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Dr Noor Hisham Reveals He Wanted To Be A Religious Officer Or A Mufti

At the age of 14, he faced existential questions about the meaning of life, which led him to religion, he says. Dr Noor Hisham, who had a tumultuous childhood, doesn't know where he was born.

Cover image via New Straits Times

He has a Masters in Surgery and Medical doctorate degree from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. He specialised in endocrine surgery and trained in various universities in Adelaide and Sydney, Australia.

But medicine wasn't his first choice, says Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, who has become the country's public face in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Wait, what?

Yes, the endocrine surgeon actually revealed this during a candid interview with Elena Koshy of New Straits Times. The interview, titled "The Reluctant Hero", was published on Sunday, 2 August.

I wanted to be a religious officer or a mufti!
Dr Noor Hisham

When a surprised Elena asks, "Seriously?", he replied, while smiling, that "Yes, seriously!"

Dr Noor Hisham (far left) as a student at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

Image via Oh Bulan

According to the interview, when Dr Noor Hisham was 14, a search for his identity and the meaning of life led him to religion

"When I was in Form 2, I started thinking about the purpose of my existence," he said.

"I focussed on religious studies to get to know myself on a deeper level and find answers to those existential questions," the interview quoted him as recalling.

The reason for this existential crisis, the interview said, could be attributed to his tumultuous childhood. Dr Noor Hisham doesn't know where he was born. It is said that he was born in Sungai Pelek.

"I was adopted by a Chinese Muslim family in Sungai Pelek," the Health D-G told Elena, adding that this was something he did not know until he was in his late forties.

I only found out that I was adopted when I was 46.
Dr Noor Hisham

According to Dr Noor Hisham, he was adopted when he was just a few months old.

He also pointed out that he wouldn't be where he is today if he didn't go through those experiences.

"My adopted parents were separated and I was raised by a single mother. We had to stand on our own. I learnt to be resourceful and independent from young," he told Elena.

So how did he turn to medicine?

He says the credit goes to the head of the religious studies at Kolej Islam Sultan Alam Shah.

"I took an avid interest in religious studies but the head of the religious studies called me up and told me to read medicine instead. He said that there were enough people studying religion but not enough studying medicine," Dr Noor Hisham recalls, adding that he reluctantly accepted the advice and did as he was told.

Read the full interview here.

Meanwhile, read about the judge who found Najib guilty of corruption and sentenced him to 12 years of prison:

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