Are you in Control?

Vol 4-Issue 1 Are you in ControlChildren retort back at their parents disrespectfully. Friends argue and insult each other over trivial matters. Drivers gesture and abuse other drivers for imagined or real traffic goof-ups. Scenarios, similar or worse, are repeated in private and public places every day. Why is it that we are often unable to control our anger, while our beloved Prophet (sa) kept calm in times of personal injury or disrespect?

Narrated by Anas bin Malik (rta): “While I was walking with the Prophet, who was wearing a Najrani outer garment with a thick hem, a Bedouin came upon the Prophet and pulled his garment so violently that I could recognize the impress of the hem of the garment on his shoulder, caused by the violence of his pull. Then, the Bedouin said: ‘Order for me something from Allah’s fortune, which you have.’ The Prophet turned to him, smiled, and ordered that a gift be given to him.” (Bukhari)

We flare up at the slightest affront. Are we so preoccupied with our own self-worth that we cannot overlook personal inconvenience or harm, while being totally indifferent to any disobedience of Allah’s (swt) commands?

Our anger is focused on serving only our own petty purposes. In contrast is the way of Ali (rta), who during a fight was sitting on top of a disbeliever and was about to strike him dead, when the disbeliever spat in his face. Ali (rta) immediately stood up and spared him. When the perplexed man asked Ali (rta) for the reason, Ali (rta) replied that since he had no personal animosity towards him, had he killed him in a moment of anger for his spitting, he would have killed him to settle a personal score.

For learning to manage our anger, let’s first see, what anger is.

What is Anger?

According to psychologists, it is a natural emotion. Dr. Raymond Lloyd Richmond calls it “the wish for harm or bad or evil to come upon someone, who – in your eyes – has injured you.”

Anger is an evil whisper of Shaitan; it pushes us to hurt others and make them afraid, or makes them reciprocate in anger.

The intensity of anger varies from person to person. Although anger is a natural emotion, it is dangerous to let it loose. Just as any habit or behavior pattern can be learnt or unlearnt, so can anger.

Pre-Planning

We must prepare to counter anger, when we are calm and composed. Since anger is one of the ways the Shaitan manipulates our Nafs, the first effective step is to become closer to Allah (swt) through the Quran and the Sunnah. The more we strive to please Allah (swt), the more Taqwa (god-consciousness or fear of Allah (swt)) we will have. And the higher is a person’s Taqwa, the more mastery he has over his Nafs.

Reminders

Remind yourself and others of the Quran and Ahadeeth. Abu Hurairah (rta) reported that a man said to the Prophet (sa): “Advise me.” He said: “Do not become angry.” The man repeated his request several times, and each time the Prophet (sa) told him: “Do not become angry.” (Bukhari)

Anger-Control Plan

Seek refuge with Allah (swt)

The Prophet (sa) said: “If a man gets angry and says: ‘I seek refuge with Allah,’ his anger will go away.” (Mishkat)

Silence

At any time, when you feel anger surging, slow down and start speaking very softly, slowly, and gently. Or keep quiet.

The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “If any of you becomes angry, let him keep silent.” (Ahmad)

Forgiving completely

“…when they are angry, they forgive.” (Al-Shuraa 42:37)

Developing the ability of forgiving needs practice. Often, forgiving completely is the only salve for pain caused by others. We can try to erase all the hurt from our hearts for the sake of Allah’s (swt) pleasure. Remind yourself of the worst and most embarrassing incident of your life, for which you would want to be forgiven. Our imperfection facilitates forgiving others.

Developing self-control

Some argue that showing anger is a way to vent our emotions. However, most of the time when we express anger, it breeds more anger and makes us more agitated, instead of calming us down. If we control the initial attack of anger, it will become easier to stay collected.

“Research has shown that the ‘anger reflex’ lasts about one second. Beyond that, the angry person is doing something else: choosing to punish another person or vent personal frustrations – or perhaps that’s how he or she was taught to express anger.

Think of your responsibilities

As good Muslims, we must care for the kind of environment we nurture for ourselves and for those around us. One angry person makes tense the whole house, office, or family.

Sara let go of her anger habit by reminding herself that she is the model for her kids. Khalid let go of his terrible road-rage by realizing that his shouting and cursing could not be heard by other drivers and simply made him tense.

Think positive

When someone hurts you, think of something good this person has done for you. When you feel anger at circumstances or at nothing in particular, count all your blessings and look at the people more disadvantaged than yourself. Remember that all bad and good time is the will of Allah (swt).

Do the positive

When angry, stressed, or frustrated, perform Wudhu, offer Salah, do Dhikr, read the Quran, take long deep breaths, or exercise.

Make Dua

We cannot achieve any higher trait without the help of Allah (swt), so we must constantly ask Him to help us in controlling and managing our anger.

