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What measures have traditions prescribed for nervous relaxation and mental calmness?

What measures have traditions prescribed for nervous relaxation and mental calmness?

If a person controls his nerves and temper, he does not get irritated and angry. This has been referred to in the verses and traditions as "kazm al-ghayz" (lit. swallowing one's anger). God, the Exalted, considers controlling nerves or swallowing one's anger and forgiveness to be one of the most important traits of pious and virtuous people. He says: "Those who spend (of that which Allah hath given them) in ease and in adversity, those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind; Allah loveth the good."
Some important ways to control nerves, anger and rage are the following:
1. Seeking refuge in God
2. Ablutions with cold water
3. To stay away from anything that causes anger and rage
4. Patience
5. Dua and invocation
6. Prayer and remembrance of Allah
Patience, supplication, repentance, prayer and remembrance of Allah are the main factors that play a significant role in creating peace of mind, serenity and calm. When it comes to prayer (salat), we must say that prayer which is remembrance of God revives the soul and eliminates anxiety, stress and leads to serenity of the mind.

Detailed Answer
Relaxation strategies in individual and social life according to traditions:
There are many factors involved in creating peace, tranquility and mental calmness. Some of those factors are pointed out as under:
1. Patience: Arabic lexicographers suggest that the root ṣ-b-r, of which ṣabr is the nomen action, means to bind or restrain oneself against complaining and expressing grievances while encountering abominable things.[1] Patience helps remove sadness and bring peace of mind to the individual. The Commander of the Faithful, Ali (a.s.) says: "Repel sadness from yourself with patient will and good certainty."[2]
A believer who believes in the rewards for being patient, tries to do away with apprehension and sadness by being patient because he believes that "only the patient will be paid back their reward in full without measure."[3]
More importantly, the believer believes that he has been bestowed with divine blessing. That is why, he does not see any reason to be sad because God says: "Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere, who say, when afflicted with calamity: "To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return."[4]
2. Dua and invocation: Dua is like a spring of delicious water and a believer can satiate himself on it whenever he wishes. Just as fish cannot survive without water, similarly dua is like water for a believer without which he cannot live. A person engages in dua, in fact, speaks to God, invoking Him, uttering his problems to Him and seeking refuge in Him. The main outcome of dua is divine nearness, tranquility, peace and serenity. When a believer's dua attains perfect sincerity and deep devotedness, then God has mercy and grants his/her wish.
A psychologist says: "Now-a-days, one of the sciences, i.e. psychology, teaches those concepts which the prophets taught, why? Because psychologists and psychiatrists have found out that dua, prayer and a strong belief in religion, remove all apprehension, anxiety, excitement and fear which lead to many difficulties in our lives."[5]
Dua is a source of comfort and tranquility of the heart and mind. It wipes out pain and sorrow and causes man to feel that he has a strong shelter or someone who supports him. Imam Sadiq, peace be upon him, says: "Whenever something saddened my father, Imam Baqir (a.s.), he would bring women and children together whereupon he would supplicate."[6]
3. Prayer: In the Holy Quran, God, the Exalted, introduces a cure for all anxieties and stress saying that remembrance of Him is a comfort for hearts. He says: "Those who believe and whose hearts are set at rest by the remembrance of Allah; now surely by Allah's remembrance are the hearts set at rest."[7]
One of the perfect manifestations of ‘remembrance' (zikr) is prayer and God, the Exalted, says that one of the concepts of prayer is that it revives the remembrance of God in the hearts: "So serve Me and establish worship for My remembrance."[8]
One whose heart is strengthened by remembrance of God enjoys spiritual and mental tranquility; he is not afraid of anything other than God; he is hopeful and at rest because he relies on God's power and greatness. Divine light has illuminated his heart and remembrance of God has caused him serenity and confidence. Regarding the secrets of prayer, God, the Exalted, says in Chapter al-Me'araj verse 20: "Surely man is created of a hasty temperament; (he is) fretful when evil touches him; and niggardly when good befalls him; not so those devoted to Prayer, those who remain steadfast to their prayer ..."[9] They are the one's who have suppressed the nature and revived their God-gifted fitrah. The virtue of prayer is that it revives fitrah. [10] That is why, it is prayer and remembrance of God that revives the heart and mind and causes mental relief and tranquility.
4. Repentance: Feeling sinful is a cause of great fatigue for the soul leading to frustration and disappointment in life. The sinner feels that his life is absurd and that he is very much worried and apprehensive about losing the motivation for continuing his life. The Commander of the Faithful, Ali (a.s.) says: "What a ring (circular band of metal) is the ring of sins."[11]
Feeling sinful always engages the mind. The sinner continues to think of how to get rid of this metal ring. This very thought stresses him and deprives him of peace and calm. True repentance causes all of the otherworldly punishments entailed by sins and their negative outcomes to be erased in Allah's eyes. It makes him not to feel sinful anymore because repentance causes the sins to be forgiven and his hope to be strengthened in God's satisfaction. Repentance is, in fact, returning to God, the Exalted, and it is for the same reason that it helps reduce stress and anxiety.[12]
Ways to control nerves:
If a person controls his nerves and temper, he does not get irritated and angry. This has been referred to in the verses and traditions as "kazm al-ghayz" (lit. swallowing one's anger). God, the Exalted, considers controlling nerves or swallowing one's anger and forgiveness to one of the most important traits of pious and virtuous people. He says: "Those who spend (of that which Allah hath given them) in ease and in adversity, those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind; Allah loveth the good."[13]
The word "كظم" (kazm) which has been mentioned in this tradition has numerous meanings, however its original meaning is to tightly seal the top of a flask. It is also used in the meaning of swallowing one's anger since when a person becomes upset, it is said that his anger 'spills out of him.'
The word "ghayz" means extreme anger or wrath and extraordinary mental exasperation which one experiences as a result of witnessing and experiencing difficulties. Anger is an emotion related to one's psychological interpretation of having been offended, wronged, or denied and a tendency to react through retaliation.
The state of anger is one of the most dangerous states that overtake man and if he is unable to control himself in this condition he is likely to become almost a lunatic whereby he fails to check himself. Consequently he commits such serious deeds that can put him to a life long shamefulness and restlessness. For this reason, in the above verse, the second brilliant trait of the pious is to swallow and control their anger.[14]
In the Quran and traditions, never is anger by itself considered as something evil because anger is divided into holy and unholy types. Holy anger is praiseworthy and it is one of the divine attributes because He is referred to as Al-Qahhar (The Subduer) and Al-Jabbar (The Compeller). The reality of anger, the faculty that God has created in man's nature, is very praiseworthy. God Almighty has created in man what is needed for his development and perfection. Therefore, if anger is balanced and in the way of truth, not only is it praiseworthy but it also entails divine satisfaction.
And it is recorded from the Amirul Momineen (a.s.): The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) did not ever become angry for this world, and whenever he became angry for the sake of truth, he never recognized anyone and never slackened his anger until he helped him who was truthful.[15]
A pious man becomes angry only in the way of truth and because of divine and public rights being violated and he does not exceed divine limits and the boundary of faith.
The holy Quran ascribes unnecessary resentment and anger to the era of ignorance and considers calmness and composure in the time of anger to be particular to the Messenger of God (pbuh) and believers. It reminds us of the fact that restfulness is a divine gift whereas anger and fanaticism out of ignorance is the outcome of false thoughts and wrong actions of unbelievers. It says: "When those who disbelieve had set up in their hearts zealotry, the zealotry of the Age of Ignorance, then Allah sent down His peace and tranquility upon His messenger and upon the believers and imposed on them the word of self-restraint, for they were worthy of it and meet for it."[16]
God teaches us through this verse that the culture of Jahiliyah (Ignorance) involves "zeal", "prejudice", "anger" and ignorant anger but Islam's culture is "tranquility", "calmness" and self-control". If a person controls his anger and temperament, he gradually succeeds in containing his anger. In addition to the above, the following points can be helpful in curing anger, rage and resentment:
a) In order to cure the problem of anger and rage, we must, before everything else, be alarmed that Satan has overcome, so we must seek refuge in God. When a question concerning anger was raised in the presence of Imam Baqir (a.s.), the Imam said: "Verily an angry man does not become pleased and his anger will not subside until he enters fire. So, in order for a person not to do inappropriate actions during anger, whenever he is enraged, he should sit down immediately, if he is standing so that he should avert the meanness of Satanic temptation. And whenever he gets angry at a relative, he should go to him and stroke his body because if his relative is stroked, he feels at rest."[17]
b) Making wudhu (ablution) with cold water: The Noble Prophet (S) has said, "Anytime one of you gets angry, he should wash his face with cold water since surely anger is from the hell fire."[18]
c) Contemplating and pondering over the traditions which praise controlling and swallowing of anger as well as forgiveness and tolerance such as this tradition in which the Holy Prophet of Islam says: "Whoever controls his anger, God will protect him from His punishment."[19]
d) He should keep away from things that may cause him to get infuriated e.g. enmity with others, greed, arrogance, haughtiness etc.[20]

