Imagine you studied 7 years to be an architect. At the last moment, before you take your last exam, you find yourself in a life-changing car accident that turns your world upside down.
This is exactly what happened to Sr. Saiyyidah. Listen to discover her journey how she ascended from this calamity and how she is helping other Muslim women to excel via positive psychology.
I would encourage everyone to write their obituary.–Saiyyidah Zaidi
Sr. Saiyyidah Zaidi’s website:
Book: Plan Your Day the Prophet’s Way
Maruf: Hey, Assalamu Alaikum, this is your host Maruf. And today we have a very special guest, sister Saiyyidah. Sister Saiyyidah, welcome to the show, assalamu alaykum.
Saiyyidah: Walaikum Assalam wa rahmatullah, Jazakallah Khair. I’m honoured to be here.
Maruf: It’s likewise. It’s always nice talking to you. It’s been a while since we talked, isn’t it?
Saiyyidah: It has, it’s been far too long. I think years, in fact.
Maruf: Yes and that’s right. So, we know each other for some years now but unfortunately we never met yet, have we?
Saiyyidah: No, that’s the strangest thing because when I am travelling to your place you are not there and when you are travelling to mine or when we are like close enough, we always miss each other.
Maruf: That’s true. I think I also follow you on social media. I think you are also travelling quite a lot with your family recently, aren’t you?
Saiyyidah: Yea, Alhamdulillah. We are very blessed to actually travel for a few years and we went to Egypt, Malaysia, the US and Indonesia and various other different places. For the moment now, we are kind of back in London for almost two years.
Maruf: Okay, we will get to that in a moment. So, as I mentioned what we’re going to discuss today is your backstory, your life Story, I mean where you were born, your childhood and how you will find, let’s say, your calling, your purpose until what you are doing right now.
If you are ready we are going back to childhood. So, tell us one of your fine memories from your childhood, what you remember. I mean, where you were born, what kind of family you were raised at. We would like to get to know you a little bit better.
Saiyyidah: Yea, so I was born and raised in London in the United Kingdom. It’s a very interesting story about how I came into this world actually. My father was here doing PHD and then he went back to Pakistan and married my mum and then they came back to London and literally nine months later I was born.
I can’t imagine that my dad had expected that to happen so quickly neither had my mum but there I was and as I was born and my dad was still studying there was like kind of a big realisation about finances and everything else. So, he then started to work. I don’t think he completed his doctorate which is one of the things that still pains me actually upon his behalf. Yea, and then life just kind of continued like that.
So, I went to primary school in London where me and my sister and one other were the only non white people within the school. And that in itself had some quite interesting manifestation. I mean obviously schools in London now are very very diverse but in the 70’s it was not like that.
Maruf: I see. Tell us more about it. So, how was your experience in school?
Saiyyidah: I would like to think it was pretty normal and it was but then there was also the other things. I think I always felt that I was different. And that’s not just for me, it was also the way that I was made to feel.
For example there is one incident that I still remember so clearly which is that I went to a friend’s house after school and her dad was in the kitchen making cheese and toast and he hadn’t seen us but he heard me speak and as soon as he came to the living room he was like, Oh! I didn’t think you would look like that and then he went to unpack this and pretty much said as if there was a war between us and he would just expect me to look like every other londoner in that time.
Maruf: I see.
Maruf: It must be a shock for him at the time, I guess. For the first time.
Saiyyidah: Perhaps, maybe people just didn’t have the language for how to communicate at that time. Where is, now, I think if someone said something like that, it would seen to be very clearly racist.
Maruf: But it’s funny, isn’t it? Like, if we go back we just memorize very specific things in our history. Especially, in this case your childhood. I mean, there must be a lot of things happened but somehow this incident has kind of made an impression on you.
Do you think it effected along the way? Did it effect in anyway? In your upbringing, have you seen in your life in the world today, these kind of memories in some way?
Saiyyidah: Well, I mean, that’s a good question and I don’t think it has affected me thinking that the world is racist, because I certainly don’t. I have realised, actually that people don’t know how to communicate in their uncertainty and I think that’s really all it was. He just did not know how to respond to me because I looked different.
