Monday, April 18, 2011

Hopping Mad

"Why aren't you like Ruby?" my preschooler recently asked me after watching a cartoon starring a bunch of bunnies. "She never gets mad at her little brother Max, even when he misbehaves." [Translation from Urdu]

This question was jarring, especially coming from someone who's collected books like When Sophie Gets Angry and Angeryella as well-deserved gifts from me.

But it did provoke reflection.

Irritation, short-temperedness and outbursts that stem from our ego, desires and worldly comforts  (I'm assuming tirades over spilled orange juice fall in this category.) must be checked.  God says he loves those who control their anger and promises them vast rewards in the Hereafter. (Quran 3:134)

Unrestrained anger, on the other hand, is considered highly toxic. Prophet Muhammad (S) warns, "Anger destroys the piety of a person as vinegar destroys honey."

The good news is rising rage can be nipped in the bud. Tantrum-throwing Princess Angeryella learns how from a wise man in my daughter's storybook. He offers nine tips including changing positions (standing to sitting to lying down), performing ablution, drinking water and even eating grapes! Gently touching the relative you are upset with also dissipates anger.

Nonetheless, we mustn't completely extinguish our ability to see red. That's because anger, if sprung from pure intentions and channelled properly, motivates us to rise up against oppression and injustice.   A song written in support of the Bahraini uprising, for example, is entitled "Revolution of Anger."

"Some people don't know how to get angry. They don't know how to stand up for themselves," says scholar Usama Abdul-Ghani. "What I want is that my anger be governed by the laws of God and by my intellect. That will lead me to being brave."

Among those who mastered the appropriate use of anger was Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad (S) and one of the four perfect women of all times. She didn't get upset out of self-interest but only when God's laws were violated. Prophet (S) declared: "Whoever angers Fatima, angers me," and, "Surely, Allah is angered when you [Fatima] are angered, and is pleased at your pleasure."

When her father's enemies threw camel intestines on his back one day during prayer, five-year-old Fatima became furious. She ran to remove the rubbish with her bare hands and then scolded the perpetrators.

Most people wouldn't have the guts to do that--including Max's sister Ruby, who may not be so perfect after all.

1 comment:

Sr. Tasneem said...

Great piece, MashaAllah!
I struggle with anger, especially after watching news stories that deal with middle east or about Muslims.
Anger is instigated by Shaitan, and he is created from fire. Therefore, making wudhu with water will estinguish the heat of anger. I have tried it an it works.
Good post.