Wael Ibrahim is a John Maxwell Certified speaker, coach, and a teacher. He is the author of a series of motivational books titled ‘CHANGE’ which provide a support system to those who are addicted to Internet, especially pornography. He is a professional trainer on various subjects such as self-development, public speaking, communication skills, leadership, and life-coaching. In the past 10 years, he has delivered hundreds of lectures, workshops, courses, keynote speeches and trainings across many countries around the globe. Currently, he is a student counsellor and the Head of Islamic Studies at the Australian Islamic College in Western Australia. In 2019, Youth Club organised for Ustadh Wael to give a series of lectures and workshops in Lahore, Pakistan, that focused on raising awareness and dealing with solutions for pornography addictions.
Find out below what Ustadh Wael had to say about life-coaching, travelling the world, and his advice for young Muslims of today!
You have counselled many through your vocation as a life coach. Who has been the most influential life counsellor for you in your life?
I prefer the term life coaching than counselling, as there’s a huge difference between both professions.
In my profession as a certified Life Coach, I have met many people who have been influential. One of them is Sharon Pearson, of the Coaching Institute, who taught me the concept of championing one another. In other words, to be happy with the success of others and to celebrate that success with them as if it is your own.
I have also admired John Maxwell who is a very well-known bestselling author and leadership trainer. The best thing I’ve learned from him was the rule of growth: to be always keen to meet those who would add value to your life.
But, the best coach I have ever learned from is the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, especially in situations where you expect him to rebuke people due to their bad choices, only to find him to be very compassionate, merciful and a great guide.
What made you choose life coaching as a career?
Life coaching has been something I really love since I was a little kid, even though I did not know what it was back then. But I love seeing people breaking free from their troubles and helping them to achieve that has been one of my passions. So, when I knew that life coaching is all about guiding people to find their passions in life and to get rid of their difficulties, I knew it was for me.
Currently, you are the Head of Islamic Studies at the Australian Islamic College in Western Australia. Your audiences have been mostly quite mature. How is having a younger audience changed your counselling or speaking techniques?
Right now, I am teaching senior students at the Australian Islamic College in Perth, Australia and also counselling all year groups within the campus.
Before my current position I used to deal with the audience who would come to attend events, seminars and workshops by their own choice. They are keen to meet and hear what I have to say. However, dealing with students who come to school every day is very different. They may not be as keen as a general audience and the way they learn is also different. They are very curious, energetic and get bored quickly so as a teacher, I have to always make my class appealing to them to win their hearts and ears.
For example, a class without engaging students with activities could become very difficult to manage. A class without allowing them to ask and speak their hearts out, would be too boring for them to bear and thus not productive. As for counselling, the style and techniques are almost the same for students, who mostly visit you willingly to open up about their struggles.
You specialise in counselling people to overcome addictions to pornography and you say that the first step to recovery is to tell someone you trust. Why do you think this is important?
Addiction to pornography is associated with a lot of shame. A married man could be addicted and ashamed to tell his wife, or vice versa, a religious person could be addicted and worry to tell someone in order to maintain his reputation and so on. In this case, the addiction will always be in control of that person’s behaviour and will never be able to break free from its cycle. Telling someone whom you trust could become the first step on the road of recovery. Because now you will have an accountability partner who is interested to help you out, and so the chances to overcome this compulsive addiction would be greater.
What are some steps parents can take to keep an eye on their children and stop them from developing such an addiction?
Education: Constantly parents should educate their children on the harm of pornography from a young age. However, we should also learn how to articulate our language to appropriately guide them without giving them hints or unintentional tips that may cause more damage than benefits.
Blockers: Installing blockers or filters on all devices at home is also a very good way to protect our children. A good place to start would be an app named: FamilyZone that sends reports to parents on their children’s Internet usage, alarms, screen time and many other features.
Normalizing the conversation: In a culture where speaking about sex and pornography is considered a taboo and sensitive, we need to learn how to normalize the conversation around it in a way that would make our children comfortable coming forward in case they had accessed pornography or needed any guidance regarding Internet use.
Before you were guided to become a practising Muslim, you used to be a singer in Hong Kong. How do you use your singing abilities nowadays?
Perhaps reciting the Qur’an is the best way to utilize a good voice Alhamdulilah, and also the ability to stand confidently on the stage is something that I owe to my singing ability of the past.
What is the strangest piece of life advice that you have ever heard?
When I was about to change my lifestyle and practice Islam, someone saw me laughing in the mosque, so he approached me very angrily and shouted: “Don’t laugh, and if you must, do not show your teeth.” – Up until today I have not figured out how to do that.
We have heard that you did not always have a favourable view of Pakistanis. What made you change your view?
First of all, I was immature when I had that view, I had some problems with Pakistani brothers in the past, which made me think this way. It is not my view anymore. Now, Alhamdulilah, some of my best friends are Pakistanis and, I love the people for so many reasons. Their love for the Deen, generosity, sincerity, soft hearts and their very very hot food. Just kidding!
You were recently in Lahore, the food capital of Pakistan. Did you try any of the local dishes and if so, what was your favourite meal in Lahore?
My favourite has always been any food at the BBQ Tonight restaurant 🙂
You have travelled a lot in your career. What has been the best city you have visited?
The City of Madinah.
Choose one place to relocate to forever: Hong Kong, Egypt, or Australia.
Blue Berry Frozen Yogurt, Blue Berry Cheesecake, and anything else with blueberries 🙂
If you could meet anyone, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
The Prophet Muhammad, the reason is obvious 🙂
Still hidden 😉
The most useful piece of advice you would give to young people?
Do not repeat the mistakes of others.
The views in this interview are expressed by the interviewee and are not necessarily that of Youth Club.