Interview with AbdelRahman Mussa
1. When did you start learning about therapy and why? What does this work mean to you?
I’ve always been fascinated by how humans work. It fascinated me how so much miscommunication happens and I wanted to know what motivates people and what makes some better at certain things than others. I knew that conventional psychology didn’t teach that and I was good at math and the sciences, so I decided to study engineering.
In 2000, two years into studying Electronic and Software Engineering, I took a year out to explore courses on alternative therapies and psychology. I was fascinated by what I found. Some of my life long questions were beginning to get answered. The year came to an end and I had learned so much. But do I return to university for my final year or do I continue on this new course?
I didn’t know of anyone in the Muslim community that was pursuing what I had just found so I realized that it was a fard kifayah (communal responsibilities) for me to drop engineering and pursue this instead.
2. You were featured in the local papers in the UK repeatedly about some of your success stories. Can you share something about those stories and why you think it attracted so much interest?
One of the stories was about a woman that had been agoraphobic for 15 years. She hadn’t left her home for that long – not even when her mother passed away. She was a Caucasian woman in her late thirties… What really caught the attention of the media was that she was married to her postman. Otherwise, she had no contact with the outside world. Also the fact that, alhamdulilah (All praise is to Allah), within 2 hours of us working together she left her house for the first time and went to the supermarket.
One of the other stories was about a young girl that had fallen off her trampoline 3 years previous to me seeing her. She developed a phobia of walking as a result. Her knees would rub against each other because her muscles would seize out of terror as she walked. Within two sessions her phobia was gone, but I needed to spend more time with her to ‘re-program’ her muscles, and to re-teach her to walk. I think the media latched onto this story because she was so young and her phobia was so debilitating.
3. Have you ever had a case that was particularly challenging? What did you do to overcome that challenge?
I only really ever work with challenging cases; if I know someone else that can deal with a situation I’ll usually refer the client on.
One of the most challenging cases I ever had was of a girl that had intense chronic pain in her toes. Two doctors had referred her to me, one a General Practitioner (GP) and the other a pain Consultant. The GP gave me the wrong diagnosis. He said her problem was psychosomatic (her mind was creating the pain) but it wasn’t. It was a problem with her energy. Alhamdulilah, when I figured that out, the pain was gone in 2 hours. She had lived with that pain for 3 years and she had literally travelled the world to find a solution. The saddest thing was that she was only 18 at the time. I remember the GP telling me, in front of her, that her problem was psychosomatic and was caused due to a dysfunctional family. It was not and his words were very cruel.
Alhamdulilah, in situations like that I am very grateful to Allah for the knowledge that I’ve acquired and the ability to identify the root of major ‘terminal’ issues. The Pain Consultant was far more humble and even commented positively when this story was published in the papers.
4. You’re starting a new program called i-Personal Enrichment that will be starting this Ramadan. Can you explain why you chose to shift your attention from formal therapy to both non-Muslims and Muslims, to providing a specialized service to the entire Muslim community?
I started to get a lot of calls from Muslims though most of my publicity was aimed at the larger community. I just thought that they must be coming to me because I was a therapist through word of mouth.
It turns out though that this is normal with community leaders and imams (religious leaders) as well, except that they’re not trained to deal with these cases. Actually, some of the advice that my clients report having received from imams and community leaders is down right shocking to say the least. Due to this and because I had chosen this whole line of work to fulfill the fard kifayah, it only made sense to focus my work on the Muslim community and to make them my first priority.
5. What is i-Personal Enrichment, how does it work, and what do you hope to achieve through it?
It’s a monthly program where I will guide people through practical tazkiyah (purification of the soul). Tazkiyah consists of purification and growth. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (Glorified is He) in Surah al Shams, verse 9 says: “Indeed, successful is the one that purifies and grows it” (Qur’an, 91:9) – referring to the self.
In my experience, everyone is talking about what needs to be changed; they are citing verses and ahadeeth (sayings of the Prophet ﷺ) to prove their point. Their point is valid, but no one is teaching people HOW. I want to give the Muslim community the HOW.
