a young pakistani doctor blogs...
Sunday, June 25, 2006
  Understanding Islam 2, Ayesha's age at marriage
Here is issue that bothered me a lot. I heard many Muslims defend the idea that Ayesha (ra) was 9 years old at the time of marriage or consummation of the marriage. When I read this answer on the understanding-Islam site, it just blew me away. This answer was written in 1998. Over the years (since questions from people are routinely accepted at the site) there have been a series of rebuttal questions to this original answer, forming a long chain of animated discussions on the subject. The original question/answer is here , which is followed up by this, then this, this, this, this, and finally the last answer written on the issue to date here.

Title:
What was Ayesha's (ra) Age at the Time of Her Marriage to the Prophet (pbuh)?

Question:

What was Ayesha's (ra) age at the time of her marriage?
It is normally believed that she was nine years old at the time of her marriage with Mohammad (sws) was consummated. I do think it was according to the traditions of the Arab culture, as otherwise people would have objected to this marriage. But unfortunately, the modern day man is not satisfied with an answer as simple as that.

Answer:
To begin with, I think it is the responsibility of all those who believe that marrying a girl as young as nine years old was an accepted norm of the Arab culture, to provide at least a few examples to substantiate their point of view. I have not yet been able to find a single reliable instance in the books of Arab history where a girl as young as nine years old was given away in marriage. Unless such examples are given, we do not have any reasonable grounds to believe that it really was an accepted norm.

In my opinion, the age of Ayesha (ra) has been grossly misreported in the narratives of the incident. Not only that, I think that the narratives reporting this event are not only highly unreliable but also that on the basis of other historical data, the event reported, is quite an unlikely happening. Let us look at the issue from an objective stand point. My reservations in accepting the narratives, on the basis of which, Ayesha's (ra) age at the time of her marriage with the Prophet (pbuh) is held to be nine years are:
  1. Most of these narratives are reported only by Hisham ibn `urwah reporting on the authority of his father. An event as well known as the one being reported, should logically have been reported by more people than just one, two or three.

  2. It is quite strange that no one from Medinah, where Hisham ibn `urwah lived the first seventy-one years of his life has narrated the event, even though in Medinah his pupils included people as well known as Malik ibn Anas. All the narratives of this event have been reported by narrators from Iraq, where Hisham is reported to have shifted after living in Medinah for seventy-one years.

  3. Tehzeeb al-Tehzeeb, one of the most well known books on the life and reliability of the narrators of the traditions ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) reports that according to Yaqub ibn Shaibah: "narratives reported by Hisham are reliable except those that are reported through the people of Iraq". It further states that Malik ibn Anas objected on those narratives of Hisham, which were reported through people of Iraq (Vol. 11, pg. 48 - 51).

  4. Meezaan al-Ai`tidaal, another book on the narrators of the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) reports that when he was old, Hisham's memory suffered quite badly (Vol. 4, pg. 301 - 302).

  5. According to the generally accepted tradition, Ayesha (ra) was born about eight years before Hijrah. However, according to another narrative in Bukhari (Kitaab al-Tafseer) Ayesha (ra) is reported to have said that at the time Surah Al-Qamar, the 54th chapter of the Qur'an, was revealed, "I was a young girl". The 54th Surah of the Qur'an was revealed nine years before Hijrah. According to this tradition, Ayesha (ra) had not only been born before the revelation of the referred Surah, but was actually a young girl (jariyah), not even only an infant (sibyah) at that time. Obviously, if this narrative is held to be true, it is in clear contradiction with the narratives reported by Hisham ibn `urwah. I see absolutely no reason that after the comments of the experts on the narratives of Hisham ibn `urwah, why should we not accept this narrative to be more accurate.

  6. According to a number of narratives, Ayesha (ra) accompanied the Muslims in the battle of Badr and Uhud. Furthermore, it is also reported in books of hadith and history that no one under the age of 15 years was allowed to take part in the battle of Uhud. All the boys below 15 years of age were sent back. Ayesha's (ra) participation in the battle of Badr and Uhud clearly indicates that she was not nine or ten years old at that time. After all, women used to accompany men to the battlefields to help them, not to be a burden upon them.