I remember when I first went to University in Glasgow and there was one of my fellow students who were from Northern Scotland and he never met somebody that was not white or Scottish before.
And so, when we became good friends, he found it really really strange that he was friends with somebody that was very very different to him. Again, I just think it’s just not knowing. So, the thing that comes from other is that people don’t know what their own prejudices are and then when they kind of face them, it is a surprise and they don’t know how to handle it.
Maruf: You know this reminds me the ayaat in Quran, Allah (SWT) says that I have made you into many nations so you get to know each other, right? Do you remember this? Getting to know each other and the differences, I mean, that’s very interesting.
You know what, some of the listeners might be in that transition period. What I mean is that, you see, I remember myself just finishing up School, I was trying to choose what I was really going to study. In my case, I would just look at what kind of University I can go for and I just went for the best one I thought.
And it was the economy, I think economy and diplomacy. In my case, It wasn’t liked after I studied. You mentioned you studied in university, I would like to ask you, how did you come up with, how did you choose what you really wanted to study after school?
Saiyyidah: I think it was more of a natural progression from the things I was interested in. So, I have never really been academically minded and I think, looking back now I wish I had done something like law. I didn’t, I did architecture. I very much like creativity.
I managed to persuade the school to let me do design and technology A level even though I hadn’t done anything related to design and tech in my previous Secondary Education. Then I ended up with an A grade. And I think that just shows that when you have an interest in something and you follow your path and truth and you apply yourself, you can actually achieve a very very high level. It just really requires that determination and consistency.
Maruf: What you are saying is that you went for studying architecture, right?
Saiyyidah: yeah, I did yea, 7 years.
Maruf: Wow! 7 years. So, let me ask you this. After you finished your studies, did you get a job as an architect? I never knew you actually studied architecture. So, what happened then?
Saiyyidah: Yes, so, I remember you have to do kind of like 2 work experience as in order to qualify. So, for the first one, it was the time of a really big recession in the UK and I applied for 600 jobs.
Maruf: What year was this?
Saiyyidah: It must have been 1997, maybe.
Saiyyidah: So, Yea, It’s a long time ago.
Maruf: Yeah, Yeah. I can imagine, yeah. Go ahead.
Saiyyidah: Yea, So, then I applied for 600 jobs.
Saiyyidah: Yea, I did want to stay in Glasgow but it just happened that the one job I was offered was in Glasgow. So, I ended up going back and living for another year there. But I think again, it just shows that someone knocks you down but you keep on going. Because this is crazy, I mean, who applies for 600 jobs?
Maruf: That’s out of the ordinary, I would say. Applying for 600 jobs, I mean you must were altering some of it or you were actually applying and customizing cover letters 600 times.
Saiyyidah: I mean, yeah. This is before the internet, right? Can you imagine? I think I must have gone for a dozen interviews.
Maruf: Good success.
Saiyyidah: Lots of rejections and things but you know, you just have to keep on applying through the challenges there is presented in front of you and keep on going until you get what you need. Because had I not got that work experience, I wouldn’t have been able to continue to the next stage and then qualify.
Maruf: Yea, so you went back to Glasgow, you worked there for a year and so, it must have been something related to architecture, right?
Saiyyidah: Yeah, so, then I kind of finished the first year of experience and did the diploma in architecture and then we have to do another year of working experience in order to qualify. So, as I was doing that kind of pretty much, maybe a week or 2 weeks before I was due to sit in my final exam.
I ended up being involved in a horrific car accident and I was in hospital for a while. And of course, you are not looking at the body and thinking, what on earth happened to me. You are just thinking how am I gonna sit in my exam and so for the few weeks after, that became my main focus and my employers were very generous and they allowed me to dictate the answers and then, they tied them up for me.
They didn’t have to do any of this but I was able to submit and I passed. And I think that kind of adrenaline from that must have kept me going for a couple of weeks. But after that, I realised the real mess that I was in. I kind of was in a situation where I was unable to go to the bathroom and I could not cook anything, I could not peel a potato and it was a real mess.
Maruf: I see. That must have been a traumatizing experience, I think. It is almost impossible to visualize. So, at this point, this is after you almost got your permission, right? Actually to work for, this happened at that exact moment, isn’t it?
