friends, dato and tansri,
in a well known tradition our nabi stated that one way to ensuring a good ending [ husnul khatimah ] is to remember and ponder about death a lot and to read the qur'an on a daily basis. i am a relative ignoramus with respect to understanding and living the qur'an, let alone reading it on a daily basis or 'qataming' it even on a monthly basis. i read the qur'an like a ' new mualaf' even at this fairly advance age of 6 score plus five and my understanding of arabic is limited to just ' min aina anta? '.
but i can count myself lucky and blessed 'married' to a proffesion that reminds me of death most of the day. every patients that passed my door daily , i have trained myself to analyse 'mentally', ' what is the chance of this chap dying a sudden cardiac death!?' , a bad habit of mine borne out through 32 years of cardiological practice. a bad one no doubt to the unschooled mind, but a good one to me since somehow that state of mind emits 'echoes' that somehow got reflected back on myself, and at the end of the day, this help to keep me firmly grounded on a daily basis.
' allah hummaya mukalibal qulub thabit qalbi ala din nik...'
allah hummaya mukalibal qulub thabit qalbi ala ta'atik ...'
just last month while attending a cardiological seminar in london organized by the british cardiovascular interventional society, i visited , fred, a fellow registrar with me at st mary's hospital, praed street during those wild dizzying london days in the early eighties, just post flower power of the 70's and the paul raymond revue bar fame in soho etc and etc.
dr fred had terminal advance colo rectal cancer, that has metastasized to all over his bedridden body. he lay breathless in a palliative ward at royal marsden hospital, at fulham road.
i noticed an unopened abdullah yusuf ali's translation of the holy qur'an on the side table.
" omg! great!!..', i thought to myself loudly, " after all these years of of 'relative monologue' from me via 'pearls and gem' and 'the tafseerkoran.blogspot.com..', he has somehow succumbed ".
'how are you fred?', was my preamble.
'shit nik , shit'.....i am breathless even on O2...'
' no fred...you are very ok... i see you have islam, how long now...what is her name if i may ask?'
'just two years nik.......no i am still single.....the last job at hammersmith, i nearly found someone, a belgium fellow in hematology, one of my post grad student, then i got seriously infected with islam.....she left me. she said she was allergic to sleeping with terrorist!'
' it is the best infection in the world fred......i hope i am partly instrumental in your reversion..she lost a good man there...'
after a few minutes of niceties, i went straight to the 'jugular', which was the purpose of my visit anyway.
'fred...you are very ok. death is frightening for all our patients. even for us doctors. but we have to look from another perspective....when you have islam, especially for you, new revert, you have made it. for guys like me born into the 'ugama', i have a lot of excess baggage to answer to. for guys like you, it is as if you are travelling on ryan-air, just you and your hand luggage.
death is just a change of address. you are going to a better address, and i say this with all seriousness...it is not a cliche. insyaallah.....i am serious! you , of all people are the lucky selected ones.... you could have gone on being a kuffar and that is not difficult in uk or europe, even in malaysia. but you have chosen islam at the eleventh hour...and that is not an accident of it is a gift....a special invitation!.'
i did not leave fred empty handed that night.
he is a new muslim, a new 'mualaf '.
two years in islam is not a long time.
i needed to make sure he get 'educated'
we talk about tahajjud, about being in continous zikrullah; about zikr using asma al husna and ismu ul azam; about taubat and taubat prayer and about tasbeeh, especially tasbeeh prayer, an excellent 'sin expiation' prayer; and about selawat to the nabi.
' fred, visit me at ' pearls and gem ', when they think you are fit enough for discharge.
i am sure you remember doc sabri, that elderly gentleman i introduced to you in KL 5 years ago when you visited me at my hospital...well he has gone to meet with his lord.....i missed him dearly..a great friend and mentor.'
[ http://drnikisahak.blogspot.my/2014/12/a-long-prescription-for-friend.html ]
'you know nik, this haj season, if i can, i want to do haj....i know i may die there.'
i knew, in his current state, his chances of making it beyond july, the haj season this year, is just about 50 : 50 and i knew that he knows that i know, but this was better left unspoken.