  7. According to almost all the historians Asma (ra), the elder sister of Ayesha (ra) was ten years older than Ayesha (ra). It is reported in Taqreeb al-Tehzeeb as well as Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah that Asma (ra) died in the 73rd year after hijrah when she was 100 years old. Now, obviously if Asma (ra) was 100 years old in the 73rd year after hijrah, she should have been 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrah. If Asma (ra) was 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrah, Ayesha (ra) should have been 17 or 18 years old at that time. Thus, Ayesha (ra) - if she got married in 1 AH (after hijrah) or 2 AH - was between 18 to 20 years old at the time of her marriage.

  8. Tabari in his treatise on Islamic history, while mentioning Abu Bakr (ra) reports that Abu Bakr had four children and all four were born during the Jahiliyyah - the pre Islamic period. Obviously, if Ayesha (ra) was born in the period of jahiliyyah, she could not have been less than 14 years in 1 AH - the time she most likely got married.

  9. According to Ibn Hisham, the historian, Ayesha (ra) accepted Islam quite some time before Umar ibn Khattab (ra). This shows that Ayesha (ra) accepted Islam during the first year of Islam. While, if the narrative of Ayesha's (ra) marriage at seven years of age is held to be true, Ayesha (ra) should not even have been born during the first year of Islam.

  10. Tabari has also reported that at the time Abu Bakr (ra) planned on migrating to Habshah (8 years before Hijrah), he went to Mut`am - with whose son Ayesha (ra) was engaged at that time - and asked him to take Ayesha (ra) in his house as his son's wife. Mut`am refused, because Abu Bakr had embraced Islam. Subsequently, his son divorced Ayesha (ra). Now, if Ayesha (ra) was only seven years old at the time of her marriage, she could not have been born at the time Abu Bakr decided on migrating to Habshah. On the basis of this report it seems only reasonable to assume that Ayesha (ra) had not only been born 8 years before hijrah, but was also a young lady, quite prepared for marriage.

  11. According to a narrative reported by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, after the death of Khadijah (ra), when Khaulah (ra) came to the Prophet (pbuh) advising him to marry again, the Prophet (pbuh) asked her regarding the choices she had in her mind. Khaulah said: "You can marry a virgin (bikr) or a woman who has already been married (thayyib)". When the Prophet (pbuh) asked about who the virgin was, Khaulah proposed Ayesha's (ra) name. All those who know the Arabic language, are aware that the word "bikr" in the Arabic language is not used for an immature nine-year old girl. The correct word for a young playful girl, as stated earlier is "Jariyah". "Bikr" on the other hand, is used for an unmarried lady, and obviously a nine year old is not a "lady".

  12. According to Ibn Hajar, Fatimah (ra) was five years older than Ayesha (ra). Fatimah (ra) is reported to have been born when the Prophet (pbuh) was 35 years old. Thus, even if this information is taken to be correct, Ayesha (ra) could by no means be less than 14 years old at the time of hijrah, and 15 or 16 years old at the time of her marriage.
These are some of the major points that go against accepting the commonly known narrative regarding Ayesha's (ra) age at the time of her marriage.

In my opinion, neither was it an Arab tradition to give away girls in marriage at an age as young as nine or ten years, nor did the Prophet (pbuh) marry Ayesha (ra) at such a young age. The people of Arabia did not object to this marriage, because it never happened in the manner it has been narrated.
 
  Just a roll of the dice?
We are 4 brothers, completely different from one another. Literally, it’s as if all 4 of us were adopted from families of different genetic pools. Not only are we nothing like each other physically, but our personalities could not be more different. It’s quite striking really, and unfortunate. We brothers aren’t really close to each other. I don’t know how things turned out to be this way. Maybe it was growing up in Jeddah, where we had no cousins to hang out with to see how ‘normal’ brothers interacted. Maybe it was because our eldest brother, who should have taken the lead, was never affectionate, using us as objects of his amusement and service more than anything else. I wish that weren’t the case. I’ve seen brothers who would do anything for each other, and while we four are certainly never hostile with each other, there isn’t an over-abundance of warmth between us either. We all have our separate lives now, our separate destinies. I wonder if it’s just a part of growing up to drift apart slowly. I wonder if it’s because of the weird family dynamics we have that has resulted in this or if it’s just how things work out for most families.

