Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Anger Management- Take it Easy!

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Imagine this scenario of a family with teens: Everyone is having a normal discussion. Disagreements occur. Voices are raised. Shouting, yelling. Someone (i.e. teenager) gets up and storms out of the room. The grand finale: the rest cringe as they hear the loud slamming of a door. 

How many times have there been that we regretted saying something to our loved ones out of mere anger. No, it wasn't such a big issue or concern. Yes, the matter could have been explained in a gentle manner with dignity. No, it wasn't due to some legitimate reason. 

"But I was just angry at the time. I was having a bad day. Just lost control for a bit".

Losing your temper is not a petty issue. It is stated in a hadith that, "Anger ruins faith just as the aloe plant ruins honey". While faith is sweet, anger is bitter. When a person is angry the inner peace in their mind is lost, and ibadah cannot be done with devotion. People need to realize that this is a trait which needs to be controlled so that they can be a source of mercy to others in this world, and so that Allah's Mercy can encompass them in the Afterlife, inshaAllah. In another hadith it is mentioned, "Strength is not throwing someone to the ground, but it is controlling the nafs when angry". 

We need to realize the gravity of the situation when we speak. We need to remember that we are accountable for everything that we say and do. A man may throw a fit some day and utter three words to his wife out of rage, thereby divorcing her. They could be otherwise a very loving couple but the husband could have been "having a rough day" and couldn't control himself. 

Why is it that in Islam we can get married just by saying some words, and getting divorced is just as simple? It is so that we understand that the words uttered from our mouth carry a great weight. We don't get time off from being accountable when we're angry. Not only will our anger affect our deeds but also our relationship with those around us. Relationships fall apart and respect for a person is lost. 

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There are some remedies that we have been taught in Islam about how to control our anger:

Active remedies: 
(i) Keeping quiet. Instead of venting out your feelings while you're angry and thereby possibly saying something that hurts others, try to diffuse the situation and fix it when your anger has subsided. 
(ii) Change your position/location. If you are standing, then sit down, and if you are sitting, then lie down. When a person becomes closer to the earth it increases humility. Another option is to excuse yourself and go to another room so that you can think things through. 
(iii) Make wudhu. Anger is fiery as it is from shaitaan, and water extinguishes fire. It will allow one to cool down. 
(iv) Pray and make dua. This also portrays humility. 
(v) Channel your negative energy into something positive. A lot of energy in a person's body can give him or her the ability to use it positively for doing things such as cleaning the room or other such chores. Imagine how pretty the world would be if everyone cleaned up when angry! :) Other options include exercising, going out for some fresh air, or simply listening to the Quran to cool your mind. 

Verbal remedies: 
(i) Say "ta'awudh" to seek refuge from shaitaan. "Aa'udhu billahi mina alshaitaani rajeem" - [I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed shaitaan]
(ii) Say "La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah" -[ There is no power and strength except with Allah (SWT)]
(iii) Recite the durood shareef. This will allow Allah (SWT)'s mercy to be bestowed upon a person. 

Mental remedies: 
(i) Ponder on the mercy and anger of Allah (SWT). If you show mercy to others in this world, Allah will bestow His mercy upon you on the Day of Judgment. Before getting so upset at someone, think of what it would be like if Allah got upset at you. 
(ii) Think, is it really worth it? Life is so short and we waste time on so many petty issues. Focus on your main goal in life, which is the pleasure of Allah (SWT). Thinking of death often also humbles a person. With these things in mind, almost any issue over which a fuss is being created will seem pointless. 

Having said this, anger is not always a negative trait. A person can be angry at the right time and place with the right reason and intention. For training purposes, anger can be shown to children if they lie, for example. Anger can also be used constructively if it is controlled and used for human rights purposes, or to fight for one's dignity. 

If anger isn't used constructively, it will end up being used destructively. May Allah (SWT) give us the tawfiq to control this trait carefully, Ameen.