Join Me on “The Doc Is In”


In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

I am grateful to our Lord to announce my new blog, “The Doc Is In.” I have been wanting to write a blog that focuses mainly on medicine and the practice of medicine today for a long time now. By the grace of God, I have finally done so.

The blog is at: http://www.chicagonow.com/doc-is-in

It will mainly be about health and medicine, and I plan to share some of my perspective as a medical professional.

Of course, I will still maintain this blog (and my column at Beliefnet). But, make sure to check out my stuff there too.

My first post is: “Tragedy’s Silver Lining.”

Look forward to seeing you there and all my blogs and columns.

God bless you and all of us. Amen.

“God, Faith, and a Pen” Is Back!


In the Name of God: The Infinitely Merciful and Compassionate Beloved Lord

After a long hiatus, I am proud to announce that God, Faith, and a Pen is back! I had moved my main area of writing to ChicagoNow, which was a great run. But, I realized that I needed another outlet for my writing, particularly for a Muslim audience. Thus, I decided to bring back God, Faith, and a Pen. Many of my “Muslim-focused” posts did not fit that well in ChicagoNow. They should fit very well on this site.

I am still actively writing on my Beliefnet column, and I encourage you to check that site out regularly. Yet, God, Faith, and a Pen will once again be the home of a good deal of my writing, especially with topics that cater to a Muslim audience. Looking forward to seeing all of you on all of my columns and blogs.

Peace!

Chicago Tribune: Religion encourages restraint, not revenge


In the Name of the Kind and Beautiful Precious Beloved

This first appeared in The Seeker, the Chicago Tribune’s religion blog

It is completely understandable – knowing how horrifically brutal the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhaffi was – that the people who captured him wanted to brutalize him back. The Libyan people have been terrorized by this man for more than four decades, and it was no surprise that his capturers terrorized him as well. Yet, many people are asking, especially after watching the disturbing videos of his capture, whether he should have been treated the way he was.

I was discussing this very thing with a dear friend and colleague – an Arab Christian – who said that, no matter what, no one should be treated the way he was, especially after his death. With all my hatred for what he did in his life, I could not help but agree with him…and think of this verse of the Qur’an:

“Never let your hatred of a people move you to commit injustice…” (5:8)

It is in situations like these in which the true test lies: when such a brutal man as Gadhaffi is captured, do we brutalize and terrorize him as well? Or, do we arrest and try him?

The same question can be asked of Osama bin Laden: our soldiers could have easily arrested him and brought him to Guanatanmo Bay, for instance. Rather, they shot him dead, and again, I completely understand the feeling and motivation for doing so.

I shed no tear over his death; I had no twinge of sadness. That man was the inspiration for the barbaric murder of thousands of innocent people, both Muslim and non-Muslim, from before September 11. Yet, would it have been better to try bin Laden and treat him as the pathetic criminal that he was?

I am not saying that killing these two men is necessarily an injustice. But, as a person of faith, I think that one of religion’s main purposes is to temper the very natural urge for brutal revenge that comes in up in situations such as these. That is the essence of verse 5:8; that is the essence of Jesus’ call to “turn the other cheek.”

It is a very difficult thing to do – restrain one’s passions – but that is the challenge that the Lord places before us. It is easy to stoop to the level of the barbarian in revenge. But that is not the type of people we should be.

Ramadan Realities


In the Name of the Kind and Beautiful Precious Beloved Lord

This was published on the Beliefnet blog, City of Brass:

As Ramadan approached, I had no small amount of dread. Fasting, of all the ritual practices of Islam, is the most difficult for me to do. I am not happy to admit this, but this is one of my (many) human weaknesses. Add to that the long, hot days of summer, and you get dread on my face and in my soul. In fact, I addressed this fear in a poetic letter to my soul just before the month began.

Now, Ramadan is here in full force, and I will just have to suck it up and fast. It is strongly recommended to eat a pre-dawn meal/snack called suhoor, and it is for good reason, too, especially in the long days of summer. But, I usually do not do so: I don’t feel well afterwards, and it makes the entire rest of the day even more difficult. I remember once during Residency, I ate gyros for suhoor, and I regretted it SO much. I had horrific heartburn the entire first half of the day, and I could not take anything to make it better. Never again, I said to myself. Mostly, my suhoor is a large heaping of water to help keep me as hydrated as possible for the coming day of fasting.