Saiyyidah: Yeah, and then I managed to complete my exams. And then some of the stuff I did from hospital. And then, I kind of like was literally facing the fallout from what happened from the car accident. And I couldn’t go back to work.
I couldn’t do any of the things that I wanted to do and that’s been six months kind of just thinking why this happened to me and all of the other things that come with that. And at the end of it I realised actually I did not want to stay doing the job that I was doing. I didn’t really want to be in Glasgow anymore, and I moved back to London.
Maruf: So, you moved back to London because your family was in London at this time?
Saiyyidah: Yeah, I think I just wanted to be closer to my family, the things that are really important.
Maruf: So, I think, getting into the accident at the time of your life, many people would call it a very traumatic event. It’s not easy to come out from this kind of experience. How did you cope with that? What was your light or what was your Rock to hold onto? Do you understand?
Saiyyidah: Yeah, I mean I felt emotions that I don’t think I would wish upon anybody. You know, I felt a lot of anger, I felt , I was constantly asking myself, why did this happen to me. And then towards the end of the phase, I just realised that actually, l didn’t believe that Allah (SWT) would put me in a situation like this for me not to fight back.
Okay, what can I learn from this and what do I need to do to get better. And that was the beginning of me then kind of identifying paths to get the physio that I needed that was a real struggle to obtain and all of those other things. And I think because I started to fight against what happened, it gave me a real kind of strength not to accept my situation.
Maruf: I see, I mean, you just mentioned that you know, I am going to ask you is that for example, in my case, even though I was born in some country, I wouldn’t say I wasn’t practicing until I was 20, 23 or something, right? So, in your case, can you walk us a little bit through like, I personally believe even you are born native Muslim or new Muslim, at some point of your life you have to take a decision, say ok, this is what I believe in, this is my set of rules, maybe this is Islam or other thing or whatever.
Everybody has a set of rules and beliefs, right? So, in your case, when was the time that you decided ok I am Muslim, I really embrace it kind of you know, I want to start practicing it? Was it before the accident or after? I just would like to know, in terms of reference.
Saiyyidah: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s a great question and I agree with you fundamentally. There’s always gonna be a point when you are gonna say, these are not just rituals and practices that I’m doing because my parents have told me to. And so, when I was about 13, I made a decision to read the old testament, the Bible, the Torah and the Quran.
And I don’t know what was going on in my mind. I just thought you know, I want to find out what the other religions say. So, I read this books and that was the first time, I felt like I consciously thought that Islam is right for me. And I kind of made more of an effort to make sure that my prayers were on time and things like that. So, I had a checklist, I kind of remember actually making this thing up and handwriting it. So, you put the 5 salahs down the days of the months that I would tick it off when I would pray. That was my first kind of decision.
Maruf: At the age of 13, Wow! Amazing. At the age of 13 and this wasn’t going through my mind. I mean, do you think your father and mom, you are from Pakistan, like, do they have any kind of influence? Because sometimes we know that you know, we encourage our kids to do Salah at this age. Was there some kind of influence from your parents? I mean, it doesn’t just come, I just want to know the cause. What was the main cause that you started thinking about this at this age?
Saiyyidah: I think my mum always raised us to pray and fast. So, I remember for example you know when I was a little kid, my mum would take us out for school and take us to the part of mosque in London. It would be praying a little bit and then running around the outside of the mosque. It would be really really fun experience.
And I think, actually it’s quite sad nowadays that kids are not encouraged to go to the Masjid in the way that we were and allowed to have the fun as well as do the rituals. But I Must say I don’t want to misrepresent myself because when I was 13, I was reading this and became much more aware of myself in relation to Islam.
I was not the best Muslim in the world. So, you know, I wasn’t doing all of the things I should be doing. Alhamdulillah, I wasn’t committing any major sins. But there is that phrase that you go through as a teenager when you are trying to find yourself. And I think it’s important to me not to misrepresent myself in anyway.
Maruf: I see, I appreciate your honesty. It’s not easy to understand, I guess. That’s interesting. So, we come back to this point of your life where you have recovered. Then what happens next? Like yourself said that I am gonna take control of my life, I am gonna change this, you decided and things hopefully started getting better?