One the subject of how different the 4 of us have turned out, in the extent of our achievements, in our attitudes towards our parents, and in our temperaments, my father once told me that children are a gamble. You can try to do everything right and still they turn out very badly. With other kids, you just gently nudge them in the right direction and things seem to magically work out. That has definitely been the case with my own family. I’m still uncertain though to what extent my father’s ‘gamble’ theory is correct. I think there must be always been a way nurture can overcome nature to move a child along a road that leaves him well adjusted, hard-working and happy. Then again, I know of kids who have completely ruined their lives even though their parents have tried everything to help them. Maybe these parents did something wrong. It’s disconcerting to think that children can be a family’s downfall.

When they are born, there is nothing but hope and love in the parent’s hearts. How painful it must be to have that sentiment betrayed.
 
Friday, June 23, 2006
  Khutbah
I’ve had the most terrible attention span this morning. God, I could barely concentrate for more than 5 minutes before being distracted by the smallest thing. Talk about ADD.

I’m going to this mosque near my house for Friday prayers soon. I don’t really enjoy listen to the imam of the mosque. He has nothing new to say during his khutbahs, only regurgitating stuff he’s probably memorized years ago. He’s also got the most boring, cadence to his speech. He breaks his sentences in two, pausing randomly in the middle before continuing. I think he believes this lends an aura of authority to his voice. He’s also got a wholly artificial, overly done, high-pitched quiver to his voice when he’s reciting the Quran.

Friday khutbahs should be informative and though provoking. The imam should work hard on composing it, making it relevant to current events and situations. I’m absolutely sure very few imams of mosques actually sit down to think hard about what they’ll be saying in their khutbahs. The imam of the mosque I’m going to is just like thousands of others all over Pakistan. He memorized the Quran when he was a kid without understanding a thing he was committing to memory and then managed to find a job as an imam of a mosque. He’s got three meals a day and a place to stay. Occasionally he’s invited to a wedding to preside over the nikah. That means even more food! What more does he need from life?
 
  Choice
For some time now I’ve believed that a large part of why many Muslims have an exclusivist, insular bent of mind was because they believed in an interpretation of Islam that (incorrectly) stressed such a mindset. The “Understanding Islam” excerpt that I posted a couple of days ago was an eye opener for me when I first read it. My heart sang because this is what I truly believed and here was an Islamic scholar who stated the same thing. God loves all of mankind, not just the Muslims, and everyone has a fair shot of entering paradise, irrespective of his religious creed. I thought that if only more Muslims believed in this idea, tolerance and open-mindedness would quickly flourish in the Muslim world. More Muslims would aggressively reject the likes of Al-Qaeda and sectarianism would die out. Having achieved that, it would only be a matter of time when socioeconomic prosperity was ushered in.

These days however, I’m beginning to feel that I’m thinking about this backwards. It’s not because of a particular Islamic interpretation that has Muslims thinking narrow-mindedly, but rather they feel comfortable with this outlook and therefore gravitate towards a particular interpretation of Islam that allows them the luxury of this mindset.

A few hundred years ago, as the Western world rose to dominate, perhaps the Muslims gravitated towards a belief that allowed them to feel good about themselves while being subjugated by a foreign power. How many Palestinians would feel comfortable if told that the Jews had as good a chance of entering Heaven as they do? Not an awful lot, I’m sure. It’s easy to hate. Hatred is a quick-fix balm - something that serves to release the rage. It’s far more difficult to quell that anger, to remain calm and look inwards for strength to overcome what we feel is unfair subjugation. If somehow an interpretation of the Quran allows you to keep feeling that hate, then what more do the Muslims need? God Himself has spoken. We are better than they. We have something to feel good about in ourselves. I don’t think then that if more Muslims were made aware of Islam’s non-exclusivist approach that it would really make much difference. Too many of them are mired in a comfortable mindset of exclusivist hate because of the present global situation.

I think being a good Muslim is hard work. It’s about making difficult choices. It’s about taking the high road. Its about saying no to anger and hate because that is what Islam teaches us. It’s what Martin Luther King, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Mahatma Gandhi all did.

Once while I was living in Peshawar, a tableeghi jamat told me a story of one of the sahabas, I think it was Umar (ra). Umar was fighting on the battle field with the leader of the opposing army. He overpowered the man and was about to kill him when the man spit in his face. Umar was enraged and got up, disengaging without striking the man again. When the man got up from the ground, he asked Umar why he didn’t kill him and Umar replied that he was furious just then at him and it would have been wrong to kill him in anger, if the larger purpose of doing God’s work was subjugated to his anger. Ironically, the tableeghi didn’t really appreciate the deeper implication of this anecdote because he went on to talk about the infidel non-Muslims and how they would all rot in hell if we didn’t save them.

