Be your own light, educate your emotions. Emotions can be a double-edged sword. Instead of getting overwhelmed by them, learn to use them intelligently. Emotional intelligence is not a soft skill but a skill to be mastered to have strong personalities and assertiveness.
“I will forgive him, even though he cheated on me”
“I will hurt his soul, ego and pride by constantly doing good to him.”
“I will make him pay for this by wrecking his very being.”
Any of these could be a wife’s reaction to her husband’s second marriage. How you react is dependent on what you are made of — the strength of faith you hold on your Lord and the extent to which you can resist by exercising patience.
We struggle to think straight when faced with highly emotional situations. But as Muslims, we have to understand that in Islam, we are responsible for any action we take, which is why it is important to avoid reacting by taking extreme decisions. It is said not to make a promise when in a happy mood, nor to take any action when in a state of anger. Both states, happiness or sadness, stimulate emotions and wreck your fragile heart and Islam talks about moderation. An emotionally charged heart is vulnerable to act foolishly and irrationally.
Emotionally charged heart
Allah Azzawajal has used three words to describe heart in the Qur’an: qalb, fu’aad, and sadr. Fu’aad is a verb derived from word faada which means burning or a flame. Lahmun fae’ed means a ‘roasted meat on fire.’ Fu’aad is used in the Qur’an to describe the heart when it is engrossed in emotion: happiness, sadness, lust, frustration, anger or regret. It is used in Surat Al Qasas, ayah 10.
Musa (عليه السلام)’s mother’s heart was filled with worry out of the fear of losing her child. But Allah says in the next sentence that it is only Allah who strengthens her heart and thus her state of heart changes from fu’aad to qalb.
Our heart trembles to even imagine the state of a mother who has to put her child in a box into the river Nile, away from her. Who can have the courage to do so? No one, but with the aid of Allah.
It’s not me; it is the adrenaline!
We often encounter such situations that flare up our emotions. Our nerves and heart get emotionally affected when our colleagues or friends use sarcasm to bring us down. And when we complain, they say that you are overly emotional and cannot take a joke. It’s when our in-laws give looks or make comments that are disapproving, dismissive, contemptuous, or condescending. It’s when our parents blame us for their troubles or happiness and we feel like their expectations can just never be met. As a result, emotions overpower our intellect and we behave in sinful ways by laying blame on people and societal pressures.
In Surah Isra (Qur’an 17:36), Allah did not say that your qalb will be questioned rather he said that your fu’aad will be accountable. The test is when the emotions are enraged. Remember tough times don’t last, tough people do. On the Day of Judgment we cannot put all the blame on the fitnah or trials of this world. Nor can we say, “Oh, I was emotional!” As on that day all our organs will speak themselves. So think before you leap. Everything is recorded. The ayah that causes a shiver to run down my spine is that your lord never forgets.
Precaution is needed when tides are high, not when the sea is calm
As an Ummah, when we encounter incidents such as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) being insulted by a newspaper or magazine, innocent people being killed in the name of Islam or children being slaughtered like the Peshawar Attacks, we either sulk or become depressed. When we are enraged by heightened emotions, often we end up doing things as an Ummah that we regret later. What is the point of burning tires and television, after losing a cricket match? Or harassing the public if you are tired of inflation by blocking roads and stoning cars? Such situations act like a chilly wind that freezes our faith and shakes our unity as an Ummah.
Instead of reconnecting back to Allah we tend to leave the guardians of our faith – the daily prayers. Losing hope and getting depressed is our immediate reaction, which is not going to make things better. This world offers enough chaos. We need to nourish our souls with positivity because a sad person is Satan’s best friend.
وَلَا تَيْأَسُوا مِن رَّوْحِ اللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّهُ لَا يَيْأَسُ مِن رَّوْحِ اللَّهِ إِلَّا الْقَوْمُ الْكَافِرُونَ
and despair not of relief from Allah . Indeed, no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people.
Also, leave aside the vibes of sadness and an egocentric approach with an I-me-myself attitude and empathise for a change.
Are you a potato, egg, or coffee bean?
Read the whole story here.
The need is to ask your own self, whether I have a nerve of steel when it comes to bearing problems, or do I fall apart easily?
A challenging math problem needs your intelligence quotient (IQ) to solve the challenge. On contrary, emotionally challenging instances need a lot of wisdom and a strong control of emotions. It is said that IQ gets you hired while EQ gets you promoted. As soon as you get to know your emotion, what seems like a dead-end disappears and wisdom starts to take its first breath.
Salovey and Mayer are leaders in the field of emotional intelligence and proposed a model of EQ that showed what it is composed of. This insight will help us make positive use of our emotions.
وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ نَسُوا اللَّهَ فَأَنسَاهُمْ أَنفُسَهُمْ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ
And be not like those who forgot Allah, so He made them forget themselves. Those are the defiantly disobedient.
The stress here is on knowing the Creator better; this will make us understand our own self hence we will be more aware of our mistakes and wrongdoings.
Don’t take a permanent decision swayed by a temporary problem
Emotions prioritise our attention span and reactivity. Hence, we emotionally react to things that attract our attention. Try to reason with your impulsive side and make an attempt to sacrifice worldly priorities (like winning an argument) for greater reward later (like a permanent abode in jannah).
Abu Umamah reported: The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “I guarantee a house on the outskirts of Paradise for one who abandons arguments even if he is right, and a house in the middle of Paradise for one who abandons lies even when joking, and a house in the highest part of Paradise for one who makes his character excellent.”*
Do others a favour – don’t be judgmental
The perceived emotions carry a wide range of meanings. It is to hunt the right reason by identifying certain emotion. For instance, a husband comes home from work and finds his wife boiling her lid off, it might mean that she had a tough day today, or it could be because you are late or have forgotten your promise, or that she is having premenstrual syndrome ?