'it is a great priveledge to die in makkah during haj season. that is my ambition as well fred...imagine 2 million souls and a couple of million angels praying for you. i pray , insyaallah , you will get to do your haj'.
as i walked to the underground tube station at fulham road, i cannot helped but remember a short conversation i had with a lady professor back home in kuala lumpur, also a cancer patient, a year ago.
[ http://drnikisahak.blogspot.my/2015/10/truncated-lives.html ]
life is a series of goodbyes.
first you say goodbye to your parents, oftentimes , brothers and sisters rather prematurely.
then to a series of friends and relatives.
then to your acute faculties, slowly, slowly.
then, it is time for you yourself to go.
that is the freudian, schopenhaurs and hegelian perspectives.
your whole universe revolves around you and when you are not there , the universe disappears.
the true muslim perspective is brighter with the proviso you do your prior 'homework' here in this duniya..... it is a change of address, and if you want a 'damansara height' address in the next world, you have to work harder in this world.
it is as simple as that.
you have to know who , the ceo of the universe is.
it is not obama, donald trump, najib tun razak or the agong!
it is HE and HE alone.
it is HE alone you worship and HE alone you ask for help. fullstop.
i was exposed to death early.
my dad died when i was nine.
my sister, 4 years younger than me left us when she just turned 22. a brilliant and artistic young lady , an economics graduate.
[ http://drnikisahak.blogspot.com/2009/01/pearls-gem-redza.html ]
i took some 20 years to recover from that loss, due to my relative lack of my 'ugama', my state of non redha lingered.
i must admit frankly that most doctors are quite bad at handling 'death' and 'near death' in our patients.
our training, at least during my time is 100 % secular and i dont think there has been any change in the curriculum with respect to this important issue.
we are supposed to 'educate' our patients and their anxious relative when death are impending, but oftentimes than most, the younger consultants and specialists will not discussed the issue to the point even when someone already had their body riddled with cancer, some even went on to do major brain surgery, to remove a spread.....that , i find ridiculous.
but having said that, there are instances when close relative can be a pain in the neck. when we throw in the towel, they accuse us of 'euthanasia'!
i had the unfortunate experience some 15 years ago of managing an elderly woman in her late 60's who had been in coma for over 5 years, and admitted to our hospital for severe fulminating pneumonia.
i broached the sensitive subject of letting her go without aggressive treatment anymore and was summarily sacked on the spot.
in another incidence, a corporate top gun came in with massive heart attack and haemorrhagic stroke at the same time. he was obviously on his death throes. i called the family to do their 'yasin' bit in the ccu. he died shortly after. everything went well i thought until i got a lawyer's letter on my desk 4 days after, asking me to explain why i use 'inappropriate language' to the datin.
i observe some muslim families behave badly around the death of their love ones, and this bad behavior is directly proportional to the pay check they bring home each month when they are alive.
[ http://drnikisahak.blogspot.my/2008/11/death-eternal-life-after-death.html ]
[ http://drnikisahak.blogspot.my/2011/02/unto-him-is-journeying.html ]
on the other hand, the down and out, when it is time for them to go , there is no excessive fanfare.
i have one bizzare experience with an indonesian immigrant several years back which i like to share with you guys here.
[ http://drnikisahak.blogspot.my/2013/11/just-visiting.html ]
and lastly if any of you guys have the delusion or rather the illusion of being able to say the shahadah easily during your death throes, you can forget it.... in my statistic which i collect over 40 years of attending to the dead and near dead, statiscally it is less than 0.2 %!!!
except with the proviso you start right now practising in earnest the art of trying to be in continous zikrullah!
la ila haillallah muhammada rasullallah,... and really meaning it in your hearts of heart.
no reverence to HIS other creations, just reverence to HIM.
it is not too late to start , my dear friends, dato and tansri.......
i received from friends in the uk my good friend fred passed away at royal marsden hospital, london, just about 2 weeks after my visit.
may his soul be accepted amongst the accepted, amen.