Anger - The dangers, effects and the cure

We all lose our temper from time to time, but many of us live our lives in a constant fit of anger jumping from one situation to another. The additional stress that this constant hard-edged emotional state leaves a person in is undoubtedly stressful to the body and the mind, wearing us down day after day-even exacerbating our situation further.
So, what should we do if we know we have a problem with anger? First and foremost, we need to begin to look at our anger problem as an illness that requires immediate medication that must be taken until it is cured. We need to recognize that we not only need help, but we require it as Muslims. It is paramount that we realize and understand that a basic element of a Muslim's character includes the ability to control our anger, and will therefore make us a stronger person.

The importance of the topic
Indeed a short-temper is a serious disease. Through it, a person loses self-control, which may then lead him to harm others by his speech or actions. Thereafter, he often regrets it and apologizes for that which had overcome him, when all could have been avoided had he controlled his anger.
Anger in physiological and psychological terms is both a physical as well as metaphysical entity. This is shown by the fact that psychological excitement is followed by a bloody outburst that simmers to the extremes in the caldron of the chest. This causes the body temperature to rise; which may then lead on to unbalanced speech and action.
The reason for this has to do with the hormone 'adrenaline' that originates from the adrenaline glands. It affects the heart increasing the physical ability of the body to defend itself. This increased strength in the body under the influence of anger increases the person's inclination and readiness to physically assault the one who provoked him.
I would like to emphasize at this point that anger is a severe vice which if it exacerbates in the community would undermine the premises of society and wreck its foundations. It would result in the society being afflicted with enormous adversity. How else can we explain the disintegration of the Muslim society, the extinction of its morals and ethics, the dissemination of enmity, the spread of discord and disunity and the severing of relationships in every field whether it is family ties or brotherly bonds or formal matters?
Without doubt, natural disposition has its part to play in the behaviour and conduct of people. However, by means of self-struggle and containment and, through acquiring praiseworthy virtues, one may save oneself from falling into the evils of anger and its calamities. As the saying goes, ''Indeed tolerance comes with practice." In addition, self-control has its place ot importance under the influence of anger. This will become clearer during our discussion of the following issues: The definition of anger, its levels, dangers, effects, causes and means of cure.

A -The technical definition of anger
Technically, al-Jurjani has defined it as: "The changes that occur during the ebullition of the blood in the heart to satisfy the thirst of the soul for revenue." Whereas ar-Raghib defined it to be; "The outburst of the heart in the desire for retaliation". Similarly, al-Ghazali defined it as: "The ebullition of the blood of the heart in the desire for vengeance".

B -The different levels of anger
No doubt people differ in the manner of dealing with others in their day to day life and in tackling the provocations that they encounter. "So from them are those who scorn at the trivial and hurriedly find them to be foolish and from them are those who are irritated by difficulty and thereafter persist upon its painful effects whilst holding on to the wisdom and composure ol his mind and the mildness of his nature." (The Believer's Manners - al-Ghazali)

Anger can be divided into three levels:
A. Extreme mildness
B. Extreme rage and.
C. Moderation.
We shall explain each level concisely:
Firstly: Extreme mildness -This means to lack the strength to have anger or to be weak in it. This is dispraised and it is this type about which it is said: There is no zeal in him. This is because such a person has forgotten the meaning of jealousy and self-esteem. Rather, he has satisfied himself with little or no self-respect and the prospect of disgrace.
Secondly: Extreme rage -This is a level wherein this trait takes the upper hand until it transcends the faculty of sense and religion, becoming disobedient to both. This leads to such a state that the person is left with neither mental perception, nor insight, nor presence ol mind, nor choice. Enmity and hatred would be the reason for being overcome in such a manner.
Thirdly: Moderation - This is the praiseworthy level of temperament for it abides by the limits of mind and religion. So it emerges when zeal is necessary and dies down when tolerance is more befitting. It maintains the bounds of moderation and justice, which Allah has required ot His slaves. This is indeed the middle path.

C-The danger of anger
Anger is a flame of fire concealed in the secrets of the heart. It is like hot coals hidden under the ashes. It may be that anger has joined together all the evils and perhaps even led to death by being strangled by the passion of the so from it. It may be that anger gives to many fatal diseases', not to mention whether if one was to act on it.
There is nothing that shows the to danger of anger like the advice of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wasallam, a man who came to him asking for advice. So he told him, "Don't lose your temper." Thereafter the man repeated his question to which the Prophet repeated his advice, "Don't lose your temper." (Bukhari) In another narration of the same incident, it is reported that the man said, "Teach me something can do and do not increase upon it that I may be able to understand it." the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wasallam advised him, "Don't lose your tempt So the man repeated his question resulting in the same advice, "Don't lose your temper." (Tirmithi)
The advice of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wasallam, to control one's temper implies two important issues:
Firstly: That the meaning of Prophet order is to adopt those means which would give rise to good character such as kindness, generosity, tolerance, humility and other similar positive traits. If a person were to conduct himself with such good manners until it becomes an essential part of his nature then this would necessitate exclusion of anger when its triggers arise.
Secondly: The meaning would be that you should not act according to the implications of your anger if it overcomes you. Rather, you should stop yourself and struggle against acting on it. This is because if anger overcomes a person it becomes the dictator over him. This is seen in the advice of Umar to Abu Musa al-Ash'ari, "Don't judge between two when you are angry." (Abdur-Raziq) Similarly it been reported from some of the righteous predecessors that they used to say, "The closest the slave comes to the wrath of Allah is when he loses his temper." (Abdur-Raziq)
Some scholars said, "Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala created anger from fire and made it abundant in man. So no matter for whatever purpose he intends or he is contented with, the fire of anger will ignite and flare up until his face and eyes reddens from the blood." (Fathul-Bari)
So true is the saying: "Anger is like a wind that blows upon the light of sense and puts it out."
In addition to all of this, anger has many adverse effects on health. Frequent loss of temper leads to being afflicted with many diseases. It makes the person tense in his nerves and increases trembling sensations. This ultimately leads him to lose his humanitarian links.

