebody. You want to be a great person in life. You are separating from your family just like Salehuddin Al-Ayubi,being separated by his father to further his studies in Damascus. You are what the great person have done before.”
Reflecting ustaz’s words really make me realized the answer. I may be the most stupid person in class now because I failed to totally understand the Arabic lectures, and I maybe sometimes feel lonely because there is no Malaysian friend in my class. However, the harder I work,the sweeter my success would be. For the next 6 years of medical school with Arabic lecture, I may be very fluent in Egyption Arabic. And for the years to come,I must be missing my friends very much because they are living around the whole world,working as doctors in our own countries, the Yemenis,the Palestinians,the Egyptions,the Somalies, the Jordanians,the Afghans, the Mauritinions,etc.
For my friends,I love all of you in Allah.
Last but not least, as my bestfriend said and I quote,
”Have faith in Allah, and in whatever you are doing. Work hard, and stay steadfast”
Anonymous GEN09 MEMBER

Do things with passion or not at all.


Maya Dealove said...

deeply inspiring and original.

adizufly said...

thanks for sharing :)