The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “The best of you are those who are slow to anger and swift to cool down…Beware of anger, for it is a live coal on the heart of the descendants of Adam.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1331
I have a problem with anger. There is no doubt about that. I have an explosive temper and since my childhood I have been ready to fight at the drop of a hat. This has led me to commit acts of violence, to be the victim of violence and has done a lot of damage to my relationships in the past.
Blowing your cool doesn’t necessarily mean violence; it can sometimes be verbal. Sometimes I take my anger out on anyone I can get close to when they have done nothing to me and I say things that I regret saying. Other times I have so much anger inside of me that it is hard to contain; I literally feel like I am going to explode. These recent days, with so many of my Muslim brothers in jail or under investigation, and the Muslim Ummah under constant siege, I have been consumed with anger (when in fact a believer is supposed to be consumed with hope). We are powerless, I am powerless, and it has taken a toll on my body. Recently I had to go to the emergency room because of chest pains and after tests the doctor told me that while my diet and weight were problematic my main problems was my anger and my inability to control my temper. Watching the news is problematic; my blood boils at the site of Neo-Cons and the Religious Right.
This is something I guess I inherited because I come from a family known for having bad tempers. Of course this is no excuse, and I also believe that mine is worse than anyone else in my family.
My study in Islam, and my background in the deen, has mostly come from a more Salafi type of background; I sat with Sheikh Ali al-Timimi, Jaffar Sheikh Idris, Anwar al-Awlaqi, Idris Palmer, and others as well as having studied at the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America in Virginia which is a Saudi run Salafi school. My original teacher, and my personal mentor, Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al-Basir (may Allah bless him and his family) told us in his program that there are four madhabs but we are Ahlul Hadith (which is what Salafis in South Asia call themselves). While he gave us this understanding of Fiqh and Aqeedah; he also taught us that Islam was a movement and he taught us from books of Franz Fanon, Bobby Seal, Malcolm X and the like. He was Book and Sunnah and old school Brooklyn at the same time. He was a walking of example of how to follow the Sunnah in the modern world and a street thug at same time (and I say that in the best of ways because I too am a graduate of the School of Thugenomotry). Later I would also regularly attend Masjid al-Imam al-Albani in Brooklyn which is an Arab Salafi Masjid and regularly attended Masjid Ahlus Sunnah in East Orange, NJ an African-American Salafi Masjid under Imam Abu Muslima.
So basically I am a Salafi, but not from the school of crazed Salafis who have a Hizbi spirit or wish to ignore the world that we live in. I have other influences too; I have been around a lot of people whose work is influenced and inspired by the teachings is Hasan al-Banna and Syed Qutb, and as their works have influenced those brothers they have also influenced me, and I have been around a variety of American Muslims from a whole plethora of beliefs and ideologies.
As a matter of fact I even have traveled with the Jamat at-Tablique, but I couldn’t get into it, and I was once courted by Hizb-ut-Tahrir but that wasn’t my thing either. I am my own man struggling to submit to the deen of Allah.
The only groups that I don’t have a great deal of experience with are the Sufis and the Modernists. I have chose not to deal with the modernists; because just as religious modernism has brought failure to Mainline Protestantism and the Reformed Judaism movement it will bring failure to those Muslims who seek a so-called progressive Islam. Islam is nothing if it is not submission, and it is not submission to our modern minds or our naffs or our westernized ways but to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger(S). There are no cafeteria Muslims and you can’t just make something up and then call it Islam.
Sufism is another matter; I have only known a handful of brothers who have ever studied Tasawauf and when they did, to be honest with you, I wasn’t happy with them. These were brothers who were disgruntled at the Salafis because of the infighting.
Of course from my Salafi teachings, there are a lot of things in Sufism that I would frown upon, but I know that it is such a broad field that I am in no way qualified to critique. Another reason I never studies Sufism, outside of my Salafi teachings, is that I am not that spiritual of a person. As a matter of fact one of my pet-peeves are these people today who say “I am spiritual and not religious.” What the hell does that mean? Well, one thing that it means is that they want to have some kind of spiritual connection without putting a check on their behavior, they do not want any restrictions; if it feels good do it is their motto.
I say this to say that with all the Islamic knowledge that I have I still have not found anything, even with all of the hadith talking about anger, that can help me address my anger. Maybe the fact that I have never considered myself a spiritual person, and meditation aint my thing has something to do with it and maybe we need to focus more on the soul at times.
Back to the topic at hand; I ask for forgiveness to those I have hurt with my words but I always hate to say it will never happen again because knowing me it may happen again. Sometimes I say stupid things to people that I should have more consideration for.
I got this over at The Road
Imam Ibn Rajab said that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)’s words, “Do not get angry,” can mean one of two things:
‘First, that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was calling to the means of acquiring good character, such as benevolence, generosity, forbearance, modesty, humility, bearing the harm of others, not harming others, overlooking, forgiving, restraining one’s anger, cheerfulness, smiling, and the like of these beautiful traits. This is because if one characterizes themselves with these traits and they become one’s habit, then this results in warding off anger when its causes are found.'”