Channel: The Productive Muslim Podcast
Interview with Productive Muslimah: Haleh Banani (Clinical Psychologist, Marriage Therapist & Mother of 3)
Joining us on the show from the States in Texas is Sister. Haleh Banani. She is a clinical psychologist, working in the field for 20 years helping couples and individuals, an international speaker, writer and a mother of 3.
Haleh is our guest today for the Productive Muslim Interview, whereby we speak to individuals from all walks of life, get an insight into their productivity and take away lessons we can implement.
In this episode, we speak about:
How to balance between being a wife, a mother of 3, a clinical psychologist and other commitments.
The significance of teamwork over individual work.
How to stay focused, set, and practically achieve your goals
Seeking knowledge and the role of humility.
You're listening to the productive Muslim podcast, Episode One AsSalamu Alaikum and welcome to the productive Muslim podcast, the weekly podcast where we help you live a productive lifestyle so that you can be successful in this life.
Salam Alaikum productive Muslims. Welcome to the podcast. I'm your host Romero. And you know what? I'm really excited because this is the first episode of the productive person podcast. And there's always something special about the first things in life. You know, the first day we went to school, the first step we took the first words we said, and so, here it is the first episode of the show, and today I have for you a productive Muslim interview, whereby we speak with amazing individuals from all walks of life, get an insight into their productivity and takeaway lessons we can implement. Joining us on the show today from the States is our guest sister Halle banani. She's a
clinical psychologist working in the field for 20 years helping couples and individuals along with being an international speaker and brighter. Hello is a mother of three has been a featured expert on Al Jazeera international Huda TV, Islamic Open University mercy mission and bainer TV. She was the first female to host a program for alpha TV called with Halle and also co created the five pillars of marriage course with her husband, and received her agenda for re citation in the Quran. Plus, she was awarded the Icon Award representing America in Malaysia for her contribution in psychology and Islam. Mashallah, so it's an honor to have her on the show. So without further ado,
let's get started.
This show is sponsored by the productive Muslim Academy, an online platform built for serious and committed individuals like yourself who want to improve themselves. I'm a member myself. And I must say this place is a goldmine of knowledge with unlimited access to personal development courses by experts. And the best thing about it is that it's all faith based meaning it combines between religious teachings and the best of modern personal development. It also contains access to a private Facebook group where you can network with like minded individuals, a book club to encourage you to read regularly, exclusive webinars, and more. Plus, there's a 30 day money back guarantee. So
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Assalamu alaikum Hello, welcome to the productive Wilson show.
Hello, thank you for having me on. Thank you for coming on. It's a pleasure to have you. So can we start off just an introduction about yourself and what you do?
Sir, I'm a cognitive behavioral therapist. And my passion is really to, to help people empower them, and, and help them have meaningful relationships, overcome their obstacles, and I give lectures travel. And also, I'm the founder of the five pillars of marriage program. So where you are right now and the things that you're doing, how was it always something that you've wanted to do? Or was the point in your life in which you decided that this is the path that you want to contribute to the world, I've always had a deep compassion for helping others and as early as 10th grade, I became fascinated with psychology, I found that, you know, studying the human mind and, and emotions to not
only like break away from the shackles of whether it's childhood trauma or neglect, but to also help others to reach their highest potential that I just found that very fascinating. Yeah, so that combined with your desire to help others kind of you found yourself in the area of clinical psychology.
Yes, yes. And I think that real, I saw a huge void in the Muslim community, there were hardly anyone pursuing Psychology at the time, it was almost 20 years ago. And so many people tried to discourage me from going into the field, why is that I just
many people, they felt that you know, this is this is just not necessary. And I could, you know, I could go into another field and I, I really felt so strongly deep in my heart that this is my calling. And, and I went for it and I saw that you know, there was such a void in the Muslim community. And I just wanted to fill that void because very few Muslim therapists now I feel more people are going into the field on the left. And really I feel the the driving force, in going into the field is is this head deep and it I feel like it drives me on a daily basis. The Prophet sallallahu Sallam said that the most beloved of people
According to Allah is He who brings most benefit to people and the most beloved of deeds, according to Allah, the mighty, the magnificent is that you bring happiness to a fellow Muslim, or relieve him of the stress, or pay off his debts and the Hadees continues, it's a little bit lengthy. But that is really a driving force. And it just gives so much fulfillment to know that my field can not only help someone in their struggles, but also help them align themselves with the law. So it's a combination of the Dow law and the psychology and 100 law.
