Control Anger and Start Forgiving

imagesAre you a short tempered person? If yes, then you must be having a hard time keeping relationships with your family, friends, neighbours or colleagues. If you are a boss, then your subordinates might be unhappy with this nature of yours. This might even result into losing your hardworking and talented employees to your business competitor. So why not try to get rid of your angry, edgy nature and change your life forever?

You can start by cultivating the habit of overcoming anger and making positive changes daily by forgiving others and thus receiving Allah’s (swt) mercy. You will become a better person, if you stop keeping grudges in your heart – no matter what happens. It is hard – but not impossible – to control our anger. Overcoming our anger will make us strong.

Abu Hurairah (ra) has narrated that Allah’s Apostle (sa) said: “The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the one who controls himself while in anger.” (Bukhari)

A famous Muslim scholar Mufti Ismail Menk says: “Bitterness and grudges cause diseases of the heart, both physical and spiritual, and affect the mind and body, too.” So remember: love and forgiving – two great aspects that many overlook.

Do not break relationships

We should try not to cut the relationships due to our anger and misunderstandings. We should have a dialogue or discuss the matter with the other person, instead of harbouring feelings of anger and grudges.

Allah’s (swt) final Messenger Muhammad (sa) said: “A Muslim is not allowed to stay angry with his Muslim brother for over three days, because he who does that, and then dies, will go to hell (fire).” (Abu Dawood, Al-Jami)

How to control anger?

The Prophet (sa) also said: “Anger comes from the devil, the devil was created with fire, and fire is extinguished only with water; so when one of you becomes angry, he should perform ablution.” (Abu Dawood)

It is narrated in Bukhari that two people were arguing in the presence of Rasulallah (sa). One of the two became so angry that his face went red and his veins swelled. Rasulallah (sa) lifted his face towards that person and said to him: “I know of a sentence, if you were to say it, your anger will go away. The sentence is (Taw’wz): Aouzu Billahi min as-Shaytan-ir-Rajeem (I seek protection with Allah (swt) from Shaytan, the rejected).”

Narrated by Abu Dharr: The Apostle of Allah (swt) said to us: “When one of you becomes angry while standing, he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise he should lie down.” (Abu Dawood)

We should always supplicate to Allah (swt) for showing His mercy upon us and saving us from His wrath. It is narrated by Abu Hurairah (ra) that Allah’s (swt) Apostle (sa) said: “When Allah (swt) completed the creation, He wrote in His Book, which is with Him on His throne – My mercy overpowers My anger.” (Bukhari)

May Allah (swt) never seal our hearts with negative thoughts and hatred. Ameen.

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Being a Proactive parent

 

  • Is your child or student angry all the time?
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Repressing a Rage – Lessons from the Sunnah

hadith

Abu Hurairah (rta) reported that a man said to the Prophet (sa): “Advise me!” The Prophet (sa) replied: “Do not become angry and furious.” The man asked (the same) again and again, and the Prophet (sa) said in each case: “Do not become angry and furious.” (Bukhari)

Consider this: Why did Prophet Muhammad (sa) repeat this advice? It was for effect. Our hearts are like a valley; it needs lots water in order to clean it. Repetition is good for your ‘Yaqeen’, and for your heart. Repetition of key information will provide you with a firm base upon which you can accordingly alter your conduct.

Now let’s analyze the meaning of the Hadeeth: The core phrase is ‘La Tagdab’ – don’t be angry. Why? This is because anger is like Shaitan throwing fire in the heart of the son of Adam. We usually say the phrase: “My blood is boiling.” The heart of an angry person is considered to be boiling. We also say: “My face turned red with rage.” This is because an angry person gets red-faced and thus, anger becomes visible to others.

Why do you get angry? Here’s a checklist:

  • When I am humiliated by someone
  • When I feel that I am losing control                                                              .
  • When I feel threatened
  • When I encounter difficulty in dealing with people
  • When things don’t go the way I had planned
  • When something disrupts my schedule
  • When people around me behave inconsiderately
  • When people deal with me in a way that is unacceptable
  • My pride/ego is hurt/bruised

What accompanies anger?

