It is natural to feel hurt and look for examples of appropriate conduct when insults are hurled at one for one’s beliefs. All respectful believers, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus are subject to hurt and wounding when treated with slander, ridicule, and hatred. As students of unity, when we witness anger from others, Sufis are guided to turn inwards and wash the rancor and self-hatred within. Even as we follow this difficult teaching, we still look for an example of leadership so we can behave on the outside in a way that is pleasing to our Creator. Thankfully, there are templates of facing the wrath of others from all the major prophets of our way. We know from their lives that they faced the most vicious slander, hatred and ostracism. There are innumerable examples of endurance and mercy that light the way as the Sunnah of the Prophet Mohammed (salallahu alaihi was sallam). When people threw their garbage at him, he prayed for their health. While in prostration, his enemies threw animal entrails on him, and he continued his prayers as an ocean of mercy, until his daughter Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her) removed the filth from his back. It is from his life and teachings of the path of surrender that we are guided to not seek retribution for personal harm. We need to be humble in our speech and actions. First towards Allah and then towards Allah’s creation. The root of anger is arrogance. We have to strive to anchor our actions and words in humility and surrender. The worshippers of the Universally Merciful are of mild and calm character. When the ignorant address them, they say, “Peace be upon you.” We are taught in the Quran, “Hold to forgiveness; command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant.” (Q7: 199). The Prophet (salallahu alaihi was sallam) asked Jibrail what this verse meant and the Archangel responded, “Allah commands you to forgive those who wronged you, give to those who deprived you, and keep relations with those who cut themselves off from you. “ In the book He Who Knows himself knows his Lord, the shadhuli guide Sidi Muhammad al Jamal says, “Irascibility (anger) is a blameworthy character trait emerging from the boiling of blood in the heart as it demands revenge.
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The opposite of this is forbearance, (al hulm) and if you start to practice it, it becomes habitual. The Messenger of Allah, (salallahu alaihi was sallam) said, ‘Knowledge is gained by education, and forbearance is gained by practicing forbearance.’ Whoever seeks good, finds it and whoever wants evil, it reaches him. This was expressed by the Messenger (salallahu alaihi was sallam) when he said, ‘Seek loftiness with Allah.’ The Companions asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah, what is loftiness?’ He (salallahu alaihi was sallam) said, ‘To remain connected with the ones who cut you off, to give to the ones who deprive you, and to have forbearance when faced with ignorance from those who mistreat you.’” This is why it is not permissible for the beloved to become angry except for the sake of Allah; being angry for the sake of Allah is an exalted rank, which is possible only for those who in their ascent have reached the fourth degree, where the soul is named the secure, tranquil self (an nafs al mutma-innah). Whoever claims it for himself while in a lower station is a liar and he is confusing truth with falsehood. The Messenger of Allah, (salallahu alaihi was sallam) never became angry for the sake of the lower world, but he did feel angry for the sake of Allah (subhanahu wa ta aala).” – By Sara Khan, UOS Graduate