It’s about choice. We can choose to live righteously, centering ourselves with worship of God, or we can choose to use flimsy interpretations of the Quran to provide an excuse for our pig-headedness. We could choose for Islam to be about a personal connection with God, and about living life with an uncompromising sense of morality, or we could choose for Islam to be some sort of secret password we need to give at the doors of Paradise. It’s far easier to believe the later, as it suits man’s base instincts, but the road to Paradise is most certainly not paved with seething anger.
 
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
  blech
The last few days study has been blech, and I’ve been feeling blech and life has been blech. Yes, it’s been blech all around. Last night for some weird reason, my heart rate dropped quite significantly. It was down to somewhere in the 30s. While I’d like to think this was because I’m in such great Lance Armstrong-esque shape I know that’s not the case. I took a few puffs of Ventolin, which I always keep handy to get the heart rate going again and the lungs opened up. I had this problem all the way till I finally got to sleep. When I woke up, I felt terrible. Extremely groggy and even depressed. I think the breathing/heart-rate problems preventing me from getting much restful sleep.

Another thing that really pisses me off these days is the glaring lack of hygiene in the kitchen. We’ve got swarms of cockroaches emerging at night and they crawl all over the dishes and other stuff in the kitchen. I keep telling my parents to get some professional pest-control service in tow so the roaches can be annihilated once and for all. I also pointed out that if the drain on the floor of the kitchen were properly cemented in place (instead of lying on top of it detached), the roaches wouldn’t be able to get in. My father insists the problem is under control because they got a big can of baygon roach spray that they use. I point out that the problem is obviously out of hand, to which he claims that the kitchen and household is my mother’s “department” and washes his hands off the whole thing. My mother for her part makes some excuse or other because she really doesn’t think much of the problem. We have a maid that cooks for us as well. Besides cooking, which she is very good at, she’s also responsible for cleaning and stuff. The gripe that I have is that I seriously doubt she washes her hands carefully before cooking for us. She can spend half the day wiping the floors and cleaning the bathrooms, and then use the same unwashed hands to cook our bread. I’ve asked my mother if she washes her hands when she cooks, and my mother says that she does, but there is no soap in the kitchen, and I doubt the maid (or my mother for that matter) go specially into the bathroom to wash their hands before handling food.

There’s a deep seated inertia to change that’s pervaded my household. The TV downstairs for example has a problem in that the picture flickers out and only comes back if you get up and jiggle the cable wire around a little. This happens ever 10-15 minutes. The problem has long been diagnosed as a very simple affair. The socket that the cable wire goes into is loose and dislodges by itself. It only requires a good repairman a few minutes to fix the problem. Now get this: This problem has been going on for the last 12 months. When I ask my mother why no one has bothered to fix it, she complains that no one is ready to take her, and when I ask my father, he says it’s not his “department”. My 36 year old elder brother who lives with us most of the time has never taken it upon himself to fix this problem because he’s got his own TV upstairs. My mother doesn’t want to ask him to fix it because she doesn’t want to owe him any favors. My 32 year old brother, who doesn’t have a job has never learnt to drive and so this automatically excuses him from the responsibility. My father could do it easily over the weekend, but it’s not his department.

It’s just a screwed up, stupid, banosi household I come from. I want to get out of here as fast as I can.
 
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
  Understanding Islam
I’ve mentioned in passing, in several posts of mine in the past, how the work of the scholars at Al-Mawrid have changed my life and opened my eyes to an Islam that resonates very closely with my own internal sense of what is right and wrong, a sense that Islam teaches us we are all born with.

I grew up in Saudi Arabia and over there, the “brand” of Islam we were exposed to was Wahabism, which is a very literalist interpretation of the Quran, Sunnah and Hadeeth. To a large part, this interpretation of Islam has also been practiced in Pakistan. I never felt comfortable with it and it was only when I came across the work of the Al-Mawrid scholars that I truly felt comfortable with Islam. I never believed that religion was about blind faith where you suspended normal logical processes and just ‘leaped’ forward to accept something that your mind could not. It was hugely gratifying when I came across the www.understanding-islam.org site and saw that Islam could stand up to scrutiny and that many beliefs that were being propounded in Wahabist Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan were simply incorrect.