[1] Lesan al-Arab, word ‘sabr'; Naraqi, Mullah Ahmed, Me'raj al-Sa'adah, p. 613 and 614, Javidan Publications.
[2] Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Behar al-Anwar, vol.74, p. 211, Beirut, Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi.
[3] Al-Zumar, 10.
[4] Al-Baqarah, 155 - 156.
[5] Makarem Shirazi, Naser, Tafsir Namunah, vol.1, p. 642, p. 642, Tehran, Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyah, 1363 (1984).
[6] Qummi, Shaykh Abbas, Safinat al-Behar, vol.1, p. 447, Sanai Bookstall Publications.
[7] - Ra'd (Thunder), 28.
[8] Ta-Ha, 14.
[9] Al-Maarij, 20 - 24.
[10] Javadi Amuli, Abdullah, Asrar ‘Ibadat, p. 41.
[11] Tamimi Amadi, Abdul Wahid, bin Muhammad, Ghurar al-Hekam, p. 185, Tehran, University of Tehran, 1373 (1994).
[12] Nejati, Muhammad Uthman, Quran and Psychology, p. 376, Mashad, Aastan Quds Razavi, 1373 (1994).
[13] Aal-e Imran, 134.
[14] Tafsir Nomunah, vol.3, p. 97.
[15] Behar al-Anwar, vol.16, p. 149; Naraqi, Mullah Ahmed, Me'raj al-Sa'adah, p. 236, Hijrat Publications Institute, Sarwar Printing House, 8th edition, 1381 (2002).
[16] Al-Fath (conquest), 26.
[17] Kulayani, Muhammad bin Ya'qub, Al-Kafi, Chap. Al-Ghazab, vol.2, p. 302.
[18] Al-Hekam al-Zahera (with translation by Ansari), p. 586; Shubbar, Sayyid Abdullah, Ethics, translated by Muhammad Reza Jabbaran, p. 250, Hijrat Publications Institute, Sarawar Printing House, 12th edition, 1386 (2007).
[19] Behar al-Anwar, vol.70, p. 280; Ethics, p.251.
[20] Me'raj al-Sa'adah, p. 238.


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