Emotions are given their place of importance in all Islamic teachings as fundamental elements of the human soul. Emotional interaction is inevitable. We experience emotions constantly in our daily lives in relation to events and people. The positive quality that arises out of the control of the irascible faculty is courage. Human beings have different emotions, spiritual and physical needs. Different people have different emotions so there is also a variety of behaviour in people. Allah says:
ٱلَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ فِى ٱلسَّرَّآءِ وَٱلضَّرَّآءِ وَٱلْكَظِمِينَ ٱلْغَيْظَ وَٱلْعَافِينَ عَنِ ٱلنَّاسِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ يُحِبُّ ٱلْمُحْسِنِينَ
“Those who give in good times and in bad, suppress their rage and pardon other people. God loves those who do good.” (Surah Al Imran 3:134)
Islam respects all the different components of human beings equally. Islam teaches us to be moderate in everything thus we can create an equilibrium. The creator of this universe, Allah taught us to do justice in our daily life matters. Love is recognized and respected as the noblest emotion; however, in a man-woman relationship, it is regulated to assure building long-term bonds, rather than just satisfying momentary urges. Allah says:
فَلَا تَهِنُوا وَتَدْعُوا إِلَى السَّلْمِ وَأَنتُمُ الْأَعْلَوْنَ وَاللَّهُ مَعَكُمْ وَلَن يَتِرَكُمْ أَعْمَالَكُمْ
“So (do) not weaken and call for peace while you (are) superior, and Allah (is) with you and never will deprive you (of) your deeds.” (Surah Muhammad 47:35)
Islam provides an applicable system for being wise and strong humans, who are in control of their feelings, and not the other way around. We advised avoiding extremes in negative and positive emotions. In our daily life, we meet different people like in our family and friends, they have different emotions and behaviour. Islam teaches us ways to deal with negative emotions. Allah says:
الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يَلْبِسُوا إِيمَانَهُم بِظُلْمٍ أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمُ الْأَمْنُ وَهُم مُّهْتَدُونَ
“Those who believed and (did) not mix their belief with wrong, those, for them, (is) the security and they (are) rightly guided.” (Surah Al-An`am 6:82)
Emotions such as love, hope, enthusiasm, determination, etc., are strongly encouraged in the Quran and teachings of the Prophet (PBUH), as they result in a positive attitude for the Muslim at home, in public, and in relation to the rest of the world and all creations. The Prophet teaches that no one’s faith is complete until they love for others what they love for themselves, which is a very positive state of mind.
Islam offers practical prescriptions for emotional interaction:
- We surpass human emotions and are respected under Islam
- We should keep away from intense emotional experience
- We keep a balance between people and other creatures
- We live in the balance of Allah’s peaceful universe
- We must be careful in choosing the best words
- We avoid those people who trigger our stress
- We interact emotionally with other creatures
- We care and respect due to fellow humans
- We never hurt the feelings of any human
- We promote the Islamic code of conduct
- We handle our emotions in stress
- We always communicate honestly
- We are instructed to control our tongues
- We should regulate the emotional balance
- We react in a dignified and respectable way
- We never emphasise hereditary intelligence
- We manage physical power when sad or angry
- We ensure in emotions to purify the relationships
- We cover the circle of more negativity and destruction
- We should take positive action to manage our emotions
Islam teaches moderation in everything, aiming to create equilibrium so that one is always at peace with one’s self, the universe, and Allah. People who react to every word and action coming their way are so caught up in dealing with their emotions, that they waste a major part of their energy and time entangled in this self-created state of mind. Allah says:
لَّا يَسْمَعُونَ فِيهَا لَغْوًا إِلَّا سَلَامًا وَلَهُمْ رِزْقُهُمْ فِيهَا بُكْرَةً وَعَشِيًّا
“Not they will hear therein vain talk but peace. And for them (is) their provision therein, morning and evening.” (Surah Maryam 19:62)
We need to convince ourselves that we are in full control of our emotions. We cannot blame anyone else for any emotion residing inside of us. Of course, there can be external triggers, unexpected events and piled up work. All of these are beyond our control, but what remains within the hold of our fists is how we react to all this craziness. It is advised to avoid extremes in negative or positive emotions, as any extremes are destructive if left uncontrolled. Allah says:
فَأَمَّا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ وَعَمِلُوا۟ ٱلصَّلِحَتِ فَهُمْ فِى رَوْضَةٍۢ يُحْبَرُونَ
“As for those who believed and did good works, they will be made happy in a Garden.” (Surah Ar-Rum 30:15)
God created human beings with complex emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. It is interesting to note how we tune ourselves to react in a certain way in a given scenario. For instance, we have programmed ourselves to get angry if someone horns at us during traffic rush hour. We have programmed ourselves to shout back if someone uses a harsh tone with us. And interestingly enough, we have programmed ourselves to smile and relax when someone says, “Sorry”.
Managing Our Emotions for Success in Dunya and Akhirah:
- Love of the world: Controlling our reactions is important. Equally important is the need to take a closer look at our lifestyles. Limit your wants by knowing your needs. Avoid indulgence.