From now on, I’ll try to reproduce material from the understanding-islam site regularly over here. I used to send out such material to friends in emails a few years ago, but no one seemed to appreciate it. I firmly believe that if a renaissance is to occur in the Muslim world, it will be borne from the work of these scholars’ whose legacy includes Hameed-u-Din Farahi and Amin Ahsan Islahi

To me, the Al-Mawrid work is a big deal. I want to shout it from the rooftops, I want to grab people and ask them to take notice. Look!! Why don’t you see how beautiful this thing is? I discovered the site a few years ago, and it frustrates me that today, when the Muslim world needs scholars that appeal to one’s intellect and not to their emotions, Al-Mawrid is largely still untalked about.

Anyway, I’ll let their work speak for themselves. I’ll choose material from their site and post it up here. I’ll also provide the link to their site where I got the material from. The site was created by Moiz Amjad, who is just one of the scholars of Al-Mawrid, and the first one who established a net presence.

My first entry goes right to the meat of the matter, in my opinion. The original link is found here. And a far more detailed discussion of this concept is given here by Khalid Zaheer.

Title:What Will Happen to Jews and Christians?

Question:

There has been recent discussion about the fact whether Christians and Jews will be going to heaven along with Muslims (insha'Allah).

The argument is such: Christians and Jews who are isolated from Islam have the possibility to go to heaven but those who have been exposed to Islam do not. Also certain verses in the Qur'an concerning Christians and Jews going to heaven have been nullified by later verses.
Could you please comment on this because it does not make sense considering what I have read in the Qur'an?

Answer:
The Qur'an has very strongly negated the idea that the Jannah or the bliss in the life hereafter - the Paradise - is the right of any particular religious group or creed. Whether one ascribes to the Muslim or to any other belief, the criteria for success in the hereafter is going to be his true faith in the Almighty and in the Day of reckoning.

According to the Qur'anic view about life each individual, who lives on the face of this earth is being tested by the Almighty. Whether born to Muslim or Jewish or Christian parents, each individual is being tested for his honest and unbiased search for and surrender to the Truth, as he sees and understands it. To go through this test, God has bestowed upon us the sense and the intellect to judge right from wrong.

A close look at our general attitude towards religion and religious beliefs shows that we normally go through life with the beliefs that we inherit from our parents. If we are born in a Muslim family, there is a greater chance that we shall remain Muslims through out our lives. The same holds true in other cases as well. But unfortunately, this passive belief shall have absolutely no importance on the Day of Judgment. Whether we attended the Sunday Church or the Friday Congregation shall only have a secondary importance. The first thing that would be judged is whether the individual truly searched for the Truth or not and then, whether he lived his life in accordance with that Truth or not.

In the light of the above explanation, in my opinion, success in the hereafter is not dependent on ascribing to any one or the other group. It is basically dependent on my attitude towards searching for and submitting to the Truth. Thus, those Christians and Jews, who, without any prejudice, had searched for the Truth and had submitted to it, shall be among those who are successful in the hereafter. While those who called themselves Muslims in this world, might fail in the hereafter on the account that they did not seriously and without any bias, seek the Truth or that even after knowing the Truth, did not submit to it or lived their lives in accordance with it.

This is the general principle of success and/or failure in the test of the life of this world. Thus, the criterion of success or failure is one that depends purely on the internal mechanism of the human soul and intellect. Because we cannot say that a particular person has rejected Islam (or whatever we hold to be the Truth) after being thoroughly convinced that Islam is the divine truth, we therefore, cannot pass a judgment regarding his success or failure in the hereafter. It is only the Omniscient God who really knows whether a person rejected after being truly convinced of the Truth or whether his rejection was because of some misunderstanding or some unanswered questions in his mind, regarding that Truth. On the day of reckoning, God shall give His decision on the basis of His absolute knowledge about the reasons of the rejection of the individuals.

According to the Qur'an, when a messenger of God (Rasu'l as distinct from Nab'i) is sent towards a people, he removes all doubts that lie in people's minds regarding the Truth. He answers all their questions. Truth becomes evidently distinct from falsehood. Those who accept his message, accept it with full knowledge of what is right and what is wrong; and those who reject his message, reject it after gaining full knowledge that it is the Truth that they are rejecting. It is because of this particular position of the messengers (Rasu'l) of God that it becomes evident that those who are rejecting his call are rejecting the Truth, and those who are accepting his call are submitting to the Truth. The former are thus bound to be thrown in the hellfire and the latter are promised the everlasting bliss of paradise. Therefore the Jews and Christians who lived during the life of the Prophet (pbuh) and yet did not accept his message are doomed to the severe punishment of hellfire. We, even with our limited knowledge know about this fact, because if, as the Muslims hold, Mohammad (pbuh) was a true messenger of God, then those Jews and Christians who lived during the life of the Prophet (pbuh) knowingly rejected the Truth. They shall have no excuse for their rejection. It is these Jews and Christians that are sure to be doomed.