  • You are angry about one particular thing but you will end up picking a fight with everyone around you on some other petty issues.
  • You will suddenly remember all your old peeves and problems. Shaytan will make you recall these bad memories – this happens especially between spouses.
  • You perceive everything negatively. An angry person always tries to harm the people most beloved to them – with actions and with words.
  • Regret. When you calm down, you are filled with remorse. To apologize is very difficult.
  • Extreme anger can be dangerous, especially if it leads to speeding on the road, for example.
  • Anger leads to numerous diseases.

Points to remember

  1. Not being able to accept a negative situation negates your Tawakkul (trust in Allah (swt)) and your belief in Allah (swt)’s Name: al-Wakeel.
  2. Don’t assume everybody knows the same as you do, or thinks the same as you do. When things happen against your expectations, you get angry and frustrated. In life, deal with Allah (swt), Allah (swt) will give you more than you expect. Surely, Jannah is more than our expectations. When things go wrong again and again, this is nurturing from Allah (swt).
  3. Don’t react when you are angry. How? Turn to Allah (swt): Ya Rabbi, you keep me firm. People think their power manifests itself with anger, when they yell, scream, hit or throw things. In contrast, the Prophet (sa) said: “The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger.” (Bukhari)
  4. Recall the rewards of suppressing your rage. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Whoever suppresses his rage, while he is able to exact it, Allah (swt) will call him before all of creation (on the Day of Judgement) so that he can choose whichever of the Hoor he wishes.” (At-Tirmidhi)

The key to deal with the anger

  1. Ignore, ignore, ignore. Turn a deaf ear. Don’t take everything personally.
  2. Remember the Sunnah: Abu Dharr reported: The Messenger of Allah (sa) said to us: “If one of you is angry when he is standing, let him sit down so that the anger will leave him; otherwise, let him lie down.” (Abu Dawood)
  3. Make Wudhu if you are still angry.
  4. Leave the room. Walk away from the situation. Resolve to deal with it when you are calm.
  5. Remember that the Prophet (sa) only got angry for the sake of Allah (swt).

Anger Management

Vol 4-Issue 1 Anger ManagementAnger has been termed as a strong feeling caused by extreme displeasure. It is a natural response to a particular circumstance. However, a pertinent question here is – can it be avoided? More significantly, can it be controlled? And if not, how detrimental can the consequences of a blind rage be?

Dr. Mamdouh N. Mohammad, an educational consultant and acting director of American Open University, reasons: “Situations that cause anger are not always avoidable; anger can and should be controlled. When anger becomes a habit without efforts to control it, a person will face great difficulty in building quality interpersonal relationships.”

A rapidly intolerant and self-centered culture is growing around us, where at times anger is even justified for making personal gains. Seldom people appreciate the need to defuse a potentially volatile situation and rather feel triumphant in a showdown, no matter how ugly it may turn out to be.

Islam, with all its wisdom and efforts to maintain peace and order in the society, has presented remarkable and doable strategies for controlling our negative emotions. This is simply called ‘anger management.’ Following are some workable solutions for those, who have the courage to break this bad habit and live a less stressful life.

Sensing of one’s moods

Quite often, in the midst of a heated argument, a person’s muscles begin to tense and pulse increases rapidly. Some people even become out of breath, and their voices raise. These are all signs of a temper simmering within.