Yet, no matter how much water I will drink before the time to stop eating and drinking, it is inevitable that I will get thirsty as the day wears on. So, I change some of my routine: I stop working out in the morning throughout Ramadan. I could – theoretically – get up at 3 AM and hit the elliptical…but that is madness. I need sleep more than I need exercise, especially during Ramadan, when I stay up a little later to pray special prayers. So, no exercise for me. Last year, when I was training for the Chicago Marathon, I also skipped my Ramadan runs. And, I was still able to finish the race with a time of 5:37, thanks be to God.

Also, I frequently have “Ramadan stashes” in my lab coat pocket for after sunset: it might be a small pack of M&Ms, or – like yesterday – a piece of Ghirardelli’s chocolate, or a small chocolate bar. The Prophet (pbuh) used to break his fast with dates, and I definitely do that as well. Yet, I take it to the next level: I make a date/milk delight: I soak dates in an ice cold cup of milk for several hours before sunset. Many times, I will also add some walnuts. It is AWESOME. Things such as these makes sunset something to which I look forward, and it makes breaking my fast all the sweeter, both literally and figuratively.

One good thing about fasting during the summer is that there is a lot of time for spiritual reflection and recitation/reading of the Qur’an. And that is the whole point of the fast of Ramadan: to take away food and drink for just enough so that you can think “upward,” and reflect over the enormous blessing of having food and drink every single day and not even thinking about it. Thus, I should be motivated to help the poor and hungry who – many times – do not have even one square meal a day. And suprisingly, many said people are right here in the United States.

And, Lord, are there blessings in Ramadan. Everything seems to go much more smoothly during Ramadan. In fact, many of the most important things in my life have happened during Ramadan. My medical school interview was during Ramadan: I was accepted three months later. I had a very important high school track meet during Ramadan also. My coach told me that, in order for our team to win first place, I had to throw the shot put 42 feet at least: my distance was 42 feet and six inches. Just yesterday, coming home from vacation, the airport security experience was the easiest ever. Yes, I have to not have my coffee in the morning, but there are so many good things that come with the month of fasting.

All in all, Ramadan is a very good thing, but it is not without hardship and dread on my part. All I can do is fast to the best of my ability, try to clean up some of the bad habits I have learned throughout the year, polish my spirituality and improve my ritual practice, and pray that the Precious Beloved Lord accepts my efforts. Knowing how Beautiful He is, I am confident He will do just that.

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/cityofbrass/2011/08/ramadan-realities.html#ixzz1UY3P8qHX

Noble Brother Praised by Award-Winning Blogger Zaki Hasan


In the Name of God, the Kind, the Beautiful

Thanks be to the Precious Beloved, Noble Brother was praised by Award-Winning Muslim blogger Zaki Hasan. The review is reproduced below:

A few months ago, my friend Hesham Hassaballa sent me a review copy of his new book, Noble Brother, which tells the story of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad entirely in verse, and I’d meant to post my thoughts much sooner, but given the chatter this week about the OC hate rally video, wherein protesters shouted hateful invective at Muslims about their most revered figure, the timing seems oddly apropos. Hesham (whose writing I previously linked to in last summer’s legendary “Park51” post) takes a subject that’s intimately familiar to most Muslims and virtually unknown to most non-Muslims, and with his unique, creative approach makes it palatable to both, revealing fresh insights that will enlighten both constituencies.

In both the depth of its message and the breadth of its content (including an appendix that provides some very welcome background and historical context on the events discussed), Noble Brother confidently wrests the conversation about Prophet Muhammad and his integral role in everyday Muslims’ lives back from the minority of folks who violently freak out over political cartoons or South Park episodes. Instead, it highlights the traits of humanity, humility, and compassion that serve as exemplars for a billion-plus people all over the world. Whether Muslim or non-Muslim, this is a book that’s very worthy of a read. If interested, you can purchase a copy here (and be sure to check out Hesham’s always-insightful blog here).