We are sitting in a large classroom, the kindergarten class is graduating, and the children are putting on a vocal presentation about animals, Shireen is a squirrel with a big furry tail, Tariq is in my arms and is entranced into silence, my mother is by my side…………….
It seems like the middle part of graduation in my life, went into fast-forward and ground to a creaking halt four years ago………It started back with a keen sensitivity to every moment of graduation in life 101.
I am opening the invitation to the “Hooding Ceremony” which is the procedure where a medical student moves one step forward and along with the hood accepts all the responsibilities, honor and challenges that will face him or her as a Doctor.
Graduation…..is supposed to be a gradual process, proceeding slowly, but all of mine have been sudden, and intense. I have been hurled from one phase of my life into next. From medical student to Doctor, from Doctor to wife, from wife to mother, from mother to a grieving mother, and from Ghafala to Hidaya…….I hope.
These are all the visible graduations of my life, grossly summarized in events rather than sentiment.
The most important though silent part of graduation in Life is the graduation that Tariq and Ammi have already made. The stealth passage of time is firmly pushing me forward, either to the next step forward of hidaya or a step back into ghafala.
It is the five reminders per day that I rush to meet, and many times am tardy on that are reminders of my ticking inner clock. With every second I am graduating either one step closer to my goal of achieving access to the Gardens or one step closer to the universally feared destination of Jahannum.
If I do not have these five reminders the distractions of daily living, the obligations of food: preparing it, desiring it and eating it, the demands of others, the obligations towards patients and family sometimes draw the curtain on my graduation, veiling the distance I have from the precipice. It is pause of the five daily reminders that gently and kindly inform me that sooner or later I will no longer have the ability or power to write in the book of my deeds, which propels me into action.
So what do I say to my loved ones graduating from medical school? Here is what I would say:
Congratulations on graduating into one of the finest services of Allah.
May He (Subhanawataala/God Almighty) give you shifa in your hands and guide them to bring solace, comfort and healing to your patients.
May your heart remain soft and compassionate even after you have seen the same disease and heard the same complaints from the same person a hundred times, may you be patient with the constantly complaining patients and remember that Allah Subhanawataala is patient with each of us who constantly complain to Him.
May your patients or your peers never disappoint you when they are thankless of your sleepless night given to their care, and know that you graduated a few more steps toward the Gardens of Jannah by relegating all your efforts for the sake of Allah.
On those days when you are hero-worshipped or heroine worshipped and elevated to the top of a pedestal, do remember Him (Subhanawataala) who got you there, and ignited the admiration in the eyes of the onlookers. As a gesture of gratitude give sadaqa and remain humble in the face of extreme praise.
Never for one second take for granted your intellect, the health of your mind and body and time. Thus five times a day give thanks to your Creator letting him know that you take nothing for granted not ever the air you breath and the continuously beating, never tiring heart that He (Subhanawataala) gave you and filled it with love, compassion and mercy.
As you walk on air and “tread water” in the halls of the hospitals, remember, “We come from him and unto Him we shall return”.
Treat your mind and body gently and with care because it is an amana (a loan) from Allah Subhanawataala, Do not mistreat it with food, drink, nor contaminate your brain and heart with seeing things or hearing things which He has disallowed us.
He (God Almighty) has told all mankind in the Quran and I paraphrase: “I have forbidden you only those things that are harmful for you” so even if you may not have scientific evidence of something in your finite intelligence at this time about his command regarding something, know that what He (Almighty) has told us in the Quran is good for us.
In your travels in the halls of health and illness, you will meet many people whose hearts have hardened and they are callous to human suffering, or are outright disobedient to Allah and flagrantly display their arrogance………..Remember that you cannot change them, thus stay away from them as they will harm you in the long run, but do pray for their guidance. You cannot be everything to everyone. Choose to be obedient to Allah first and last.
I will not say take time out for the five time salaat, but I will say plan your day around the time of salaat, for it is in those moments of salaat that you get a glimpse of your report card sometimes, and sometimes you are yanked back from the Fire and many times you are wrapped in His mercy and protection………………..
So when you make your daily schedule, remember to start with your salaat because you are in a perpetual state of graduation and it is you who need a self check of which direction you are taking.
Planning your day, week and months is the boon and the bane of a new Doctor, as he and she are literally yanked in all directions. Have the tools for your salaat close to you at all time, a place, a mindset and a direction and a committed inviolable time slot.
May your home be blessed with a sanctuary………..a place where if you go to pray, your spouse and your visitors know you are not to be disturbed.
He Subhanawataala is closer to you than your jugular vein, just stop five times a day and in the quietness of salaah feel his presence in your life and gather the hasanaat and Mercy as you continuously graduate in Life towards the Hereafter, inshallah with Honors.
With much love,