The Prophet (sa) has advised us to pay close attention to these signs: “Beware of anger, for it is a live coal on the heart of the son of Adam. Do you not notice the swelling of the veins of his neck and redness of his eyes?” (At-Tirmidhi)

Changing of circumstances

Prophet Muhammad (sa) also emphasized the relaxing of one’s muscles. Abu Tharr (rta) narrates the Prophet’s (sa) suggestion: “The Apostle of Allah (sa) said to us: ‘When one of you becomes angry while standing, he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise, he should lie down.’” (Abu Dawood)

The idea is simple – the person must change the circumstances, under which he first became angry. His altered position will assist him in relaxing of his tense muscles. Also, getting up and washing one’s face helps. Atiyyah narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Anger comes from the devil, the devil was created of fire, and fire is extinguished only with water; so when one of you becomes angry, he should perform ablution (Wudhu).” (Abu Dawood)

Assessing potential settings

One of the best ways for a person to control his anger is to become more aware of his personal habits. Ask yourself: “What ticks me?” Every person is prone to irritation. If possible, replay the number of times you have lost your temper and examine, what was the launching pad? Most people do not make the effort to understand the kinds of settings or situations that lead them to their blind fury. Once this is identified, precautions can be taken to avoid them.

Beware of the snowballing effect

Another important element in controlling anger is not to allow frustrations to build up. Many individuals agree that they keep suppressing anger, until it gets too much to keep within and they blow up. Hence, all their initial efforts prove futile.

The solution is to take an inventory of one’s feelings occasionally. If an irritant has caused in you some sort of negativity, immediately try to disengage with it. Reciting ‘Aoudo Billahi Mina Shaiytan Ni Rajim,’ offering Salah, diverting one’s mind to some other chore, and complaining to Allah (swt) help. Yes, literally pour your poison out in front of Allah (swt), before you end up inflicting self-damage.

Avoiding the bait

At times, one is unconsciously pulled into a whirlpool by no fault of his own. There are such individuals around us, who seek pleasure by provoking us, especially if they are aware of the bait we get hooked to. We consciously have to practice avoiding those baits.

Once, a Jewish man greeted the Prophet (sa) by saying: “Death be upon you.” He used the Arabic word ‘Sâm’, meaning ‘death’, in a parody of the Islamic greeting for peace, which is the word ‘Salâm’. Though the Prophet (sa) knew exactly, what the man had said: he paid it no heed and gently replied: “And upon you.” He did so without repeating the misused word ‘Sâm’ and behaved, as if he had not noticed it.

However, Aisha (rta), who had also heard what the man really said: immediately retorted: “And death be upon you and a curse as well!” The Prophet (sa) said: “Take it easy, Aisha. Allah loves kindness in everything.” Aisha (rta) complained to the Prophet (sa) saying: “Didn’t you hear what he said?” The Prophet (sa) replied: “Did you not hear my reply? I responded to his offensive supplication. My supplication will be answered by Allah, while his supplication against me will not be answered.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Remembering Allah’s (swt) and His Apostle’s (sa) pleasure

Abdullah ibn Umar (rta) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “No one has swallowed back anything more excellent in the sight of Allah, Who is Great and Glorious, than anger he restrains, seeking to please Allah most high.” (Ahmad and Tirmidhi)

On another occasion, Saeed Al Khudri narrated: “The Prophet (sa) mentioned anger saying: ‘Some are swift to anger and swift to cool down, the one characteristic making up for the other; some are slow to anger and slow to cool down, the one characteristic making up for the other; but the best of you are those, who are slow to anger and swift to cool down, and the worst of you are those, who are swift to anger and slow to cool down.’” (Tirmidhi)

We also have a responsibility to take care of our health and well-being. Studies have shown that anger is linked to stroke, high levels of cholesterol, and coronary heart diseases; therefore, we must manage our anger in a healthy manner for our own sake.

As for disposition towards others, our choices in reaction to different situations significantly decide the ambience of our home, the culture of our organization, and our overall image as a person. Most certainly, nobody wants to be identified as a grouch on the brink of a sudden eruption. Also, by such unpredictable mood swings we tend to lose respect and drive away the people we love and care about. Consequently, even if we are a well-meaning individual, because of our volatile temperament nobody understands our true sentiments.

Anger is never a wise choice for expression. Next time you are tempted to resort to anger, stop and think for a while. There is always a more effective means of communication or even protest. May Allah (swt) grant us all the strength to ignore Shaitan’s whispers. Ameen.