As far as the Jews and Christians of other times and places are concerned, they are subjected to the same test in the life of this world, as everyone else including the Muslims. If they submit to whatever they truly believe to be the Truth and live their lives in accordance with that Truth, they shall be successful. The case of the Muslims is not any different.
 
  6 things
I’ve been tagged by Zak for 6 weird things about me, so here we go:
  1. I’m terrible at small talk. I tend to divulge top-secret confidential information to people just to have something to talk about other than small talk.

  2. I have simply zero sense of direction. I mean ZERO!! I get lost in fricken Islamabad. I hold my breath when turning a corner while driving to a certain place, hoping it’s the right place. I’m still am unable to drive to the place I went to school here in Islamabad for two years. I mean I can get myself to the general location, then I just drive around hoping I bump into the place I’m looking for. Now that’s weird.

  3. I’m so fascinated and enthralled by Dubai and New York City that I waste hours looking for pictures of these places to use as my desktop wallpaper. I’m got a fine collection. Today I’ve got a picture of the Dubai skyline as it looks at night from the sea.

  4. I don’t feel like a Pakistani, or a pathan, or an anything. I still don’t have sense of belonging to any one place. (Probably explains my fascination with NYC and Dubai, where you’ve got people from all over the world living together. It suits my sense of not belonging to any one place)

  5. I’ve spent some 80 percent of my waking hours the last two years sitting in the same chair studying for one exam or another.

  6. Hmm… can’t think of another one, sorry…
 
Saturday, June 10, 2006
  Maulana Rant
When the socio-economic levels of a society goes down the toilet, all aspects of its civilization go right down with it. Muslims have been amongst the poorest of nations for a few hundred years now and along with other things, our scholarship has been abysmal as well. This has inevitably affected the quality of our religious scholars, the so called ‘ulema’. The vast majority make a mockery of the sacred position society has elevated them to. Society has entrusted them to serve as guides on the road towards spirituality, but on the whole they have betrayed this trust. It’s not their fault I suppose. I’m a doctor, and I’m relying on Western medical textbooks to teach me medicine. Throughout my years of studying medicine, not once I come across a Pakistani textbook I could rely on. Western medicine has been leading the rest of us for hundreds of years now. I can still be a great doctor because I have access to Western textbooks. But what about our ‘ulema’. As original sciences have deteriorated to laughable levels in the Muslim world, so has religious scholarship. The difference is that while we have Western sources to learn science from (so we can still become doctors, build dams, airplanes, roads and so on), our religious scholarship is still stuck centuries in the past because we can’t (or don’t?) use Western resources for this purpose. Instead, religious scholarship in this day and age consists of memorizing opinions of scholars who lived in a different time and who would turn in their grave if it were known to them that their life’s work had turned into intolerant dogma.

Who is to blame here? I would have been a terrible doctor if I did not have Western material to study medicine from. The religious scholars of today don’t have anything comparable to fall back on. The best minds of the ummah don’t go towards religious scholarship, so it’s not surprising the ulema cannot emerge from the prison of dogma that it has found itself locked into.

If there is any hope, I see it in the scholars of Al-Mawrid, whose work had literally saved me from abandoning Islam a few years ago.

What brought this rant on?

This did.
 
  the birthday girl
I decided to get my fiancé the DVD set for the 1st season of House MD. You guys can say what you wish, but I know what’d she’d like. I had sent her some ER episodes I had downloaded with bittorrent and she absolutely loved those.

So I went to the store and asked the guy there if they had “House MD”. After the inevitable looks of dazed confusion (why do I always have to repeat what I’m looking for three times in a book or video store?), the guy’s gaze wondered over the huge shop he was in charge for as if he had X-ray vision and could do a quick search from the comfort of his chair. He slowly answered that they didn’t have House MD. Not believing him, I decided to look for myself. In about 30 seconds, I was back at the counter waving the House DVD set in his nose. He didn’t look the slightest bit embarrassed at his incompetence, looking only at the price tag to see how much money he was going to milk out of me.

