Monday, August 5, 2013

On the dog debate

A victim of Muslims’ misunderstanding: The dog — Arif Fahmi Md Yusof

KUALA LUMPUR, July 31 — The uploading of a video of a Malay Muslim celebrating Hari Raya in the facebook with his three dogs invites voluminous responses from Malaysians especially Muslims. Most of the Muslims consider the video as insulting Islam. Many regard this video as insulting episode in the Holy month of Ramadhan for Muslims. Regrettably, in this Holy month of Ramadhan, many use a very offensive and indecent language in the social media, commenting this video.
What is insulting here? It is about the dog. Muslims generally are sensitive to dogs. For majority of Muslims particularly in Malaysia, dogs are impure. Many Muslims try to avoid contacts with dogs. The intention of the person who uploaded the video may be good, to appreciate the similarities between the creation of God and to promote kindness towards animals especially the dog. Unfortunately, the cultural perspective in Malaysia is against this idea. 
Many people often adhere to an idea they heard without examining whether it is legally correct. Therefore, it is usual to find people who easily believe in erroneous ideas that may have no basis or evidence. In Islam it is pertinent to understand its teachings and observe them. The primary consideration in dealing with other beings, especially animals is promoting kindness and avoiding cruelty.
An act of kindness to the dogs is recorded in one hadith where a man gave a dog water to drink using his shoe as the vessel to contain the water. The hadith praises the man, and Allah forgives his sins as a result of his kind act of providing the dog water.
The Quran in some occasions mentions the dogs. In one of the most popular story of cave sleepers, the Quran also regards a place for a dog as similar to other humans when they were trapped in a cave. The Quran clearly mentions the position of a dog as one of the individuals that comprised in a group, doing what exactly the others are doing.
The verse clearly portrays the dog as important individual in the group and made no negative comment about its presence in the group, who are protected by Allah. The dog did not cause problem or trouble and there was no warning in the verses to keep away from the dog in the verse.
Furthermore, dogs are common in the time of Prophet Muhammad. They were part of daily life of people and shared the same environment.
During the Prophet’s time, the dog would enter mosques and even urinate in them. In one of the hadith, it is reported that the dogs would come and go easily into the mosque, and no one would sprinkle water on those areas of the mosque. It was also reported that a puppy once went under the Prophet’s bed.
The main sensitive issue relating to the dog is the question of purity. The four main school of laws differs on the question of purity of the dog. Some scholars mainly in Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of laws, believe that dogs are impure. Therefore, if a person touches a dog or licked by a dog, he has to wash that portion of the body or clothing before prayer.
The Maliki school of law does not consider dogs impure at all. Hanafi school of law regards the saliva of dogs to be impure. Therefore, only the part of body or clothing that the dog’s saliva touched needs to be washed and purified before prayer.
Majority of Muslims in Malaysia follow Shafi’i school of law. They may regard dog as impure or najis, which is in fact washable. At the same time, they must respect other opinions in other school of laws that consider dogs as pure.
Islam encourages its believers to learn, understand and adhere to its teaching. Differences of opinion do not permit Muslims to hate each other. It is a time for Muslims in Malaysia to appreciate the differences and diversity.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malay Mail Online.

Monday, July 29, 2013

On amendment to the APA 1954

To share our thought about this matter:

Amendment to Aboriginal Peoples Act: Is free and informed consent justifiable? — Izawati Wook