Okay, so along with the programs that you're doing, and your therapy sessions with clients, and along with travelers, like I won't know, how are you able to kind of balance all of these projects and work that you're doing along with your personal and other commitments that you have going on your life? Like, pretty much how are you achieving that balance? You'd say? Yes, you know, first and foremost, I really attribute a lot for the for the beta cat, for the blessing for the opportunities, it all comes from a lot, honestly. And I think when you put your intention, and it's that sincere intention to please Him through serving mankind, then it's just like there is this the the butter
cat effect that I think we'll have affairs talks about, a lot, we have a focus on that. And I, I really, I believe in that because, so, first and foremost, it is it is from a lot. And and then second of all, I have you know, I have an amazing supportive husband, Mashallah subotica Labs, and Majeed, he really believes in what I'm doing. And he is a source, he's a pillar of strength. And he's a source of inspiration. And he just, he really helps me in every area that in every, in every way you can imagine.
So that I think is, it's really important to have that support system to have your also to be aligned and to be centered. You know, my husband's and my husband and kids. And hamdulillah have always been a priority for me from the very beginning, even, I remember when I got my first TV program, I looked at the produce, and I said, Look, my husband, Mike, is they come first. So if I'm doing this, I don't want this to take me away from them, as long as we revolve everything around their schedule. And I think that was very important, especially while the while the kids were young, I really dedicated my time with them. And because I was in private practice, I have the luxury of
choosing my hours, when I work, how many hours I work, so I really totally revolve everything around them and I made made their schoolwork, their activities, you know, that was a big part of my focus. And, and it's, you know, it's about investing in your children when they're young. And then it really pays off. So while I was working, while I was doing my research and, and putting programs together, I was making but making them making sure that they're the, the focal point of my life and the law. And that I think the main thing is allocating time for each of the for each area of my life. So I mentioned chant, how definitely the family that was that that was the center. And you
know, a lot of times, I think, some of some of the people who are who are younger who into this field, and there's that excitement of getting involved and, and doing it all, they they overlook that priority, they may overlook their relationship with their spouse, they may neglect the children, I think that that is a too big of a price to pay, you really need to make your family come first. So that's, that's critical, and then allocating time for let's say, I put a dedicated amount of time for for the therapy session. And then there is a project and educational programs. And I always like to give back to the community by either right now I'm giving classes parenting classes,
and in the two massages here in in Dallas, the local mosque, and then giving Dawa in, in so many different ways. So
yeah, so that's working for you really well, haven't done a lot. And you know, I think it really helps to know your, your limitations and to get the extra help where you need it. I do have someone that comes in helps, you know, on a weekly basis with with the house with keeping up with that. And I think that if you can get the extra help where you where you need it. It is important because if you stretch yourself too thin and you overburden yourself, then something's going to give and, and and it's either going to be your health, your relationship or or your work so get the help that you need. Find that find the balance by getting the service
Kord whether it's from your family, I have wonderful friends who are extremely supportive and Hamdulillah, I've always been blessed with those, with those very supportive friends. And, and I, you know, I also get the kids to do their chores to, to help out to participate. So not only are they helping mom, but they're also getting their training so that one day when they're on their own, they'll be able to, they'll be able to run a household, inshallah, it's so important to get our children to help out as well. And, I mean, one, one thing that I really like about what you mentioned, is how you're saying that you don't do everything alone, as in, you realize your
