Ahmad Sampang ibnu Hajiri, MD

A Personal blog by a Tausug medical student (now a doctor!) from Sulu and the stories that inspired him.
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Ramadhan or the month of fasting for Muslims is now fast approaching. And for a country where non-Muslims dominate the population, there are always some point in time where a lot of people are getting curious of what really Ramadhan is. What do Muslims do in this month? Why is it so special to them? What can non-Muslims do to appreciate this month? And how can non-Muslims appropriately join in with their celebration?

To have a short reading on need-to-know-about-Ramadhan, please visit my post: Ramadhan for Non-Muslims. And in this post, we will talk about answering the question stated earlier: What can non-Muslims do during Ramadhan? Here is a list of things that non-Muslims can do and should avoid doing, from one Muslim’s personal experiences in living in a place where non-Muslims are the majority. 

What you can do:

1.  Know who are Muslims around you.

Before Ramadhan kicks in, keeping in mind who are Muslims around you--in your neighborhood, in your office, or in your classroom—will ultimately ease things both for you and your Muslim friend. Why is this so? When you are aware that this friend of yours is a Muslim, you will be more careful and would avoid inviting your friend for a meal when he or she is fasting. These kind of scenarios—a non-Muslim inviting a Muslim to eat—is a common happening in places where Muslims are minority of the population (like the metro Manila), because the people are already used to it. Of course, a Muslim would politely decline your invitation considering that maybe you never knew that he or she is fasting. But if you are fully aware of this, these kinds of awkward scenarios would be avoided.

2.Ask about Ramadhan

If you can spend some free time with a Muslim friend, ask him or her about Ramadhan. What do Muslims usually do before and after fasting, where do they spend their days, ask about ‘Eid, what should Muslims do and not do while fasting, and some other simple questions you can ask that your Muslim friend can answer. This is a good way for you to learn more about Ramadhan and Islam, and also a good time for a fasting Muslim to spend time sharing what he or she knew. (Just be understanding and moderate on asking questions and don’t go higher than what your friend can afford to answer :)

3.      Try fasting for a day

If you have a Muslim room-mate or a house-mate, you can ask him to let you join and experience fasting. Wake up early and eat shuhur together, observe what they would do and ask if you are doing things right. Start by fasting for a half-day where you can break your fast by 12 noon. But if you are really up to the challenge, then try fasting for a whole


Last June 9, 2013 I was fortunate to be part of a Pre-Ramadhan Symposium, Alhamdulillah. This was organized by our Muslim Student Association-Alumni brothers and sisters from different campuses and in coordination with the Islam in Focus (IIF) Productions-Manila. The symposium themed: “Virtues of the Holy month of Ramadhan” was held at Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation, Inc., at Sampaloc, Manila from 1:30 to 5 PM. The symposium, although simple, was attended by more than a hundred Muslim brothers and sisters throughout Manila.

Sheikh Ahmad Javier (in black shirt) with the other
ulama during the symposium
There were two main lectures followed by the usual open-forum part. The first lecture entitled “Virtues of Ramadhan” by Sheikh Ahmad Javier who is also the director of IIF-Manila. He talked about the great value every Muslim should place on Ramadhan and we should never let Ramadhan pass us by without us reaping its bountiful rewards. He also emphasized that knowledge about Ramadhan should always be renewed especially before it officially begins so that we will not be unaware of what should be done during Ramadhan. Reading the Qur’an everyday and striving harder in doing worship to Allah was also given emphasis in his lecture. At the end of his lecture, he reminded everyone that Ramadhan is such a special month reserved for the Muslims to partake, and every Muslim should prepare himself or herself as early as possible before Ramadhan comes in.

The second lecturer, Ustadh Ibrahim ibn Saleh talked about “The visitor that does not knock on your door” in Bahasa Sug. As most of the participants came from the ZamBaSulTa area and know Bahasa Sug, the lecture was also accepted heartily by the participants. This “visitor” he was referring is “death” that comes at every single soul without any signal or notice. And just as how we prepare for Ramadhan before it comes, each and every human being should always be reminded of death and what are the things he or she must do to prepare for its coming. He reminded everyone that death is indeed inevitable and that this life is only a temporary place for us and will always end. He also emphasized that this worldly life will be followed by the next life in the hereafter: where the real and eternal life will commence.

The venue was filled with participants eager to listen
to our lecturers
Before the program was officially closed, questions were entertained by the speakers and other 'ulama (Islamic Scholars) present in the symposium. Alhamdulillah, through this symposium a great number of Muslims in the Metro were reminded of Ramadhan and “death” and what should be done to prepare for both. The symposium was a great success, through the blessings of Allah, for our Muslim brothers and sisters who organized this event. May Allah reward all those who strive—physically, financially, intellectually—in making this event possible and for keeping the flag of Islam raised wherever we go.

