Finding Space to Practice Faith

Student Voice by Daliha Aqbal (NHS’08, MS’12, M’17)

I use my strong faith in God to help me stay focused in medical school. With so much uncertainty in medicine, my faith also helps me trust my decisions. For example, with respect to patient care, sometimes we may not have all the answers to ensure a patient’s health, but when I turn to my faith, I am reminded that ultimately there is a higher power that knows what’s best for the patient and for me. God has given me the power to heal and trusts me with it.

Georgetown is diverse, with many faith traditions represented by our student body, including students who practice atheism and agnosticism. I feel that no matter what beliefs you hold, everyone here at Georgetown feels a part of the community. For example, the chapel area in Med-Dent is a place for everyone no matter what faith you practice. As a Muslim, I have spent many moments performing my prayers in a sacred space adjoining the main chapel, and talking with Father Sal. The chapel is a welcoming place of worship, love and peace for all.

Ever since my time as an undergradute, I have felt that Georgetown’s Jesuit identity provides a sense of community, respect and valuable interfaith dialogue. Despite the political scene sometimes portrayed in the media, being at Georgetown only instills positivity, growth, and understanding. We have interfaith prayers with our Jewish and Christian friends, and others of differing faiths. Everyone is welcome at Georgetown and that’s what makes this place unique and special.

Seeing sick patients has helped me appreciate the preciousness of good health. One patient I had was recently married, had two children, and had just been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. I really felt her pain that day. Every time she looked at her children who were in the exam room with her, tears rolled down her cheeks. I could see the fear and determination in her eyes—she wanted so badly to fight this disease in order to be with her children. The doctor and I comforted her as much as possible, knowing the severity of her cancer and the possible poor outcome.

I prayed for her and her family. The experience reinforced my faith, because I realized at that moment that life is so short and precious. This woman knew that and she wanted to live every moment she could with her family.

We have a finite amount of time to live on this beautiful Earth so we must try our hardest to be the best human beings possible. Death is inevitable, but we have some sense of control over our lives. For whatever is out of our control, we must have faith that there is a higher presence taking charge and knowing what is best. That is now what I think about life’s true meaning.

Student Voice

Daliha Aqbal in the Muslim prayer spaceDaliha Aqbal in the Muslim prayer space.

Our student columnist Daliha Aqbal (NHS’08, MS’12, M’17) is enjoying her third year of medical school, and looks forward to her next rotation in surgery. Aqbal (right) takes a quiet moment in the School of Medicine’s 24-hour dedicated Muslim prayer space, located in the Pre-Clinical Science Building. Opened in May with a celebration and official blessing by Georgetown’s Muslim chaplain Imam Yahya Hendi, the new prayer room offers Medical Center students, faculty and staff a private place for prayer on campus.