Creating miracles & memoirs

Accompanying Mr H to submit his PhD thesis recently sure did bring a lot of memories on how it all started. You see, it is not (I can’t use the past tense because he is still waiting for his viva) a smooth journey for him, even before he started it. Allow me to unfold the story as I believe that this story can inspire you in doing what you believe you can or at the very least, be a reason for you to hold on to something that already had you caught in a glitch.

Final stage of submitting.

After we got married about five years ago, we started talking about getting our PhD. Both of us are academicians and of course it is needed for our career advancement. Mr H had actually applied for a scholarship from the University few years back, before we were married, when his age was still in the zone permissible to apply. He had passed the interview at the Faculty level and was recommended by the Dean to attend another interview with the University. He did not attend the second interview, much to the frustration of the Dean. 

I remember we had a conversation at the photocopy machine at the Main Office (we were not even dating yet at that point of time) and he told me about his PhD scholarship application and how he refused to attend the interview set with the University. He also said that he knew the Dean was angry at him but he just could not do it. Ok, the reason for having such thoughts?

1. He was near 50, and he did not want any pressure. He thought that it would be better to focus on the afterlife instead of stressing yourself with new endeavours. 

2. Most of the colleagues were not supportive of his decision, another reason why he decided to bail out at the last minute. They kept on questioning him, “Why do you need a PhD? Remember, we are already old and death is near.”

3. He told me that at the moment when he filled in the form to apply, he can already feel the burden. There was like a heavy weight lingering on his shoulder and he nearly went into depression. Please note that he already felt this way at the moment he filled in the form, not during the interview. 

4. At that age, and at that position, he was already complacent. He felt that he did not need anything else but just to hang on, waiting for the Angel of Death to come. 

In the end, he bailed out. He just did not attend the interview and his case was let go by the Dean. Everybody moved on. 

Later on, he met me and fell head over heels for me, hehehe. Of course I gave him a very long sermons on this matter, longer than the one they provide in Friday prayers. I was soooo anggrrryyyyy!!!! Why must you think that way? Didn’t the Prophet told us to seek knowledge from the cradle until the grave? In that very long lecture, I included the point that studying for PhD are not only meant to alleviate our status in the society or for the prospect of our career. I mean, both of these are just the added value if you finally get your PhD. The main reason of getting a PhD is for the advancement of knowledge for ourselves. Allah will love us more if we show Him the effort we make to find knowledge. This is also a way to get His blessings.

Mr H reluctantly agreed. We were already transferred to a remote branch in Kedah at that point of time. I was happy that he finally came to his senses. However, it then brought a new issue for both of us to find the solution. He was already above 45 and that would mean he had already passed the age limit to apply for the University’s scholarship. We then tried finding other avenues but to no avail. I still remember that during a Postgraduate Exhibition in Mid Valley, we even went to a PTPTN booth and asked. PTPTN is a study loan, not scholarship. And yet, they still rejected him. The answer given was still in the negative. His age was the adverse factor. So we were back to square one. I was frustrated because I was so close of getting Mr H to agree to start his PhD but it seems that all we did was knocking on closed doors. There was no hope at all. 

The miracle then came, dropping by in our life. On that fateful day, I was scrolling through my Facebook. I did that a lot when we were in Kedah since I was so demotivated because of the transfer. If you read my book, Candle in the Wind, you will notice the different level of enthusiasm I had in teaching when I was transferred. So most of the time, I scrolled through my Facebook not knowing of what to find, and put so much time into replying Whatsapps messages from my friends. 

I suddenly came across to a posting made in the Doctorate Support Group in Facebook. There was one Dr Sheikh who posted that MJIIT (Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology) was looking for PhD candidates with full scholarships to offer. Without telling Mr H, I messaged Dr Sheikh in private and asked him 2 questions. Firstly, whether there is an age limit for that position and secondly, is law one of the niche they wanted? He replied, NO for the first question and Yes to the second question. I could not believe my eyes reading his answer!

I immediately told Mr H about this and told him to apply. Dr Sheikh told us to meet him at UTM Kuala Lumpur and we went there accordingly. It was a blessing that Fridays are considered as weekends in Kedah, so since then we travelled frequently to Kuala Lumpur on Fridays so that Mr H can keep up with his application. Alhamdulillah, everything went well with his application. Of course there are hiccups here and there. But then again, we already came that far and beat the system that prevents certain age to apply for PhD scholarships. So what is another hurdle? I remember Mr H had to present his PhD proposal at the faculty and I really wanted to send him a bouquet of flowers just to cheer him up. I had to ask for help from a former student. Boy, was he surprised and embarrassed at the same time, hahaha. 

I have to say, what happened to Mr H was really a miracle. We never thought that Allah would have blessed him with a PhD opportunity especially when it looked like there was no hope of getting the chance, because of his age. I believe that this is a reminder from Him to us, saying, “Look, I got to decide ok. Do not interfere with my job.” All that seemed so impossible at that time, was made easy for us, particularly Mr H.

This is a story for all of us to just relax and have faith. If it is fated for you to have it, nobody can say no. And if it is not fated, then maybe He is preparing you for something better, something exceptional, designed especially for you. Do not let people decide, it is your life. Look at Mr H. Everywhere we went his age became a crucial factor and he was declined, again and again. But when Allah decided to give him the opportunity, nobody can deny him the chance. 

P/S: Please pray for his upcoming viva scheduled somewhere in November. This is yet another hurdle for him to face. I recently asked Mr H, how do you feel about the viva? And he replied, “Bring it on!” 

So a piece of advice, trust Allah and His timings!

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