Brothers and Sisters from MSA-Alumni

Let us all wait for Ramadhan enthusiastically this coming July, in shaa Allah!

Peace be upon you,

Anak iluh

the Island of Siasi with Bud Siasi on the background
Last summer I spent more than a week in Siasi, a smaller island in Sulu. I went there not to spend a wonderful vacation with my family, but to do something bigger, something greater: to conduct my first one-week community immersion!

As one of the Regionalization Program (RP) students in the college, we were required to return to our community every summer and conduct our own community immersions before the next school year begins. This is one of the requirements that we have to accomplish for us to be allowed to enroll for the next Learning Unit (or year level). And so, being one of the only two students (out of 160) representing ARMM in our batch, I chose Siasi, Sulu to be my immersion site for the next five years of my stay in Medschool (in shaa Allah), and perhaps until I become a licensed physician someday (Ameen).

Now, what did I do in my one-week stay in Siasi? I might not be able to tell all the things that I did in Siasi, so I will just include here my Schedule of activities during the immersion:

The Siasi Rural health unit

For one week, Alhamdulillah, I learned a lot of things that I never learned in the classroom. I was able to interact with the locals and learned directly from them what are the dominating concerns they have on their health. They were also eager to share what they know about diseases and medicine (especially traditional medicine) that I myself is fully unaware of. I visited the RHU everyday and see how the health workers do their job of serving the people. Through the FGDs (Focus-Group discussions) with the health workers and the community as well, I learned about the problems they face and how they try to solve and manage them. I was also fortunate to join one of the RHU and IPHO’s monthly community visits to Laminusa Island for the Malaria awareness program, where I observed and learned how hard it is to deliver health services in far-flung islands like Laminusa. Yes, the immersion lasted only for seven days, but what I learned in those seven days I spent in Siasi was worth more than a lifetime of my future career as a practicing physician someday: a doctor for the poor people in our community, for the Ummah, in shaa Allah!

This is indeed one of the main objectives of UPCM in creating RP: to let future health practitioners experience and appreciate the actual settings in the community. By then, they will realize the great need for great doctors in the community and in sha Allah they will aspire to fill in the vacant slots for “dedicated doctors serving the underserved” which is the sole vision of UPCM.

Until now, I will always remember what my field preceptor, Dr. Ejil A. Imlan said to me:


In tiyap-tiyap panagnaan subay tuud pagsaddiyahan. Mataud jumatu amun dih ta kaingatan, bang kita wayruun nakasaddiya asal. Ha wala’ pa dimatung in kunsum, subay ha biháun pa kaingatan mu na bang unu in tudjuhun mu. Ha supaya bang dumatung na in adlaw yadtu, di’ nakaw maglawag pa sin dán, bang harap kaw pakain. Subay ra isab pagsaddiyahan in kaibanan manga prublima manjari jumatu ha susungun, ha supaya makasaddiya da isab kaw. 

Biya’ da isab sin kabuhi’ iban kamatay. Ha wala’ pa dimatung in kamatay subay saddiya na kita bang unu in hinangun bang in waktu yadtu dumatung na. Tumtumun ta sin in kita ini dih da laung maglugay diy ha dunya ini. Misan pa ayn biya’diin in daya mu, in taud sin sinapang mu, in taud sin lahasiya’ mu, in kusug sin kawasa mu, tantu in katan yan ha panagnaan sadja. Di’ da lumugay, dumatung da isab in hinapusan niya. Malawa’ da sila katan. Biya’ sin dunya ini, biya’ da sin kabuhi’ mu, tantu awn hinapusan niya.

Asal in tiyap-tiyap panagnaan awn hinapusan. Duwal da kuman in tunggal Tuhan Mahatinggi Makawasa in way panagnaan, wayruun hinapusan. Tattap kumakkal ha ala mini iban sin sumunud kaniya.

Biháun ha kahaba’ tumagna’ in adlaw, tumtumun natu’ sin tantu dumatung da in hinapusan niya. Ha kahaba’ pagsilak sin suga’ ha subangan, tantu dumatung in pagsadlup niya. Tantu in tiyap-tiyap hipag-anak makakinam kamatay. In katan sin panagnaan awn hadja hinapusan niya. Hangkan subay di’ natu; tuud luppasun in kahaba’ sin waktu diyuhal katuh sin tuhan ha wayruun kapuwsan. Mamintang kitaniyu, mamandang. Mamikil sin unu in hikarayaw sin parasahan natu’ bukun hat ha dunya ini, labi apdal sampay pa adlaw susungun ha adlaw wayruun na dugaing makatabang katu’ duwal in baran iban ammal natu’.