JULY 15 — The Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954 (APA) is a specific legislation addressing the affairs of the Orang Asli including land matters. Following the Orang Asli Land Ownership and Development Policy approved in 2009, an amendment to the APA is being considered.
Recently the Rural and Regional Development Minister, Shafie Apdal, said that the amendment Bill would be tabled during the current parliamentary session. It was also reported that consultations have been made with the state governments, NGOs and Suhakam. 
It is learnt that the main aim of the policy is to alienate land to individual Orang Asli household. Up to six acres of land for an orchard and approximately one-quarter acre would be given to each Orang Asli family to reside, and land titles for the land will be issued. This may benefit the Orang Asli by having clear ownership of land so that the land may be used for development and agriculture.
Nevertheless many Orang Asli representatives object against the move. They request that any amendment to the Act that affects their rights must be made with their free and informed consent. There is fear that such amendments will prejudice their existing rights.
The director of the Centre for Orang Asli Concerns, Colin Nicholas, suggests that the Orang Asli stand to lose their traditional land upon the passing of the proposed amendment. He also observes that many Orang Asli people were not in favour of the policy mainly because of the reduced size of land compared to the land that they alleged as their traditional or ancestral land on the basis of their customary laws.
We have also to take note that the Orang Asli have legal rights to their customary land and this is affirmed by the courts of law in the country. The land rights are legal rights enforceable by the court.
The rights of indigenous peoples to land and resources are also specifically affirmed by international law i.e. the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries in 1989. At a minimum, international standards call for consultation of the affected peoples before any project such as extractive activities are conducted within this land or territories of the indigenous peoples; and other project capable to affect the resources that they traditionally used. The Declaration specifically requires ‘free, prior and informed consent’ (FPIC). The Convention merely requires consultation, but it must be undertaken in good faith with the goal of obtaining consent. However consent is required if a project involves relocation of people.
Following court recognition of the land rights of indigenous peoples, many countries have taken steps to address the issue. They include the Commonwealth countries: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. Developing countries such as Philippines and India also have specific legislation to recognise the land rights of their indigenous peoples and establish mechanisms to address the claims. There has been a growing recognition towards the need for securing land for the indigenous peoples in any action to address the matter. Approaches adopted have been focusing on making agreement, which require full consent of the communities in the use of the indigenous land.
Therefore it is significant to ensure that any action to be done to address the land rights issue of the Orang Asli is by respect to the indigenous communities as well as their perspectives towards their communal land. This entails acknowledgement and recognition of the rights, individual and collective. Any action proposed should ensure the security of land to the communities. It has happened in many countries that individualisation of communal land of indigenous peoples exposed the indigenous communities to great risk of land loss. The well-being of these land-based indigenous communities depends on the preservation of their land to the communities. We need to find suitable mechanism to co-exist agreeable to the parties involved rather than take all or nothing.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malay Mail Online.
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Thursday, February 14, 2013


It's 14 February.
When a friend was about to leave the office today, he greeted me, "Happy Valentine's". "To you too," I respond.
In the train, there are so many people holding a bouquet of flowers. A daddy, holding his small daughter's hand, with flowers on his other hand. It must be for the mommy, I think.
Reaching home, Farhan showed me a card that he made. He and his brother were at home today. Their teachers are on strike, if not they will make Valentine's cards for the parents too.
The teachers were on 'Stop work action', claiming for better pay, relatively lower than others' at other states. This was the third time they stopped work pending the negotiation, since last year. What would happen if our teachers did that, back home, I always think.
Back to Farhan's card - written 'LOVE' on it. He carefully cut a red paper for the letters. He sticked the letters LOVE on a blue paper with blue glitters on it.
'That's so beautiful', I said.
'To whom you  want to give that?'
'To my teacher', Farhan said.
'That is so kind of you.' He is amazing. And his teacher must be so amazing that her pupil likes her very much.
Thinking back home - the society looks hostile towards this celebration every time February comes. Facebook walls are filled with fierce reminder that it is not our culture, it is prohibited. It comes from the tradition of someone else's religion. Some pledge to eradicate it altogether.
But seeing their way on this day, for them, it means so much more. And it's simply love. Love to parents, teachers, friends and others.
But what makes us so hostile?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

It's 11th year!

