|Anger and Dejection--An Islamic Perspective|
|Written by Dr. Shahid Athar|
When God created human beings, He created many emotions and desires within him, which we call human instincts. These include positive qualities such as recognizing truth and expressing it, love and compassion, pure physiological desires such as being thirsty , hungry and in need of sex.
Medicine for AngerThe first preventive medicine is to avoid being too sensitive to provocation and become "deaf, dumb and mute." It may be necessary for some people to engage in something else to divert themselves. For saints, it may be advisable to engage in remembrance of God or meditation, but for common folk, they need some worldly tools. A couple went to Prophet Mohammed and said, We have been fighting each other for many years. Each time she says something to hurt my feelings, I become angry, and then I fight back and this fight comes to such a degree that I am afraid that this verbal fight may,become physical, or we may end up divorced. So please advise how we can control our anger. He told the husband that when your wife provokes you and makes you angry, take a sip of your water in your mouth and do not swallow it or spit it out, but keep it there until she has calmed down. Well, he practiced that and a few months later, he reported back that it did work.
Since we believe that anger is an expression of satanic control, we must not let this control take over. The Prophet had advised us to say, "During anger, I seek refuge from lead to problemrotection of God." He also advised us that when angry, one should sit down or lie down as it is not easy to hit someone else in those positions. Obviously, the best remedy is to think about God and "ask yourself a question, "are you in control of yourself, or would you allow God to take control of you?" Think of God's anger and punishment. Is God's wrath less than your wrath? And what happens when He expresses His wrath? We humans who seek forgiveness from God must forgive others first. When one forgive someone else, it establishes peace and tranquility in one's heart, but at the same time, the matter of injustice or wrong actions which made one angry, become a dispute between him and God; and if one do not take revenge and forgive, God might act on ones behalf.
The first attribute of God/Allah that we Muslims are reminded (of) is Ar Rahman-Ar Rahim that is, Kind and Merciful. God Himself said, my mercy overtakes my wrath, and He told in one of the hadith qudsi , 'O son of Adam, when you get angry, remember Me." Thus, remembrance of God and meditation will keep us on the right track. One of the meditation words is ya Halim, which is one of the attributes of God, being the Mild One. One can also pray to God to take control of the situation and the person or the people who have caused His anger. We must also think that tone life so dear to us, is a temporary life, and we must not forget our death and destroy the life of eternity at the cost of this life. Washing one's face with cold water or taking a cold shower is also helpful.
Thus it is important for one to redirect the energy in engaging in something else. However, the height of sainthood is to do the opposite of the provoking person expects one to do. If he expects you to rebuke him or verbally abuse him back, then one should tell him, I love you, and mention his good qualities. If he expects one to physically attack him, then one embraces him and forgives him.
That is how the saying, "turn the other cheek" came about. One will become a calm person when he makes peace with himself, his Creator and his surroundings. Anger is a costly weed; it costs one his health, life in this world, and the life in the Hereafter. This weed must be rooted out to allow the healthy plant of righteousness, piety and service to God and His creation nurture and grow.
DejectionDejection is a state of sad thought, depression and a feeling of being worthless. This could be a result of anger with self or someone else, unexpressed anger, failure and frustration. Dejection is a deadly disease which can harm the body acutely or on a chronic basis. and can irreversibly destroy one's relationships. It is during this state of dejection that people have suicidal thoughts and sometimes actions. During anger, however, a person tries to manifest his verbal and physical strengthening dejection, he completely gives up, thinking he is no good. Dejection slowly builds up while anger is a more acute manifestation, which is like a moth which slowly eats away the human spirit and body.
Dejection can be the result of losses, financial or of a dear one, or even failure in work, education and business. Many times terminally ill patients, without any hope of getting better, would also be dejected. Sometimes dejection or depression is due to a chemical imbalance just like anger, whether it is a psychotropic condition with depletion of brain amines, epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine, or hormonal imbalance like hypothyroidism and Addison's disease. Therefore, in all cases of depression, when a physician sees them, he does and he must evaluate them for a treatable organic cause.
The way to fight dejection again is a mind-control phenomenon. We must realize that we are not in control of our destiny. Certain failures and adversity have been designed to teach us certain lessons. We must know that someone else is in control of our past, present and future. This is what believer in God is what Caliph Ali once said, that "what makes me a believer in God is the fact that I realize that after doing everything humanly possible to make certain things go right, it goes wrong unexpectedly, making me believe that someone else was in control of that situation, not me."
When we give good advice to our teenaged children, encouraging them to do good and avoiding something wrong and they don't listen, as a result they get into trouble. It is human to be sad, but it is unnecessary to be dejected, thinking that I am not a good parent. We will be questioned for things we can do that we must do, but we will not be questioned on things that are beyond our control.
The remedy for dejection is hope. God made hopelessness unlawful by saying, "Do not despair of God's mercy." Thus, no matter at what level of despair, depression and frustration we are, whether loss of a loved one or a job, or as the result of anger from someone else, we must not give up hope as there is a ray of hope at the end of the tunnel. The greatest hope is mercy from God.
Thus, whoever has lost worldly possessions, expects and hopes that God will replace his losses in a better way. The.he person who has lost a dear one hopes to see that dear one in the life hereafter.
Hope is the medicine which keeps one alive and going, which is when we say, hang on, we mean hang onto the thread of hope. It is not unnatural to be sad over situations and events. Even Prophet Mohammed (Pbuh) used to be sad, looking at the plight of Unbelievers and their rejection of his message for oneness of God, and not becoming Muslims. And God reminded him by saying, "It is not your duty to make them Muslims, but just proclaim the truth, and God gives guidance to those whom He wishes."
During dejection, there is darkness, but in hope, there is light. Therefore, one must pray for this light to illuminate the heart so that we can see beyond what is causing the suffering today. If I knew that I would not see tomorrow, I might get depressed, but the fact that I hope I will see tomorrow with all its goodness, the love of my family, my friends, dear ones, the flowers, the music, that I go to sleep in peace, turning myself to God. We must pray for God's mercy and forgiveness so that we can love and forgive ourselves and God's other creations and have peace with ourselves, our Creator and our surroundings.
We Muslims believe that all our suffering, failures and adversities are nothing but a test from God, who has said that "You will not enter Paradise until you are tested. " He has also said, "Be sure we will test you with something of fear and hunger, a small loss in wealth and lives and the fruits (of your labors), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere, when afflicted with calamities, to God we belong and to Him shall we return."' (Chapter 2:15, 5-157).