Avoid making others angry

Controlling anger means not only to control your own anger but also to avoid behavior that causes other people to become angry or hostile.

Avoid phrases and words that anger others, such as “Who do you think you are?”, “You always do …”, “You never…” etc. Speak softly and calmly.

Ridiculing a person, calling names or leg pulling is hurtful and makes people edgy. The Quran guides us: “O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former; nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former, nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames.” (Al-Hujarat 49:11)

Do not discuss concerns and problems with people, when they or you are tired, preoccupied, in a bad mood, or running late.

Arguing even if you are right is not recommended in Islam.

Reduce stress-inducing factors. Do one thing at a time, if you feel burdened with work, learn to say ‘no’ if you lack time, or physical, monetary, or mental energy to do something.

As emotion, anger is a test for us. We must not let it overpower us. May Allah (swt) help us deal with anger in the best possible ways, so that we earn Allah’s (swt) pleasure. Ameen.

Said ibn Zayd (rta)

Vol 4-Issue 1 Said Ibn Zayd raZayd (rta), the son of Amr, stood away from the Quraish crowd, as they celebrated one of their festivals. He watched as sacrificial animals, gaily caparisoned, were led out to slaughter before the Quraish idols. He shouted: “O people of Quraish! It is Allah, Who has created the sheep. He it is, Who has sent down rain from the skies, of which they drink, and He has caused fodder to grow from the earth, with which they are fed. Then even so you slaughter them in names other than His. Indeed, I see that you are an ignorant folk.”

Zayd’s (rta) uncle Al-Khattab, the father of Umar ibn Al-Khattab, seethed with anger: “Damn you! We still hear from you such stupidity. We have borne it until our patience is exhausted.” Al-Khattab then incited a number of violent people to harass and persecute Zayd (rta).

Before Muhammad’s (sa) call to the prophet hood, Zayd (rta) was one of the few men, known as Hanifs, who saw the idolatrous practices for what they were. He proclaimed that he worshipped the God of Ibrahim.

Zayd’s (rta) uncle Al-Khattab had him hounded and persecuted to the point, where he was forced to leave the valley of Makkah. He managed to enter Makkah only in secret. Finding it impossible to stay in Makkah, Zayd (rta) left the Hijaz and went as far as Mosul in the north of Iraq and from there southwest into Syria. Throughout his journeys, he always questioned monks and rabbis about the religion of Ibrahim. He found no satisfaction, until he came upon a monk in Syria, who is reported to have told him that the religion he was seeking did not exist any longer, but the time was now near, when God would send forth from his own people a Prophet, who would revive the religion of Ibrahim.

Zayd (rta) headed for Makkah, intending to meet the expected Prophet. As he was passing through the territory of Lakhm on the southern border of Syria, he was killed by a group of nomad Arabs, before he could set eyes on the Messenger (sa). However, before he breathed his last, he raised his eyes to the heavens and said: “O Lord, if You have prevented me from attaining this good, do not prevent my son from doing so.”

Allah (swt) heard the prayer of Zayd (rta). When Muhammad (sa) rose up inviting people to Islam, his son Said was in the forefront of those, who believed in the oneness of Allah (swt) and the prophet hood of Muhammad (sa).

Said was not yet twenty, when he embraced Islam. His wife Fatimah, daughter of Al-Khattab and sister of Umar, also accepted Islam early. Evidently, both Said and Fatimah managed to conceal their acceptance of Islam from the Quraish, especially from Fatimah’s family. She feared not only her father but also her brother Umar, who was brought up to venerate the Kabah and to cherish the unity of the Quraish and their religion.

Umar saw Islam as a threat to the Quraish and became most violent and unrestrained in his attacks on Muslims. He finally decided that the only way to put an end to the trouble was to eliminate the man who was its cause. Goaded on by blind fury, he took up his sword and headed for the Prophet’s house. On his way, he came face to face with a secret believer in the Prophet, who, seeing Umar’s grim expression, asked him, where he was going. “I am going to kill Muhammad…”

The believer sought to dissuade him from his intent but Umar was deaf to any arguments. He then thought of diverting Umar, in order to warn the Prophet (sa) of his intentions. “O Umar,” he said, “why not first go back to the people of your own house and set them to rights?” “What people of my house?” asked Umar. “Your sister Fatimah and your brother-in-law Said. They have both forsaken your religion and are the followers of Muhammad…”

Umar turned and made straight for his sister’s house. Khabbab ibn Al-Aratt, who often came to recite the Quran to Said (rta) and Fatimah (rta), was with them then. When they heard Umar’s voice, Khabbab hid in a corner of the house, and Fatimah (rta) concealed the manuscript. But Umar had heard the sound of their reading and when he came in, he said to them: “What is this Haynamah (gibbering) I heard?”

They tried to assure him that it was only normal conversation, but he insisted: “Hear it I did,” he said: “and it is possible that you have both become renegades.”