Attitudes followed by anger

Regret

Benjamin Franklin once said: “Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.” Undoubtedly, regret is one of the most common emotions people feel after an angry outburst. But, unfortunately, it does not mend the damage of the initial angry episode. Anger causes serious implications, such as broken relationships, physical abuse, divorce, loss of respect, and even murder.

Regret is only worthwhile, if earlier mistakes are not repeated. But if it is a common occurrence after every fight with no improvement, then it is of no value.

Arrogance

For some individuals anger is a way of life. It is their language to communicate and their means of getting by. Unfortunately, they don’t even acknowledge anything to be wrong. In fact, they feel proud of themselves, if they are able to abuse others, put people down, or throw in a few punches to get their way.

This is the most dangerous of all attitudes – the sense of right and wrong gets displaced. Just as Satan challenged Allah (swt): “I am better than Adam.” Such individuals justify their position and feel no need to change themselves.

For such individuals, sincere and earnest Dua (prayer) is the only solution, so that their hearts soften and take heed of guidance by Allah’s (swt) will.

Grace

Once a man was harshly abusing another man, who was gently trying to handle the situation. The abuser went on till his heart’s content and finally walked away. A third man being the spectator of this brawl came to the gentle man and asked him quizzically: “You were behaving like a gentleman with that foul mouthed person. Why didn’t you get even with him?” The gentle man smiled and answered: “I was treating him the way I am. I didn’t want to be pulled down to his level. Instead, I thought of bringing him up to my own.”

Sadly, such grace is not witnessed often today, except among people of high Iman (faith), who can elevate themselves above the momentary madness. They have the courage to put a reign on their tempers and tongues.

Forgiveness

Uzma Rizvi, a Hiba writer, in her research found that Dr. Tony Fiore in “Three Tips to Forgiveness: A Key Factor in Anger Management” tells of a 1996 study, which showed that the more people forgave those who hurt them, the less angry they were. He talks about two studies of divorced people, in which the forgivers of former spouses lived on with a “higher sense of well-being and lower anxiety and depression.”

Allah (swt) states recommended qualities of pious individuals: “And those who avoid the greater sins, and Al-Fawahish (illegal sexual intercourse), and when they are angry, forgive.” (Ash-Shura 42:37)

Indeed, to forgive is divine, but as someone rightly said: “Every successful and content individual has a huge graveyard, where he buries the mistakes of people he knows and not knows.”

Anger for Allah (swt)

our role modelAt a time when conflict, distress, and war are rampant, Muslims are facing persecution. As Fitan descend one after another, we, as Muslims, desperately need to mould our reactions to deliberate provocations, according to the lofty moral conduct exemplified by our Prophet Muhammad (sa). At one extreme, we react to traumatic events by abusing, insulting, and threatening to kill the enemies of Islam; on the other end, we befriend some prejudiced non-Muslims so whole-heartedly that we don’t feel anything, when they degrade Islam.

How do we direct our anger to ensure that it lies within the boundaries of ‘anger for the sake of Allah (swt)?’ How do we know, when it is praiseworthy to remain silent and forgive our enemy, and when it is commendable to react with appropriate emotions and words of Naseehah?

Prophet Muhammad (sa) is well-known for practicing self-control when angry. He expressed his fury at the most by a change in facial expression: his cheeks would turn red, and he would become silent. In some cases, he would make a statement of mild or stern rebuke, in order to correct serious errors made by his companions. The term ‘personal revenge’ never existed in his vocabulary.

How and when the Prophet Muhammad (sa) expressed his anger is best described by Aisha (rta): “Allah’s Messenger never once struck anyone with his hand – not a servant of his nor a woman – except when he was fighting in war. He would never seek to punish anyone for their abuses, except when one of Allah’s prohibitions had been transgressed; then, he would do so only for Allah’s sake.” (Muslim, Abu Dawood, and Ibn Majah)

One of his duties as a Prophet, however, was to ensure that Allah’s (swt) laws and Hudood (restrictions) were not violated. Hence, errors by Muslims in implementing Deen were immediately corrected. Because of this, Allah’s Messenger (sa) expressed his anger on certain occasions. The following Ahadeeth illustrate this point.