Saiyyidah: Yea, I mean the recovery took decades if I’m really honest. It wasn’t just kind of like one day everything became ok and there are still things that I have to do in order to make sure I am as mobile as I want to be. So yes, you know that I love running and I enjoy going to the gym.
But sometimes if I don’t keep my mobility then some of the impact of the accident still comes back. So, for me now is an ongoing thing. But after I kind of decided that I wasn’t going to accept my situation as it was and do the physio and everything else that came with it.
There was the next key milestone in my life really realizing that I did actually wanted to get married. It wasn’t something that I was being forced to and I was clear that I wanted to marry someone who is Muslim and someone who would be compatible with me, rather than just kind of you know now, being a stereotype of an arranged marriage.
Maruf: Okay, yea, you did want to take things in your hand, I understand that. Good.
Saiyyidah: Yeah, I mean, yes and no. I kinda asked everybody that I knew, if they knew somebody that was compatible to me, even my mum. So, my mum was asking her friends and people. And I was very open. Because if you don’t know the root the right person come to you from and if it happens to come from my mum, then it’s great if it didn’t then also great .
And it happens that I asked one of my sister’s friends if they knew anyone and they introduced me to a couple of people that I really didn’t want to meet. So, I met and didn’t like. And then I was a little bit reluctant to meet my husband. Because you know, after a while you just get tired of meeting people and it can become an emotional strain as well. So, I wanted to pause.
Maruf: So, we are talking about the age, there were probably no, I don’t remember, I am not sure, I just want to know at that time maybe you didn’t have a lot of apps like we have today and everything should be offline l, person to person at the time, isn’t it?
Saiyyidah: Yeah, it was majority like that. And I think these kind of like marriage events and stuff like that, these were starting and sometimes these things, I don’t know. They are not that great you know, and not everybody is going with real seriousness about one seems to get married, all their list of requirements is so long.
It would be a miracle if this person comes along. So, eventually, I met him, I met the man who was going to be my husband. And then we met and I think months after through various different meetings, months after that, he then asked if I was interested in getting married. And then three months after that, Alhamdulillah, we were married.
Maruf: So, this is we are talking about brother Idress, right?
Saiyyidah: Yes, Alhamdulillah.
Maruf: Yea, we talked a couple of times. First impression was very positive. So, go ahead, I just want to ask you something. Like, today you see, when I look at friends and people, like, sometimes you know at the end of the day when you remember a person, if you have to describe one or two words you can put different words.
I mean sometimes, I do this to just simplify. I mean, when I think about you, the two words that come to my mind is positive psychology. You know, maybe because of some of the courses you did, maybe because of something you are engaged in. Like, I just want to know, is it still your one of the main things you are engaged in these days, positive psychology in everything you do or is not?
Saiyyidah: Absolutely, and I think it really has been kind of elements of positive psychology that got me through challenges in my life. So, I am very much interested in positive psychology. I think Islam is founded in positive psychology.
We don’t really have a language for how to bring some of these principles together but I also think that the academy positive psychology is missing a real kind of religious aspect in that. So, there is spirituality but there isn’t a really good relationship between positive psychology and religion. And I think that’s something I would like to change.
Which is probably the reason why I am doing my doctorate research. I’m looking at the experience of Muslim women undertaking positive psychology interventions and once that’s complete then that will I think be the first very very big push into this arena.
Maruf: Inshallah, it sounds good. I mean, you see, I just would like to know in a way that so for example, anything, as you mentioned one of the many things you are doing, you are focusing right now and your energy to get this PHD. May Allah make this happen. Even for your father as well, so, it will be good. I think you mentioned, I guess, so, I would like to know like people, they look for a meaning, right? Is that about anything they just go do a job just for the sake of money.
But what you want to do is something with meaning. It could be any job, it doesn’t really matter because it doesn’t always have to be commercial. It could be your job to give you meaning. It is as far as psychology, I just want to know have you discovered that? Did you discover or you were looking for something or it just came by because of the situation you were in? Can you go deep on this little bit more?
Saiyyidah: Yeah, absolutely. So, I Alhamdulillah was very lucky because I have always been quite driven in my career. And so, after my accident and some recovery, I kind of managed to get a job as a project manager in local government. And I ended up being a director responsible for program, building school for the future.