- Lack of proper nutrition: Eating inorganic, fast food and lack of routine in proper eating habits causes bad mood.
- Lack of proper sleep: Agitation is also a common reaction to sleep deprivation. Healthy, sound sleep makes us happy and relaxed.
- Counsel yourself: Avoid suspicion and rid yourself of any thought that keeps recurring endlessly. Having faith in Allah and gratitude towards the smallest of blessings.
- Take control of your mind: Think about a tragedy you faced and you will find tears in your eyes. Try to practice positive thinking, and keep practising patience and tawakkal.
- Remember Allah: If you find yourself overreacting to certain events, try keeping a specific dhikr for it. Dhikr keeps the heart alive.
- Practice forgiveness: The best way to come to terms with your emotions is to let go, move on and not drag your emotional burdens with the intention to take revenge.
- Manage your time: Planning properly and doing things in time is the best way to keep your life in control. Make the best use of the time as it is one of the biggest blessings of Allah
A Muslim is instructed to take the negative energy of destructive emotions and use it as steam to move forward in a positive direction, thus turning it into positive energy. The Quran is a cure for all [ailments] of the heart, including the ailments of doubt and passions. It explains how falsehood can be removed from the truth, and how the diseases of corrupting doubt can be removed from knowledge, imagination, and apprehension, whereby [the believer] can see things as they really are. Allah says:
ادْعُ إِلَىٰ سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ ۖ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ
“Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching and argue with them in a way that is better.” (Surat al-Nahl 16:125)
We sometimes escape from the painful reality of our own wrongdoing, resorting to denial, repression, and projection. Awareness of our wrongs is the first step to change, but it is not enough. We need to feel a deep sense of remorse, turn to God in repentance, followed by the decision to change our inner state. When one feels such guilt, it is prudent to consult a wise elderly person, not necessarily a professional therapist, in order to relieve oneself of the anxiety, as well as to seek advice and guidance. The correct way is to confess one’s mistake and to find a way to compensate for it.
Allah Almighty says in The Holy Quran:
- Allah ever watches over you.” (Quran, 4:l)
- “Those who restrain their anger.” (Quran 3:134)
- “Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Quran 13:28)
- “O You who believe, turn to God in true, sincere repentance.” (Quran 66:8)
- “He who pardons and makes peace, his reward is with God.” (Quran 42:40)
- “So forgive with a most gracious forgiveness [without grudge].” (Quran 15:85)
- “So rejoice in your deal which you have pledged with. And that is the ultimate success.” (9:111)
Allah’s final message to mankind, Islam is not just a worship program, but a comprehensive, intelligent, and practical life system. Pardon is sweeter than revenge. Pardon leads to gratitude while revenge leads to regret. This is a divine quality to be emulated, albeit at the human level. Faith in divine providence enables us to see the bigger picture. We will not be depressed over small harms if we can see the overall good of God’s bounties. Allah says:
وَقَالُوا أَآلِهَتُنَا خَيْرٌ أَمْ هُوَ مَا ضَرَبُوهُ لَكَ إِلَّا جَدَلًا بَلْ هُمْ قَوْمٌ خَصِمُونَ
“And they said, “Are our gods better or he?” Not they present it to you except (for) argument. Nay, they (are) a people argumentative.” (Surah Az-Zukhruf 43:58 )
If we turn our gaze to the heavens, away from the material world, we will not suffer that much. We can enjoy the material goods of the world, but should not be so attached to them, lest we suffer grief because of their loss. If we realize that our happiness does not depend on the ephemeral things of this world, we will learn to cope with their loss without feeling depressed. These things should be in our hands, but not in our hearts.
وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ مَا هُوَ شِفَاءٌ وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَلَا يَزِيدُ الظَّالِمِينَ إِلَّا خَسَارًا
“And We send down of the Qur’an that which is healing and mercy for the believers, but it does not increase the wrongdoers except in loss.” (Surah Al-Isra 17:82)
Allah individually speaks to our emotional states to comfort us in this life and the next. At the same time, know that the Qur’an was revealed to help us cope with our varying emotional states—be they negative or positive. If we did not understand pain then how would we appreciate comfort? Without sadness how would we recognize happiness? Without anger how would we know joy? Many times we do not know the mercy hidden in our pain. Allah says:
وَلَقَدْ صَرَّفْنَا فِي هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنِ لِلنَّاسِ مِن كُلِّ مَثَلٍ وَكَانَ الْإِنسَانُ أَكْثَرَ شَيْءٍ جَدَلًا
“And We have certainly diversified in this Quran for the people from every [kind of] example; but a man has ever been, most of anything, [prone to] dispute.” (Surah Al-Kahf 18:54 )
Humans must cultivate God-fearing, while God bestows mercy/compassion and love, or anger and displeasure. Believers are distinguished by their emotional sensitivity to God’s word, and their ability to form an emotional attachment to God, and thus emotional control is a key pietistic practice. May Allah makes us of those who read his book and seek to understand ourselves through it in light of the guidance He has revealed to us. Ameen.