Zayd ibn Thabit (rta) reports: “The Prophet chose a place, where he went out at night to pray. Some men saw him doing that, and they prayed with him. They came every night to do that. One night, the Prophet did not come out to join them. They started to make some noises like little coughs, raised their voices, and even threw pebbles at his door. He came out to them in a state of anger and said: “Look, you people! You continued doing what you did, until I thought it might be made obligatory for you. Pray in your own home, because the best prayer a person can offer is the one he offers at home, except for the obligatory prayers.” (Bukhari, Abu Dawood, and An-Nasai)

Once, the Prophet (sa) found his companions disputing with each other over the issue of the divine decree (Qadr). The Prophet’s (sa) face became furious, and he said: “Was this what you were ordered to do? Is this what you have been created for? To toss the verses of the Quran around like that? This is how the nations before you fell to their ruin.” (Ibn Majah)

Another action that angered the Prophet (sa) was when people asked him too many questions. Zayd ibn Khalid (rta) reports: “A man asked the Prophet (sa) about what one should do with what one might find in the street. The Prophet (sa) said to him: ‘Publicize it for a year, and then make sure to know its description and spend it. Should its owner come up, give it back to him.’ The man said: ‘What about a lost sheep?’ The Prophet (sa) said: ‘It belongs to you, your brother or the wolf.’ The man further asked: ‘What about a lost camel?’ The Prophet’s (sa) face was reddened with anger at this question, and then he said to the man: ‘What do you want with it? It has its own hoofs and drink, until its owner finds it.’” (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah)

There were some incidents in the Prophet’s (sa) life that made him angry even with his dearest companions.

The Sahihain report a Hadeeth, in which Usama Bin Zayd (rta), a beloved companion of the Prophet (sa), tried to intercede on behalf of a Quraishi woman convicted of theft. On hearing Usama (rta) speak for her, the Prophet (sa) became angry, and his face changed color. He replied: “Are you interceding concerning one of the punishments prescribed by Allah (swt)?” He further said: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad, was to steal, I would cut off her hand.” Then, he ordered the hand of the woman, who had stolen, to be cut off.

Muslim narrates a Hadeeth about Muadh Bin Jabal (rta) lengthening the Isha prayer so much that a man left the congregation and reported the incident to the Prophet (sa), who rebuked Muadh (rta) by saying: “Muadh, do you want to become a Fattaan (person putting people to trial)?” He then instructed him to recite just the shorter Surahs in the night prayer.

A narration in the Sahihain reports, how Allah’s Messenger (sa) once became angry at two of his young wives, Hafsa and Aisha (rta), when he entrusted one of them with a secret taking her into strict confidence, but she disclosed it to the other against his wishes. Vowing to stay away from them both for a month, he moved to an upper room in silent fury. As his wives cried in repentance, Allah (swt) revealed Quranic verses censuring them for having angered him.

Al-Darimi has a narration about Umar (rta) bringing the Torah before the Prophet (sa) and reading from it. The Prophet’s (sa) face changed color as he became angry, until Umar (rta) stopped. The Prophet (sa) then said: “By Him in Whose hand is the life of Muhammad, even if Moosa were to appear before you and you were to follow him, leaving me aside, you would certainly stray into error; for if Moosa were alive, and he found my prophetical ministry, even he would have definitely followed me.”

Aisha (rta) has narrated: “The Prophet (sa) entered upon me, while there was a curtain having pictures (of animals) in the house. His face got red with anger, and then he took hold of the curtain and tore it into pieces. He said: ‘Such people, who paint these pictures, will receive the severest punishment on the Day of Resurrection.’” (Bukhari)

We can see, how Allah’s Messenger (sa) became angry, when Muslims exceeded limits of moderation in worship, disputed with each other about Deen, asked too many questions, referred to other sources besides the Quran, or inclined towards neglecting the restrictions ordained by Allah (swt). He expressed his anger, however, with constrained emotions and carefully-chosen but effective words of reprimand. That’s how we should also try to mould our fury: to be ignited only for Allah (swt), and expressed just as His Messenger (sa) did.

