I was on night shift that day when the specialist and the MOs invited us for dinner after we finished our night round. The specialist, in particular, loves to talk, teaching us the basis of every disease we encounter during rounds, and telling stories outside medical field including politics. Indeed, I enjoy every moment when it is outside the hospital/medical-related thing. Sometimes we need a break to prevent exhaustion.
He suddenly asked us; why do you want to be a doctor? A very common question – from MO, specialists, head of department, director…. There are times they really are really curious, but most of the time they just made fun of anyone who become a doctor as their parents’ wish. That made most junior doctors, including me, very reluctant to answer.
So I just smiled, reserving my answer. Then my MO started to confess how he regrets his decision to become a doctor, and said it would be better if he now is a pilot or engineer. But well, despite his regrets, he is doing well in his carrier, and I would say he is one of the respected MOs in our department.
Every deed is counted based on our intention.
Should I tell the world that I become a doctor because my parents told me so? So that if I could not cope in this field I can simply blame them for my incompetency? NO!
Indeed, it is not easy for everyone to love every single thing around them. There are times, or most of the time, I would say, we have to force ourselves to love what is in front of us. Even the 5 prayers, I could remember how hard it was for me to really do it sincerely and solemnly. Yes, it was difficult until I am really able to ‘blend’ every action (including solah, work, and other daily activities) as a part of my life in preparing the life in the hereafter.
‘Umar b. al-Khattab narrated that the Prophet (S) said: Deeds are [a result] only of the intentions [of the actor], and an individual is [rewarded] only according to that which he intends. Therefore, whosoever has emigrated for the sake of Allah and His messenger, then his emigration was for Allah and His messenger. Whosoever emigrated for the sake of worldly gain, or a woman [whom he desires] to marry, then his emigration is for the sake of that which [moved him] to emigrate.” [Volume 1, Book 1, Number 1]
I believe that every muslim is familiar with this verse – the first verse that imam al-Bukhari recorded in his book and so imam an-Nawawi, to point out that all deeds without proper intention are vain. Imam as-Syafi’e said that this verse comprises one third of all religious knowledge, and imam Ahmad said this is one of the 3 principles axes in islam in term of hadith. [Jawaami’ el-Kalim by Imam Ibn Rajab]
Alhamdulillah, I have everyone around to remind me regarding this important verse of Allah’s apostle. Every morning my mother would remind me to renew my intention, and that Allah has guaranteed abundance of rewards if I perform my job well for His sake. Thanks mak! Jazaakillah
It is indeed not easy. As someone who used to have some adjustment problem, I really need to fight to free my own self from selfishness to selflessness. I used to hate doctors and hospitals, but now I am a part of it. I could have chosen something I favour, but Allah’s favour is beyond everything. Everyday we pray asking him to show us he right path, and he has made this easy for me, so which of the favour of my Lord that I would deny? [Quran 5: 13, 15, 18 et al]
It may be that you detest something which is good for you; while perhaps you love something even though it is bad for you. God knows, while you do not know. [Quran 2: 216]
Previously since I was in medical school, we thought that studying medicine has taken so much of our time. We also had in mind that once we start to work we would be so busy that we would no longer have the life of a normal people. We would have deprived sleep, have no time to go for sightseeing or shopping, no time to attend classes or da’wah activity. But that is of course untrue.
But as the Malay sayings say, “Hendak seribu daya, tak hendak seribu dalih.” What ever we do and where ever we go, if we let the environment to control ourselves, we would not be able to survive. Being an engineer, or a teacher might be even busier than a doctor at certain times. If we are the type of person who always complain, then we would quit from everything we do. But if we just follow the flow and let ourselves to create a good working environment, we will make it someday.
I whined A LOT. Yes, I used to, and it changed nothing. Then I realised, I have to stop whining and act!
Now that I have worked for about a year as an intern, I still have time to go to Langkawi, went for bowling, baking our favourite cheesecakes, cooking, going for my weekly study-circle (usrah) and attending short Islamic courses. And I really SLEEP a lot!
Rescue in islam is obligatory (fard)
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said. “There are three persons whom Allah will neither talk to nor look at nor purify from (the sins) and they will have a painful punishment. (They are): (1) A man possessed superfluous water on a way and he withheld it from the travelers. (2) a man who gives a pledge of allegiance to a Muslim ruler and gives it only for worldly gains. If the ruler gives him what he wants he remains obedient to It otherwise he does not abide by it and (3) a man bargains with another man after the Asr prayer and the latter takes a false oath in the Name of Allah) claiming that he has been offered so much for the thing and the former (believes him and) buys it.” [Volume 3. Book 48. Number 838]
Rescuing or helping people in distress is an obligation in islam. And every muslim holds the responsibility to help people in need with regard to their knowledge. Doctors are like the man who possesses superfluous water – offering the medical care, while patients are like the travelers who come and go to seek treatment. Teachers teach who is seeking knowledge, engineers build the roads/buildings/computers… even a cleaner has their contribution to the public! (-of which we tend forget!)
Narrated Umar ibn al-Khattab: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: the same occasion: Help the oppressed (sorrowful) and guide those who have lost their way. [Book 41, Number 4799: Sunan Abu-Dawud]
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Umar: Allah’s Apostle said, “A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection.” [Book 43, Volume 3, Number 622: Sahih Buhari]
Therefore, we doctors, who hold at least a medical degree, need to fulfill our duties to the public/ummah. Providing the best healthcare is now an obligation (fard) for us.
Medical field is one of the doors for da’wah
I remember during my visit to Amman, Jordan few years back. Ustaz Razzi, who was doing his ‘specialty’ in tafseer, once told us – the medical/dental students – that being a doctor is a great opportunity for da’wah. How? I did not realise this until he said, people would come and look for us for advice. Our patients ‘surrender’ themselves to us. And they would listen to every single words told by us. Unlike others (da’ie), according to him, none will come to them other than people who really want to seek knowledge, and they themselves have to go into the society and call people to islam.
Aren’t we special?
But I guess this is the greatest challenge for me. It is easy to give medical advice to patients, but I would really need the courage and knowledge to call people to islam, not only to the patients, but among the healthcare workers as well as patients’ relatives. Yes, this is the best practical ground for US to practice all the theories in ‘enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong.’ [Quran 3: 104, 110, 114]
So dear Dr L, I would say I have no answer to your question ‘why would I want to be a doctor’, but I have the answer if you asked me ‘why I am a doctor.’
And I am here trying my best to fulfill my duty to Allah and my responsibility to the public by providing the best service as I could in the medical field and other field that I am capable of. For He has chosen US to be in this path, as a mean to ‘enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong.’
1- The Fiqh of Medicine by Ahmed Abdel Aziz Yacoub
2- Himpunan Ilmu & Hikmah (Jawami’ el-Kalim) by Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali
3- Mr Google 🙂
Also read: It’s only the beginning (tips for my fellow friends who just started working as a junior doctor/HO)