It has been 11 years we get together.
Thank you for all the care and love.
Happy anniversary. All the way with you.
May Allah bless us all the way.
Ya Allah, ampunkanlah dosa-dosa kami, rahmatilah keluarga kami, panjangkanlah umur kami sekeluarga dalam kebajikan dan kesihatan yang sempurna, limpahkanlah rezeki yang melimpah-ruah kepada kami sekeluarga, jadikanlah anak-anak dan zuriat keturunan kami, anak-anak yang soleh dan solehah. Rahmatilah kedua ibu bapa kami dan ahli-ahli keluarga kami. Amin.

For all those times you stood by me
For all the truth that you made me see
For all the joy you brought to my life
For all the wrong that you made right
For every dream you made come true
For all the love I found in you
I'll be forever thankful baby
You're the one who held me up
Never let me fall
You're the one who saw me through it all

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith 'coz you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me

You gave me wings and made me fly
You touched my hand I could touch the sky
I lost my faith, you gave it back to me
You said no star was out of reach
You stood by me and I stood tall
I had your love I had it all
I'm grateful for each day you gave me
Maybe I don't know that much
But I know this much is true
I was blessed because I was loved by you

ou were always there for me
The tender wind that carried me
A light in the dark shining your love into my life
You've been my inspiration
Through the lies you were the truth
My world is a better place because of you
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me.

Because you love me, Celine Dion

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Farhan's theory on how baby comes to life

Recently at the hospital, when Farhan was having an ultrasound done, he told the radiologist, 'it looks like that I am pregnant'. When asked what baby inside there, he said it might be twins ;-)

And recently he came up with two theories on how baby comes to life.
1. egg - hatches a tadpole - tadpole transform into baby.
2. egg1 + egg2 + egg3 all hatch tadpoles - combine into a baby.

How to explain?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Farhan and tummy pain

