Restraining Anger

By Imam Jamal Rahman

“A paradise as vast as the heavens and earth has been readied for those who are conscious of God …who restrain their anger and pardon their fellow beings…” (Qur’an 3: 133-135)

“Raise your words, not your voice; it is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” (Rumi)

Righteous anger is a powerful energy. It motivates us to summon the courage to speak up and take right action. Rumi calls this energy “a king over kings,” but also explains that to serve, anger needs to be bridled. Self-restraint is critical. Otherwise, we end up saying words and doing deeds that we shall deeply regret. When fighting injustice, we ourselves might become unjust; when fighting extremism, we ourselves might become extreme. Devoid of self-control, the formidable energy of anger lacks God’s Grace.

Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for twenty-seven years. He chose to transform his long incarceration into an extensive spiritual retreat. When he was released from prison, his words were filled with wisdom: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”  

In the same vein, Bishop Desmond Tutu, who initiated the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said, “If you can find it in yourself to forgive, then you are no longer chained to the perpetrator.”

In moments of anger may our words and action be graced by self-restraint, compassion and awareness. This will invite divine mercy and blessings to shower on us.

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