I called the program iPersonalEnrichment because “enrichment” assumes that you are already good, already worthy and you’re just tweaking. This distinction might be subtle, but it’s critical. The program consists of videos and posts that I will be publishing, as well as the walk through exercises that you download as mp3s and worksheets. I’m designing it to be quick, easy and effective insha’Allah (God-willingly), so that people can even do tazkiyah whilst driving or walking.
Click here for more details: http://ipersonalenrichment.com/pro/
6. What are some of the most common issues you plan to address that you feel are really plaguing the well-being of the Muslim community today?
In summary, people take their whims and desires as false gods. I think that all whims and desires can be categorized under four titles, the first three being: the whim for control, approval and security. So I will be teaching people how to notice these whims and how these whims are impairing them.
Then I will be tackling specific issues, some of which are:
- Having wealth in your hands and not in your heart; without loving it or hating it.
- Escaping the ‘rat race’
- Letting go of negative feelings towards others – such as jealousy or envy
- Overcoming addictions and cravings
- Building harmony with others
- Team work dynamics and choosing the right people
- Enhanced family relations
- Effective activism
- Detaching from dunya (worldly life)
- Obedience and submission to Allah
- Stopping worry and anxieties
- Cleansing the following states: Apathy, Grief, Fear, Lust, Anger and Pride
- Building positive routines and energy management
- Mind formats and optimum communication
- Goals and achievement
7. Why did you choose Ramadan to start this program considering how busy everyone usually is?
Ramadan is the best time to kick start this process because the devils are chained and so it’s much easier to purify oneself without that added distraction. Also, if you do something for 30 days it becomes a habit and it’s easier to build good habits if the devils aren’t holding us back, so Ramadan is the time to really program and condition yourself for the years to come.
As an added benefit of the devils being chained, it means that you get a more accurate picture of yourself. Your procrastination, your ill thoughts, any envy, wanting power over others, control issues, family and domestic issues – all of them will be as a result of the people involved – without the noise of the devils whispering to them. So you really do know what needs to be changed AND changing those things is easier because the devils aren’t trying to trip you up. If you give Ramadan your all, you will be a completely new person.
Yes people are busy in Ramadan, but busy doing what? Their first aim is to save themselves from hellfire and to work towards elevation in jannah (Paradise), all through the Mercy of Allah. Listening to the program won’t take up a lot of time and the implementation can be done anywhere and at anytime. Ramadan is too important a time for me not to launch this program then.
8. You also completed a bachelor’s in Shari’ah, while being heavily involved in community activism. How does this background affect the classes you are providing?
The degree showed me horizons of Islam that are just not available until you study. Islam is truly revolutionary. Fiqh is so practical and the rulings are so wise; how could they not be when this has descended from the All Wise! The community activism has taught me a lot also. Firstly, knowledge is not power. It is only potential power. As such, the exposure I’ve had has served to give power to what I learnt in my degree as well as my professional pursuits. There is good practice within our communities and there is also malpractice.
The program will therefore be very REAL and Practical, coming from someone that’s in the ‘grind’ – so to speak. Everything will be two thronged: internal enrichment and external enrichment.
9. How have you personally benefited from your studies and experiences as a therapist in your own life and as a community leader?
These lessons have helped me in my own iman (faith) and my relationship with Allah, in my family life, as a husband and father. In my professional life hundreds of clients have benefited, alhamdulilah, and with the community, it’s been extremely useful also. I want to share what I have learnt with others. Personal growth affects everything, and the Prophet ﷺ said: “A strong believer is better than a weak believer.”
Of course I still make mistakes, but I think that these lessons have helped me to overcome my mistakes and learn far quicker.
10. Do you have any last thoughts you would like to share with the readers?
Just everyone’s dua’s (supplications). I’m investing a lot in this program and I really want it to revolutionize our communities insha’Allah (if Allah wills). I’d love as many people to join me as possible.