When Tempers Hit Boiling Point
Self-control helps one avoid physiological and psychological harm as well as gain great rewards from Allâh for his patience.
A man came to The Prophet of Allâh, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, saying, “ ‘O Prophet of Allâh, command me.’ The Prophet replied, ‘Do not lose your temper.’ “ (Bukhaaree). The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, also said,“Strength is in the power to control oneself in anger, not in the size of the muscles.”
The advice of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to control one’s temper was based upon his knowledge of the harmful effects of stress and anger on the person himself as well as on those surrounding him. At the same time he knew that this advice was not easy to follow so he described a strategy that a person may use to control his anger. He was asked, “ ‘So messenger of Allâh, what is the treatment [for anger]?’ The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, ‘If a man gets angry while he is sitting standing up, he should sit until he regains composure. Otherwise, he should lie down.’ “ (Ahmad and Bukhaaree).
To truly appreciate the advice of The Prophet of Allâh, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, one must investigate in more depth the impact of anger on the body and how changing one’s position relates to being angry. The feeling of anger creates hormonal activities in the body. A gland named the adrenal gland situated on top of each of the kidneys controls this activity. The hormone adrenaline is secreted by the adrenal gland in response to any physical or emotional stress the body undergoes. Such stress could be fear, anger, or a drop in blood-sugar level, disease or surgery. The adrenal gland also secretes another hormone, noradrenaline, even though the main source of this hormone is the sympathetic nerve endings at the heart. Both of the hormones are related to each other and are secreted into the body together.
One of the effects of anger is the increased production of these two hormones. Since one of the two hormones is secreted by the heart, in a situation of anger, the heart is caused to work harder. The heartbeat becomes faster and with an irregular pattern. This change in the heart is so intense, it can be felt by some people while they are under stress. In addition, by becoming angry and overworking the heart, the contractions of the heart muscles increase in order to supply more oxygen, placing pressure on the arteries. For this reason, people with heart problems endangering their health when they become angry. Patients with narrow arteries are at risk for heart attacks, as their arteries may not withstand sudden rushed of blood to the heart. Increased levels of the two hormones in the body also raise blood pressure, another health hazard for blood pressure patients. Diabetics too are advised to control their temper, as raised adrenaline also raises blood sugar. Diabetics may suffer from high blood sugar levels for extended periods of time as a result of physical or emotional stress.
Some anger may throw the entire body into turmoil and trigger serious health conditions for many people. Perhaps, this is why the Prophet of Allâh, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, emphasised the avoidance of anger by repeating his advice three times: “Do not get angry.”
This brings us to the prescription given to us by The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Harrison, a renowned medical writer, states: “It is scientifically proven that the amount of noradrenaline in the blood can double or triple while standing quietly for five minutes. Adrenaline is raised slightly by standing. But different kinds of mental stress can significantly increase the blood adrenaline level.”
Simply standing quietly for five minutes may double the noradrenaline in the blood while slightly raising the adrenaline, a hormone mainly increased by anger and stress. Obviously becoming angry while standing would place great pressure on the body. Such is the value of the words of the Prophet of Allâh, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, fifteen centuries ago, before the development of sophisticated medical investigation and study. “If a man becomes angry while standing, he should sit down until he regains his composure. Otherwise, he should lie down.” A medical prescription for all times.
In Surah ali-Imran, verse 134, people who control their anger are among those whom Allâh makes a promise to forgive and admit into Paradise. “Those who repress anger and are able to forgive. And Allâh loves those who do good.” The Prophet of Allâh, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, “Strength is in the power to control oneself in anger, not in the size of the muscles.” He also said, “Whoever controls his temper while able to retaliate will be called by Allâh before all of His creations and allowed to select from among lovely wide-eyed beauties whomever he desires to be wed with.” (Agreed upon).