Dalya Ayoub Story
For me, one of the joys of producing stories for this website over the past year has been highlighting the deeds of some of the many wonderful men and women who make up the Muslim community here in Australia.
The many achievements of these amazing brothers and sisters are a constant source of inspiration to me.
It’s an awesome word, isn’t it….INSPIRATION….when another person’s positive actions spark us to better our own performance….and I can say from the bottom of my heart that knowing people like (recent story subjects) Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman, Ramia Abdo Sultan, Osman Karolia, and the respective directors of Preston Mosque and TENFOLD definitely drives me to ‘raise the bar’ myself, for the sake of Allah (swt).
The afore-mentioned Ramia Abdo Sultan (see my story ‘“Role Model Ramia’s A Shining Example”) is the incumbent winner of the Australian Muslim Achievement Awards (AMAA) Role Model of the Year – an award also won in the past by another highly successful Sydney Community leader, Da’eyah (Islamic preacher), wife and mother, Dalya Ayoub.
Some well known faces were on the stage at the Grand Royal function room for the 2016 Mission Of Hope Australian Muslim Achievement awards, where Dalya Ayoub was named AMAA’s Role Model of The Year.
Dalya is the much admired founder and CEO of the thriving Live Matters Academy and she is a tremendous example of how hard work and determination can help us overcome some of life’s greatest obstacles.
“I am the daughter of Palestinian refugees, born in Kuwait, but my family was forced to move to Jordan in 1991 because of the Gulf War and we settled there for 5 years,” the 37 year old Dalya Ayoub said when I caught up with her on a typically busy morning last week.
“In 1996, I migrated to New Zealand and life was very tough initially as we left all our family and friends behind in Jordan.
“I didn’t know anyone, there was culture shock, and I couldn’t speak any English as a 12-year-old; which is already a challenging time for anyone.
“I finished school struggling with English and the biggest struggle was trying to belong; I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Political Science, I was an active shura member of the MSA at the time and we were able to establish Auckland University’s first musalah for Muslim students which is still open alhamdulillah.”
It was also while living in Auckland that Dalya met her husband Basel, who is a GP.
“In 2005, we moved to Australia, initially settling in Echuca in northern Victoria, where I gave birth to my first child, Mariam (now 15).
“Again, things were challenging as we didn’t know anybody and we were the only Muslims in town.
“We lived in Echuca for two years before relocating to Melbourne where life still wasn’t easy without family, but we made some wonderful friends and mentors whom I worked with in youth projects.
“It was there where I started my halaqah (study circles) commitment which I believe had a massive impact on who I have become as a person; there’s nothing as rewarding and fulfilling for me as learning and teaching Islam.
“We moved around a lot….we had two kids under the age of two (the second, Ayah, is now 13)….and Basel was required to complete further medical training to become an accredited physician in Australia.
(Third daughter, ‘tweener’ Sumaya, was born in Sydney.)
Dalya is very much a people person and has shone throughout her community work and career as a mentor, educator and women’s advisor; women reach out to Dalya about all sorts of matters in their lives.
She either helps them directly or refers them to people who are experts in different fields, as she believes “it’s a massive honour when people trust in you enough to confide and share their personal stories – and they deserve the best advice and guidance possible.”
In 2015, Dalya founded the aptly named Life Matters Academy (LM)- a thriving educational institute where their mission is to inspire (there’s that great word again!) people to achieve excellence in all areas of their lives – through reclaiming their Deen – thus gaining ultimate success.
“I founded LM because I wanted to do my part in the revival of our Ummah, which I believe starts with the individual and then the family – facilitating various Islamic and educational services,” Dalya Ayoub continued.
“I could see no point in ‘re-inventing the wheel’ – it was my aim to do things that I saw were missing or to do existing things better.
“I wanted LM to be a uniting space for all sisters in our community and a second home to them; a space where people could come, feel embraced and understood, while at the same time learn about themselves, the gaps they need to improve and connect to their Creator through the entire process of self-discovery.
“Alhamdulillah I am very grateful for what LM has become, the lives it has helped transform and the homes it has healed; all these things cannot be measured in this life so my hope is for Allah to accept with sincerity, as all good is ultimately all from Allah (swt).
“Our programs focus on providing the skills, tools and knowledge to facilitate empowerment and excellence, working with individuals who aspire to live their lives with a meaningful purpose and balance not only for this life, but the hereafter.
“Teaching Islam with a personal development emphasis changes people’s lives, and moves them toward taking action to achieve the results they ultimately want.
” Life Matters Academy unites Muslims from all different backgrounds, groups and schools of thought and a major focus of what we do, for example before meetings and workshops facilitation, is to examine our intentions and look at WHY we are doing what we are doing… connecting oneself to the WHY, I believe, is key for good results.
“One other reason for our success I believe is because we are not in this to please people and we don’t compromise on our values which stem from our Islamic teachings.
WINNING’S NOT EVERYTHING
A very humble lady, Dalya Ayoub nonetheless has every reason to feel more than satisfied with what LM has become, as it is a not for profit organisation where all funding goes back into improving the organisation and serving the community.
