Anger

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During the course of my life I have experienced the destructive force of anger, and like many people, I was both the recipient and the perpetuator of anger’s raging and destructive flames.

Since my imprisonment in the bowels of human neglect and misery, I had many opportunities to view and to reflect upon its acidic impact. I had witnessed numerous beatings, stabbings, and scaldings. I had beheld its workings in the voices and in the antics of inmates in the prison yards, corridors, and in the confines of the concrete and steel cubicles. I was a party to the spontaneous, volcanic outbreaks of rage, as well as the slow burning, simmering manifestations of it, that lurked behind the clenched jaw, the smoldering eyes, the wild gestures, the tightly pressed lips; and, of course, as I looked upon my own life, I perceived anger’s red glow, dogging my steps, and moving my hands to strike and my words to cut.

Even in the so-called free world, a place of supposed civilization, refinement, and human cultivation; it was there ready to pounce, behind the forced smiles and the blighted eyes.

Nevetheless, I had noticed a calmness, a serenity, in most of the Muslims I encountered.

This, inspite of the usually dismal and chaotic surroundings. I thought, perhaps, they were the recipients of some profound and glorious spiritual treasure, that had eluded me for so long. I struck up a friendship with a Muslim brother named Amir. We spent hours talking about social, political, and ideological concerns. This, in itself, was not new to me. What was different was that I listened as Amir qualified these subjects with Islamic perspectives and the sublime dynamics of the Qur’an.

After several sessions, I asked him if I could borrow a Qur’an. He readily agreed, while explaining to me the correct etiquette to be observed when handling the most Divine of all Books.

I sat in my cell, during the stillness of the night and the early morning, absorbing the power and the beauty of its signs:

"O you who believe, fear Allah as He should be feared. And die not except in a state of Islam." (3: 102)

Incredibly, even as I sat bolted and locked away in my cell, with gun towers, razor wire, and steel barriers all around me (with the illumination of the Qur’an lighting my heart), I felt the warm glow of happiness and of understanding.

It would be inaccurate to say, that my bouts with rage had ceased, and my temperment rendered free of flashes of anger, anxiety, and even rage, but fortified with the Qur’an, and th example of the beloved prophet Muhammad {Peace and Blessings be upon him} I was able to manage it and to contain it.

I found that reflecting on the many blessings that I had, soothed the blazing flames of anger, and extinguished the smoldering coals of resentment.

Honesty also played a pivotal role in helping me get a handle on my dark moods, for I had to admit that, more often than not, it was I who had largely contributed to my adverse predicament.

The destructive forces of anger were, of course, everywhere. How many people had felt its jolting power? From siblings, spouses and children, to armies engaged in battle.

Read any newspaper, tour in community, look upon any life, and (more often than not) you will behold anger’s cancerous, debilitating effects, undermining our compassion, our empathy, our humanity( and yes) even our faith in God.

The bout with anger is not one that can be won quickly or ended conclusively. Every hour of every day is an arena where we must confront our darkest and most volatile passions, wrestle with them, and (with the Grace and Beneficence of Allah) rise above them.

Our jihad (struggle) is to replace a fist with a helping hand, a vile word with a understanding one, and a vindictive mind with one that thinks only of the All-pervading Mercy of Allah.

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