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 and pure physiological desires such as being thirsty, hungry and in need of sex.
There are also negative qualities such as hate and anger that result in violence and dejection. The angels who witnessed Adam's creation were aware of such negative qualities and questioned the creation of this new being who they said would create "mischief on earth." (Quran 2:30)
The All-knowing Creator, however, instilled some protective mechanisms for fighting these negative instincts.
"Man was created weak", says the Quran. During a moment of weakness, we succumb to the designs of our enemy, that is the devil who "will attack us from front, from behind, from the side" in order to divert us from being constantly aware of the presence of God. Thus anger by itself is not unnatural; it is the wrongful expression of anger that can lead to problems.
Anger is a destabilizing thought. It takes away judgment, leads to depression, madness and wrong actions. During anger, one can physically or verbally abuse a person that he or she loves, hurt another living being like an animal, or during the dejection phase of anger, one may even hurt oneself and even commit suicide.
When anger is directed towards a group of people, it can manifest in terrorism, whether against people of other faiths or against nations.
The natural fulfillment of normal desires, whether in terms of food or sex, is a prerequisite for the prevention of anger. There are many chemicals and hormones, which affect our moods and behavior. It is well known that hypoglycemia and hyperthyroidism precipitate irritability and anger. We must keep our hormones in balance to facilitate our spiritual well being.
The Prophet Mohammed (Pbuh), sent to mankind to teach them good moral conduct, constantly spoke against being angry. One companion asked him, “Give me some short advice by virtue of which I hope for good in the life hereafter.” The Prophet’s reply was, "Don't be angry." The Prophet once asked a question of his companions, "Whom amongst you do you consider a strong man?" They said, “The one who can defeat the wrestler so-and-so in a fight.” The Prophet remarked, “That is not so. The one who is strong is the one who can control himself at the time of anger.”
A distinction should be made between anger as a natural response to wrongdoing and disbelief and the unproductive anger of personal vengeance.
Caliph Ali was once fighting in a war imposed on Muslims, and the chief of the Unbelievers confronted him. During the fight, Ali was able to overcome his opponent. Ali was about to kill him when he, suddenly aware of his fate, spit on Ali’s face. Ali immediately got up and left him alone. The man went running after Ali and asked, "You had a chance to kill me as I was defeated; why did you not use your sword?" Ali said, "I have no personal animosity towards you. I was fighting you because of your disbelief, on behalf of God. If I had killed you after you spat on my face, then it would have become my personal revenge which I do not wish to take." That Unbeliever chief became a Muslim immediately.
What happens to us physiologically when we are angry? Our heart rate and blood pressure go up; this is a direct effect of excessive adrenaline in our system. Our physical strength increases while our spiritual strength decreases. Our intellect and power to reason go away, and things we would not justify in a normal state become acceptable. The organs of our body that are otherwise under our control get out of control. Thus, our tongues, hands and even feet may become abusive.
To root out anger is impossible and unnatural, and may even be harmful. A person who does not control or redirect the expression of anger may have built up anger within himself, which may hurt him physically. Apart from being depressed and having a feeling of dejection during the phase of unexpressed anger, his constant, rapid heart rate and high blood pressure may harm his heart and even lead to a heart attack over the long run. Apart from being violent during the phase of anger since his mind does not work, he may make a wrong decision about his job or personal relationship thus affecting his future.
Medicine for Anger
The first preventive medicine is to avoid being too sensitive to provocation. It may be necessary for some people to engage in something else to divert themselves. In addition to the remembrance of God or meditation, there are other worldly tools that help. The Prophet Muhammed once advised a husband to take a sip of water when angry at his wife and to hold the water in his mouth without swallowing it or spitting it out. A few months after this piece of advice the husband returned to the Prophet reporting that it had worked.
Since we believe that anger is an expression of satanic control, we must not let this control take over. Allah the Exalted said in translation, “And if (at any time) an incitement to discord is made to you by shaytãn, seek refuge in Allah, He is the One Who hears and knows all things.” The Prophet 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 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 forgives someone else, it establishes peace and tranquility in one's heart.
The first attribute of God/Allah that we Muslims are reminded of is Ar Rahman-Ar Rahim. That is, The Kind and Merciful. God Himself said, “My mercy overtakes my wrath”, and He told the Prophet in 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 meaning “The Mild One”. One can also pray to God to take control of the situation and the person or the people who have caused the anger. We must also think that this 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 by engaging in something else. However, the height of sainthood is to do the opposite of what 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 should embrace him and forgive him.
Dejection is a state of sad thought, depression and a feeling of being worthless. This could be the result of anger with oneself 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. 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.
Sometimes dejection or depression are due to a chemical imbalance just like anger, whether it is a psychotropic condition with depletion of brain amines, epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine, or a hormonal imbalance like hypothyroidism and Addison's disease. Therefore, all cases of depression should be evaluated 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.
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, 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.
We Muslims believe that all our suffering, failures and adversities are nothing but a test from God, who has said, "You will not enter Paradise until you are tested. " He 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).