Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year

When I'm typing this entry, it's already 6 minutes past midnight.

Personally, I couldn't care less about new years. It's half a month of the first Islamic month anyway.

But still, apart from numerical change, the Earth gravitational pull doesn't feel stronger than usual, the time-space continuum looks innocuously four dimensional , no vortex or people from the past came knocking on the door.

To put in a simpler English term, it doesn't feel any different,

Yes, of course, except for the expanding waistline, however, it's not living in denial when you come to think of it as proper for the anticipated higher energy expenditure in the coming months.

And yes, by extension of that, I don't think a new year resolution would be relevant to me.

It just adds to my unwavering belief of such futile exercise that studies show that in 80% would just dump their new year resolution in February and the rest would follow suit.

And by the way, why do you have to wait for new year to make a resolution? Why can you just make it now? or every day ? or every month? Or every 43 minutes 25 seconds ??


Monday, December 7, 2009

Medicine and Islam

Scholars in the like of al-Ghazzali (d. 505H) and an-Nawawi (d.676H) had discussed the importance of medicine in their works and they view it as a communal obligation (fardh kifaayah)

an-Nawawi said: " As for the knowledge of intellect, some of them are communal obligation such as medicine and mathematics..."

alGhazzali said: " You can not deny that medicine and mathematics are from the communal obligations. Because the knowledge such as farming in which people can not live without is a communal obligation, and medicine and mathematics are more important"

When the past Islamic scholars spoke about medicine, medicine is always spoken in the same breath as Islamic sciences.

We can see from the statement of our Imam, as-Shafiee where he said:

I have not known any knowledge after (the knowledge of ) Halal and Haraam that is more noble than medicine
It is no surprise to see that as-Shafiee himself had studied medicine in depth (this is besides of
the knowledge of Islam) to the extent, he baffled one of the doctors of his day with his medical knowledge.

One doctor said:

" When as-Shafiee came to Egypt and he discussed medicine with me to the extent that I thought he was not profiecient in anything else but medicine"

Another scholar worth mentioning is al-Imam Muwaffaq ad-Deen alBaghdaadee (d.557H) who has been described as "with his great knowledge in Shaariah and depth in Arabic, he was very learned in medicine" and "that students of Islam as well as doctors used to sit with him to study "

Now, one may wonder why such a prominence. Yes, we know that the knowledge of medicine is a communal obligation because of the survival of the nation depends on the health of its individuals but why after the knowledge of Shariaah? What is so special about it?

If we can agree that human is of two components: Spiritual and Physical. The health of human spirituality depends on the knowledge of the religion and its implementation, whilst the physical health is important to ensure the implementation of spiritual component of human.

Human spirituality and physicality interact with each other and affect one another. It is in this spirit that for example, we are to take food in precedence over prayer and we are not to hold onto the two al-akhbaathain (filths: urination and defecation) whilst in prayer.

It is this two aspects that we have to mindful of. It is sad when one fails to see the other aspect of the other because failure to see this two aspects will bring on the failure to treat and approach individuals as it is meant to be.

For example, it is sad to see where one ascribes Postnatal Depression to devil's whispering depriving the victims from the much-needed therapies while, in reality, it may or it may not be the case. I do not deny that it can be of the devils as much as I do not deny that it can be caused by organic dysfunction.

Ahkaam al-Jaraahah at-Tibbiyyah, Dr Muhammad ibn Muhammad alMukhtar AsShanqiti, Maktabah asSohabah, 1415H

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tuwais "The Singer" (11-92H)

Interesting bits about one of the personalities in Islamic history as mentioned by Az-Zahabee in his Siyaar A'laam an-Nubaala' (4/364) and others.

Tuwais was the Maula (freed slave) of Arwa bint Kuraiz who was the mother of the Third Caliph, Uthman radhia Allah anhu. He was a "singer" (in the sense that he used to beat duffs and "sang" poetry). He was Abdul Mun'ieem Isaa ibn Abd Allah. Initially, he was called(laqab) "Thawus" (Arabic: peacock) but after he had "effeminated" (takhannatha) (?medical/?genetical/), he was then called "Tuwais" (Small peacock).

He was famous for three things which people made a standard out of him.

(1) Singing
He was one of the first to "sing" in Islam as he had learnt the arts from the prisoners of war from Rome and Persia and he excelled in it that people used him as a standard to compare others.