I had gone to the shop prepared to do battle. The thing is, when I bought my own House MD DVD set, it wasn’t the original set, but a really crappy, internet-downloaded version that wasn’t even HDTV. I didn’t know this, because the DVD set looked pristine and sparkling from the outside. I let it pass and watched the DVDs anyway, but what really irritated me was when 2 DVDs from the set didn’t work. I went back to the shop and raised hell, demanding my money back. The guys there apologized and promised to replace the two DVDs the next day. I didn’t like the idea of having to come a third time, but I caved in because there wasn’t much else I could do. I wanted those two DVDs. So I went back again the third time only to have them exclaim that the guy didn’t come today, so if I could please come the next day…

I shouted at them a lot and came away with my money back and a promise never to come back to the store again. Sure enough when I went to get DVDs for my fiancé, I went to another store, but not wanting to get screwed again, I insisted that the guy check every single DVD in the set before I buy them.

The first DVD looked alright… it loaded up and stuff. I told him to move on and check the second DVD, and then out of instinct when it loaded up, I told him to play an episode. And hey presto… wouldn’t you know: It didn’t work!! I was so pissed. The idiot was standing there banging on the remote to the DVD player and the thing just wouldn’t move past the main menu. As the guy stood there like a moron, another clerk came from the upstairs section of the store. He looked like a total jerk; I didn’t like him at all. He had an argumentative scowl on his face and the idiot clerk asked the mean clerk if they had another set of House MD. “Why?” he asked. The idiot clerk replied this set wasn’t working.

Get this: right in front of me, the mean clerk says “don’t open the box sets here. If there is a problem let the customer come back and deal with it.” I snapped back at him telling him I wasn’t so free that I had time to come again to sort out defective DVDs. He got me really worked up. I mean, what a jerk. Talk about poor interpersonal skills.  

The mean clerk went back up without replying. It was established that they didn’t have another set of House MD. Just then I turned my head a little and guess what I see! The DVD set for ER Season 1!! I had been looking for this for months! Every time I went into a DVD store, this was the first thing I asked them for. Nobody had it, and this was the show I really wanted to see. After all this time, I find it there in that store. I never even asked them if they had it, because I didn’t expect they would.

Anyway, I grab the ER set and tell the idiot clerk to check these ones. He looks at the set dubiously and primly walks over to the mean clerk and tells him the customer wants to check these DVDs. I’m walking right behind the idiot clerk ready to make sure the DVDs are checked. The mean guy turns to me and tells me they can’t remove the wrapping around the box sets. He said the “goras” that come here insist that the sets be wrapped up. I told him that the House DVDs weren’t working… we had just checked them right now, wrapping or no wrapping, no one would buy them. I told him if the ER DVDs were working I’d buy them, and if not, he shouldn’t be selling them anyway. He knew I had trapped him there because I had the evidence of the House DVDs to throw at him. He suffered a long constipated silence before finally grunting to the idiot clerk to go and check the DVDs.

Thankfully, the ER DVDs were all working fine. All were the real thing, and not some cheap internet knockoff. I really really really really wanted to get an ER set for myself, but I didn’t have any money left.

So I sent the DVDs off to the birthday girl. I won’t get to watch them, but she will, and she’ll love them, and that’s fine.
 
Thursday, June 08, 2006
  Gifts
It’s my fiancé’s birthday day after tomorrow and I wondering what to get her. For my birthday, she sent me a T-shirt (which I happen to be wearing right now). I was thinking of getting her the House MD Season 1 DVD set. I have the set myself and I think she’ll love it. She really liked ER, and shows like House MD are twice as fun when you try to follow the medicine behind it.

It’s either that or Hugo perfume for women. I’m not sure which one to get. I think she’ll enjoy House more, but don’t girls like perfume and stuff like that a lot?

Other than that, my studies are going on really well these days. My spirits are high. I hope it stays that way. If I happen to be peaking right now, it’s really good timing.
 
Recent med school graduate from Peshawar, Pakistan. Started blogging when in throes of final year exams. Currently studying for USMLE Step 1. Aiming for the 2008 Match. I blog about my studies, my worries, and my thoughts on life. I live in Islamabad.

BLOGS I READ
Aya's Randomness
I, Zak
Crow's Nest
Rai
Kevin MD
Sometime's Sobia

Watan Dost
Fingers and tubes
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