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Monday, October 25, 2010

A very meaningful week

Last week was the National Organ Donation Awareness Week 2010. It was a week to remember, at least for me. I attended five of the many events held in conjunction of this inaugural remembrance of those who have donated their organs in saving other people's lives.

I have been involved with organ donation campaigns from 1999 when I was working at the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM). My involvement started off as a work assignment, and hence I approached organ donation in a very academic way. However, over the years, my conviction on the importance of organ donation has increased, more so when I met Muhammad Fikri Norazmi in 2005. His story is well-known, just Google up his name and you will get more information on him.

Since then, even after leaving IKIM, I am still involved with organ donation programmes out of sheer interest. It is no longer a work-related assignment for me, rather it is now a cause that I am voluntarily involved in.

During the launch of the National Organ Donation Awareness Week at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa by the Hon. Minister of Health, I was caught by surprise when I was presented with a certificate of appreciation conferred by the ministry. I was informed initially that I was to receive the certificate on behalf of the organisation that I am currently attached to, but when I got there, I realised that I was one of three individuals being acknowledged by the ministry for our involvement in organ donation programmes. It goes without saying that I am humbled by this acknowledgement and would like to record my sincerest gratitude to the National Transplant Resource Centre and the Ministry of Health.

On a personal basis, my involvement has been nothing more than just to provide information on the permissibility of organ donation in particular from the Islamic perspective. This is nothing compared to the sacrifice made by donor families in allowing for their loved ones' organs to be harvested in order to save the lives of total strangers who are in need. I am fortunate to be able to partake in "Bicara Hati" which is the climax to the National Organ Donation Awareness Week held at the National Heart Institute (IJN) last Saturday. The programme gathered nearly 50 donor families from all over the country as well some of the organ recipients who have benefited from organ donation.

"Bicara Hati" was, to say the least, an emotional tribute to the donor families. At the lobby of IJN, whilst rain was pouring heavily outside, donor family members shared stories of their loved ones, while recipients expressed their appreciation to the organ donors. It was difficult not to shed a tear that very meaningful afternoon. The programme ended with a tribute to the late Winnie Chen, who herself was waiting for a heart, but instead lost her life waiting. Instead, she became a donor herself.

I would like to go on record in applauding the Ministry of Health and the National Transplant Resource Centre for organising this awareness week. It has been announced that the week will be an annual event. I hope that in the coming years, the week will be filled with meaningful programmes that can touch people's hearts in creating awareness and understanding on the importance of organ donation.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Small gestures make the difference

I was feeling somewhat down today. The burden on my shoulders is still there, weighing itself on me. When I arrived at the university for my last lecture of the semester, I was still very much feeling under the weather.

As I was walking on the faculty's grounds, I came across a couple of my ex-students. When they saw me, they smiled from afar while nodding their heads. Their smiles, which to me came from their hearts, somehow succeeded in bringing a tinge of happiness.

Not long after that, upon performing the Asar prayer at the surau, I crossed paths with another ex-student as I was leaving the surau. He stopped to shake my hands and asked me how I was doing. We chatted for a while, which is quite strange at first because we never actually chatted before. But the chat in itself was very sincere that it felt like we were good friends.

I went to my class feeling somewhat better. And I managed to deliver my lecture on an upbeat note. After the class, usually the students would be rushing home, since my class ends at 6:50 p.m. However, today was very different. Seven of them stayed back and came to see me after the lecture. We talked about the subject I was teaching. They mentioned that they were enlightened by the subject. As pure science students, having an understanding and appreciation towards the history of the development of science serve as a motivation for them to pursue their respective courses with greater rigour. Truth be told, I felt a sense of satisfaction with what these students told me. At least, to my mind, they have managed to learn something from the subject, not just taking it for the sake of fulfilling their course requirement.

At the end of the day, these three gestures from my current and former students really lighten up my otherwise depressing day. I went home feeling that I have indeed done something right, that I have contributed something to others.

And that is indeed a great feeling.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Aching shoulders

There is an old saying: Promises are like the full moon, if they are not kept at once, they diminish day by day. How true! If promises given to me can be exchanged with money, I would probably be the richest person in the world right now. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Frankly, only Allah knows how I feel at the moment. My shoulders ache as if I am carrying a huge burden. The burden may not be physical, but it is there nonetheless. I feel very tired and stressed, truth be told. Tired of waiting for promises to be realised. Stressed to be kept in the dark..

My only solace is by turning myself closer to Allah. I find myself in peace each time I answer the call for the daily prayers. And I am indeed looking forward to finding peace for my mind and soul in Makkah. To all who have prayed for my safe journey to Makkah, please accept my sincerest gratitude. Insya-Allah I will also pray for my true friends when I am there.

I am grateful to Allah for this opportunity to perform my haj at this age. At the same time, I am also grateful for the many signs that He has shown me this past few weeks. There are blessings behind everything that has happened. While we may not necessarily see these blessings immediately, I believe that we should always be thankful for them.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

'Abdurrahman Bin 'Auf

Out of the many companions of the Prophet Muhammad SAW, perhaps the one most well-known for his business acumen was 'Abdurrahman Bin 'Auf. He was known to be wealthy, even when he had to start from scratch after the hijrah to Madinah al-Munawwarah from Makkah al-Mukarramah.

It was recorded in history that upon his arrival in Madinah, 'Abdurrahman Bin 'Auf was assisted by an Ansar who provided him a loan for him to start his business. In just a short period of time, he became very successful and he paid up his debt almost immediately. He was not one who liked to have debts.

He was known to sell, among other things, camels. Interestingly he sold camels at their cost price. And yet he was able to make profit from trading camels. When people asked him his secret, he told them that he did not gain anything from selling camels. His profit, in actual effect, came from selling camels' leashes. Everyone who bought camels would require leashes, lest the camels escaped.

