Doctors on unpaid mission proud to serve Hajj pilgrims

Dr. Ahmed Al-Katheeri, a consultant in family medicine at the Jeddah-based King Abdul Aziz University Hospital, speaks to Arab News. (AN photo)
Updated 12 August 2019

Doctors on unpaid mission proud to serve Hajj pilgrims

  • “Money is not everything. The pleasure we feel when volunteering for our work cannot be described,” says Dr. Alaa Al-Hazmi, a volunteer

MINA: It is normal for workers to take breaks to get some rest, but it is unusual when a worker cuts their vacation short to go back to work of their own volition.

Two Saudi consultants did just that in order to provide medical services at Makkah’s holy sites.

Dr. Ahmed Al-Katheeri, a consultant at the Jeddah-based King Abdul Aziz University Hospital, and Dr. Alaa Al-Hazmi, a consultant at the Saudi Health Ministry, have voluntarily decided to work during their leave for an unpaid humanitarian mission.

“Lending a hand to pilgrims is a duty that all Muslims have to do when they can,” Al-Katheeri said. “I was glad to participate for the first time and represent my university in serving pilgrims. We are hoping in future to have a field hospital here so that we can contribute in this noble mission of providing pilgrims with the best possible medical services.




Dr. Alaa Al-Hazmi, family medicine consultant at the health ministry. (AN photo)

“We only came to help. There are many medical staff members at the service of pilgrims, but that does not mean volunteers cannot participate. The biggest motive that made us decide to cut our break times was to see the smile on the faces of the physically ill pilgrims,” he added.

Al-Katheeri urged his fellow doctors to volunteer in future Hajj seasons.

Al-Hazmi said that he had participated in the Hajj four times before, but that this was his first time volunteering.

“Cooperation between different Hajj bodies has now improved and this has also paved the way for anyone to volunteer in a more organized and systematic way,” Al-Hazmi said.

“Volunteers can easily register through the "Be an Assistant" program. The Health Ministry has provided huge numbers of medical staff, but you are talking about millions of pilgrims performing their rituals in a small area. Many of them are old and physically ill. These people need as many medical staff as possible. Moreover, it is an honor to serve pilgrims,” he added.

“Money is not everything. The pleasure we feel when volunteering for our work cannot be described.”

 

 


Uthman Taha: ‘I wish the verses about heaven would never end’

Taha is the official calligrapher of the Qur’an at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. The 86-year-old is still in the recovery phase, his wife said, and has been advised to rest and to avoid stress. (Supplied)
Updated 15 August 2020

Uthman Taha: ‘I wish the verses about heaven would never end’

  • The Syrian Qur’an writer, regarded as one of the world’s finest calligraphers, is on the road to recovery following his recent hospital admission

MAKKAH: Syrian calligrapher Uthman Taha is in good health and recovering at home after a 13-day stay in a hospital where he was treated for what he and his wife initially suspected to be the novel coronavirus COVID-19, although he ultimately tested negative for the virus.

Taha is the official calligrapher of the Qur’an at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. His wife, Fatimah Umm Al-Nour, said Taha had a chest infection during his stay at the hospital and stressed that he had been “careful and took all the precautionary measures” and that he had not left the house for five months before his hospital visit.
The 86-year-old calligrapher is still in the recovery phase, his wife said, and has been advised to rest and to avoid stress. She praised his doctors, who have consistently checked in with the couple since Taha returned home, and added that she has tested negative for COVID-19 too.
Taha is regarded as one of the most skilled calligraphers in the Arab world. Al-Nour told Arab News that he continues to practice calligraphy daily.
Taha, who has written the Qur’an 12 times at the King Fahd Complex, was born in 1934 and attended school in Aleppo. His father was also a skilled calligrapher, who used the Ruq’ah script, and Taha studied with several of Syria’s finest calligraphers including Mohammed Al-Mawlawi, Mohammed Al-Khatib, Hussein Al-Turki, and Ibrahim Al-Rifai.
When he moved to Damascus for university, Taha began to learn other scripts, including Thuluth, Naskh (in which he is now considered a master), and Farsi. He received his calligraphy certificate from master calligrapher Hamed Al-Amadi in 1973.
He arrived in Saudi Arabia in 1988, and began work as a calligrapher at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. He writes the Qur’an in the Ottoman script, and copies of his work have been distributed throughout the Islamic world.
What makes Taha’s work unique is that each page of the Qur’an that he writes concludes at the end of a verse. The secret, he explains, is to simplify the words — which is the origin of the Kufic script in which the Qur’an has been written since the days of Prophet Muhammad’s companions — keeping the letters close to one another.
Taha spent years perfecting his technique of evenly distributing the words in every line so that the space between the lettering is consistent throughout every page of every book, which means eliminating many of the script combinations that make such consistency difficult.
He explained to Arab News that when he is working on his Qur’an calligraphy he is transported: “When I begin writing the Holy Qur’an, I resort to solitude to allow myself to be invested in the verses and their interpretation, forgetting about the world around me,” he said. “I wish the verses about Jannah (heaven) would never end, and my hand trembles when I write the verses about Jahannam (hell).”