By Zabrina Abu Bakar
Recently I witnessed an incident of a man who lost his cool. The issue was quite simple. If he had had just a little bit of patience, he could have gracefully solved the problem. Instead, he snapped and made the situation worse than it actually was. As one of the unwilling spectators, I shied away and left the place, wanting not to watch the display of anger anymore.
As I was walking, I kept on thinking. Why must we keep losing our temper? I know this man is not unique. I had a fair share of losing my cool too. Millions of us are just like him at times, right? What can we say? We are just human!
OK, I know that is the usual excuse whenever we make any mistakes. But seriously, no matter how true that statement is, I think there is an extension to that answer. There should be a "but" after the word human. I am only human. That is definitely right. But it should be continued with "but I am a Muslim." Yes, the full sentence should be "I am only human but I am a Muslim."
So what is the significance of that statement? A whole lot, my brothers and sisters. A whole lot.
Reflect on this Qur'anic verse:
[Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity or in adversity; who restrain anger and pardon people; for Allah loves those who do good.] (Aal `Imran 3:134)
For one, Allah would love us, and we would be considered good-doers. Isn't that wonderful? It costs us nothing. No money or time is involved. Everyone could participate: rich and poor, men and women. Allah gave equal opportunity for everyone to earn His love. What we need to do is to simply control our anger and forgive people who wronged us. Isn't He the Most Kind?
And there is still more. Another verse tells us that showing patience and forgiving others are strongly recommended by Allah (Ash-Shura 42:43).
Subhan Allah! I was so taken aback with the word "recommended." It made me think further. Say I wanted to eat in a fancy restaurant and I read a recommendation by a food critique:
- Restaurant A: Highly recommended, cozy place, delicious food, rightly priced.
- Restaurant B: Not recommended, stuffy place, food slightly better than airline food, expensive.
Now, I ask myself, which restaurant would I rather go to? A or B? Don't you think I would be foolish if I decided to go to Restaurant B knowing the recommendation of the food expert?
Abu Hurairah reported that a man said to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) "Advise me." He said, "Do not get angry." The man repeated his request several times and the Prophet kept on saying, "Do not get angry" (Al-Bukhari).
It is very clear. The advice is not to get angry. Not once, twice, but three times it was repeated by our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
As I was reading further, I found that Allah has promised me something if I followed His instruction to be patient:
(Verily he who fears Allah and endures (affliction), then Allah leaves not the reward of well-doers to waste.) (Yusuf 12:90)
A reward? This is great! Not only will I receive His love if I follow His Prophet's advice, but I am also going to be rewarded? No wonder one of His names is the Most Kind. Indeed He is
Let me share with you a story I once read about a boy who had anger problems:
There was a boy who was always losing his temper. His father gave him a bag full of nails and said to him, "My son, I want you to hammer a nail into our garden fence every time you need to direct your anger against something and you lose your temper."
So the son started to follow his father's advice. On the first day, he hammered in 37 nails, but getting the nails into the fence was not easy, so he tried to control himself when he got angry. As the days went by, he was hammering in fewer nails; and within weeks, he was able to control himself and to refrain from getting angry and from hammering nails. He came to his father and told him what he had achieved. His father was happy with his son's efforts and said to him, "But now, my son, you have to take out a nail for every day that you do not get angry."
The son started to take out the nails for each day that he did not get angry, until there were no nails left in the fence.
He came to his father and told him what he had achieved. His father took him to the fence and said, "My son, you have done well, but look at these holes in the fence. This fence will never be the same again." Then he added, "When you say things in a state of anger, they leave marks like these holes on the hearts of others. You can stab a person and withdraw the knife but it doesn't matter how many times you say 'I am sorry,' because the wound will remain."
Deep, don't you think? After reading this story, I kept asking myself: Have I made any holes in the hearts of people around me? How long have the holes been there? How many fences have I hammered nails into? My heart felt so sad just thinking of it.
What about you, my friends? Do you think you have hammered some nails into someone's fence? If you did, maybe it is time to buy them a new fence, or maybe get plaster or cement and cover those holes.
I know I am going to. And more important is that I promised myself that from now on I would leave my hammer and nails locked up in the store room where I could not reach them so that I could avoid the temptation of using them.
Want to lock yours up with mine? I still have lots of empty space!