Anger and self-restraint

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Anger and self-restraint
08/29/01 at 02:19:29
Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

[center]Anger and self-restraint

By Dr Muhammad Kamal Al-Shareef

Irritation is a feeling that comes about as a reaction to injustice. To repress irritation is not sufficient to clear it completely. There must be either some reaction to redress the situation or forgiveness of the offender. Either recourse is necessary to clear irritation, particularly when it has accumulated over time. Hence, when the believers at the early period of Islam were urged to fight those who attacked them, God told them: "Fight them! God will punish them by your hands, and will bring disgrace upon them, and will succour you against them; and He will soothe the bosoms of those who believe, and will remove the wrath that is in their hearts. And God will turn in His mercy to whom He wills. For God is all-knowing, wise." (9: 14-15)

A man is irritated when he is at the receiving end of aggression, and he turns in fury against the aggressor, in order to protect himself against further injustice, or to retaliate. But there may be another purpose for his fury, which is to protect his image in the eyes of others, particularly the aggressor. If he feels that he would appear weak, cowardly or humiliated when not repelling the aggression in kind, then he may feel himself in need to demonstrate his anger. Thus, his temper rises as he returns insult for insult and a heavy punch for a weaker one.

The Prophet was able to deal with this urge of retaliation and violent reaction by changing the standard by which a situation is looked upon. He has laid down a new standard which makes the one who restrains himself and controls his anger, without trying to pay back the aggressor in kind, the stronger one who definitely ends up as the winner. Thus, a strong man is not the one who overcomes other men. A strong person is the one who stands up firm as a mountain and knows that his integrity is not compromised by an insult or an offensive action.

The Prophet once asked his companions whom they considered to be the strong one among them. They said, "The one whom nobody overcomes in a fight." The Prophet said, "No, that is not a strong person. Strong indeed is the one who restrains himself when he is in a state of anger." (Related by Muslim). In another Hadith, the Prophet is quoted as saying: "A strong man is not the one who beats others in a fight. Strong indeed is the one who controls his anger." (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

The Prophet emphasizes that forbearance and forgiveness of those who commit an offense is certain to enhance our estimation. He says: "A charitable donation will never decrease one's property. God will raise the position of a person who forbears. Anyone who humbles himself before God will have his position enhanced by God." (Related by Muslim)

Furthermore, the Prophet gave a practical example. He never retaliated for personal injury. Aisha, his wife, says: "God's messenger never beat anyone or anything with his hand, nor did he ever beat a woman or a servant. The only thing he did was to fight for God's cause. He never retaliated for a personal injury. The only exception was when he fought for God's cause. In such a case he would retaliate to defend what belongs to God." (Related by Muslim)

Even when patience in the face of offending action by a fellow believer may seem humiliating, a true believer remembers that God enlists as a quality of the believers that they maintain their dignity when dealing with non-believers, but they are humble and kind toward other believers: "Believers, if you ever abandon your faith, God will in time bring forth (in your stead) people whom He loves and who love Him - humble toward the believers, proud toward non-believers; people who strive hard in God's cause, and do not fear to be censured by anyone who might censure them. Such is God's favor, which He grants to whom He wills. God is infinite, all-knowing." (5: 54)

This shows that their humbleness when dealing with other believers is not the mark of weakness. How could it be when they are ready to fight and strive hard in God's cause, without fearing criticism or censure by anyone? Such humbleness could only be motivated by mercy. God admonishes us to show humility toward our parents when they are elderly: "And spread over them humbly the wings of your tenderness, and say: my Lord! Bestow your grace upon them, even as they cherished and reared me when I was young." (17: 24)

True believers, then, are humble with other believers, strong and hard toward those who are hostile to Islam. That is the right attitude.

[i]"Islam in Perspective" - Arab News - 18 September 2000[/i]

Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh


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