And I had a budget of like 500 million dollars and we did construction schemes and re-generate education within certain barriers in London. And well, I loved my job, and I love my job and I had Alhamdulillah, a great husband, wonderful kids. I had all of the trappings of success but there was something inside that just kind of, it didn’t feel right and I didn’t feel as if I was alive anymore.
And so there were some things that happened in work that really made me kind of question, what I was doing and I went home one day and I kind of said to Idress, look I am really really unhappy and I want to quit. And this is maybe three months after he left his job to go into teaching. And he just said to me ok look Saiyyida you do whatever you want to do. We will find a way of making it work and that was the best thing that he could ever say to me.
Because I did then go on to leave that job and that was I think the beginning of the work that I am doing now. So, I had two kind of pivotal pivot of my life where I made a shift, one I was doing was after the car accident and one was after I left my job. And I spent 6 months just wondering what have I done, cause I was making the decision to leave and everyone around me was saying you know, your salary, your pension, your holidays, all of this and I gave that all up.
Until I left, all of their noise were coming inside my mind. But once I recovered from that and because I was doing coaching training at the same time, I kind of was ok, this is the direction that my life is now going to go in. So, I start coaching practice primarily in executive coaching in helping people to progress in their careers. Even people were always saying to me you know, so, why is this intervention like this, why this strategy work like that. And I wanted to learn it a little bit more from the academic perspective.
So, it just happened that at that time there were only two Masters in applied post of positive psychology. One was in Pennsylvania and one was like 15 minutes away from my house. So, of course I applied and Alhamdulillah I got in and then that really the rest of that is history.
Maruf: I see. So, it’s time you finished some part of your study but now you are finishing your PhD, right? How is your progress with that? I mean, how close are you? Let me ask you this.
Saiyyidah: So, I have been doing it part time and I’ve had to take a couple of sabbaticals. And so, I am just about to go back into it now. And now is the right stage. So, I probably got about a year, 18 months left and then Inshallah, that’s it.
Maruf: I see. I understand, one of your dreams is that to finish that and you would like to kind of link that to religion. Especially, in this case to Islam, to a positive psychology. Is it what you want to do? Is it that what I heard? Is it correct?
Saiyyidah: There are a few things that I am aiming to do. One is to really document the lived experience of Muslim women. Because I mean, when you look at the research that is available on Muslim women within the academy, it’s primarily to deal with domestic violence or to do with kind of really stereotypical kind of pigeon holding of Muslims women.
And it doesn’t actually acknowledge that the Muslim women Pretty amazing people, you know. And I want to try and rewrite some of all kind of, maybe create a better balance in some of the literatures that is available there.
So, that’s one thing and then the other thing is really to create that link in terms of religion and positive psychology.
So, my actual doctorate isn’t practical theology and I think that as I said before, you know Islam is positive psychology and Islam is also practical theology. The minute we walk outside of our home, people know, specially for Muslim women, they immediately know that you are a Muslim. You cannot hide from it you know. So, somehow kind of researching the impact of this I think is quite important.
Maruf: I see. I mean, let me ask you this. I mean you mentioned that positive psychology and Muslim women. What about Muslim men? Are we arrogant to understand that we don’t, like we need this? I mean, as a Muslim man, are we arrogant that we don’t acknowledge this or we don’t need this kind of treatment? Why is that Muslim women in your case not including Muslim men as well?
Saiyyidah: Yeah, I mean it’s a great question and I think for me personally, you know, I am a Muslim woman. So, it’s easier for me to then work with Muslim women who are much more open. So, I think that we do need research for Muslim men within the the field of positive psychology as well.
And I think that you know there was always gonna be the little bit of barrier in terms of you know, a woman is gonna share something with me but she is not come share with a man. And I think it will be exactly the same.
Maruf: That’s right. I see.
Saiyyidah: So ya. But I think that men need positive psychology just as much as women do. If we look at the the mental health issues and the depression and suicide amongst men, I think you know, it’s really important for men to make sure that they do work on their own personal development and growth as well.
Maruf: I see, I see. I mean, that’s I think, thank you very much for sharing this. So, what does success mean to you?