“Have you not considered whether the Truth is not to be found in your religion?” Said (rta) said to Umar, trying to reason with him. Instead, Umar set upon his brother-in-law hitting and kicking him as hard as he could. When Fatimah (rta) went to defend her husband, Umar (rta) struck her a blow on her face, which drew blood.

“O Umar,” said Fatimah (rta), and she was angry. “What if the truth is not in your religion? I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

When Umar (rta) saw Fatimah’s (rta) bleeding wound, he was sorry for what he had done. A change came over him, and he said to his sister: “Give me that script, which you have, that I may read it.” Fatimah (rta) replied: “You are impure and only the pure may touch it. Go and wash yourself or make ablution.”

Thereupon Umar (rta) went and washed himself, and she gave him the page with the opening verses of Surah Ta-Ha. When he reached the verse: “Verily, I – I alone – am God, there is no deity but me. So, worship Me alone, and be constant in prayer so as to remember Me,” he said: “Show me, where Muhammad is.”

Umar (rta) then made his way to the house of Al-Arqam, where he declared his acceptance of Islam. The Prophet (sa) and all his companions rejoiced.

Said (rta) and his wife Fatimah (rta) were, thus, the immediate cause leading to the conversion of the strong and determined Umar (rta), which substantially added to the power and prestige of the emerging faith.

Said ibn Zayd (rta) was totally devoted to the Prophet (sa) and the service of Islam. He witnessed nearly all the major campaigns and encounters, in which the Prophet (sa) engaged.

After the death of the Prophet (sa), Said continued to play a major role in the Muslim community. He was one of those, whom Abu Bakr (rta) consulted on his succession. He was also known for his courage and heroism. Said was ranked by the Prophet (sa) as one of the outstanding members of his generation. He was among those ten companions, to whom the Prophet (sa) promised Paradise.

Dear Haadia

I know parents have great rights in Islam but how far can they go in hitting children, insulting them in public and displaying anger whenever they want to? Please elaborate on a teenager’s rights to respect.

Answer: Alhumdulillah it is good to find you are aware of and in no means denying parents their rights. Unfortunately very little is said about the Islamic rights of children.

Parenting is not an easy job, but Islam has provided parents with several principles to follow when interacting with their young. The Islamic rights dues to all human beings in general is inclusive of teenagers, such as speaking to them kindly, not backbiting about them, keeping their secrets and dealing with them with honesty and justice.

Once, when the Prophet (sa) wanted to share a meal with those sitting around him, he turned to his right side first (as was his practice), to offer it to the child who sat beside him. On his left sat an older gentlemen, and so he sought the permission of the child to serve the older person first. When the child denied permission, he was served first. Our Prophet (sa) did not over look the child’s rights for that of the older person; rather he sought the child’s permission to give up his turn, and was treated in the same manner as any adult would have been.

Children also have rights of their own, Prophet Muhammad (sa) has said: “It is the right of children that their father provides them with a good education gives them a good name, and fulfills their duties according to their age and intellectual growth” (Bayhaqi)

The duties parents need to fulfill range from feeding them to advising them in all matters of Deen and Duniya. The Prophet (sa) advised, “Do not refrain from using pressure (of punishment) with a view to training them (children)” (Tirmidhi) Pressure does not mean brutally hitting them, as the Prophet Muhammad (sa) spoke strongly against hitting anyone in a manner which could cause injury, and he spoke of striking anyone’s face as Haraam. In fact, he spoke of beating children if they refused to pray once they reached the age of ten. (Bukhari), which many scholars interpret to mean that one should not strike a child for reasons which carry less weight than the refusal to pray.

Allah (swt) has commanded to ward off from ourselves and our families a fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones (Tehreem 66:6), and the Prophet (sa) explained that each person is the shepherd of his flock (family). (Bukhari); Hence parents are both responsible and will be held accountable for their young. Consequently some parents may inadvertently appear too harsh towards their children. Others, on the other hand, may be too permissive. There is a story of a young thief who when caught said: “Before you cut off my hand cut out the tongue of my mother. When I committed theft for the first time and brought home an egg, my mother did not warn me or punish me; rather she said her son was a full grown man. Had she not said that I would not be the thief I am now.” This is obviously a situation that most parents try hard to avoid.

As a teenager, do bear in mind that it is difficult to modify one’s parent’s behavior, and the only one whose behavior can be controlled is our own, try to reflect more on the situation, do we speak harshly to our parents? Are we making an effort to show them respect? Are we fulfilling our responsibilities towards them? Or are we demanding our rights without giving them theirs? If so, be the first to give them their rights, it may take a while, but Insha’Allah eventually they will see you as one worthy of respect. Regardless, you will get rewarded by Allah (swt) for doing your duty. May Allah (swt) make it easy for you and aid you in your efforts towards building a happy and rewarding relationship with your parents.