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Mariam - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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“You daughter has cancer.”

There are no harsher words than the above. This is exactly what I realized as I listened to the doctor explaining the condition of my two-year-old daughter, Mariam. They are such painful words that pierce one’s heart like a bullet. These were extraordinary moments between life and death, as if the soul was stuck between God’s heaven and this world, between God’s mercy and power to heal and the world of scientists who dedicate themselves to medicine, science and seeking to help people. There were moments of anger, a lot of concern, endless questions and conversations with doctors trying to find out the causes. Why? There were various explanations and attempts to provide an answer, but the truth remains even more difficult. A huge scientific gap exists between us and the West that strikingly manifests itself in the field of medicine and, particularly, in the treatment of cancer.

I do not know where to direct my anger: at the lost years where medicine and science lacked attention and care, contrary to worthless issues and stupid arms races in a region that is marked by blood and death? Shall I direct may wrath at the gross negligence of environmental issues that is reported to cause malignant diseases? In the city where I lived, sewage facilities were ruined and all forms of disease proliferated, with no one held accountable. Shall I direct my wrath at those who gave misleading opinions, warning against education in “infidel countries” and learning their languages, stating that only Sharia is beneficial, thus deceiving youths who needed guidance as to what would benefit them and society? Here is Mariam, turning into another cancer patient. But trust in God remains our ultimate refuge.

There are situations in which words are meaningless; yet facts, figures, meanings and lessons remain as people seek to build the earth whilst others seek to destroy it; how different these people are.

Through Mariam’s suffering ideological conflicts come into existence. Her suffering draws a line between those who are right and those who are wrong, those who seek to build and those who aim to divide. There are lessons to be learnt and wisdom in the course of the cancer treatment—a journey that will be full of ups and downs; however, our faith in Almighty God and His Magnificence, Wisdom and Ability will be with us all the way.

Will the Arab slumber regarding science ever come to an end? We will not leave behind the days of Avicenna’s medicine for modern medicine or are we destined to be confined to our ancestors even in this field? It is a long journey but it has already begun. I can only pray for recovery for my daughter and those who share a similar condition and for reward for those who have patience. My questions, however, remain unanswered. Praise be to God Almighty. I conclude with God’s words about Maryam [the Virgin Mary], daughter of Imran: “Every time that Zakariya entered her chamber to see her, he found her supplied with sustenance,” [3:37]. I pray to God that my daughter may have the same fate.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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