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Sunday, 19 October 2008

Thanks Kak Radiah and big clap for Dr. Radiah!

Dear all,

“The real voyage of discovery consists not only in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes” - Marcel Proust.

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. First of all, I praise Allah for making this journey possible, keeping me high when the tide is low.

PhD is a long process, full of its twists and turns. But as Allah said, “So, verily, with every difficulty, there is ease! Verily, with every difficulty, there is ease!” (94:5, 6). Indeed it is true. In that difficult period, I felt my life was blessed with so many great memories. Things I had no time to do whilst I was working, I was able to do during the PhD period. Everyone has his or her own challenges in life and I do not want to belittle your own challenges. I am sure we are trained to be strong. We have gone through a lot of adjustments in our lives. I remember how my son had to stay alone at home long hours and we left him with the internet and television as a substitute of our absence (both of us were doing PhD). May Allah understands and guide us to do what is best.

I meant these words when I wrote at the beginning of my thesis:

“I want to express my deepest gratitude to my husband, Mohd Radzi and my lovely children, Rozie, Liyana and Amir for being there for me. I have been too busy to be a perfect wife or a perfect mother but their supports and understanding made all the imperfections seem negligible”.

To Amir, I am deeply sorry for the long lost hours and I hope in the future, I would be able to compensate for that.

One respect in which that I feel I am so lucky, is to have friends all around me in Swansea . The University Mosque community, especially, is very supportive and I am truly grateful to Allah that through these friends, I find comfort and love. We share so many little things but when you look back, these little things are the invaluable memories that we cherish all through our lives.

I know if I do not broadcast this, it will spread anyway. So I want to break the tradition by announcing this myself:

Yesterday, 1st October, 2008 (supposed to be Eid day), at 9.15am I started my viva and Alhamdulillah, I am happy here to announce that I have been successful, except for minor corrections. However, this is not the main issue here, but I want to share some pointers so that, perhaps, those of you who are still striving will find them helpful.

Specifically for viva:
1. It is good to tell your good friends when you are having a viva. Ask them to make dua for you so that Allah will help ease the process. A lot of sincere dua from good friends might help ease the process. I told all my friends at the mosque that I was having viva and asked them to make dua for me.

2. Be relaxed. Many of these examiners are very kind at heart. They have read your thesis. Their job is to determine whether or not you did it yourself and you know it well. So just be involved in the conversation and use the time to talk so that they won’t have time to ask more questions.

3. I have a bottle of zam zam water with me in the viva room. This zam zam water was given by an Egyptian friend. It helps me to relax and to think clearly, Alhamdulillah. When I drank the water, I asked Allah to help strengthen my memory so that I could recall what I had done and gone through. Also ask for ease of speech. While examiners are talking, you can drink and make dua in your heart. Also, you might not have time to have breakfast before going for viva at 9.00 am. Zam zam water is known to satisfy hunger.

4. Make solatul hajat prior to the viva and ask those who are close to you to do it too. Duas from our mothers are the best. May Allah bless them and reward them enormously. (So remember to call your mother in Malaysia soon as you finish the viva. She has the right to know it first hand before anyone else).

5. Keep a good opinion of Allah that He will grant you success. Be positive with it as soon as you enter the room. It is ok if you are not too prepared with the literature review because your nervousness might block your mental process.

6. My family in Malaysia recited Surah Yaseen while I was in the viva room. I don’t know if this is sunnah but any ayat from the Quran is beneficial. I heard that reading Yaseen in the morning helps ease the day so I read Yaseen before I went for my viva.

7. Preparation for the viva should start from when you first embark on your PhD. You need English as a tool to communicate your answers well. It is important that while doing PhD, try to speak and write as much English as possible. Try making as many international friends as possible and engage yourself in conversation although you feel it is mentally tiring. This is a good exercise to engage in conversation with your examiners during the viva. It is not good to give “Yes” or “No” answers only.

8. During the viva, if the examiner points out a major mistake that you think is not a mistake, defend yourself. Some examiners (the brutal ones) like to challenge your work as well as your thoughts. So be ready to answer them and DO NOT say SORRY. (My supervisor pointed this out before the viva because he said there is a tendency for Malaysian students to agree with the examiners without trying to defend themselves).

9. This might not be too related to viva, but it is good to use Latex for thesis writing. It helps to do correction faster and easier than using Words. All figures and tables even references will be sorted out automatically. If you have any question on Latex, I might be able to help. I am not an expert, but I do get help from my lab mates. I found using Latex on macbook was especially useful.

These are some of the main points of my own experience. Other people went through different experiences. Either way, the most important is that you get your PhD.

I know you all might be wondering why I am writing all these. But all through this process, I waited for someone to give me some hints of what they have gone through. Although we might be very confident in our work, anything can happen within those 4 walls. Isn’t it nice to be extra prepared? And all the supplications and recitations are to relate all your effort back to Allah. We make an effort but indeed, He is the One who decides.

My PhD is almost over now. The voyage is coming to an end. I am glad I have been able to embark on this journey and I have learnt so much. I have found MYSELF in this process – able to know more of my weakness and my strengths. I also hope that we will all be supporting each other in our effort to seek knowledge and self improvement. And the most important thing is to have a correct intention for the PhD. If your deeds are for Allah, you will be given a great reward.

Truly, like I said, it has been a great experience. Just be patient while you are in the process. Only those who are patient shall receive their reward in full without reckoning(39:10). Enjoy the moments when you are benefiting from this painful processes. Perhaps with patience and open mindedness, we would all be able to not to only seek new lands but also to see with new eyes.

Best wishes to all. May Allah help us to be successful and humble at the same time.



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