Saiyyidah: That’s such a big question. I mean, I think for me the ultimate success, of course is going to be given the entry into Jannah, Inshallah, into jannatul Firdaus. But success in terms of right now today is, me doing the best job that I can as a wife and a mother and as a daughter, as a sister, doing a great job for my coaching clients and really trying to take full advantage of the gifts of life that I have.
You know, I mean one can say success is about money and all of the trappings, the artificial trappings of success. But look, I have done that and that didn’t really make me genuinely happy. So, for me if my kids are flourishing and thriving and my husband is doing the same and some of that is down to me, I am happy to take that success on board. I am happy to take credit for it, you know.
Maruf: I see, I see. I mean, I would like to ask something similar. Maybe, similar like much more you know, relevant to what you were discussing. So in our case what our Muslims like, there is always a balance between Deen and Duniya, right? We are always playing along trying to be in the middle. How is it right now for you in your life between Duniya and Deen balance? You follow on what I am trying to ask?
Saiyyidah: Yea, 100%. I mean, think that the greatest gift we are given as Muslims is realising that every single thing that we do can be an act of worship, right? So, your sleeping can be an act of worship. I even remember hearing Umma Subedar has got us an excellent book called “plan your day in prophet’s way”.
Maruf: Okay, by whom?
Saiyyidah: By Umma Subedar.
Maruf: Give this and we are gonna share it on the show, inshallah.
Saiyyidah: Yea, absolutely.
This is one of the books that we did in my book club recently. The reason I love this book is because I think it’s kind of mandatory reading for Muslim once a year. Because it does a couple of things. One it will make you kind of think actually, you are not doing that badly because we as Muslims, always thinking, I could be doing so much more. And of course, you can.
But as long as you are doing some of these things already, you are on the right path. It also gives you ideas for other things that you could be doing. And it teaches you a language for how the day today, things you are doing can become acts of worship. Going to the bathroom, I mean it’s crazy but if you go to the bathroom and you follow the prophetic steps, that can also be an act of worship, right? So, for me there is no kind of conflict between deen and Duniya because my deen is my Duniya. Does that make sense?
Maruf: Absolutely. That’s very very profoundly put and that’s a gem. That’s amazing, Alhamdulillah. Thank you very much. So, today you are in a different position, right? You were working at this job, you didn’t like it. But today we just say you are in the right place.
Alhamdulillah, your kids are healthy, you have a loving husband but you also do and pursue what you really really love. We could say that, right?
Saiyyidah: 100 percent.
Maruf: That’s amazing. I think what I am gonna do is that, I am gonna ask one more, I guess question. Do you think, is there a question I should have asked but I didn’t? And you would like to share your story or something to inspire the listeners?
Maybe as you said, maybe there are people they are on defense or maybe there are people in the similar path to you. Would you like to say something?
Saiyyidah: Yeah, I mean, I think one of my biggest realisation in the last 5 years or so has really been about something that I call stages of life. And so, I know that people will be listening to my story, listening to what I am doing at the moment and thinking oh, you know it’s ok for her.
And it might be ok for me but it has taken me almost 50 years to get to this point in time. And one thing that we haven’t spoken about is, why I came back to London. So, I came back to London because my younger sister and her family were moving, wanted to move out my mom’s house and gave us the perfect time to come back to London to help the kids with the kind of High School and secondary exams.
And we came back and I am living with my mum at the moment, she is reasonably healthy but also very very ill. And she needs help and so it’s a very strange situation for me having left home when I was 19 and now be back at home almost 30 years later. And this is why I talk about stages and phases in your life. I would just encourage everybody not to to be kind of looking forward to a dream ideal that is not reality for them yet.
Or looking in the past and really focusing in on time that has gone now whether they were really happy. But really look at what are there gifts that you have right now. Because I was in the stage about 2 or 3 weeks ago and someone was asking me about my situation. And I said I would not choose to be anywhere else in the world right now.
Of course, there are plenty of other places that I would love to live but right now my mum needs me and my husband’s mom needs him. And if we’re in the UK, it’s so much easier for us to be able to do these things. So, while I know that I am going to be asked about a lot of things. If I can’t answer the question about what did I do to help my mum, at the end then that’s something I will carry for the rest of my life.