“The strong man is not the one, who can throw another down. The strong man is the one, who can control himself, when he is angry.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Understanding Anger

skd182362sdcskd182362sdcSumaira Dada presents excerpts from Dr. Farhat Hashmi’s lecture “Let Anger Go”

Anger is a feeling that each one of us must have experienced. Let’s understand what it is.

What is anger?

From Hadeeth we know that anger is “a burning ember in the heart of the son of Adam,” and its signs are the swelling of the veins of the neck and the redness of the eyes. (Ahmad and Tirmidhi)

The Arabic language with its vast vocabulary uses several words for “anger” that reflect its different stages.

Sukht – the first degree of anger: mere irritation, disliking or being displeased; usually used for an older person being displeased with a younger person. This kind of anger cools down very soon.

Ghaiz – the second degree of anger: the displeasure raises the blood pressure level. This kind of anger could be on one’s self or on others.

Ghadhab – the third degree of anger: a person is full of anger and is bent upon taking revenge, seeking to hurt others.

Is anger controllable?

Allah (swt) says…

“And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for Al-Muttaqun (the pious). Those who spend (in Allah’s Cause) in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers).” (Al Imran 3:133-134)

The word used in Arabic for repressing anger is Kadhama. It means ‘to tie’ or ‘to tighten,’ e.g., tightening the mouth of a hot water bag. Like the hot water bag, which holds back the water from burning anyone, a person controlling his anger does not harm anyone and sometimes even cools down!

The difference between the mankind and animals is that we can control our anger, while animals cannot. We, unlike the animals, are not helpless. We have been given a brain and can control our anger.

Hadeeth tells us…

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that a man said to the Prophet (sa): “Advise me!” The Prophet (sa) said: “Do not become angry and furious.” The man asked (the same) again and again, and the Prophet (sa) said in each case: “Do not become angry and furious.” (Bukhari)

This Hadeeth shows that (a) if a person is able to control anger, a lot of his problems will be solved, and that (b) anger is a controllable emotion.

What are the causes of anger?

Some of the internal causes of anger are:

  • Disorder in personality, especially due to arrogance
  • Past incidents in life
  • Genetic pre-disposition
  • Non-fulfillment of basic desires
  • Physical ailment
  • High expectations of one’s self
  • Some foods

Anger can also have external causes:

  • Habits of family and friends that tick one off
  • Cultural values
  • Unexpected situations
  • Violence in the media and children’s games
  • Lack of proper training (Tarbiyah) of children (e.g., teaching how to express emotions)

How is anger expressed?

When people are angry, they shriek, yell, cry, bang doors, throw things, hit, torture themselves, take sleeping pills, attempt suicide, or take drugs eventually leading to addiction.

While some shriek and shout, others display passive aggressiveness by keeping silent, hiding within themselves the feelings of anger. Some others become sad and start pitying themselves, or even become jealous. Yet, others speak in a taunting tone most of the time – an expression of rage boiling over.

What are the harms of anger?

Physically

A negative effect on complexion, bones, gait; an increase in heart palpitation, blood pressure; chances of a heart attack also increase. Some people experience a sudden burst of anger and cannot control their body movements (especially their limbs!) and their tongues. Nerves stay under pressure; in some severe cases, anger has been pointed out as the cause of diabetes.

Mentally

Loss of sensible thought, creativity, and wisdom. Cooling of anger brings only embarrassment, shame, and sadness. Constructive activities are put on hold to rectify the wrongs done.

Spiritually

A washing away of good deeds. Sometimes one does a lot of good deeds but then becomes angry and in anger blurts out words that spoil all the good deeds done.

