“Haven't you done the ironing yet? I need my shirt ironed for tomorrow.”
“I've only just finished the cooking.”
“You've had the whole day to do it, what have you been doing?”
“You want a run-down? Got the kids ready for school, had to speak to the headmaster about Ahmad's low grades, went to the doctor, got my prescription, did the weekly shopping, hoovered the house, had to pop round to a sisters...”
“You're always popping round sisters' houses, I reckon that's what distracts you. Once you lot get chatting, before you know it, the whole day has passed. ”
“For your information, I was visiting a sick sister. why can't you iron your own shirt for once?!
"Iron my own shirt-"
"...Or maybe you just don't know how to turn on the iron.”
“What's with you and your sarcy comments? Just obey your husband for once! I wish I never married you!”
“May Allah curse you!”
How many of us have got involved in a similar heated argument which ends in harsh words, whether it be with our family, friends, colleagues, or neighbours? How many of us have blown a small issue out of proportion, not stopping to think before the words roll off our tongues, not stopping to think before the poision is injected and the damage is done? How many of us regularly become impatient and angry, expressing our emotions in ways which will only lead us to destruction and regret?
Being part of this Ummah, we have become increasingly fed up of the stereotypes of Muslims portrayed by the media, one of the most common being an enraged, bearded man with a frown plastered on his face.
Our natural reaction is that of frustration, yet if we take a step back, we soon realise that the fact that we are depicted in such a manner gives us a good reason to contemplate our own adab (manners) and akhlaaq (morals) towards both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. How can it be possible that those who claim to be the followers of the most gentle and merciful man ever to have walked on the earth are portrayed in such a manner?
If we delve into the past and ponder over the character and actions of our beloved Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) and our pious predecessors, we begin to uncover an array of diamonds which should allow us to beautify our words and adorn ourselves with patience and self-control.
Anas (radiyAllahu 'anhu) reported an incident that happened while he was walking with the Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam). At the time, the Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) was wearing a Najraanee cloak with a rough collar, and a Bedouin came and seized him roughly by the edge of his cloak. The Bedouin consequently ordered the Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) to give him some of the wealth of Allah that he had. (Agreed upon. Fath al-Baaree, 10/375)
For many of us, waiting in a traffic queue for five minutes is enough to make us impatient and hot-tempered. So what would our reaction be today, if someone came up to us, tugged on our coat and commanded us to give them money that God had blessed us with? No doubt we would become extremely cross, probably curse at them, turn away from them and walk away without giving them a penny.
Yet the Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) turned to the man, smiled at him and ordered him to be given something. Ponder over this question: do you think you would even think to turn to them and smile, let alone consider giving them something? If you feel your answer would be in the affirmative, then may Allah keep you firm upon acting upon it should the situation ever arise.
If, however, you believe that you would reply in the negative, know that you are not alone, and realise that, by the Mercy of Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala), you have now been given the opportunity to reflect and better yourself.
A past Scholar of Islam had a servant girl who knocked over a piece of porcelain and broke it. He immediately got very angry, but the servant girl, who had knowledge and wisdom, recited the verses:
“And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for the pious. Those who spend [in Allah's Cause - deeds of charity, alms, etc.] in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves Al-Muhsinoon (the good-doers).”(Qur'an 3: 133-134)
As the words of Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) flowed from the girl's lips, the Scholar instantaneously implemented the actions of those who are the Muhsinoon, the Muttaqoon; those promised Paradise. He immediately calmed down, told her he had forgiven her, and then freed her for the sake of Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala).
For what benefit will be brought if we become cross and consequently act harshly towards others? Being mild, tolerant and patient, whilst beautifying our speech with gentleness and kindness, will allow hearts to soften, closeness and unity to develop, and the pleasure of Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) to be gained, insha'Allah.
"Indeed rifq (gentleness) does not enter into anything except it beautifies it, nor is it removed from anything except that it disfigures it." (Muslim and Abu Dawud)
Are there any cases in which it is permissible for us to become mad?
In situations where Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) is being disobeyed, it is not only permissible, but also praiseworthy to become angry. This doesn't mean, however, that you are free to vent your feelings in any manner. Whether you unleash your emotions by spouting obscene words, getting road rage, or throwing a plate or two, no doubt you will be repelling people from the religion by behaving in a manner that will reflect negatively onto your identity as a Muslim. Instead, if you keep your fury in check and display it in the prescribed manner, others will see the beauty of Islam and your conduct will be a means of Da'wah.
In certain instances, the Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) became angry for the sake of Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala), such as when he was distracted in Salaah due to a curtain decorated with pictures of animate creatures, or when the Imam was putting people off prayer by making it too long. In such cases, he gave advice with sincerity, rather than shedding blame on those had violated the rights of Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala). Some people don't even realise they have angered you, so going off on one as if they are aware isn't going to improve the situation. Rather, we should give people the benefit of the doubt and assume good of others (husnu dhan).
So practically, how can this powerful emotion be controlled?
1. Seek refuge in Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) from the accursed Shaytaan.
Sulaymaan ibn Surad said: I was sitting with the Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) and two men were trading insults. One of them was red in the face and his veins were standing out. The Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “I know a word which, if he said it, what he is feeling would go away. If he said, ‘I seek refuge with Allah from the Shaytaan,’ what he is feeling would go away.” (Al-Bukhari, Muslim).
2. Make wudu
“Anger is from the Shaytaan and the Shaytaan is made from fire. Nothing can put out the fire except water, so when any of you gets angry, he should make Wudu.” ( Ahmad, Abu Dawood)
3. Change your position
Abu Dharr (radiyAllahu 'anhu) said: The Messenger of Allah (salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said to us: “If one of you gets angry when he is standing, let him sit down; if his anger disappears, all well and good, otherwise let him lie down.” (Abu Dawood)
4. Compare yourself to those who are tested with more than you were tested.
A man in the time of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) accused him of dealing unjustly with the wealth of the Muslims. As a result, the Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) made the du'aa: “May Allah bestow His Mercy on Musa, for he was harmed more than this; yet he endured patiently.” (Al-Bukhari)
5. Listen to and recite the Qur'an
“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Qur'an 13: 28)
6. Remain silent and step away from the situation
“Speak when you’re angry, and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.” Lawrence J Peter.
7. Drink Water
This has proved to be a useful technique for some people, and will help you re-hydrate, which also reduces stress levels.
A final treasure...
Ibn ‘Abbaas (radiyAllahu 'anhu) reported that a man sought permission to speak to 'Umar ibn al-Khattaab (radiyAllahu 'anhu), then he said: “O son of al-Khattaab, you are not giving us much and you are not judging fairly between us.” ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was so angry that he was about to attack the man, but al-Hurr ibn Qays, who was one of those present, said: “O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, Allah said to His Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam): ‘Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish’ (Qur'an 7:199). This man is one of the foolish.” By Allah, ‘Umar could go no further after al-Hurr had recited this aayah to him, and he was a man who was careful to adhere to the Book of Allah. (Al-Bukhari)
Of course, it is part of human nature to become angry and impatient at times, and the above gem demonstrates this point, but remember, it is the way in which we deal with anger that will either guarantee our failure or success in this life and the next.
May Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) protect us from allowing the poison of anger to run through our blood, give us the ability to either speak good or keep quiet, and place us among those who are successful, ameen.