So, I suppose what I am saying is, like acknowledge what you have today and enjoy that moment even if it’s a struggle. And also kind of, don’t do things that are gonna make you feel guilty about something in the future. Do the best that you can in the situation that you are in.
Maruf: I see, that’s very insightful. Especially in my case also, I don’t share this so much but I think, I am also raised as well with my mom. She is still in Uzbekistan. Alhamdulillah, she is very healthy and with my sister. But deep down I feel, there comes a moment that I will really follow your steps.
So, in that sense as if you were speaking to me you know, directly, Alhamdulillah. Thank you very much. So as a note, can you like, for those who are listening, for those who may not know much about positive psychology, can you tell us about 2 or 3 takeaways from positive psychology?
What you can do, right now to implement to already improve your life. It doesn’t have to be big, it can be as small as just tips. What would say if we ask you about positive psychology, how can we implement in our life to make it more positive?
Saiyyidah: So, it’s a great question because I have prepared absolutely nothing. But I am going to tell you three things that came to my mind.
Maruf: I am sure you can do that.
Saiyyidah: So, the first thing I’m gonna say is and everyone has heard of and gratitude journals something like that before. But how I teach it is I would like you to think about 3 things that you are grateful for and kind of focus on them just before you are praying Isha. Because what you will then do is kind of praying your salah but you will also experience gratitude in a very different way.
And the three things can be anything and then after you prayed and you are making dua, thank Allah for those three things. The reason why I encourage people to do it is that after Isha, is because when you focus on gratitude before you go to sleep, your brain releases some really really cool hormones and they still continue doing the work as you go into your sleep mode.
Yeah so, you are kind of going to sleep with the right chemicals being released with serotonin and oxytocin and all of the Other good stuff. So, that’s one thing. The other thing that I would say is, there is a very simple intervention that can be done to help people to have more khushoo in their salah to help more focus. And that is like a 60 second meditation.
So, encourage people and I actually did research on this for my Masters and the results came out that when you focus on doing the 60 second breathing exercise, the research shows that it does improve your focus within your prayer. So, you are basically standing or if you sit in prayer and you want to do kind of like 12 breathes slowly over 1 minute. And as soon as you finish then you begin praying.
Maruf: Wow! I think many people struggle everyday, I guess. Go ahead.
Saiyyidah: Then the third one, the third one is a little bit of scary one. And I am happy to share you with kind of like a sheet that the people can use like they can download it to do this. But I would encourage everyone to write their obituary. I will tell you why.
So, Alfred Nobel, the famous guy from the Nobel Peace Prize. His brother passed away and they were kind of like a really well known family in Europe at that time. So a newspaper in Paris printed the obituary but they printed it the wrong one. They printed Alfred Nobel’s and when he read it, he was like, this is not what I want to be remembered for.
And his whole life pivoted and that’s why we know Alfred Nobel as the founder of the Nobel Peace prize. And so, when you write your own obituary, then you can write the things that you want to be remembered for. And it may mean there is a shift in your life. Without writing it, you are never gonna know.
Maruf: Wow! I see. Thank you very much. Thank you and may Allah reward you. I think we learned so much and of course, I am gonna share these lessons in outline. As a final note, where would the listeners can connect with you, follow you or find out more about you? Would you like to share a website or a place where they can find you?
Saiyyidah: Yea, absolutely. I mean, you can go to saiyyidah.com. And you can see my weekly newsletter there. You can also find the social media links and things like that. Alhamdulillah, there is a lot of stuff that’s available, just kind of on the world wide web. And information that I share on positive psychology and practical theology as well. And I am also very happy to answer questions via email, people want to pick up on anything that we discussed today.
Maruf: That sounds awesome. So, having said that, we all thank you very much. And may we pray to Allah to make it easy to finish your PhD. And after that let’s say I catch up and if not we talk until then, at least until you are finished. Let’s say, I will get you on the show again and get your insights. What do you say to that.
Saiyyidah: Awesome. Absolutely, I would love to do that. Jazakallah Khair.
Maruf: Jazakallah Khair. Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.
Saiyyidah: walaikum assalam warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.