WaAllahu ‘Alam.

Salam kasilasa.
-Anak iluh


Every year, there comes a very special visitor that Muslims are always looking up to. This is a very special event that lasts for one month: the Holy Month of Ramadhan. As this month draws near, you will see most Muslims getting more excited and eager for the first day of that month to come. This is one of the mysteries that non-Muslims are always curious about. What is Ramadhan? What is so special about it? Why do Muslims celebrate with joy when Ramadhan comes? In shaa Allah this post will answer these questions posted by our non-Muslim friends so that when this year’s Ramadhan comes, they will be more aware about it.

What is Ramadhan?

Ramadhan is the 9th month of the Hijra or Islamic Calendar. This is one of the special months for Muslims wherein one of the five fundamental pillars of Islam happens: As-sawmu Ramadhan or fasting in the whole duration of Ramadhan. For 29 to 30 days, Muslims would abstain from eating, drinking, having sexual contact with their spouse, and avoid unnecessary actions from Fajr (dawn) to Maghrib (dusk). This is one of the rigorous training in Islam to discipline one’s self in doing what Allah has ordained them to do in this month; to strive and do what is Halal (rightful and allowed in Islam) and avoid what is Haram (wrongful and unlawful in Islam). This is also the month of forgiveness wherein every Muslim would forgive everyone who had done wrong to him or her. It is also a month so special for Muslims as it is the month wherein one would return to the folds of Islam and ask for Allah, the most forgiving, for his blessings and his forgiveness.

The Sawm

As-sawm or fasting is one of the fundamental acts every Muslim (with some few exceptions) is obliged to do during this month. This is in accordance with the commandment of Allah in the holy Qur’an:

O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.” –Surah Baqarah 2:183

Muslims would wake up early in the morning (about 3 AM), everyday and eat Shuhur: foods prepared before the beginning of fasting. The official fasting wherein no foods and drinks—even water—are allowed begins at the break of dawn until the sun sets. The adhan (call for prayer) during Maghrib or dusk prayer marks the end of one fasting day. As the call for prayer: “Allahu akbar! Allahu Akbar! Allahu akbar!” is recited in the masjids, the Muslims at same time would break their fast with light foods (iftar) before going to prayer. After prayers, dinner will be served.

What do Muslims do in Ramadhan?


“Ahmad! What were you thinking! Why did you decide to make your first 3 weeks in LU-4 in utter toxicity?!” Well, that was what I thought before the first day of my second year in Medicine started when I accepted the offer of becoming a Liaison Officer (LO) of our first subject/course for this year: HS202 Biopsychosocial Dimensions of Illness or BDI... They call this level as “HELL-U 4” because of the hellish experiences you students will experience compared to LU3 (freshmen year), and I already made my first week hellish than the rest of the class by being an LO. But as that first day as an LO came to an end, I finally realized why I accepted that challenge…

I wanted to try it. I know being an LO is not a good joke. You have to coordinate with the professors from different departments for their class schedules, announcements and exams. This first module will be composed of 5 different departments namely: Departments of Pathology, Parasitology, Microbiology, Psychiatry and Family Medicine and will last for 3 weeks. Yes, I am already killing myself now, to think that I would have to meet great doctors who never knew me from their past lives (I mean, past years) here in UP-Manila. I have to be persistent and patient with all the possible problems that may come, while being respectful to our great professors to keep things working so smoothly for the class. Worst of all, I will be representing the class to these departments. Anything that will go wrong from me and the class (my beloved class) will go down with me. Thus I also have to keep myself on the bright side of the day (or whatever it means). Being an LO is very new to me, and thus I wanted to experience it myself before everything gets worst at the end of the year… (After all, I know our Class’ Acad heads will help me along the way, right, Will and Kei? :)

I wanted to improve myself. I know I may not be the best man for this job. But in shaa Allah, I will try my best to accomplish my tasks. I always love challenging myself to become better than who I am before. I wanted to be better in managing things which I know I always failed to do in the past few years. I wanted to learn something new here that I may be able to use in my future career in shaa Allah; for my dream of becoming one of the best doctors for the Muslim Community. I wanted to improve my means of communicating and getting two different houses meet an agreement. I wanted to become a better leader: not someone I was before…

A lot of friends form the higher years had warned me of the challenges of this course (BDI) I am handling. I knew that this was one of the subjects that many students had a hard time passing in the finals. I am fully aware of them, and may Allah give me strength to face and overcome them all for my class. In shaa Allah, as much as I can do to help, I will never let my class suffer the same casualties. These are just part of the challenges that I knew we would face sooner or later. So better prepare for it sooner that wait for it to come at you by surprise… 

I hope and pray that this enthusiasm I have now will last until the end of my job as an LO. I hope and pray that being an LO will make me learn what I need to learn to be a better person for my people. I hope and pray that my intentions of accepting this responsibility will remain limited to the objectives of what is only necessary and will not go beyond what is needed. That everything will go fine and smoothly; that my class (UPCM Class 2017) will greatly benefit from it than the other way around. Ameen.