(2) Height
He was described to have extremely excessive height(mufrit fil tool)

(3) "Bad lucks"
Arabs used to say for someone who has a series of bad lucks, or when things always go wrong :" Ash'aam min Tuwaais" (More 'bad lucks' than Tuwais)

Why? Because:

The day he was born: Prophet sallahu 'alaihi wassalam died
The day he began to eat solid food: Abu Bakr died
The day he reached puberty: Umar died(1)
The day he got married: Uthman died
The day he had his firstborn chil: Ali died(2)

(1) Some say it was the day he had his circumcision
(2) Some say it was al-Hasan ibn Ali

Tuwaais used to say: "O People, As long as I'm still alive among you all, do expect the Daabbah (3) and Dajjal (the False Messiah) to appear, but if I die, you all will be safe!!"

(3) One of the Major Signs of the Qiyaamah.

Food for thoughts for medicos

Any differentials here for Tuwais.

He was described as having a squint, extremely tall, and have female characteristics? But appears to be able to reach puberty and have offsprings.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Love is Blind-Ibn Hazm's Take

I know a youth that loved a lass (1)
Whose neck was short and somewhat stout;
And now, when long-necked maidens pass,
He thinks them jinn's, without a doubt.

He is content, to justify
His claim that he has chosen well,
Upon a logic to rely
That has some substance, truth to tell.

Thus he would argue: " The wild cow
Is famed in proverb and in song,
And no man lives, but will allow
Beauty doth(2) to the cow belong.

"Now never was the wild cow born
Whose neck was long and angular;
And are not camels held inn scorn
Because their necks stick out so far?"

I know another lad who loved
A most uncommon wide-mouthed dame
He said, " Her loveliness is proved
By the gazelle, whose mouth's the same."

And still a third young chap I know
Whose well-beloved was unco(3) small;
" Tall women ", he would say, " are so
Stuck up-they're devils, one and all."

(Ring of Dove, Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi)

(1) A girl/a women/a sweetheart

(2) A third person singular present tense of do

(3) adj. so unusual as to be suprising, uncanny

Just reading through the Ring of Dove, by Ibn Hazm the famed Dhahiri jurist who wrote a treatise on the subject of Love. Interesting read I would say from the famed Islamic scholar. He wrote the treatise when he was a youth and revised it when he was older.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dummies' Guide to First Year Med School

It's been ages when I did first year. But there are a few things that I wish that I had known earlier.

  1. Get a life!
  • Don't waste your time on your medical books, it's not worthwhile. This is my final year of medicine and I barely know any of the things that I knew when I was in first year. Yes, you need to pass your exams, but really, that's it. But don't get me wrong. You need to understand a few basic principles here and there. Just to make your life easier later
  • Anatomy is important but only to the extent that you know that there is such a thing as liver and it lies on your right side of the abdomen, or your stomach is where the food goes to, and on top of that, a basic knowledge of what is connected to what but don't get deep unless it's in your exam or you have this desire since you were like toddler to be a surgeon, then if that's so, go for it
  1. Don't waste your money on books
  • Just before first year, I spent like hundreds for medical books but trust, except for only one exception, the rest of the books that I bought (with someone else's money) spend their entire lifetime on top of my bookshelf.(They are still there when I'm writing this)
  • My advice: Stop the temptation to buy the new books until you have actually started your medical course. Go to library and look at the range of books there. Most often, the library will have the prescribed textbooks for your medical course (as the case for my university. My wife's university's library is pretty crappy when it comes to books but mine seems to provide the latest and the number as well (so we have enough to borrow)
  • So, if the library books are in abundance, don't buy new ones. Trust me again, it will be a waste of your money. You don't have to be obsessed about having current edition unless it dates way back in the 60s
  1. Study and exams
  • For those who are keen just to pass the year(like me), just go to the lectures and it'll save you hours of study time but just be there at the lecture and listen and then you can do whatever you want.
  • The most important bits to study is your lecture notes + your prescribed textbook (don't read more that this unless you think that you are destined to win the Dean's Award)
  • For your prescribed text, only read the parts that are relevant to your lecture notes. No more! Yes, I know you would have more knowledge than some of the other students but for me, it is only good to win Dean's Awards/First Class list or impress the girl sitting next to yunou.
  • Study past exam questions. This is the case of my university but I don't know about others. They usually recycle your exam questions. It seems like cheap stake because they don't have to make new questions but their argument is that the past have been tried and tested and they found from "statistical analysis" has shown its accuracy and reliability to differentiate the ones who deserve to pass and the ones who don't (for a slacker, an ample opportunity not to study much)
To be continued...