limitation and realize that, hey, I need help in this area, because it's so easy to fall into that hole, you know, I can do everything myself, and then find ourselves just burnt out at the end and unable to achieve our goals. Right, it really is important to get that help. And you know, what's gonna happen is that if we get burned out, then we can't continue being productive, we need to do our task in a way that is sustainable. And I know I like to push myself I like to push myself to live. But I also realized that I didn't need help assistance, and I and I get that I get the extra assistance, and it pays, it really pays off. And it's a worthwhile investment to actually get these
things for insurance. So one of the things you also mentioned was how you said about working on your kids when they're young. And I want to know, like, what did you mean by that, and it was a particular years of their life, which is the most important, definitely their developmental stage. They were this, you know, the center of my world, I applied everything I learned in clinical psychology and what you saw today, as in what is the developmental age for a child, right, you know, the first five years or so, the first five years that child's life, you know, the first five years are extremely critical in building trust and learning, respect, and having that sense of connection,
emotional connection, building self esteem, making them just excited about learning. And so that was that was really a big passion of mine is instilling that love of learning, instilling leadership skills in them from very early on, and being quite involved as a PTA president, when I was when we were at Egypt, we were in Egypt for about six years, wanted the kids to learn Arabic and on and just got very involved with the school, which I think really raised the kids morale seeing their mom, highly active. And so that was that was a really, it was an enjoyable process and hamdulillah and just being around them and giving that time and attention to them really paid off because now they
are you know, they're 17 Mashallah, Amir 17. Kadeem is 14 Layla is they love it. And now there's so much Mashallah karateka life, there's so much more independent, and, and capable, because of all that investment of time and from the love. That's true. So will you always this driven and ambitious in your life? Or was this something that has developed over time? Always from first grade? Oh,
yeah, no, I was, I was always motivated, self motivated, I didn't need my, I don't remember once, having my parents helped me with my homework, it was just something I was driven. And it was just with really into being productive. I mean,
my, my father, I think was a big source of inspiration. And that he just always gave me these pep talks about their time is golden and, and cherish your time and make it a value. And so that that was just something I live by that I didn't want to do anything to waste my time. Yeah. So how do you keep yourself motivated? Has that been an issue for you? You know, the way I do it is that I focus on the positive impact the things that I'm doing is going to have and and that excitement just fuels me the excitement of getting adger, the southern Nigeria pleasing Allah and all that is just like this driving force and have the law. So I keep reminding myself of the end result. And that kind of
keeps me going. So reminding yourself of the end result means that you must set yourself some goals in your life that you want to kind of achieve something by Yeah, definitely. The goal setting is so critical. And I I gained the skills there in six years of leadership training that started in high school, and I would always set goals in different areas of my life. So whether it was in academics personally in relationships,
And this is something I've I've continued doing from high school. And I think that it really helps to write down your goals on paper. And somehow when you write it down, it's like this personal commitment you make to yourself. And many times I remember, as I wrote, The I wrote my goals down, it seems so unattainable. And it seems so far fetched. But upon law, once you write it down, it's like, you start working towards that you're driven towards it, and then you, you start achieving it. And then the key is to renew those goals, and to keep rewriting them. Because you always in order to stay motivated, you need those new goals, I think what happens when people lack motivation, is