D - The effects of anger
Anger may lead to various adverse effects, the most important of which can be summarized as follows:
Hostility in the heart
Jealousy and hatred amongst people
Abuse, insult and foul speech
Conflict, enmity and discord
Divorcing the spouse followed by regret later on
Violence and aggression which may ultimately lead to murder
Supplication against oneself, family, children or wealth. It may be that this supplication coincides with the hour of acceptance such that his duaa is granted,
Oaths and vows; if a person makes a vow in a state of anger it still needs to be fulfilled. Otherwise he is obliged to make expiation as mentioned by the scholars.
Anger may exacerbate until it even reaches the level of disbelief, as has happened to Jabalah ibnul Ayham.

E- The reasons for anger
There are various reasons that [rive rise to anger such as pride and arrogance, self-conceit, mockery and playful jesting, humiliation and attachment and love of this life. Some foolish people signify anger to be a sign of strength, bravery and masculinity. In this manner they approve of it until it becomes a matter of praise!
In general, the reasons for anger are many and differ from one individual to another. So from people; are those who get angry due to the silliest of reasons. Therefore it remains upon everyone to always calm himself down and distance himself from that which may provoke his anger.

F - Means for curing anger
It is not possible to free oneself from anger it its triggers remain. Therefore, the means to curing anger is by firstly removing these triggers and putting in place that which counters it. The remedy for arrogance is through humility, for self-conceit is through knowledge of the self and its shortcomings, for mockery is by refraining from it, for playful jesting is by having seriousness in affairs, for humiliation is by forbidding foul speech and for the love of this life through contentment.

Among the important remedies of anger are the following:
Constant remembrance of Allah, such that it becomes the necessary reason for having fear of Him. This fear will lead to obedience towards Him, putting an end to anger in the process. He, sub-hanahu wa ta'ala, says, "And remember your Lord when you forget.. " [18:24] Ikrimah said regarding the meaning of this verse: (When you forget, i.e.,) "When you loose your temper." The verses with similar meaning are numerous; from them is the saying of Allah: "... And who restrain anger and who pardon the people." [3:134) and His saying: "Enjoin what is good, and turn away from the ignorant." [7:199)
By reflecting upon the texts that have been reported about those who repress their anger and about forgiveness and tolerance: It is reported in a hadeeth by Abu ad-Dardaa that he said, "O Messenger of Allah! Guide me to an act through which I may enter Paradise." So he, sallallahu alayhe wasallam, said, "Don't lose your temper and you will enter Paradise." (Tabarani)
By remembering the punishment of Allah and to say to oneself: "Truly the power of Allah over me is far greater than my power upon this individual. So, if I were to carry out my fury on him, then I have no security from Allah executing his anger on me on the Day of Judgment."
By cautioning oneself from the consequences of enmity and revenge and the preparation of the enemy for retaliation.
By seeking refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan as in the narration of Suleiman ibn Sard who said, "Two men cursed each other in the presence of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wasallam whilst we were sitting with him. One of them had turned red with anger whilst cursing the other. So the Prophet said, 'Verily I know a word if he were to say it would remove that which he feels. If he only said, 'I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan.' So the people told the man: 'Do you not hear what the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wasallam, said?' So the man replied, 'I am not mad." (Bukhari) [Meaning that he had heard and understood)
By controlling one's feeling of anger, a person is able to preserve the power of unimpaired thought and retain the ability to issue valid judgments.
By shifting one's physical position from the position one was in whilst in the state of anger. So if he was standing, then he should sit down, if be was sitting then he should recline on his side, and he should also make wudu.
By keeping silent: This is indeed a very successful method of controlling one's anger as pointed out by the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wasallam, "If one of you loses his temper, then let his keep silent." (Ahmed). Similarly, there may emanate from him a lot of abusive language and other harm, which he may well regret when his anger dies down. Therefore, it he were to keep silent, it would put an end to this evil; and as the saying goes: "When angry, abstain!"
By reminding the person about that which leads on from anger such as regret and reminding him of the dispraise of reprisal.
By reminding him of the rewards of forgiveness and the excellence of over looking faults through which a person can suppress his anger. The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wasallam, said, "The strong person is not the one who controls himself when overcome with anger." (Bukhari). It was thus beautifully said: "Real tolerance is not known except at the hour of anger".
By encouraging the person who is overcome with anger to reflect on his appearance. If he were to look at his picture in the mirror - when losing his temper - he would have been ashamed of the hideousness of his image and the absurdness of his appearance. (Ihyaa Uloom ad-Deen).
Courtesy : Al-Jumuah (Vol 15, Issue 1)