“Why do you get so angry?”
Years ago, when I was entering the unfamiliar world of adolescence – not as unfamiliar and rocky and unexpected as adulthood was for me, though – my grandfather asked me.
Daddy jee, we called him. It was a laqab that was used by all his children, the ‘jee’ to denote love and respect. But by virtue of the first grandchild, who called him Daddy jee too, he came to be known as Daddy jee to his 29 grandchildren.
In my 20s I was fortunate and blessed by Allah SWT to gain the company of some of his strange lovers. They worked day and night to call people to the love of Allah. They hearkened and called to the true final abode instead of this temporary fleeting world. Yes, it’s fleeting… Even though it may seem painfully slow at times.
And so I learnt the beautiful ways of controlling anger. The beautiful virtues of doing so. The everlasting, but even more tempting, the immediate benefits of doing so. The gems of wisdom were laid open for us. Practicing them brought even more beauty to the theory. Experience fortified the truth. Praise be to Allah.
Years down the road, my first born came into this world. Little was I to know that this being would be a mirror for me such that I never had before. My second is not so. I know he will teach me something else perhaps. But the first one opened up my tattered heart and brought forth truths that I never knew existed.
My anger returned. Tired and frustrated from the incessant needs of this being who needed me like he needed no one else. I did not have help. I missed my mother, whom I felt would have been the source of comfort in my pain of new motherhood. I wished I could tell her my woes and get solutions in return. I wish she could take my child in her arms and grant me a few hours of carefree rest. I wished, more than ever, that Allah SWT would Reward me for this test- one whose magnitude I had no idea of.
Months passed. Things became better. My son, however, was too connected to me. Yes, I say ‘too’ because I felt stifled. And I felt guilty for feeling so. My motherhood journey is too long to fit in here. But there is one thing I want to write about.
For those who know that this is a test in their lives – that this is a weakness they know to be in them… then be prepared that motherhood is going to test you.
One day, I fell down again, flat on my face, recounting in my mind that:
The Prophet (s) “Anger spoils faith in the same way as vinegar destroys honey.”
And I could feel it being spoilt. I could feel the bitterness in my heart that lingered. I could taste regret as it seared through my soul.
It was the ilm that even made me feel this guilt. I was grateful to it. Rather, I am grateful to it now. At the time, it seemed like a curse. It hung over my head like a stormy cloud, threatening to throw lightening. I asked myself: How in the world can I sit down when standing, or lie down when sitting (the Prophetic steps to control anger) when all my child needed from me was to act right then and there? He needed something and was throwing a tantrum. I needed to act and give him what he needed, or explain why he could not get it. How in the world could I repeat the ta’awwuz (I seek refuge from shaytan the accursed) when I needed to speak to him and calm him down. How in the world do I deal with this creature when what I want to do is just sit with myself to let this anger dissipate?
I was flabbergasted. I was exhausted. My mind and body felt stretched beyond the endurance level. I was usually in situations where none apart from my husband could help me with my son. He was new in parenting too. We both tried our best.
But no matter what, I failed to follow up on the repeated words of our beloved Prophet (s):
“Do not get angry.”
I felt heartbroken, ashamed, and lost.
I knew other mothers had it the same way – I came across articles, I heard about it in talks. And the solution was to just remain calm ourselves.
But how in the world? I thought.
“Why do you get so angry?” he had asked.
The words of Daddy jee resonated in my head. And suddenly, it was as if something in my heart lit up. This is what the Prophet (s) would have asked. There are numerous ahadith in which the Prophet (s) asked a companion ‘why’? It could be just to make the person realize what he was doing wrong, or to simply understand himself what that person was doing and if there was any explanation for it. I didn’t have an answer when Daddy jee had asked me that question. But his question had stayed with me. He had wanted to know ‘why’. There had to be a reason. Or perhaps, he simply wanted me to talk to him, knowing that he would hear me out. I didn’t have an answer then. I didn’t have an answer for so many years. After more than a decade, I asked myself that question again. What was it that was causing me to get so angry?
That was the beginning of solving the mystery to my particular test.
Sometimes, we bury our feelings, brush them under the rug. And they come back to haunt us.
Allah SWT has created us in the most beautiful of forms. The brain and the mind are so intensely complicated, for a moment one can just sit in awe at the majestic creation of Allah. There is always a reason behind things. Sometimes it may just be spontaneous anger because our nafs is used to getting something, and when it is deprived, it lashes out. Sometimes, it may be an inner frustration at not being able to do something that we feel is needed or ‘right’ and we stubbornly hope for it even though there are other things that need to be done or could be done to compensate for it. Our connection to Allah SWT can be built through everyday mundane activities. Parenting is one of them. Mindful parenting. Whatever the reason is though, the solution *is* to not get angry.
So I was meant to go back to those steps. I was meant to learn and practice to be calm, even when provoked by an energetic, stubborn, 3 year old child who would not back down no matter what. I was meant to be calm in the face of a child, because I was the adult.
It was at that time I realized what a child I was.
You see, the answers are going to be the same. But we have to keep striving to get to the part where we actually act on those. We need to keep striving with our heart, our mind, our body. We have to make dua for it. And strive, yet again.
The ways to Allah are the same, yet they are different. He Calls us with Love and at times He Calls us with His Majesty, His Grandeur. Sometimes, we understand, like an a-ha moment that is so hard to explain when we want to.
But the truth is, He Promised:
‘And those who strive in Us, we will surely Guide them to our ways.’ (29:69)
Always remind yourself that, because His Promise is true.
May Allah SWT Keep Guiding us, may we keep striving till our last breaths, and may He make us amongst his righteous servants and join us with them in the hereafter. Ameen.