because maybe they don't have an exciting enough goal. And it's just a map, it's just about tapping into the, the incentives and seeing what is it that could give them that drive and that motivation to, to achieve? Yeah, so you're saying that renewing goals and ensuring is something that excites them, and it's something that they find themselves passionate about achieving? Right, right. And then once they achieve it set up new goals. So if you're continuously doing that, there never comes a time, you can never feel like you have have reached a peak, there's this constant striving to keep achieving more and more. That's true. So over the years, what have been your lessons on
Okay, so it's really about believing in yourself, it's about having that vision, if you're able to visualize yourself, if you're able to believe in yourself that you are capable. That is the mindset that you need to have the positive self talk the belief in yourself and being able to
perceive your goals. Because if someone cannot even perceive their goals, because sometimes I work with individuals, and I have them close their eyes, I try to help them visualize No, I just don't see it. Because the belief system is not there. They have limiting beliefs, which prevents them from reaching their goals. So it's really essential to have that positive mindset. And then, of course, once you have the mindset, then there's those practical guidelines of having, you know, having your calendars having checklists, having, knowing exactly having those goals that keep you motivated. And
yeah, I like having a system in place to help you achieve those goals. Right, right. That makes sense. So in your work over the years, or what's something that you've noticed, has been a deterrent for people on achieving their best life and making a difference pretty much. You know, a lot of times people have victimized themselves, whatever that has happened to them. In the past, they may feel like they're a victim of it and, and they never move ahead, and they that just kind of weighs them down like an anchor. So I think making sure that you do not allow the incidents that have happened in your life, to victimize you and to prevent you from moving ahead. And if you do have any
of that get help get that professional help and overcome it. Because that that does, you know, weigh a person down, and then giving up too easily. I think that's another problem that many people have is that as soon as they face an obstacle, they give up. And you see that the most successful people are those who don't give up they could they are persistent, and they keep pursuing their goal regardless of the obstacles. So that is something that we need to be persistent. We need to be committed and not allow setbacks, to make it help me to make us give up. I really like to, you know, redefine success and failure because a lot of times people define success as what achieved.
Right, and failure as not achieving not Yeah, the inability to achieve so now I want to read the find these two words and, and really redefine it as a way that it will be very empowering. If we define success as the ability to learn.
So that means it doesn't matter what your circumstances are, if you are bankrupt, if you get a divorce, if you have certain issues that come up, you're laid off whatever it is, and you learn from that experience. That means you're a success. So you don't beat yourself up for certain setbacks in your life. And failure would be the opposite of that the inability to learn. So as long as you are learning and growing and improving, you are a success. And so I
I find that a lot of times people look at the circumstances in their life, they define themselves as a failure is whether it's within their marriage, whether it's in their degree, or at work, and, and then they are stuck, they label themselves, and they can't move beyond that. So just redefine these two words and see yourself as a success. As long as you learn from any experience that happens in your life. That's true, because the best teacher is experience. So going back to yourself and your work that you do, what are some of the challenges and obstacles you face? There is a lot to take in as a therapist, when you sit and you listen to, you know, practicing Muslims who either they go
astray, or they make really bad decisions in their life. And, you know, they may be suicidal, you know, someone will just call me and tell me that, you know, your mind, asshole, and I'm about to take my life or an individual's saying that they're on the brink of divorce. And so there, it weighs really heavily on me, because I feel that is the responsibility. And so that part of it is very challenging. And, and I think it's so important to be emotionally stable, to not be affected by that. But you know, you're, you're naturally saddened by some of the things that some of the things that I hear if there's ever abuse or domestic violence, or all of these issues that I hear are
definitely very, that it weighs, weighs down.
