Social Skills In Islam

Causes of anger

By Abidali Mohamedali, based on a Lecture by Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

CAUSES OF ANGER

The first and most effective step towards curing a disease is identifying the cause of the disease. Often this alone can lead to a cure or even more effectively, a suitable prevention strategy. Understanding the cause of anger can aid greatly in recognising anger, acknowledging it, identifying areas of weakness and thus leading to its effective prevention. Below are some of the causes of anger:

  • Loss of Control – One of the fundamental causes of anger is the loss of control over ones emotions. Anger is caused by ones inability to mentally cope with frustrating situations. Angry people wish to solve a problem emotionally. This can manifest itself when one has the illusion of not being in full control of a situation.
  • Biological Causes– illness in general and specific diseases such as thyroidism (low or high production of thyroxin), low blood sugar, pre and post menstrual cycle etc., often can lead to emotional episodes. This does

    not give the right to the sufferer get angry but he/she must avoid situations that trigger the emotions and attempt to control them nonetheless.

  • Pride- Men are often subject to this, considering themselves the ‘lord of the house’. This notion of superiority often leads to conflict when that so called superiority is challenged. Prophet ‘Isa (as) was asked as to what precedes anger, he replied “الکبر و التجبر و محقرة الناس” (Pride, arrogance, and belittling people) (Mishkaat al Anwaar : 219)
  • Learning– One of the more influential and yet controllable causes of anger is the influence of peers, parents, movies and violent games. Children especially, learn anger and aggression from their environment and therefore it is imperative that every parent be wary of what their child is watching, who he/she is playing with and what he/she is playing. Seemingly harmless violent games can result in harmful personalities later in life.

WHAT TRIGGERS ANGER

Several things can lead to an episode of anger in most normal people. In some cases those wit

h a severe anger problem need the slightest of triggers. These people are mentally ill and therefore need professional treatment. The triggers of anger can be:

  • Revenge mentality- Often those who suffer from the character of revenge hold grudges for years and can rehash old wounds with surprising speed and clarity. This character can be remedied by inculcating and developing the character of forgiveness. Just as one would want to be forgiven by the Almighty (SWT) on the day of judgement, so one must forgive the mistakes and misgivings of others especially the loved ones.
  • Sexual frustration– Often affects men more than women, whereas the woman may have lack of sexual desire while the man is virile and active. This often leads to sexual frustration and anger.
  • Stubbornness- This problem affects both sexes equally. Often in the times of anger some have the tendency of being stubborn in reaction to the anger. This often leads to more anger and perhaps even violence. At times of anger the receiving party must concede, even if temporarily, to calm the situation down.
  • Humiliation- Chronic humiliation of a person would eventually lead to sever anger. It is essential that both parties in any relationship especially that of marriage, be treated with respect and affection. One of the essential characteristic of a wife is that she be ‘obedient’ (QÁnitÁtun), to her husband as much as she is to her father.
  • Unnecessary jokes– As mentioned in the last article, sensitive jokes often lead to provocation and episodes of anger.
  • Hunger– The common English saying ‘a hungry man is an angry man’ rings very true.
  • Fatigue– physical and mental fatigue coupled with any form of provocative or non-provocative action may lead to anger. One must choose appropriate times to bring up problems or issues.

In each of the above cases it must be noted that the most effective way to keep the peace is to ensure that anger is not triggered, but it should be understood that the one who suffers from anger must work to ensure that these or any other triggers do not lead to loss of control. This list is not exhaustive and different people and personalities have different triggers.

BITTER FRUITS OF ANGER

Anger is the key to all evils and when one recognises the bitter fruits of this character, one cannot help but avoid it. It can

  • Spoil Faith- by being angry, one looses control over one’s mind and hence eventually indulges in numerous sins. This action on its own leads to the erosion of faith.
  • Effects on children– one of the most profound effects of anger are the effects that manifest themselves often after many years in the offspring. Effects range from anger itself to low self esteem leading to other psychological and physical disorders including depression, eating disorders, discontentment etc. Often children of parents who get angry end up in broken relationships and are ill equipped to handle difficult situations.
  • Turns a gentleman to a criminal- respectable people who suffer from anger often end up committing severe crimes of domestic violence, or in extreme cases even homicide and suicide.
  • Hostility (not to accept the unchangeable). The definition of hostility in this case is the inability to accept the unchangeable. These people cannot take rejection or criticism and become cynical and hostile to even well seeming and positive criticism. They therefore are unable to effectively develop themselves.
  • Depression: depression is anger turned inward toward the self.
  • Cardiovascular problems- especially in older people can result from chronic anger.

Even though anger is more prevalent in young adult males, if anger is not controlled at a younger age, it will most certainly affect the sufferer even in old age making the person more stubborn a

nd angry at little things.

TECHNIQUES TO MANAGE ANGER

In managing anger, like any other illness, there are responsibilities that both the recipient and the sufferer must implement to ensure that the ailment is cured. Anger and domestic violence as its consequence is similar in that context.

Duties of the Recipient

  1. Understand the triggers of anger in the spouse and endeavor to avoid these.
  2. Agree with him/her (for the time being)- It does no good to bring up issues at an inappropriate time or place. This is especially true at the time when the person is angry and is unwilling to listen to reason. Accept defeat at that time and bring up the issue when the situation has calmed down.
  3. Choose the best time and words. Do not confront your spouse when he/she is hungry and tired! Feed/entertain them before letting loose with what has been troubling. Find the appropriate good mood to bring up sensitive issues.

Duties of the Sufferer

Although this applies mostly to men, it can be translated to females also who have this problem of anger.

  • CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy): Endeavour to rationalise the situation and diffuse the ‘perceived’ anger first. Understand the ‘threat’ against you and then react in the way that is most appropriate.
  • Remember God and His Wrath on you. The simple rule one must remember is that as much as you hurt others, you will be hurt more! According to ahadith, even if one dies a martyr, he will not be able to avoid the wrath of Allah (SWT) for hurting a creature of Allah (SWT) and not having sought forgiveness or not having being forgiven by that person.
  • Use Humour: silly humour can defuse rage. The angry person must use humour to diffuse the situation and avoid the emotion of anger gripping the mind.
  • Drop your expectation – Do not expect too much from your spouse, such that the situation does not allow you to become angry or frustrated.
  • Change your position and environment. Imam ‘Ali (as) says “when you get angry, keep quiet” in another place Imam ‘Ali (as) advises his companions to sit if they are standing and lie down if they are sitting when they are angry. This could involve taking a walk outside or another action that may diffuse the negative thoughts.
  • Make a wudhoo’ or ghusl with cold water. Hadith have mentioned that anger is the fire of shaitaan, distinguish it with wudhoo’ or ghusl with cold water.
  • Hug and kiss your children. This is an elixir that can readily diffuse anger. If constantly done, can eliminate emotional outburst in the home.
  • Keep a punching bag handy! This is if worse come to worse.
  • Remember Prophetic Words of Wisdom (below)
  • Seek counseling and therapy. If symptoms persist see a doctor and often only a mental institution and potent medication and therapy can be used to control anger if none of the above work.
Prophetic words of wisdom:

قال (ص): ما تجرّع عبد جرعة افضل عند الله من جرعة غیظ کظمها لله ابتغاء وجه الله.

(کنز العمال ح 5819)

No servant of God has ever drunk a drink better in the Sight of God than an anger that he repressed for the sake of Allah

یا موسی! امسک غضبک عمّن ملکتک علیه اکفّ عنک غضبی.
(الکافی 2:303)

O Moses! Control your anger against whom I have authorised you over, and I will control My Wrath against you.”

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