“No one is a Muslim until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”** This hadith implies that when we want others to be empathetic towards our problems then we should also be generous in giving them a margin in their difficult times.
Follow your inner light, cast away the darkness
It is a crucial part to effectively regulate emotion. Islam focuses on inner bliss. Look up to those people who are superior to you in religious matters and for worldly matters consider the ones who are below you. In this way you will be able to manage any setback.
Plato says that all learning has an emotional base. When you are not emotionally connected to something you will not be able to learn or acquire it. You need to address and accept the fact that emotions play a role. The mind is powerful to alter the things we feel and see. Build your EQ to earn your akhira!
Next in our series on Emotional intelligence: Master the art of dealing with stressful situations and difficult people in light of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
*Sunan Abu Dawud 4800
**Narrated by al-Bukhaari (13) and Muslim (45)
“Can’t you even let me know that your son dropped something under the table?”
“I don’t understand … what kind of people are they?”
“Your mother doesn’t know how to love a child and pamper him”
The last dialogue was towards my son whereas the first two have been addressed to me.
Those were harsh words and, in a second, my patience was tested. I wanted to either reply to the person or spank my child (as the poor soul so often appears to be a good place to displace most flared emotions!). But surprisingly, I controlled myself.
This ayah crossed my mind and stopped me in my tracks:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ
O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.
Now, it’s time for you to reflect: how would you have responded if you were in such a situation? Might I add, the speaker was a house maid. ?
Hans Selye once said: “It is not stress that kills us. It is our reaction to it.” So, no matter how deeply someone hurts you, try to forgive. Like Mufti Ismail Menk says, “This could just be the act that takes away all your pains on Judgment Day.”
Strike a balance
Balance is at the core of Islam, our religion aims to create equilibrium and fairness. The beauty of Islam can be seen in every single aspect. Rich or poor, everyone stands side by side when praying in congregation. Zakat circulates wealth within the society. When the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) came to Madinah, he gave people the tool of “greetings” so that love would grow among them; he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) smiled the most, told us to be kind to our servants, he was so kind to everyone that every one of the companions felt “I am the closest to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)”. How caring and loving was he (صلى الله عليه وسلم)! When we look at all these aspects, we realise that a great emphasis is laid on controlling and knowing our emotions.
However, when we face trials in our lives, we tend to act in a predetermined, typical manner. For instance, whenever we feel blue:
1. We forsake Allah and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم):
We go over to the dark side, stop thinking rationally and enter the cave of escapism. However, the best remedy to beat depression is the remembrance of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) as He says:
وَمَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَن ذِكْرِي فَإِنَّ لَهُ مَعِيشَةً ضَنكًا وَنَحْشُرُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَعْمَىٰ
And whoever turns away from My remembrance – indeed, he will have a depressed life, and We will gather him on the Day of Resurrection blind.”
Connect yourself to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) and make the bond so strong that nothing can shake its roots. In my personal experience, when we are truly connected with the Qur’an, problems start to appear little and we simply smile in response to any sarcastic remark.
Also, offer prayers regularly and on time. Understanding just an ayah every day will channelise your thoughts and emotions. It will liberate your mind from worldly affairs and put a leash on your desire to chase its inhabitants.
2. We fall into the trap of slandering:
We start to gossip and/or bad-mouth the one who has wronged us. However, making an attempt to understand the reason behind someone’s actions could be more beneficial. In this way, we will not be questioned on the Day of Judgement about uttering something which is wrong or exaggerated. Silence is key and Qur’an offers a tip to befriend your worst enemy:
وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ۚ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ
And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.
3. We become judgmental and cynical:
Remember, no one is perfect enough to judge others. And, may be you need a wake up call to shatter your own delusions.
4. We become hopeless:
We all are full of errors, so lower your expectations. When man does not fulfill the rights of his Creator who has created him and blessed him with countless bounties, how can he be just to you and your rights?
وَآتَاكُم مِّن كُلِّ مَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُ ۚ وَإِن تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَا ۗ إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَظَلُومٌ كَفَّارٌ
And He gives you of all that you ask Him; and if you count Allah’s favours, you will not be able to number them; most surely man is very unjust, very ungrateful.
5. We start to blow a fuse by raising our voice, using bad language or cursing.
The world is just a temporary station; your permanent abode is the Hereafter. Choose wisely where you want to invest more.
“Indeed, a servant will come on the Day of Judgment with good deeds the likes of mountains, but he will find that his tongue has destroyed all of them.” — Ibn al-Qayyim (رَحِمَهٌ الله)*
6. We hold grudges and dig hurtful memories from the past .
Forgive and forget. Don’t we want Allah to forgive us?
And let not those of virtue among you and wealth swear not to give [aid] to their relatives and the needy and the emigrants for the cause of Allah, and let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) loves those who forgive especially when they are in a position to take revenge from the one who have harmed them. The Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “He who gave up disputing while he is right, a palace of high rank in Paradise will be built for him. He who gave up disputing while he is a fabricator, a palace in the center of Paradise will be built for him.”
Treat your feelings as visitors, let them come and go without damaging your inner peace and soul. Observing patience when provoked is the key to success. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) knows that we struggle with our weak points. His aid will surely come.
*“Among the Punishments and Remedies for Sin : Illness and Cure” by Ibn Al Qayyim (رَحِمَهٌ الله) p.g 20-22
**(al-Tirmidhi who declared it as hasan)