“We function currently as a compassionate business, where people pay for some services like the workshops, as they are conducted by professionals, but 80% of our services are not for profit….so the 20% funds the 80% and has been doing so for the last 5 years; we are moving into a fully not for profit in the coming months inshallah,” she points out.
“Life is not a competition and although I am appreciative of the recognition that the various awards I have received have given me, ‘winning’ is certainly not my goal, my eye is on the ultimate winning in the hereafter inshallah.
“Our lives should not be defined by our work or labels or University degrees or awards… these all go when we go….I call them masks and I often invite people to reflect on who they are without these masks.
“Our purpose of creation is to worship Allah on this earth in the time we have and to make the world a better place as trustees in any way we can.”
Our purpose of creation is to worship Allah on this earth in the time we have and to make the world a better place as trustees in any way we can.
Like most organisations, Life Matters Academy has been greatly affected by the impact of COVID-19.
“As was the case with so many workplaces, much of what we do ground to a halt as all larger group services had to be put on hold,” Dalya Ayoub explained.
“But this hiatus I feel has actually been a blessing in disguise as it gave all of us the opportunity to take a break and look inwardly at who we are and how we cope in crisis.”
KEEP ON LEARNING
One of Dalya’s key lifetime philosophies is to “keep on learning”.
“Learning is everything and I encourage everyone to never stop seeking knowledge in all disciplines but especially in their Deen… it literally expands you as a person and helps you in countless ways,” she said.
“And being busy is no excuse to stop (learning)….even those of us who consider ourselves extremely busy are the very ones who need to learn more, to read more and to engage our minds and hearts more – that’s food for the soul.”
She certainly ‘practises what she preaches’!!
As well as her afore-mentioned BA majoring in Political Science, Dalya is an Undergraduate in Leadership and Management from Victoria University.
And amazingly, she was able to complete her Masters Degree in Islamic Studies with Distinction, writing her thesis on “Success from an Islamic perspective” while at the same time homeschooling her two school-aged daughters, looking after a baby and launching LM!
“Yes, they were crazy times,” she laughed. “But we got through it alhamdulillah.
“Allah created us with more potential than we can imagine and many people don’t tap into this potential fully.”
Allah created us with more potential than we can imagine and many people don’t tap into this potential fully.
In addition to her formal university qualifications, Dalya Ayoub is Personal Development and Life Coaching certified.
And let’s not forget the 100 or more courses she has completed over the last decade in areas such as (to name just a handful): Leadership, Parenting, Marriage, Time line therapy and Train the Trainers.
In addition to the many courses available, Dalya and the LM team also hold regular community forums on pressing and sometimes difficult topics that need to be talked about with the community and where professionals are invited to speak.
For example, one such difficult topic for which a forum was held in late 2019 was Narcissism: “How to deal with narcissism/narcissistic behaviour.”
Islamic seminars, short courses and workshops are also held regularly by LM, as well as retreats where people get to ‘disconnect’, including the annual and very popular three to four day mind, body and soul retreats in picturesque Queenstown, New Zealand, for women and Muslim couples.
Dalya is also a much sought after guest speaker both locally and internationally; her last conference (before COVID-19) was one she attended as the main guest speaker to address women who have been impacted by last year’s tragic terrorist attack on two Christchurch Mosques.
On a personal note, I would like to commend Dalya Ayoub on her tireless efforts to assist and educate members of our community.
She is a much admired lady, and while she does her best to shun the personal spotlight and praise that goes with winning major awards, I can tell you that it was my privilege to be on the same stage as Dalya Ayoub in 2016 when she was named the Australian Muslim Achievement Awards Role Model of the Year (two years later, she was the AMAA People’s Choice award winner).
Conducted annually by Mission Of Hope and co-ordinated by another amazing sister in Hanan Dover, the much cherished AMAAs are voted upon by the Muslim community of Australia.
And there can be no higher commendation for Dalya Ayoub than that she has the admiration of so many thousands of her brothers and sisters….not just locally, but throughout our great country ….and many more followers overseas, as well.
DID YOU KNOW??
That applying their knowledge is what stops most people from making lasting, positive changes?
Life Matters offers services that bridge the gap between where one is today and where they would like to be; as well helping individuals attain not only knowledge; but helping them put this knowledge in practice and everyday life.
LM’s mission is to inspire people to achieve excellence in all areas of their lives for ultimate success.
At LM, they are passionate about working with people of all ages to develop the key skills, attitudes and knowledge needed to prepare for today’s challenging world; and they believe this is done through reclaiming and living Islam.
If you want to attain a higher purpose in life, and are determined to do what it takes to live each day with renewed purpose and fulfilment, then Life Matters Academy is well worth your consideration; follow their work on social media through their Facebook page, Life Matters Academy.
LM’s MAIN SERVICES
- Study Circles (Halaqas)
- Qiam Nights for women
- Community forums
- Workshops and seminars
- Marital and pre-marital consulting
- Support Groups which include: Mental health, Chronic illness, Health professionals, Reverts support, Single mothers support groups)
- Recreational activities like picnics and sisters nights
- Youth events
- Ramadan and Eid events