Monday, February 18, 2008

A Poison called Anger

It's deadly. It makes you weak. It burns in your veins until you let it erupt--spewing evil on everyone around you. I'm not angry... but I wonder why I get angry sometimes. The Prophet (saws) said that a strong man was one who could control his anger. So it must not be easy--must take real nerve and determination to keep it in check and maintain patience.

My inspiration for this post comes from a lecture set I've been listening to. I'm going through it the second time--this time taking notes so it sinks in better. It's a Muhammad Alshareef class, Fiqh Ad-Da'wah, subtitled Guiding to Allah By the Book. In fact, I'm so full of "inspiration" right now I could probably write for days. Alhamdulillah.

I thought that the lectures would be how-to of da'wah, dos and don'ts of talking about Islam. There is some of that... but the more I listen to it, the more the real magnitude of the message strikes me. The instructor gives many examples, and analogies, to help explain the points he make. In fact, if you're not paying attention it might seem that it's only just examples and analogies. One story he tells really hit me today--I guess I heard it at just the right time.

He talks about how he was in this Hajj Group when he lived in Saudi Arabia (he studied at the University of Medina, btw) for taking Americans on Hajj. And he explained some 'IBM' thing that maybe my readers in KSA might understand. Basically, that when you go somewhere to have something done you often here "inshaaAllah bukrah ma'lesh" (sorry if I mutilated it!) And that apparently means something like "come back tomorrow" and "forgive us." And he said after getting used to that, it takes a long stretch of hearing "inshaaAllah bukrah" to really get angry.

But he noticed that the Americans in this Hajj group were always so angry. For example, when someone would come and sit in their tent, and they would want to fight for their tent so it wasn't overtaken, to fight for their space, while he would just be inclined to go find somewhere else to sit. And then described how he'd have to hide almost, afraid that the guy would be so angry at him for not helping defend the tent.

And someone remarked about how calm he was, and not getting angry (and also, the person who was helping him, another student in Saudi I presume). A few years later, he moves to Maryland, and then goes back on Hajj after being there for a year. And while making tawaf he says someone pushed him, and he says he became so angry about people pushing in the Haram and having to teach them and will they ever learn, etc. And he described it like a poison.

Basically he said that the anger had just accumulated in him over that year, finally coming out at that trigger. And he referred to it as "snap anger" and "trigger anger," like it has just built up to a point where just pushing a button (metaphorically) causes the person to erupt in anger.

Now, I don't know what it is about America that might cause this to happen. Something about the way of life that slowly poisons us. If any of you have seen the Princess Bride, you might recall how Westley has to overcome this Vizzini person who is supposedly a genius (though we have good reason to doubt this.) And in their duel of wits, Westley places poison into a glass of wine and his opponent has to discover which. It turns out that Westley poisons both--as he has spent several years acquiring a tolerance to the poison. Which is kind of the opposite of what I'm talking about. But here's what I was thinking... I want to be more patient. How can I develop more patience? Practice by little bits? That is the antidote.

So just like Westley would probably take small doses of the poison over a period of several years, his body would develop a resistance to the small amounts. So when it had to handle the larger dose, it was ready. Here is a thought, then. The solution is not to just avoid things that make us angry, really, because in reality there will always be something which comes to us to spark that fire. The answer is to be patient with the small things--keep anger in check when it is very low. Acknowledge it, control it. And then, when faced with even greater calamities, instead of getting angry, we will have practiced being patient, so patience will come more naturally to us than anger.

Just like when the brother was in Saudi Arabia, and kept hearing "inshaaAllah bukrah," he was developing his patience, and tolerance, and things which caused his American brothers to erupt just bounced off him.

I ask Allah to give me patience, increase me in patience, and give me strength to control my anger.

1 comment:

amad said...

assalaamalaikum sister,

first time on your blog, courtesy Br.Naeem's. Inshallah, we'll have an "important" video on this subject soon on MuslimMatters. You'll enjoy it as well as appreciate its message.

Btw, you write well... keep up the good work.

-amad