Shaheen Hasmat

The Age reported this week:

WHEN Shaheen Hasmat and his family arrived in Australia from Afghanistan as refugees five years ago, the year 8 student knew only a few words in English, like yes and no…

But yesterday, Shaheen was the dux of Reservoir District Secondary College, with a near-perfect tertiary score, or ENTER, of 99.8 and the promise of a scholarship to study medicine at Monash University.

Andrew Bolt, the Herald Sun journalist, linked to the story with a favourable title.  Some of the site’s readers didn’t seem too impressed; making unsavoury reference to Shaheen’s beard, religion and ethnicity.  This prompted Shaheen to write this response which was then published, to Andrew Bolt’s credit, on his blog (republished over the fold):

Hello everyone, this is me Shaheen Hasmat. I would like to thank all of you for commenting.

Before I go ahead just to clarify: I am not a female, I am male and I am a Muslim.

As for what follows, I have to admit that the comments in here are strongly political, social, religious etc. I am very saddened to know that I have provoked some people. Neverthless I wanted to point out that I, by no means, intended to upset anyone or provok anyone by appearing on the newspaper.

I thought by doing so I could narrow the gap between mine and the other cultures and thereby allow a better understanding of each other in this subtle and controversial world of ours.

– ‘God’ refers to the One worthy of worship Who you might have heard muslims call Allah (who is the worthy of worship as the muslims believe), as long as refering to the true One worthy of being grateful and thankful to . So just to clarify that it is the same thing but I suppose we human choose to believe in God in different ways and I guess that is why the word ‘God’ is sometimes connected with particular religions.

As for my acheivement, I would like to let everyone know that it surely was extremely challenging. In fact my eye-sight reduced considerably during the year and due to so much stress I was sick for months, yet, I had to spend days and sleepless nights on my desk trying to study and learn with a heavy pain on my chest and with burning eyes. (you can ask my English teacher about that)

Moreover, I thank God (The Almighty) for benefiting me in Australia, education-wise. I believe I owe Australia a lot and to many great people that I have met in here. Know that I have no complains from anyone in here.

I can understand that my beard has upset some people (by the way I pray five times a day and before every prayer I wash my beard, so it is just as clean as my face). I understand that it is something very unsual for people in Australia but it is very common in our culture to grow beard (infact in a lot of middle eastern countries it is uncommon for men to shave their beard). So please do not be offneded. Yes I want to be a doctor and believe me there are thousands of doctors and professors who have beard. I am willing to help people by becoming a doctor, I certainly do not want to offend anyone with my beard and if ever you have to visit me as a patient in the future maybe, then I assure you that I will do my best to take very good care of you.

It is very strange how some people can refuse to see a doctor because of his beard, where as in many countries there are millions of people in dire need of a medical need (eg my country) and in many cases they can not even find one.

I know it is a long comment that I am making you guys to read, however the whole point of my message is that I do not want to upset anyone in any way. Yes I appreciate Australia helping me out so much, I truly do and if I can repy that then I would be happy to do so. I am going to admit that I had to face alot of racism and harsh comments however I never meant to harm anyone and neither does my religion teach me to do so. I really hope everyone can underdstand that. Thanks again for your comments guys… Cheers. Hope you have a good time.