But it's just a matter of learning, you know, I guess, in my training, what help is learning to be compassionate, without getting engrossed. So it's just this constant struggle of, of keeping it into perspective, and, and not being disheartened. Because, you know, my, my natural, I'm a natural optimist, and I'm hearing all of these stories, I don't ever want that to change. I mean, obviously, I'm
much more informed now. And I'm not as naive as I was maybe 20 years ago, before I started doing therapy. But I don't ever want all of these incidents, all of these things that I've heard to ever change my optimism or my hope in people, because I think that that is something that I always try to realign myself to that, to that faith in humanity. And, and and realize that when people falter, it doesn't matter how much they know how knowledgeable they are,
and, and what kind of degrees they have earned. But it's just about following the Hadoop of a law, when when someone does not follow the boundaries of a lot, they fall, and no one is immune to it. And I think on a daily basis, I am reminded, and this is something I'm so grateful for that I'm constantly reminded of how your actions have consequences. So you follow your desires, you go out of out of the realm of the halaal. And you do these things, and there's definitely these huge consequences. And so it's a, it's a great reminder for myself, and I'm constantly readjusting even my parenting style, as I hear how other people parent, whether they're too strict or too lenient,
I'm constantly making adjustments. So I'm learning and growing from each client that I deal with, it's not just that I'm helping them, but I feel that I, I learned and I grow, and it's a it's a beautiful constant reminder and hamdulillah so instead of looking at this as a reason to be disappointed in humanity, you can say, rather, you're looking at it as a learning experience. It is this a learning experience and realizing that, you know, anyone can falter and, and you know, not being judgmental about it. I mean, that's something I really work on myself, I really cleanse my heart from any kind of any form of judgment. And I think because it shines through if I'm sitting
with a client, and I've had clients with all sorts of backgrounds, and if if I have the slightest feeling in my heart, even if I don't utter it, but I have that feeling of judgment in my heart, it will shine through and they won't be able to make progress. So constantly cleansing my heart from any judgment. And I think that is something you know, as we become more religious as we gain more and more degrees and attend more conferences, you know, there's that tendency to become very proud of ourselves and, and start looking at people who don't practice the same as us in a very judgmental way. And we look down on them for not having those same credentials and I think that that's dividing
the oma it's really
Making us fall apart, we only look for spiritual clones of ourselves, whoever is exactly like us, they're great, but everyone else is you you label them as either liberal or extreme, or whatever it is. So I think that it's just working on our hearts and, and being tolerant, and not just tolerant but accepting. We need to go beyond tolerance, we need to accept one another. For wherever you are on the spiritual journey, and, and just know that it's just a matter of time each person needs to find their own way. And I think that that would be a great exercise for us to do on a daily basis, just pure, purify our heart from any kind of judgment from others. Good. That's such an important
point that you brought up, because, especially today in the social media age in which kind of a lot of our lives are on display, or a lot of us have to do work that it's publicly out there, it's easy to kind of fall into the trap of judging people or looking down at them. Right, right. And I think that it's so important that the more knowledge that we earn, really needs to affect our character. If we're gaining knowledge and degree after degree after degree, but our character still has not been refined, then something's missing, then we're working towards those titles as a status and not working on our inner self. So I think that is, it's really important that as we gain knowledge, we
become more humble towards people less judgmental, and purify our character because that, that is what's going to have a lasting impact on others, not, not those titles, not the degrees, but our beautiful interaction with others is what's going to leave an impact. And there's a proverb, there's a Persian proverb that says, the tree that bears the most fruits, hangs his head low. So when you have the more you have, the more you need to be humble about it as far as your you know, your knowledge is concerned.
And also, what you mentioned reminds me of this quote about people weren't remember what you did for them, but rather how you made them feel. Yes, I love that. I love that quote. And I think that it's, it's really essential to focus on how we make our family members feel how we make our children feel, and and how we, you know, when we're interacting with with non Muslims, when we're interacting with our neighbors, that we make sure that we're leaving this beautiful sense of Islam everywhere. And it's all about our character, and that's what the prophet sallallahu Sallam came to perfect. And I think sometimes that's the missing link. These days, people are Mashallah extremely motivated to
seek knowledge. And you see them attending conference after conference and, and so excited about learning. But I don't know if all of that knowledge is being implemented or are being demonstrated in the character that they portray. Yeah. So it just comes down to a matter of how many conferences we've attended, or how many courses we've winters? Yes, yes, it is kind of a checklist. Yeah. And I find that people become very competitive in that. And and it just saddens me when I see that Islamic knowledge has been reduced to that, I feel that we need to do it with a higher intention. And every piece of knowledge that we gain, we're going to be held accountable for it if we're applying it. I
taught Moodle, and NASA did very well,
for sarcoma, and that clewd al Qaeda, as Allah takedo so how could you tell others and remind others about things that you yourself don't follow? So this, this becomes a very, something that should weigh heavily on us that we don't, we need to practice what we're preaching. That's true. That's so true. So we're actually getting closer to the interview and five some final questions. The first one I want to ask was, can you describe how a typical day looks like for you?
