DPhil Diaries #2

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate.

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

English weather is…English weather.

Not only do rough winds shake the darling buds of May, they also make it bloody difficult to cycle uphill towards the John Radcliffe Hospital! These days, I find myself going to the hospital more often because I’m desperately trying to finish scanning my research participants before the end of June 2021.

Anyone who has done a PhD will know that at some point during your journey, you just have to put your head down and work all out to finish your data collection. I still have about 15 participants I need to scan; it is not impossible, but it will require a bit of luck in terms of how many people say yes when invited to join the research project.

Eid Mubarak!

Alhamdulillah, today marks the end of Ramadhan and the first day of Syawal. As a kid, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t look forward to the end of the fasting month. But as I approach the end of my fourth decade here on this earth, increasingly I feel a sense of sadness whenever Ramadhan ends. Will I live to see another Ramadhan? Allahu a’lam, only God knows what the future holds.

Eid celebrations here in the UK are muted, obviously, and I myself will be cycling to the hospital again today for another MRI. Thankfully, the situation has improved enough to allow two households to meet outdoors, so if the weather permits inshaAllah, I will be visiting a friend’s house later today for a ‘Hari Raya‘ open house in his garden.

The Real Tragedy of Palestine


My heart goes out to the people of Palestine who are facing yet another wave of oppression by the Israeli government. I find the reporting in most new outlets to be laughable, bordering on being ridiculous. To treat Israel and Palestine as two equal forces fighting against one another is absurd; the former has advanced weaponry and is backed by the world’s superpowers while the latter barely has enough to make ends meet.

I often ask myself: why do the Palestinians have to suffer so much? Why does the modern world, with all its dreams of democracy, capitalism, gay rights etc. tolerate this nightmare?

That brings me to the real tragedy here: the betrayal of Palestine by the rest of the Muslim world. We Muslims are quick to condemn Israel, but loathe to criticise our own governments for being so compliant in the process.

Why is it that Gaza has to suffer when it literally has a border with Egypt, a supposedly Muslim country? Why are Arab countries normalising diplomatic relationships with Israel despite its continued oppression of the Palestinians?

These are some of the difficult questions we must ask ourselves.

How can we expect to hold Israel accountable when many Muslim countries (Malaysia included) don’t even have accountable governments?

Sure, we can boast about having the world’s tallest building next to the world’s largest shopping mall, but what use is that when we can’t even open the Rafah crossing to help the Palestinians? There is a very good reason why in the Western world, when someone refers to another person as ‘behaving like an Arab prince’, there is nothing honourable whatsoever in that term.

To make it absolutely clear here, I am not calling for more violence against anyone. Israelis have just as much right to live peacefully as Palestinians. You can be Jewish, Muslim, Christian, atheist…it doesn’t even matter, everyone has a right to live peacefully.

But for the longest of times, we have asked much from the Palestinians while closing one eye to numerous Israeli transgressions. How much longer are we willing to let this happen?