Naielah Ackbarali is the founder and CEO of Muslima Coaching. She is passionate about teaching people how to create meaningful relationships. Naielah is a faith-based marriage coach and life coach. She learned from renowned relationship experts and completed training in the Gottman Method for Couples Therapy. Combined with her professional training, coaching experience of over ten years, and personal marriage of 16 years, she offers marriage coaching to Muslim couples, wives, and husbands. She also offers premarital counseling for Muslim singles. She is an author of several marriage books and has been featured on popular Muslim television shows and podcasts.
Naielah Ackbarali, Muslim Marriage & Life Coach
Where are you from? Where do you practice?
I am of mixed origin and had a multicultural upbringing. I was born Muslim, but I come from a family of different faiths and practices.
I am originally from Trinidad, a small island in the Caribbean. I later moved to America when I was a young girl, but my family kept strong ties to our Caribbean roots. I grew up in South Florida, USA and went to university in Tallahassee, FL.
I have lived in different countries over the years, like Jordan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. I finally relocated to London, United Kingdom in 2021. I live with my British husband of more than 16 years.
My coaching practice at Muslima Coaching is online. Working online has allowed me to meet loads of people from various locations across the globe, which keeps my life interesting.
My clients are from the USA, Canada, the UK, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Australia. This has given me broad exposure to relationship issues in different regions and cultures.
We’re curious to know your story – what made you want to be a marriage coach?
Ever since I can remember, I was in love with love. When I was a teenager, I would stare at couples and wonder why they loved each other so much. I became increasingly curious about what makes a romantic relationship successful.
When I became older, I heard a few stories about struggling marriages, and I decided that marriage was not for me. I ignored my natural urge to find love because I was so scared of getting married and it not working out. I convinced myself that studying was a better option and buried my head in books.
However, in my twenties, someone suggested my husband to me. We met and spoke a couple of times. I really liked him and my doubts went out the window. We agreed that marriage was the best step forward.
In the time leading up to my wedding, I read books about how to be a good spouse. I spoke to close friends who told me why their marriages were blissful. I was willing to listen to anyone. In my heart, I wanted my marriage to succeed so badly.
My husband and I had our ups and downs in the beginning like everyone else, but overall my experience with marriage was very positive.
I realized that I could greatly influence the quality of my marriage with my thoughts, my words, and my actions. I prayed every day for a good marriage. As a devout Muslim, my faith became my source of inspiration and a guiding light in moments of darkness.
Through my own journey, I felt like I discovered gems that I wanted to share with the world. It became increasingly obvious that creating and sustaining a loving marriage in today's fast-paced world is still possible.
I eventually decided that I wanted to help others foster long-lasting love in their marriages too. I started enrolling in courses and training programs with top relationship experts. My goal was to learn the keys and steps towards forming a great relationship from anyone who knew it.
My coaching first started with helping wives, but then it expanded into couples coaching and premarital counseling. Couples coaching is my absolute favorite. I love meeting couples and teaching them the tools of how to be best friends through the good and hard times.
In your experience, what would you say is the biggest problem people face in their marriages?
Every relationship has its unique dynamic, but if I could mention a general theme, I would say that many marriage problems stem from a lack of knowledge.
A lot of people do not know what a happy marriage looks like anymore, which makes it difficult to agree upon what to do for the sake of the relationship. When we misunderstand what a good marriage requires, it will impact our ability and willingness to live out love.
For example, being a great spouse first stems from making an internal promise to live up to our highest values and to show up every day as the best version of ourselves. This cannot be achieved without self-awareness and learning how to tap into our emotional intelligence. Problems arise when we ignore personal responsibility and continually place the blame on our partner.
Being unaware of what a healthy relationship needs can also cause us to hold on to unrealistic expectations. We may demand things from our partners that are not necessary for our happiness. This can put excessive pressure on the marital bond, which may subsequently cause it to break down over time.
In my sessions I often see spouses working against each other, even though they are both good people who have the potential to be a strong team.
When we are more clued up about what marriage entails and what moves make a relationship successful, we will act and react in a way that serves our marriage. We will unite on a common goal and be charged to achieve it together.
Knowledge is power. I am a big believer in getting the right guidance before marriage and seeking qualified advice after marriage. In my opinion, this is what leads to fewer problems and a greater chance of relationship longevity.
What makes your coaching unique and different from others in the field?
I am deeply motivated by a verse in the Qur’an (the Muslim holy scripture) that says God created spouses for us to find comfort in them, and He has placed love and mercy between us. (Qur’an, 30:21) I believe that my main work is centered around inspiring love and mercy in Muslim marriages so that spouses can live together in peace.
My coaching is infused with Islamic spirituality. I teach my clients how to live their marriages for the sake of God while also integrating modern-day relationship advice and tactics.
I realized in my own marriage that love for my spouse was not sufficient to get me through the challenges. Rather, it was love for God that made me energized to keep giving back more and more.
I think this view has helped my clients feel motivated to show empathy, communicate successfully, resolve conflict gracefully, and practice the relationship skills that will make their marriages a place of comfort.
My clients also appreciate my down-to-earth approach and the relaxed atmosphere in the meetings. They know that our session is a safe place where they can express themselves and be in the company of a caring friend.
I think a major plus is that I offer tailor-made Islamic solutions and not general advice. I carefully listen to each client explain their situation and offer the best solutions that I can for their specific circumstance. I try to be real, fair, practical, and encouraging.
You’ve written a few books about marriage. Which book is your favorite?
My first book was "Secrets of Successful Muslim Wives." I wrote it in 2019 after interviewing many happy wives. I spoke to Muslim women from different ages, cultures, and backgrounds. It is a short and sweet read, which busy ladies appreciate.
As a follow-up, in May 2023, I published a book for both husbands and wives, "Secrets of Successful Muslim Couples: Marriage Tips for a Lifetime." This book has my heart in it. I was inspired to write it after reflecting on my experience of more than ten years of marriage coaching and living out 15 years of my marriage. It is filled with Islamic marriage advice, stories, quizzes, and exercises, which makes it extremely interactive. This quickly became a #1 New Release on Amazon.
My latest book went live in September 2023. It is co-authored by my husband, Anas Sillwood. We named it "Choosing Your Other Half: Marriage Tips for Muslim Singles." It is a modern-day Muslim marriage guide with practical advice and action steps for those seriously looking for a lifelong partner.
I think this is my favorite book. I love all the different issues it covers for singles. I feel like a big sister sharing her wisdom to curious ears.
Of course, writing it with my husband was a huge plus. We had a lot of interesting discussions and it was great to see us complete a major project together, with our main aim to help people.
What type of services do you offer? What is the best way to contact you?
I offer private marriage counseling for Muslim couples, wives, and husbands. Check out the marriage coaching options on my website.
I also offer premarital counseling for Muslim singles who have decided to marry or those seeking a third-party opinion to test compatibility. Check out my premarital coaching on my website.
My Islamic marriage books can be found on Amazon.
Aside from coaching, I am a public speaker and actively participate in talks online or at local venues. I speak at Muslim marriage events, Islamic courses, community seminars, and women's circles. Click here to book a Muslim female speaker for your organization’s event.
The best way to speak to me is to send an email. I look forward to connecting with anyone interested in Islamic marriage advice.