Allah (swt) says: “O you who believe! Do not render in vain your Sadaqah (charity) by reminders of your generosity or by injury.” (Al-Baqarah 2:264)

The Prophet (sa) said: “Anger spoils faith (Iman) as [the bitterness of] aloes’ sap spoils honey.” (Al-Hakim and At-Tirmidhi)

Socially

Relationships are spoilt because of angry words. Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated: “The Prophet (sa) said: ‘A Mumin is an embodiment of love and affection, and there is no good in one, who neither loves nor is loved.’” (Ahmad)

Anger brings harm in its wake, e.g., an employee loses his job because of sharp words exchanged with the boss; a vendor loses a customer due to an exchange of angry words.

What is the benefit of controlling anger?

Obtaining the pleasure of Allah (swt). Ibn Umar (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “There is no sip greater in reward near Allah than the sip of anger; the servant suppresses it seeking the pleasure of Allah.” (Ibn Majah)

Why has Allah (swt) kept anger in us?

To change things around, we need the energy of anger. Sometimes one in anger does those things that one could not have done otherwise. Allah (swt) has kept anger in our hearts for stopping the wrong – Jihad against evil is the best expression of positive anger. The Prophet (sa) said:Whoever amongst you sees an evil, should change it with his hand. If he is unable to do that, then with his tongue. If he is unable to do that, then with his heart, and that is the weakest level of Iman.” (Muslim)

Anger needs to be channeled properly, because one cannot stop it from coming. Expressing anger at the right time, in the right way, and at the right level can be beneficial.

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “The strong is not the one, who overpowers in wrestling, but the strong one is he, who controls himself in anger.” (Bukhari)

Just how Harmful is Anger to one’s Health?

By Uzma Jawed

It’s extremely hot, the car’s air-condition isn’t working, and you are stuck in traffic. The traffic slowly starts moving, but for some reason the car in front of you doesn’t. You slowly feel the tension build up, and you start honking and screaming at the car in front of you. Later, when you walk across a busy street, someone bumps into you accidentally, and you start screaming and pushing that person.

We all face situations like this. Everyone feels angry at times due to life stresses, such as financial problems, marital problems, health problems, etc. For some, if anger occurs too frequently, lasts too long or intensifies, it can affect them physically, mentally, spiritually, and psychologically.

Anger is a powerful emotion, and a myriad of research shows that it can have disparaging results on human health. It can impair our cardiovascular system, have an impact on our immune system, brain, weight, and even cause skin and hair problems.

Cardiovascular system

In his book “Forgive for Good,” Dr. Frederic Luskin says that certain enzymes are released during anger and stress, which causes cholesterol and blood pressure levels to go up. Sue Meyers, a family sociologist, explains in her article that anger triggers the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. This causes the adrenal glands to release stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. The brain then diverts the blood away from the gut towards the major muscle groups. This causes heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration to increase. Furthermore, at times of anger, pulse rate rises above its normal level leading to higher blood pressure in the arteries, hence, causing a greater chance of a heart attack.

An article called “Anger is Hostile to Your Heart,” published in the Harvard Gazette, further proved that irritable old men had three times the risk of heart disease than their more steady peers. Moreover, the journal Psychosomatic Medicine suggested that anger and hostility can provoke the creation of inflammatory proteins, which may, in turn, cause the hardening of the arteries, causing heart disease and stroke.

Scientists of the John Hopkins University at Baltimore have also found that short-tempered men have a higher risk of heart attack, even if there is no family history of health problem.

Immune system

Our immune system also becomes more vulnerable at times of stress, since the rush of cortisol overpowers the white blood cells and makes them less responsive to pathogens, hence, increasing chances of bacterial and viral infections. Researchers at the Ohio State University College of Medicine state that chronic stress delays wound healing from 24% to 40%.

Weight

When cortisol and insulin escalate during periods of stress, so does our desire for food. We crave more carbohydrates and sugary foods, as they temporarily reduce the stress levels. As the levels of cortisol remain high even when stress levels go down, we tend to keep eating, even if we are not hungry. As a result – we get fat.

