Gosh I’ve been dying to write about this aspect of my life for sooo long. Another hat I wear is that of a counselling trainee, one of the intentions being to have a qualification behind hifdh coaching InShaAllah. 

This is my second attempt at a degree, and at Session One, when we were asked to list our strengths and weaknesses, I remember my weaknesses far outweighing my strengths and I thought to myself, “Have you chosen to pursue the wrong degree? Again?”

But after 10 weeks of one of my current courses, called “Fundamentals of a Helping Relationship,” (basically Counselling 101), as I was counselling a peer tonight, he turned to our observering peer and said, “She’s good hey?” Me [blushing & chuckling]: don’t interrupt this…

One of my weakness I had listed 10 weeks ago was that I am judgemental. I openly and honestly admit that yes I am judgemental. But indulge me and try to understand that it’s not by choice, but rather an automatic frame of reference that I have. And know that I am consciously trying to unwire it from my mind. 

The reason tonight’s session is something to write home about, is because my client/helpee was a gay man speaking about his relationship with another man. Red light: conflicting religious beliefs. But I was nonjudgemental. And thus effective. 

The Hadith that states that “The best of people are those that bring most benefit to the rest of mankind” [Daraqutni, Hasan] comes to mind right now. It doesn’t define what kind of benefit and nor is it exclusive to helping Muslims. 

Something that helps me to be nonjudgemental is remembering a conversation with my mother when she told me that Allah does not judge in this word. So who am I to? He allows everything to happen. So who am I not to? Hold your horses, this does not mean that I condone the behaviour, by the way.  

I remember thinking I’d be the worst counsellor ever because I thought that I’m not very empathetic, but I learned that actually I’m not very sympathetic, and effective counselling does not require sympathy, it actually is devoid of it. Rather it needs empathy, and empathy can be learned. Which I have done, Alhamdulillah, (although I have room for improvement). 

As a counselling trainee, I’m also undergoing my own counselling. And I recommend everyone to go for counselling. (I can recommend Muslim female counsellors in Cape Town if needs be.) When we’re sick we readily go to the doctor, yet we choose to live with issues festering in us for months, years, even lifetimes. 

Even if you think you’re perfectly fine and don’t have any issues, counselling is about facilitating positive change in your life, and who doesn’t have room for improvement?