St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Editor: Mohamed Ziauddin MSW LCSW
In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent and the Most Merciful
FOCUS OF THIS MONTH:
We all know that almost all the times that when we get angry, it is for our personal motives. Many people learn unhealthy ways of processing anger, from suppressing and repressing angry feelings to exploding in rage with little provocation. This could lead them to hurt somebody else especially the weak and the vulnerable OR get hurt themselves and also possibly get into legal & other problems.
Anger if unchecked can be directed either inwards by harming self or impulsive acts leading to suicide and if anger is directed at others it could lead to injury and in extreme case to homicide.
Below are examples to the extreme:
US military personnel Spc. Brandon Bare 19, of Wilkesboro, N.C, had returned to Fort Lewis from Iraq to recuperate from cuts and internal ear injuries in a grenade attack at Mosul , Iraq . He had reportedly stated that HE HAD TROUBLE CONTROLLING HIS ANGER and did not like his wife going out and partying. He got enrolled in treatment program for Anger Management.
But before he could complete the program he already got into legal problems. His anger went out of control and he murdered his wife Nabila by stabbing her seventy one times. His lawyer stated that there was nothing to show that this killing was planned. “What this looks like…IS AN ACT OF RAGE, or some sort of other unexplainable act, Attorney Capt. Patrick O’Brien said.
As indicated in the past, our Muslim community is not immune from the current individual and social problems faced by our mainstream society.
IT IS TO BE NOTED THAT PROBLEMS WITH ANGER IS "NOT THE ONLY REASON" FOR BELOW HOMICIDES BUT ANGER IS ONE OF THE MANY REASONS RESULTING IN BELOW HOMICIDES.
If you recall there was a Muslim in St. Louis, Missouri who in the past had repeated parent-child conflict with his westernized teenage daughter and as the conflict continued to escalate without any treatment, at one point, out of anger, he stabbed his teenage daughter to death. (Zein Isa, a Palestinian terrorist who lived in St. Louis, was convicted of killing his daughter Palestina in 1989. Investigators say he was furious she had a black boyfriend, went to a school dance and got a job at Wendy's. Palestina's mother held her down as Isa plunged a 9-inch knife into his daughter's chest ...Foxnews.com)
AP/Irving Police Department Amina (left) and Sarah Said, 18 and 17, were found shot to death in their father's taxi.
(Husband decapitates his wife because she wanted a divorce)
Muzzammil Hassan established Bridges TV network in the suburbs of Buffalo, New York in 2004, with the hope of showing American Muslims in positive way, Buffalonews reports. However, his idea and reputation were questioned when the police arrested him under suspicion that he decapitated his 37-year-old wife Aasiya. Hassan turned to a police station and reported his wife`s death. He told the officers that his wife was at his office, thus the police went to the TV network to find the headless body. The husband was the prime suspect, because Aasiya filed for divorce and she recently requested a restraining order, thus he was not allowed to come home)
From an Islamic point of view, anger is a trait of Shaitan’s influence and we all must guard ourselves against being dominated by anger. Allah has given us both positive and negative emotions and anger is a negative emotion that we need to tame and control and never allow it to control us. We have a choice here and we need to make a WISE CHOICE. Anger is like Fire.
Allah created Shaitan from Fire. The properties of fire - it enrages, spreads, engulfs, burns, leaps, and tries to consume everything within its reach. Very few things can stand in its way.
Allah created Man from the dust of the earth and the natural symbolic qualities of dust of the earth are to be settled, simple, humble, down to earth et.c. That’s why when Allah (SUT) told shaitan to prostrate to Adam (ASW). Shaitan refused saying, “I am better than him. You created me from fire, you created Adam (ASW) from Clay. Should fire bow down or prostrate to Clay”. Not surprisingly, Shaitan’s natural properties are arrogance, pride and anger that led him to rebel and refuse Allah’s command.
Allah (ST) says in the Quran:
003.134. “Those who spend (freely) whether in prosperity, or in adversity; WHO RESTRAIN ANGER, and pardon (all) men; for God loves those who do good”.
In a Hadith, Prophet Mohamed (SAW) said:
“Anger is from Shaitan and Shaitan was created from the fire and nothing can extinguish fire except water. Therefore if anyone of you gets angry, perform wadhu”.
As a psychotherapist, I see several advantages from above hadith. Generally when we do wadhu, we cleanse ourselves with water following the prescribed ritual. When one does wadhu, it is a step prior to doing the salaat. In most cases, we tend to psychologically calm ourselves down and prepare ourselves to go and pray before Allah. Therefore since our mind is generally conditioned to tone down to a state of calm and peace psychologically, doing wadhu as a response to cope with anger does WORK fairly well to calm us down.
From a Clinician’s perspective, I would recommend it as a Clinical Intervention for practicing Muslims who have problems with anger. However one should be aware that anger like the switch of a stove has different levels – low, medium and high. Above recommendation is for anger in the low to medium levels.
On the lines of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, it would be good to get details on the individual’s bio-psycho-social history, triggers of anger, mechanisms that feed into the anger, identifying the relationship of mechanism to the anger triggers and then formulating the treatment plan. A significant body of research evidence suggests that inappropriate anger responses can be replaced with more appropriate and effective behaviors. Some of the techniques involve problem-solving training, self-control training, cognitive restructuring, stress inoculation and rational-emotive therapy. Most of these techniques are based on a three-step process:
(1)Becoming aware of behaviors that are hurtful to self and others.
(2) Learning skills or techniques to replace hurtful behaviors and
(3) Practicing until the new, more adaptive behaviors become usable in real-life situations.
THE AREA OF PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN MUSLIMS IN ST. LOUIS AND US:
In St. Louis, we now are offering ISLAMIC ORIENTED ANGER MANAGEMENT GROUP THERAPY to adults. Minimum members of the group should be at least five. For details, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
OUR GROUP OBJECTIVES:
1) To explore the origins of anger and illustrate the dynamics of anger both from Islamic perspective and Cognitive-Behavioral Perspective.
2) To help the persons become aware of situational, physical and cognitive clues that precede angry responses and identify their own typical patterns of response in anger provoking situations.
3) To help persons become aware of how alcohol and other drugs affect the inappropriate expression of anger.
4) To distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate anger responses and help persons see that appropriate responses generally have more positive consequences.
5) To present the use of coping statements and cognitive restructuring as positive means of reducing angry feelings.
6) To encourage persons to take personal responsibility for their own thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
By the end of this Islamic-Cognitive-Behavioral program our brothers and sisters are expected to have learned alternative, non-aggressive forms of expressing their anger and demonstrate ability to practice these skills in their day to day lives. Please refer interested candidates who may confirm below signs.
1) Low frustration tolerance
2) Inability to deal with authority figures
3) Poor verbal control of overt behaviors
4) Poor self-control
5) Engaging in self-defeating behaviors.
6) Anger was one of the main reasons for (a) Major inter-personal conflict resulting in violence & aggression (b) Being ordered by the Court (c) FAILED RELATIONSHIPS (d) Terminated from job (e) Legal problems et.c.
NOTE: Above Social Worker while working in the past in Los Angeles was providing Anger Management Group Therapy to voluntary clients as well as clients who were ordered by the Court as part of their conditions of preventing them to go to jail OR as one of their conditions of probation / parole upon release from jail.