Saturday, June 20, 2015

Umrah Travelogue - Part 3

My first part of the trip was at Medina followed by Mecca. 

Medina, the city of Holy Prophet. It reminds me the struggle of the Prophet and His Companions to relay the message of Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala and now Islam has been spread worldwide. 

The Prophet Mosque. 
It it the main attraction here at Medina. There are several interesting features of the mosque in comparison to the mosque in Malaysia. Apart from being the second largest mosque in the world, it also hosts the original house of the prophet and the final resting place of the Prophet and His Great companions. One of the place where supplications can be easily granted, Raudhah is also located in this mosque. There are lots of historical remains in this mosque. 

The giant umbrella
It is one of the most common structures featured in any television show whenever you talked about the Holy Prophet mosque. The umbrella is extremely tall in structure. I will let the picture shows how big and massive is the giant umbrella. 

The aircond
I was surprised at first to see the location of air conditioning system at the mosque. It is located at the bottom of every pillar inside the mosque. 

Perhaps not common in Malaysia, here in Saudi Arabia, you can bring shoes inside the mosque as long as you put your shoe in a clean container most often in the form of plastics. There are thousands of shoe racks inside the mosque. 

This place is always crowded regardless of what time it is on the day. You have to come early to get inside to the Raudhah. There are allocated time for female and male to visit this place. However, this place is open to all Muslims during the compulsory prayer.

One piece of advice from me....this also applies to Mecca as well. It is advisable to come extremely early to the mosque for every prayer time. Even during Fajr prayer, the mosque is already full one hour before the actual prayer.

to be continued...

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Career pathway for doctors in Malaysia

For many SPM leavers, one of the most popular courses in the university will be the medical programme. Therefore, in this post, I will be explaining the pathway of becoming a doctor and how to become a specialist in Malaysia.

After passing your SPM exam, you have to join the foundation course. There are many foundation courses available such as STPM, matriculation course, A-level, International Baccalaureate or any of the university pre-medical programmes. These programmes usually last between 1-3 years. 

Medical Schools
After successfully passing the foundation course, you have to compete with thousands of applicants to get into the medical programme. There are many local universities which have offered medical degree in Malaysia. If you are fortunate, you may also able to go to overseas to pursue your medical degree. On average, the duration of the medical programme is between 5-6 years. 

After graduating from the medical school, you will be entitled to join the internship/housemanship at any government hospital. In Malaysia, the duration of housemanship is 2 years. You have to do six postings throughout your housemanship.

Medical officer
Next will be your journey as a medical officer. Depending on the availability, you will be posted to any hospital/government clinics but not necessarily of your own choice. Please bear in mind that as a government servant, the Ministry of Health has the right to place its employee according to the availability. 

I believe this is the longest part of career as a doctor. This is the most important part of your career in which you choose your own pathway.

If you are no longer interested to pursue in medicine, you can quit from the job and try to get an alternative job. If you are keen to become a researcher, you can try applying for jobs in any of the research centre in Malaysia or overseas. 

If you are interested to pursue to become a specialist, you can either join the local Master programme or if possible to sit for any UK-based exam eg MRCP, MRCS, FRCR etc.

The local master programme last on average 4 years followed by 6 months period of gazettement. After you are recognised as a specialist by Ministry of Health, you can choose to join the training programme for any subspecialty you are interested.

This post was written in response to one of the comment I received in this post

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Umrah Travelogue - Part 2

King Abdul Aziz International Airport (Jeddah's Hajj Terminal)
This airport is frequently used to handle pilgrims who are taking part in Hajj and umrah.  I departed from Malaysia in the morning and arrived in the Jeddah's airport in the evening. The flight will usually last between 8 to 9 hours and the time zone in Saudi Arabia is about 5 hours later than Malaysia.

The most common problem that people will face at this airport will be the attitude of the immigration officer. It has been cited by many blogs including by my friends, and they have warned me in advance, that you should expect delay for several hours at this airport.

In my own experience, I was stuck at the airport for more than 5 hours. The immigration officer keeps on talking to themselves and intermittently close the counter without any proper explanation, and later ask the people who has been waiting for the past few hours to move on to the next counter.

Despite there were only two flights that arrived in the airport at that time, the immigration officers took about 5 hours to process the passengers from these two flights. Just imagine the situation when they are handling thousands of Hajj pilgrims during Hajj season.

Personally, I took this as a test to measure my patience. Let us hope that this situation will be improved in the future. 

view of the airport with it's unique design of the roof

Madinah al Munawwarah
After the delay at the airport, we travelled to Madinah via chartered buses. The journey took us about 6 hours with a stop in the middle of the travel for dinner. Madinah is located about 400km northeast of Jeddah. By this time, all of us were already sleep deprived and tired. Most of us were asleep during this journey.

Image taken from Google Map

The picture above shows the location of the hotel in comparison to the Prophet's Mosque. Most of the hotels are located to the north and west side of the Holy Mosque. I stayed in one of those hotels and it was within walking distance to the Holy Mosque.

The Baqi cemetery is located to the southeast of the Holy Mosque. This is the cemetery of the Prophet's companion.

I will take more about Madinah in the following post...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Umrah Travelogue - Part 1

Alhamdulillah, I have returned from my trip to Meccca and Madinah one week ago. The trip lasted about 2 weeks and within those periods, many significant events happened in Malaysia. 

First was the massive flood that involves multiple states in Malaysia. My hometown was also not spared from the disaster and even my own parent has to relocate as my house was next to Sungai Perak. Half of my hometown was flooded for more than one week.

Second was the crash of Indonesia Air Asia aeroplane. Until today, they are still looking for the dead passengers and the black box. This event will have significant impact to the future of budget airlines in Indonesia.

Back to my umrah journey. This trip was planned for few months in advance. This is my first time visiting the Holy Land. Alhamdulillah, there were few surprises and lots of nice memory that I have collected throughout the journey.


1.     Travel agent
Many Malaysians used to go to perform umrah via travel agents albeit few will go independently. In my case, I follow the majority and arrange the entire trip using a travel agent. There are many travel agents available in Malaysia and it is up to you to choose which agent suits you the best

2.     Knowledge
In order to perform umrah while hoping that it will be blessed by Allah, we need to increase our knowledge and learn the best way to perform this act of worship. In this matter, I read few guides of umrah and explore hundreds of blogs regarding their experience at Mecca and Madinah.

3.     Physical
The journey at Mecca and Madinah requires lots of stamina. Umrah is a physical form of worship. During the trip, I used the pedometer app in my smartphone and on average, I walked about 20000-25000 steps per day which translates to about 18-23km per day!

4.     Spiritual
This is a journey to cleanse a soul and a time for self-reflection. This is not a journey of shopping, photography or any worldly matter. Prior to the trip, it was advisable to perform night prayers and frequently asked forgiveness from Allah for any wrongdoings, whether intentional or unintentional. Personally, I always check regarding my nawaitu of visiting the Holy Land. It is best to go there with an open, sincere heart and willing to prepare for any tests that we will encounter during this journey.