Skin / Hair

The article “Distress Signals” in the Weekend also mentions that anger and stress can release hormones that fuel the overproduction of the sebaceous gland. This can result in hair loss as well as dull and lifeless hair. The oiliness produced by these glands can also block pores, hence, causing pimples and acne.

Psychological symptoms

Some psychological and behavioral symptoms that have also been correlated to anger include: panic attacks, reactive depression, confusion, tearfulness, irritability, and obsession. These are the results of an imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Hence, if a person does not identify the root of his anger for controlling or redirecting it, he can cause great damage to himself and others around him.

Medicine for Anger

Avoid being too sensitive to provocation. Divert yourself.

“Speak, when you are angry, and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” This quote by Ambrose Bierce shows us the advantages of controlling our anger and temper, and redirecting our mind from upsetting feelings. In this way, we can have peace of mind instead of a conflict. An effective method, which Prophet Muhammad (sa) once taught a man, was to take a sip of water and not swallow it, while he was angry with his wife. A couple of months later, the man came back to the Prophet (sa) and told him that it had worked.

We should be quick to listen and slow to speak. As we have two ears and one mouth, we should use them proportionally.

If you feel out of control, walk away from the situation, until you cool down.

Try to identify the problem and think of possible strategies to solve the situation.

Use relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or reading a book.

Do regular exercise, as this will help increase your tolerance level.

Inspiration from the Quran 

It has also been revealed in the Quran that forgiveness is a superior moral trait: “And verily, whosoever shows patience and forgives, that would tryly be from the things recommended by Allah.” (Ash-Shura 42:43)

For that reason, believers are forgiving, compassionate, and tolerant people “who repress anger, and who pardon men.” (Al-Imran 3:134)

“Let them pardon and forgive. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (An-Nur 24:22)

“The recompense for an evil is an evil like thereof; but whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is with Allah.” (Ash-Shura 42:40)

“But if you pardon (them) and overlook, and forgive (their faults), then verily Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (At-Taghabun 64: 14)

One of the divine attributes of Allah (swt) is patience. The Quran says: “…and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabirun (the patient).” (Al-Anfal 8:46)

Sabr in Arabic has a richer meaning than the word patience. It means to stop oneself from despairing and panicking. Additionally, it means to stop one’s tongue from complaining and controlling one’s rage in times of stress. As Javed Mohammad, the author of “Riding the Roller Coaster,” elaborates, it encompasses holding back, as well as moving forward with courage and perseverance.

Conclusively anger is detrimental to a person’s physical health as well as spiritual being. The myth of ‘letting out the steam’ is just that – a myth. It has never helped anyone stay in good shape and acquire a positive frame of mind. So just get rid of those angry thoughts that instigate negative reactions. There is so much more to do than waste precious moments of life!

Dealing with Bad Language

Hammer hitting nail on the head.When your child goes to school, his exposure to the outside world widens. By this age, he has also realized the existence of words so mean and powerful that grownups usually reserve them only for the really frustrating moments.

What to do about swearing?

Keep your cool: Remember that children are capable of goading you into angry reactions. By losing your temper, you play right into their hands. Instead, calmly and matter-of-factly remind them that certain words are off-limits.

Be specific: “Don’t ever use language like that!” doesn’t work as well as something more precise, such as: “We don’t use that word in this house.”

Invoke consequences: If your child persists after being warned, then apply disciplinary tactics, such as withdrawal of privileges. Whatever you do, be consistent. Don’t chuckle at your child’s quick tongue one day and punish him for it the next.

Suggest alternatives: Explain to your grade-schooler that instead of swearing when angry, he could punch a pillow.

Establish house rules about swearing and follow them yourself: Make sure you don’t use the words forbidden to your children.

Look for signs of trouble: An increase in foul language or cursing that no amount of guidance seems to curtail may be a cue that something is wrong. Your child could be carrying around excessive anger or might be upset about something that’s going on at school or in other areas of his life.

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.