Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wanting to be where You are

I am currently in the process (an ever slow, long process) of writing my personal statement for application to medical school. I spend way too much time brainstorming. What to write about? Helping my little brother walk and live normally despite the prognosis of past doctors? My great aunt's death? My father's triple-bypass heart surgery? My personal weaknesses? Living paycheck to paycheck and working through school? The time I spent making a portfolio for art school only to realize all of my best art was about helping others? Its so hard to be personal, and so much harder to figure out which life event is important enough to take up the space alloted (6000 characters?). Maybe I'll write three different versions. I have been googling "medical school personal statement" trying to figure out how to put all my crap together. They have tips like "show who you are with stories, don't tell" and "stick to one central theme." It'll make you nervous, I swear.

So thinking about how I could tie things to one central theme, I started thinking about.... GOD of course. My first and foremost intention that ties together all my experiences is trying to please Him... the Big Guy (not to be confused with "the Dude").
I should be honest right?

Reflecting on this and how to convey it, I found a pretty cool (strikingly similar) parallel between the Islamic traditions of Muhammad (PBUH), and the Bible. Islam and Christianity do have many similarities, having the same roots and all, but these verses are great and I wanted to share them with you. To me, it highlights that Muslims know Prophet Muhammad to indeed be one of the Abrahamic prophets, preaching of the same God as Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Also, these are beautiful verses about being in the service of others.

Check it out:

The Bible, book of Matthew 25, verses 31-46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Now for the Hadith qudsi (words from God related to us through Prophet Muhammad), which is what first came to my mind:

The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be Upon him) is reported to have said:
Verily, Allah will say to his slave when He will be taking account of him on the Day of Judgement, 'O' son of Adam, I was hungry and you did not feed me.' He will answer: 'How could I feed you? You are the Lord of the worlds!' He will say: 'Did you not know that my slave so and so who is the son of so and so felt hunger, and you'did not feed him. Alas, had you fed him you would have found that (i.e. reward) with Me.' 'O' son of Adam, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink.' He will reply: 'How could I give You drink? You are the Lord of the worlds!' He will say: 'Did you not know that my slave so and so, the son of so and so felt thirsty and you did not give him drink. Alas, if you had given him, you would have found that (i.e. reward) with me.' 'O' son of Adam, I became sick and you did not visit Me.' He will answer: 'How can I visit You? You are the Lord of the worlds!' He will say: 'Did you not know that my slave so and so, the son of so and so became sick and you did not visit him. Alas, had you visited him, you would have found Me with him.'"
Here, the difference is that the Bible relates these words coming from the "King" or Jesus (peace be upon Him) in the afterlife, who is considered not a god, but a prophet in Islam. The Islamic version is what God will say. In the Hadith Qudsi, it is only about the sick that God says, "you would have found Me with Him." That's where I want to be and that is my true motivation, that I wish to express...

It can be a lot of fun to go between the Bible and the Qur'an and see the similar stories and the abundance of lessons within!


MarjnHomer said...

Maybe you could all those experiences in a snippet by figuring out what do they all have in common, mainly dealing with the sick and a cure in the end with the help of allah...hope I was helpful. inshallah

Constructive Attitude said...

I wanna study the bible.Or take a class on it. I have a friend who is very much into her faith and talks about the bible all the time and it intrigues me.

Youthful Wisdom said...

Inter faith talks are the best ... you learn a lot from it and I think it brings people closer by getting a better understanding of each other.

fuelMybrain said...

That is a great comparison and I love learning from you guys about the Qur'an.

Your question about honesty... I don't think that not mentioning God would be dishonest. I would speak with someone who can give you tips on what aspects of you they like to hear about. Athough a lot of people are driven by God, and perservere only because they believe that is what their purpose from God is etc etc... A lot of the medical industry is science minded and can prove things vs. saying for example: "oh he died because it must of been God's time for him to die".

Ok, my point is this.. if I was reading a personal statement I'd say in my head, "blah blah blah" when I read the word God. Is that bad? Maybe, but I'm just being honest in that I want to hear more passionate reasons. It's almost as if "God" is outplayed (not saying you aren't driven by Him).

Ask around. Sorry, this was long at by NO means meant to offend.

Artistic Logic said...

loved this, that comparison is so awesome i would not have been able to pick that up

and i agree with marjnhomer AND fuelMybrain that you should combine all your experiences and write something super fantastic cause all those ideas you had sound very intriguing... same time Allahu Akbar but med school "judges" or whatever won't care too much for that...
which doesn't mean it changes your intention, just working around things to get to your goal

Faith in Writing said...

Yeah those are great similarities between the 2 religions. I think if you stick to the truth, that you feel compelled to help to serve God and because you genuinely care about people, youn will do well. And as someone said to you about showing not telling, I think that's a great way as well. Instead of "Hi, my name is ____, and I like helping people." you could put it more like "The health and wellbeing of people is important to me. I remember when I was only but a child, wandering in the moss on the great mountain of _____ and I found a small child who was not yet able to walk..."
You know what I mean. Ohhh,I'm actually really excited for you!! It's great you're going to apply to medical school. It's so exciting that you are looking forward to a new chapter in your life,a new start, something to be accomplished. All the best!!

Imnotbenny said...

That was really interesting and I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for that.

provoking invoking said...

thanks a lot for the comments...

fuelmybrain: i hear you. i'm actually instead going to try to emphasize on my interest in the spirit of the human experience or whatever and express spiritual significance in that way.. so not so much "God told me to help the sick" but that "I want to be near the spirit and resilience (i need other words) of sick people."

faith in writing: yes, exactly! thank you, especially for the good wishes :) :)

AL, marjnhomer: yeah i'll try to write a bunch of snippets but i will definitely have to make it shorter and figure out which ones are the most important. :) i'll get there someday..