Consider this as a rant of traumatic parents who had just found out that their worst nightmare was a reality after days in limbo. By writing this I do not intend to offend anyone involved. This is certainly a space where I believe emotion is justifiable. Stuck in hospital like this, thousands of ‘what if’ questions hover in my mind. With the timeframe for our work coming to the end, the pressure is definitely compounding. This could also be a lesson for us, as well as anyone going through the same situation. Whatever it is, for me in writing this is to find a means to heal the trauma that still lingers in my mind.
When Farhan started his tummy pain on Tuesday last two week, we moved from a GP to another GP, from a hospital to another hospital trying to find a definite answer. Throughout 6 days we met 4 GPs, and countless number of doctors and a few surgeons in the first hospital at Epping that we went (I referred to here as 'the first hospital'). But what we had for more than a week was mere possibilities. (We must have cross expectation about certainties and possibilities in this medical world). And we dealt with the possibilities on the horrifying pain that he had for more than 72 hours before we know for certain that it is late - his appendix has popped out and released its content infecting his lower tummy; knowing for certain that his complaint is real pain, his pain is severe.
GP and the first opinion on appendicitis
On Wednesday night, 9 January 2013, we brought Farhan to see a second GP, after his tummy pain did not recede. Earlier in the morning, we met a GP at Broadmeadow who believed that he was having ordinary tummy upset. The second GP in Roxborough Park believed that he had all the symptoms for appendicitis after a urine test is done and his condition checked. She gave us two options, either give him a painkiller to see if he is ok and wait until a few hours if his tummy got better; or proceed to a hospital. For her the second option is better as he had had pain for more than 24 hours.
The stay at the first hospital: ‘no, it is not possible’
We took the second option and arrived at the first hospital, about 10 km away from the Roxborough Park clinic, at about 11 pm. We waited a few hours before he was checked. A doctor who examined him felt that it was not possible for him to have appendicitis, looking from his ‘look’ and ‘level of pain’. There was no fever, and his lips were red. She told us that we would have to wait for about two hours if we wanted tests to be done. She may had concern for Ainaa and Ammar who were there waiting in the wee hours. But I asserted that we would wait for the tests to be done. After all, we had been there and we had waited for hours. Farhan was in pain, in his tummy - it was impossible for us to go home without knowing what the problem was. Later he had his blood and urine tests done and we waited in the waiting area in the emergency department. A few hours later, the doctor came again telling us that his blood tests revealed a ‘big’ amount of inflammation, blood in his urine; and Farhan certainly would have to stay there.
After a while a surgeon came checking on him, and also made the same ‘ruling’ as the earlier doctor did before the blood test done. He did ‘not seem to suffer from appendicitis’.
Because he had sign of dehydration, he was admitted, and was treated for gastroenteritis for three days before he was discharged on Saturday. Throughout the stay in the ward until the day he was discharged, he continued to have pain in his tummy but coming and going. But he said the pain was lesser. Only once so far that I was aware he had a mild fever. I think, the panadol given every four hours might help to reduce the pain.
Increased level of inflammation; but ‘cannot be’
On the second day, he was able to take his own food and later had good appetite. On Friday, the third day of stay, a Doctor had him done a blood test. The test revealed ‘increasing level of inflammation’, as she told me, (that later I knew as white blood cell count). A nurse personally told me that there must be something else other than gastro in his tummy with that pain and level of inflammation. The doctor told me that she believed that Farhan should be checked again by a surgeon and she went to consult him/her. Later she came again only to tell me that the surgeon dismissed any possibility of appendicitis. The increased inflammation, she told me, as the surgeon said, might be caused by something else. It is normal for boys of the age to have bruises, may be because of childish fighting, she tried to assure me, I believed. If he had appendicitis, she said, the painkiller won’t have worked.
The day of discharge; non-stop pain but ‘he is on the mend’
The next day, Saturday, when he was discharged, Farhan complained that his tummy pain was continuing. It did not stop as before. But he said the level of pain felt lesser than before. I told this to a nurse who later, gave him panadol to relieve. I later overheard, that the nurse made a call reporting about the pain. But when a Doctor came, Farhan said that at the time his pain was ‘only a little bit’ – I believe, because he had just had his panadol. I told the doctor about the continuing pain that he had since morning. But the doctor told me that ‘I think he is in the mend’. It might be gastro rather than appendicitis.
We brought him home after lunch with great relief that Farhan was not suffering from appendicitis. His pain still continued although he could eat on his own. He just lied down on his back the whole weekend. A friend doctor, who asked about him, suggested that we brought him to have an ultrasound done on Tuesday. (His clinic only has ultrasound done on Tuesday and Wednesday).
Worsening pain
But on Sunday night his pain worsened. He frequently went to toilet with diarrhoea, his poo were more watery and looked like mixed with mucus. He told us that it was so painful to sit in the toilet and his urine was hot. I poured water on his private part when he relieved himself hoping that it might help.
Second GP: it is appendicitis
