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PATERNO ESMAQUEL II, GMA News

Female Muslim doctors find freedom and compassion
ATERNO ESMAQUEL II, GMA News
ATERNO ESMAQUEL II, GMA News
By Alexander Villafania, loQal.phQUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA –Wearing their traditional hijab, Naheeda Dimacisil and Khasim Ismael attended the weekend celebration of the end of Ramadan at International Ramadan Fair in Quezon City last Saturday.They were joined by at least 100 other Muslims who took time from a long fast to renew ties with their friends and families from the Muslim faith.Despite their status in life – Dimacisil is married to an Indonesian imam (priest) while Ismael is single


– both are practicing doctors and are in fact, among the few female Filipino Muslim doctors that are in the medical field.They are also members of the Islamic Medical Association of the Philippines (IMAN), a relatively young group of Muslim medical practitioners.Dimacisil, who grew up in Batangas, said there are many challenges to being a Muslim, even in a country where there are Islamic communities.

The constant issue is the stereotype of being a Muslim, as well as the fear that goes with it.“We’re a peace-loving society and we want just as much as any person does, not for greed but for happiness and peace among each other,” Dimacisil said.While that is a constant challenge, she said there are also difficulties of being a female Muslim. She is lucky to have been born to parents (her father is a Muslim from Maguindanao while her mother from Batangas converted) who are open to allowing her to choose where she wants to go.“My husband is conservative but he is also open about me working as a doctor. I also want my children to exercise their freedom while sustaining their Islamic identities,” she said.Meanwhile, Ismael said that she is also able to exercise her freedom to become a doctor.

Having grown up in a conservative Muslim family in Marawi, Ismael sought to be independent and moved to Manila to work as a doctor, having stayed in the city for nearly 10 years.She only goes home to her family in Marawi for vacations.Still, she is proud that she also came from a pedigree of medical practitioners, which made them understand why Ismael chose to live in Manila. She said her uncle has put up a medical institution in their province.While she maintains her own conservative approach to Islamic practices, Ismael said her independence made her realize what she wants in life and also hopes that other Muslim women find their goals in life.As for their work at IMAN, both Dimacisil and Ismael said they are seeing a growth in the number of Muslims who are taking up courses in the medical field. In fact, many Muslim doctors choose specializations and are able to find good jobs in hospitals in the country and sometimes abroad.“One of the plans of the IMAN is to build a network of specialist doctors so that when we need very specific medical knowledge, we’ll have list of experts to call,” Ismael said.
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Bulletin of the Day
 Nur Factory Our Mission is to become active learners of Islam and thereby become practicing Muslims for the sake of Allah (swt). The best people are those who are useful to others. – Sahih Bukhar  
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