Such ingenuity is indeed something that we can learn if we want to take up business. 'Abdurrahman Bin 'Auf to my mind is an examplary businessman. Today's Muslims can learn a lot from him. He was honest, hardworking and had high integrity. He did not resort to cheating or bribing people. He was also very prudent.

If today's Muslim businessmen can be half the man 'Abdurrahman Bin 'Auf was, I would imagine the impact would be tremendous. But I guess that is not how things are. It is unfortunate that those who go into business have no good sense when it comes to running their businesses. Some set their eyes on big projects without an inkling as to how to deliver. Some get big projects, and the first thing that they do is to buy luxury cars. Some become so spendthrift that they ignore basic things in business like planning and budgeting.

Of course, I can just write on this. I am no businessman. I am just an observer who jots down what I see, and nothing more than that. I can only pray that those who do go into businesses have a good sense to be like 'Abdurrahman Bin 'Auf.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

River of denial

A few weeks back, I was talking to a friend. He relayed to me a piece of information. I find the information somewhat difficult to believe. As such, I asked him how reliable that piece of information is. He said, it is reliable because it came from the source.

Some time later, I found out that the information relayed to me was untrue, or more accurately, did not materialise into reality. When I next met my friend, I asked him again about the information he relayed to me.

To my surprise, he denied ever relaying me said information. He said I could have probably obtained the information from the source first hand.

I was taken aback, to say the least.

Firstly, I don't think I am THAT forgetful. As far as I know, my memory still functions well. I seriously doubt that I am losing my mind.

Secondly, I highly doubt that I got the information from the main source because my contact with the main source is very limited. I don't think I can get two different people mixed up easily.

Thirdly, there is absolutely no way anyone else could have relayed to me the said information.

This incident got me questioning myself for a few days. Did I really forget and got people mixed up? After a few days of soul-searching and thinking, I am very sure I did not. I am very certain of what happened and what was said.

I only wonder why my friend was quick to deny what he said to me several weeks earlier.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Peace of mind

In this modern life, everyone seems to be living in a ratrace society, always seemingly rushing. No wonder people seem stressed out.

I must admit that of late, I am feeling somewhat stressed. Anxiety, frustration, unhappiness and disappointment are probably the main contributors to my stress these days. From my past experience, one way to eliminate stress is to eliminate the factors contributing to it in the first place. I have identified the source of my stress. And I will find a way to eliminate the source so that I can have a peace of mind.

I will do so, insya-Allah, upon returning from Makkah. I will pray for guidance from Allah SWT when in the Holy Land. Hopefully, I can make the right decision come December.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Raise me up

Earlier this evening, my two boys sat on my lap. I was playing the song "Raise Me Up" on my laptop. As I watched them listening to the song, tear drops began to gather in my eyes. I can only pray to Allah that I be given the strength and health to raise my sons to the very best of my capability providing them what they need.

And most of all, I pray to Allah that I can be a good father to them.

Inform and being informed

When I did my MBA way back in 1996, one of the things that I learned was the importance of information availability in an organisation. Accurate information provided timely, effectively and efficiently to staff members would help in avoiding speculations and uncertainties. Information flow from the management to the staff also increases transparency in the organisation. At the same time, members in the organisation will also be able to give feedback and input. Not all things that come from the top is the best option. Unfortunately, many at the top tend to forget or ignore this fact.

Information in an organisation can be disseminated and discussed with ease in regularly scheduled meetings. When meetings are rarely done, people do not know what is being planned and implemented. Again this can lead to speculations and uncertainties. One of the most cherished experience I have is when I was serving the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM). I joined in 1998, and with my promotion in 2000, I began attending the Management Meeting which was scheduled monthly. Despite his very busy schedule, the then-Chairman, Tan Sri (now Tun) Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid never failed to chair these management meetings. The meetings would start promptly at 9:00 a.m. and will take about three hours or so. Many things are discussed and threshed out efficiently. As an experienced person in administration, he managed the meetings according to the agenda and minutes, never straying away into non-related matters. He was always punctual. (As a side note, I believe punctuality is a sign of quality of a person's leadership skill).

Some people regard meetings as a waste of time. In my humble opinion, meetings are a waste of time only when the person chairing them do not manage the meetings well. Also, it will not help if a decision made in a meeting can be overturned outside the meeting. If this happens, then there is no point having a meeting. Nevertheless, meetings are important to organisations. Failure to have them at regular intervals would result in the breakdown of information flow.

Another way to disseminate information is to send e-mails to members in the organisation. As a student and part-time lecturer at Universiti Malaya, I notice that the current Vice Chancellor is very good at this. He would send e-mails to notify on new measures or policies, as well as to congratulate members of the university who have done well in research (to take an example). His messages can also be found on his Facebook page as well as the university's Facebook page.

So, really there is no reason for breakdown of information in this day and age. The avenue for dissemination is there, whether the more traditional form of having meetings, or the more modern form of utilising information and communication technology. It is unfortunate if, even with all these means, information breakdown still takes place. To me, there is no such thing as privileged information in this era of the open sky, in particular when it comes to running an organisation.

The success of an organisation hinges on informed decisions being made transparently, and the success of disseminating information to staff members. As an analogy, if an organisation is likened to the human body, just imagine what happens when the brain fails to communicate with the rest of the body. No matter how powerful or good the brain is, if the rest of the body does not function as a result of failure in communication, then the body itself will eventually fail.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Broken vase

I was surfing the Internet when I came across the following quote:
Trust is like a vase. Once it's broken, though you can fix it, the vase will never be the same again.
I find the quote very apt. Any idea who said or wrote that?