Sheima Salam Sumer, Ed.S. is a writer and a trained counsellor that obtained an MA in counsellor Education, from the University of South Carolina, in 2007. She has worked as a professional counsellor, counselling families and individuals of various ages.
And in today’s post, she has shared some valuable advice with us (based on the teachings and guidance of the Hadith) on how to go about marital crises; be it a case of infidelity or domestic abuse. Also she talks about how to ‘self-love’ , & how to attain self contentment & inner peace in general.
Domestic abuse is a barbaric behaviour that is sadly becoming pervasive in our society, that needs to be addressed promptly before it becomes entrenched in the society.
Most victims of domestic abuse suffer in silence because of the supposed stigma associated with it & others fear what may become of them, when they expose their abuser.
No matter how difficult it is, victims need to gather the courage and speak out & seek for professional intervention. Do not try to seek retribution by yourself, as most cases ends up fatal.
We need to be in control of our intuitive feelings and be rational even at the face of adversity. Let us be the sensible ones in a senseless situation…..
Keep reading for interview below
Kindly follow this link to check out her book, ‘how to be happy Muslim inshallah’: https://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Happy-Muslim-Insha-Allah-ebook/dp/B00R1XADKG
Continue reading for full interview.
What motivated you to become a professional counsellor?
I have always enjoyed helping others. Islam, my beloved faith, emphasizes helping others and doing good deeds. Furthermore, my mother is a psychiatrist, so I grew up learning about psychology.
What advice do you have for people that find themselves in troubled marriages, be it a case of infidelity, or domestic abuse?
The first step is to take care of your inner peace. So before you make a decision as to whether to leave your marriage, first work on your inner peace and acceptance of reality. Acceptance does not mean approving, it means peacefully accepting what has already happened rather than resisting reality.
Taking care of your inner peace means showing yourself love, engaging in activities that promote your happiness, and following your true values.
It also involves thinking positively/ watching out for negative self talk. Once you have a peaceful inner energy, you will be able to see the situation with more clarity.
Every marriage has problems. It’s normal to have hard times. But of course there is a limit. Infidelity and domestic abuse are serious problems. If your spouse does not seem to show any desire to improve himself/herself or take responsibility for his/her wrong actions, this is a sign that it’s best to leave the marriage.
However, if your spouse seems to show signs of wanting to change and take responsibility, then of course give your spouse a chance.
Islam encourages us to forgive and be lenient with one another, but the person needs to show a true willingness to improve.Many people are so stuck in the past that they don’t notice when someone is actually making positive changes. Notice when your spouse is showing improvements.
Many problems in marriage are caused by a lack of accurate understanding. So really trying to understand the other’s viewpoint is critical. Therefore, It’s always important to communicate with calmness and respect. If we feel angry, we don’t have to speak with anger. We can use “I statements” such as “I feel angry because…”
Now if your spouse verbally says he/she is willing to change but consistently proves otherwise through his/her actions, then believe his actions, not his words.
And if you think it may be time to leave the marriage, seek outside support so you don’t feel alone and you can get an objective opinion
As long as your heart sincerely wants to please Allah, then Allah is going to help you…..
There are considerable number of people that lack the ability to ‘self-love’. What advice can you give them?You will bring more peace to the world if you love yourself. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself” (Bukhari, Muslim). This hadith is teaching us to love others, but it’s also saying that we should love ourselves.
When we start to love ourselves, then we start to prioritise our mental health and inner peace. When you love yourself, you talk to yourself in kinder ways, which results in better moods and feelings. Better feelings result in better actions that benefit our world. Loving yourself is also part of showing thankfulness to Allah for creating you!
And how can they prioritise their needs before the needs of others, without feeling ‘selfish’?Understand that you actually benefit the world more when you take care of yourself.
You have to take care of yourself first in order to truly help others. You will bring more positive energy to the world.
We do have responsibilities, so understand what you must do for others, and then do at least the minimum.
Find a way to prioritize your needs and fulfil your duties to others. This requires balance. Always keep Islamic teachings in mind. Islam keeps you anchored in who you are and what your values are.But don’t make Islam too difficult on yourself, because you won’t be able to continue that way.
If you do too much for others you’re going to burn out. You might actually destroy a relationship in the end.
you must have boundaries, take care of yourself, and you can help people for the long-term.
How can a person attain self contentment and inner peace in general? Have a life purpose and mold your life activities around that life purpose. For example, our purpose is to worship Allah so we should find a personal way to fulfil this purpose everyday.
Follow your true values and what you believe. When our life contradicts our values, this destroys inner peace. An example of this is working in a job that requires dishonesty. You can never find inner peace in a job like that.
Look for a new opportunity. Trust in Allah that He will help you. Be at peace with reality. Accept reality and then find solutions to problems. We can’t solve problems that we don’t accept. Resisting life and problems actually makes them grow. It’s all about having a peaceful energy within.
Trust in Allah and Trust in yourself. Allah is with you and He wants us to call on Him for help. You don’t have to solve problems alone. Ask Allah for His help and He will be there for you. Also, trust in yourself. You have a lot of positive qualities and strengths. Trust in your ability to handle life.
Make your relationship with Allah your number one priority because that is the main goal in life–to get closer to Allah (swt).
Also be easy on yourself as nobody’s perfect. Be kind to yourself and speak to yourself with love. Look for the signs of Allah’s love in your life and how He helps you. Express your gratitude to Him. This will help you to feel more spiritually at peace.