Early in Monday morning, daddy brought him to a clinic at Fawkner hoping to have ultrasound done.  I felt that the pain looked like he had some injuries in his tummy. It would not be possible for us to wait until Tuesday before we could go to the friend’s clinic. But the GP told daddy that his condition was urgent and must be brought to a hospital. He asked whether we want to go to another hospital. But daddy felt that it would be difficult for the process to start all over again, and felt that the fisrt hospital might be able to take action based on the record that they have before.
The first hospital again – ‘no it’s not possible!’
Off daddy and Farhan went to the first hospital again. By the time they reached the hospital, Farhan had high fever of 39.6 degree Celsius. He was given panadol upon arrival to help with the fever.
But the doctor, who checked Farhan after more than four hours of waiting in the emergency department, did not share the same urgency as the GP in Fawkner. He insisted that such a pain was normal for gastro, and assured daddy that it will recede. Some people suffering of gastro, he said, could have ’tummy cramp’ for up to 14 days. When daddy asked whether ultrasound could be done to see what the problem, the Doctor told daddy that, ‘we don’t do that at the moment’. Panadol he said will help relieve the pain. No further investigation was done.
Gruesome pain
Daddy brought Farhan home again only for him, and us, to be tortured with his excruciating and horrifying pain throughout the night. He woke up almost every hour because of the pain asking me to rub his tummy. His diarrhoea was now yellowish fluid with more burning urine. He soiled his pants several times and the bed sheet. We had to carry him to the toilet every time.
The third GP: ‘it is so bad!’
The next morning, on Tuesday, daddy brought him to a GP, who is also a friend, requesting to do an ultrasound. To our horror, the physician told that there are 'a lot of inflammations and swellings inside his stomach. He could not ascertain about the appendix, but believed that appendicitis might be the factor for the swelling. The GP advised us to go to Royal Children Hospital with reference letter suggesting appendicitis.
The Royal Hospital: ‘Yes it is, but ..’
When we arrived at emergency department at the Royal Children Hospital, upon examining him, the doctor was almost sure that it was appendicitis. She requested a surgeon to check him. We were aghast when the surgeon told us that he believed that the appendix had burst, and the diarrhoea was the result of it. After all that we had gone through, after all of the clinic and hospital visits that we had, it was shocking to know that the pain that he had for more than 72 hours was awfully unbearable. This was confirmed by an ultrasound done later.
He is now being treated with antibiotic to heal the infection. A surgery to remove his appendix will be done after he recovered from the infection to avoid major operation.
As parents, and after all that we had gone through, we were really angry and regret.
What we regret most is that we were in a hospital where Farhan was admitted for care four days and three nights but it was like we had not done enough to make a life threatening decision. He was referred by a GP with possibility of appendicitis with history of tummy pain for more than 24 hours. But appendicitis was ruled out without further investigation.
Second, despite increasing level of his white blood cells, found out the day before he was discharged, the hospital asked him to go home.
Third, despite my complaint in the morning of the day of his discharge, that he had continuous pain which before was coming and going, the doctor said he was io the way to recovery.
Fourth, despite he came again to the hospital with high fever, he was asked to go home and to come again the next day for appointment after 4 hours of waiting.
Fifth, despite his dad asking for an ultrasound to be done on his tummy when he had high fever with tummy pain, they thought that it was normal for gastro.
Sixth, all of the doctors in the hospital told me that he had all the symptoms of appendicitis. His blood tests warrant something. The blood in his kidney is the concern. But, as the doctors said, as he ‘did not appear’ as a person suffering from appendicitis - he was able to eat on his own, his vomiting stopped - they dismissed further investigation. Are, in the medical world, appearance and impression overrule the scientific findings?
(Looking back, I was made to understand that the way of making investigation in the medical world began with a close-ended question - the strange form of question asked by the GP: “??? appendicitis.”  Once you suspect the answer is no, no further question was asked for investigation. Instead dealing was made with a mere possibility.)
Seventh, we had come to see 2 GPs at different times with terrifying unanimous suggestion that it is appendicitis. The GPs told us that he must urgently be brought to a hospital. But in the two different occasions, he was denied further investigation.
Until now, I still have difficulty to sleep thinking about what Farhan had to go through. I am still shaking thinking about the pain that he had to endure on those nights. I kept asking myself, what if this and that, what had I failed to do, what had I done.
I understand that, as many have said and I read, diagnosis of appendicitis is normally difficult especially for children. I also met a four-year-old boy here who was misdiagnosed for chicken pox. I also understand that the job of this profession is not easy, busy and stressful. But what I regret is about the ruling which was made, that I feel, without sufficient resources.
I know that this - I mean, writing like this: as if finding fault; putting blame; asking reason that might be too complex to entangle - is not our way of doing things. Things happen, happen with Allah's will. But for me, in a way, it is a culture of justification, assurance to our own selves - the way we justify how things in life just happen.
But beyond that I hope no parents or anyone would go through the same experience.
We thank Allah for saving Farhan. To Ammar and Ainaa, for nights without one of us, the GPs, friends who are concerned, especially Faridah, Azman and family who helped us a lot, Dr Rahman and to all doctors and staff, both in the first hospital and Royal Hospital, may Allah bless you all.
16 January 2013
Royal Children Hospital, Melbourne