Reign Supreme!
-Anak Iluh


Ha lawm lima minit sumulat aku, In shaa Allah… sin unu-unu na in sumuwd pa lawm utuk ku, hisulat, hitayp mari… sari na madtu magkulang-maglabi.

Biháun “kahawa” in mabaya’ ku pagbissarahan. Unu baha’ in awn ha kahawa mayta matagi in manga Bangsa Sug kaniya ini. Bang kaw madtu pa tiyanggi nalibut kaw sin kahawahan. Luba na bang kaw madtu pa kagimbahan, misan wayruun tinda magdaragang dih da malawa’ in kahawa ha kakusinahan sin mga tau. Basta laung niya awn da Tausug duun, awn na hadja Kahawa Sug (Native coffee). 

Mapasu’-pasu’ pa… nag-aasu… huyup-huyupun ampa higupun madtu… aruuu rayang, way na mabisa dayng hadtu… Depende na kaymu bang kaw mabaya’ mapait-pait, atawa maimu’-imu’… atawa kan tublak-tublakan mu pa sin tinapay,.. na! Masarap sayan magkahawa bang mahaba’ in pag-isturihan niyu, sibu’ da kan tau maas atawa manga tambay ha higad dan… basta awn kahawa iban bang-bang sug atawa juwalan, OKs na, wayna paglawag dugaing ha butangan.

Misan bihayni in itum niya, makatagi. Misan bihayni in pasu’ niya, dih kaw sumuhun. Misan kaw hulas-hulas na, humigup da masi. Ampa gumanap hikaruwa, hikatuw basu sin kahawa.
Bang Bangsa Sug da, Kahawa na san in dugu’ nila. :) 

Masarap in Kahawa sug, wayruun makasibu’ kaniya.

Biya’ in lima minit natu’ timubtub na… misan mataud pa hika-kissa sad a kita mamaid na… na Ok na mga bagay, sung kitaniyu mangahawa…

Salam kasilasa
-Anak Iluh


Alhamdulillah, another year in Medschool had just started. It’s June already and I still can’t believe that I am already done with my first year, and I am now starting my second year here in UP College of Medicine. Really, I am still grasping the truth that those were not dreams at all! Am I still dreaming?

The letter I received carrying the Good news Alhamdulillah.
I can still remember last year, some days before the results of the official List of students accepted to the UPCM will be released (these 160 guys and gals will later be known as the UPCM Class 2017). I was getting anxious and hopeless then, as days go by and I still haven’t received any confirmations from them. UPCM was the only Med-school I applied for (because I am so lazy working on another application papers) and most of the students who applied are all exceptional (and except for me). And due to the impending desperation then, I already started filling-up another application form from another Med-school just to be on the safer side of the road. Then Alhamdulillah, the great news finally arrived :) 

And now, a year after all those roller-coaster experience in the college, MashaAllah, I realized that indeed there are still a load of things I have to know before I can grab that dream of becoming a Doctor someday. Yes, I am done with the first year of struggling to survive (Alhamdulillah) and yet it still feels like I am just at the doorsteps of this bigger world I am about to enter… (So I better be really, really, really, really, prepared before going into that “dark” world. Hehe)

And so, before I enter the second year of hardships, there are a lot of people I wanted to acknowledge first and give my utmost gratitude and thanks. (I have already done this last year, but I just wanted to mention it again here… :)

First and foremost, to Allahu Subhanahu wa Taala. Who made things always possible midst all the little things that we have in this world. I am always grateful for every little thing that Allah had given us and my family. In accepting those prayers that are best for us, and changing those that might be bad for us. Unto you we worship, ad only unto you we ask for guidance and forgiveness. Ameen.

Next, I am deeply in debt to former Senator Santanina Rasul and her Family. She and the Rasuls had done so many great things to us fellow Tausugs (especially the Youths). From my High School days as one of their AAR Scholar, to my temporary employment as Regional Assistant of LIPAD (An NGO promoting adult literacy) and until to the very beginning of my application in UPCM, they never stopped believing that we can do something great amidst our little means. Indeed, they have moved mountains just to support us in pursuing our dreams, training us to become better and more service-oriented youths of Sulu… They instilled in us the idea that “the best way to express your love to your country, is to go back and serve the community.” Magsukul tuud Maam Nina for everything :) In shaa Allah, I will always return to our humble place (Sulu) and serve the people of Sulu!

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just saying. -Dr. Ahmad