It's typical day Sure. Waking up the kids and getting them ready for school, you know, all three of them preparing. They need to form a breakfast these people.
Yeah, they have their their breakfast and their lunches and then I usually start my therapy sessions at eight o'clock. And let's see today I did my therapy. And then I had a class a parenting class at at the Allen muster that's very close to our home, and then came back for back to back therapy session.
with, you know, just interacting with, with people and love from from all over. And then in between, I tried to make time to make dinner and tidy up and also do interviews like this. And you know, there are like Tuesdays and Thursdays I put I put to work on educational programs I work with my husband and and we get out videos put out articles blogs and, and all that. So do you also schedule in time for non working time?
Yes, I do. And it's, it's really about in the morning, actually, when we wake up, that's one of the things I look forward to we have coffee on the porch on our on the swing, and we just look out at the creek and, and just try to focus and, and then just bond. And then and then afterwards I try to get in some walking a good friend of mine comes over and and we walk together on the neighborhood or on different parks. And so that is wonderful. And what what we do is like daily, we connect sick at our mealtimes are very sacred with with the kids. Yeah. And, and, and so we we have dinner together there every day where we connect, find out what's going on. And then on the weekends, we can start
very much family time where we either have barbecues or we might we might go boating, sometimes jetskiing sometimes just hanging out at the home and playing games together. And then and then we try to like plan
either weekly, or let's say monthly, small trips, little things that we do together as bonding activities. That's really nice. Okay, so my next question is, what's a book or video that comes to mind for you that has helped you in your own personal growth?
I know that personal power by Anthony Robbins, that was that was very, that was very inspiring the seven habits of highly successful people. That was one of the books I was introduced to when I was when, when I was in those leadership, training programs. And so those those really had a big impact on me when I was about like in high school. Yeah, that's nice. I've read, I came across Anthony Robbins, the first book that he wrote, I'm not, I'm not sure it was the first book was awaken the giant within? Yes, that's a powerful way to I really like that.
All right. So finally, what does it mean to be a productive Muslim? How would you define that being a productive Muslim, I think make everything you come in contact with better than the way you left it, it's about adding value sharing your knowledge and, and giving hope giving inspiration to others, and utilizing your time to build a side effect drive yet because all of us are here for such a limited period of time. I mean, I have heard about more that's of people that I know this year. And it's this constant reminder that none of us know when our time is up. And so being God conscious, being time conscious, and using all of that as as that motivation, the motivation to keep
going and continuously learning and growing in every area of your life, and never becoming stagnant never feeling like okay, I've reached it. I know enough, I'm good enough. It's always like wanting to wanting to improve, and, and contribute. So whether that's contributing by helping the people who are less fortunate, maybe the refugees, teaching, you know, helping people with their, you know, with their problems, or just simply being there for a neighbor, friend. I think that's, that's what being productive is all about. That's true. Making a difference and living beyond yourself.
Right, right and living. You know, my motto is to live in love with a higher purpose. And I think when you think about your ultimate goal is pleasing a law and everything that you do is a way of gaining jhana and attaining jhana. So whether that's in your whether that's in your marriage, whether that's in your parenting, your work, the community work you do, all of that is aimed to pleasing Allah. So that is that in itself is a huge driving force that is a much more powerful force than working for status or working for money because if you get that if you get fueled by that, then it just keeps you going.
That's true. That's true. Well, just like a higher for joining us on the show. It was a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me on. So there you have it. You can connect with hallae by heading over to productive Muslim podcast calm, and there you'll find show notes containing each anything we've mentioned on the show, along with how to connect with it. Now we've reached the end of the show. I look forward to speaking to you in our next episode. Till then remember, be sincere and work hard.