2. Diseases of the Power of Anger and Their Treatment

As already said, the Power of Anger has three states: deficiency, moderation, and excess; each of which will now be discussed in detail.

a. The Condition of Excess:

Foolhardiness: Foolhardiness, a disease of the Power of Anger, is reckless entrance into dangerous and deadly situations despite the warnings of both reason and religion.

The Holy Quran explicitly forbids it when it says:

....and cast not yourselves by your own hands into destruction ....(2:195)

The way to cure foolhardiness is to think carefully before embarking on any particular course of action to see whether reason and religion approve of it or not. If it meets their approval, one may act upon it, but he must abstain from it if disapproved by any one of them. It may even be necessary for him to abstain from actions in which the amount of danger is not great, so as to curtail his propensity for foolhardiness.

He must maintain this course until he is certain that he has been completely cured of the vice, and until the condition of moderation, namely courage, has been reached. Once he has reached this state, he must try to preserve it.

b. The Condition of Deficiency:

Cowardice: Cowardice is timidity under circumstances which call for immediate violent action. Cowardice, the opposite of angry and violent temper, results in a feeling of inferiority, irresolution, melancholy, and lack of self-confidence. In a tradition attributed to the Holy Prophet, it is stated:

O God, I seek Thy refuge from miserliness and cowardice.

The way to treat the disease of cowardice is to stimulate anger and violent temper in oneself, and take a violent course of action when it is not too dangerous to do so, until the soul arrives at the state of courage, which is the moderate condition of the Power of Anger. He must then be on his guard not to move out of the state of moderation towards the condition of excess.

c. The Condition of Moderation:

Courage: Courage is the manifestation of the Power of Anger in its state of moderation, and is defined as subservience of the Power of Anger to the Power of Intellect. This subservience is a most admirable trait, and is the cause of numerous spiritual virtues. It is attained after successful struggle against foolhardiness and cowardice as the result of constant perseverance and exercise.

Other Vices of the Power of Anger

The Power of Anger may be afflicted with seventeen different vices, which we shall now describe in brief.

1. Fear (khawf)

Fear is an uneasy expectation that something unpleasant might happen. For example, one may be afraid of boarding a ship or sleeping all alone in a house. It is clear that there is a difference between cowardice and fear.

Fear is of two kinds. Firstly, there is the fear of God and fear of sins and Divine punishment. Secondly, there is the fear of things other than God. The first kind of fear is praiseworthy, and leads man to perfection; whereas the second kind of fear is an undesirable vice brought about by the disease of cowardice.

Inappropriate fear is caused by the possibility that something unpleasant might happen either to oneself or something or someone dear to one. For example, one may be afraid of death, fatal danger, dead bodies, demons, etc. The root cause of these fears is spiritual weakness, which can be removed by self-examination.

For example, if one realizes that he can do nothing to avert a certain or probable danger of death and that fear is of no use .in averting it, he will gradually lose his fear. If his fear of death is caused by an inordinate love of the world and material things, he must reduce this attachment.

Some fears have imaginary causes, such as the fear of darkness and dead bodies. In such cases, one should put aside one's fancies and strengthen one's soul.

The appropriate and praiseworthy kind of fear is that of the majesty and greatness of God. This fear is also called khashyah or rahbah. It is also the fear of sins one has committed and their punishment. The greater such fear is, the greater the contribution it can make towards one's spiritual development and perfection. Moreover, the greater and the deeper one's understanding and knowledge of God is, the greater his fear of His power shall be. The Holy Quran says:

....Even so only those of His servants fear God who have knowledge .... (35:28)

Thus in accounts of the lives of saints, we find that occasionally they would faint because of the intensity of their fear of God.

Intense fear of God is the best controlling force over human spirit; because it weakens lustful and selfish desires, keeps the self from rebellion and sin, and tames the human heart into submission to Divine commands. Furthermore, fear of God annihilates all other fears, making one strong in confronting injustice, tyranny, and oppression. Speaking of such people, the Holy Quran says:

....theirs is safety; and they are rightly guided. (6:82)


....So fear not mankind, but fear Me ....(5:44) 


....God is well pleased with them, and they are well pleased with Him; that is for him who fears his Lord. (98:8) 


But as for him who feared the Station of his Lord and forbade his soul from lust, surely Paradise shall be the refuge. (79:40-41) 

And the Prophet (S) is reported to have said: 

Whoever fears God, He will make all things fear him; whoever is not afraid of God, He will cause him to be afraid of everything.

There are many Quranic verses as well as traditions about the merits of being in fear of God; however, for the sake of brevity, we abstain from mentioning all of them here.

It must be kept in mind that even in fearing God one must be careful to stay within the bonds of moderation, so that it should not make one lose all hope in the mercy of God; since losing one's hope in the mercy and compassion of God is itself a great sin. The Quran says:

....And who despairs of the mercy of his Lord save those who are astray? (15:56) 

If the fear of God has been taken to such an extreme, then it must be counterbalanced with raja' or hope in the mercy of God; for, with the aid of the two wings of hope and fear an individual can ascend to the highest levels of human perfection. The Quran refers to this point in these words:

Tell My servants I am the All-Forgiving, the All-Compassionate, and that My chastisement is the painful chastisement. (15:49-50)

2. Self Depreciation or Inferiority Complex

This vice, caused by cowardice, is a condition that results when an individual lacking courage to interfere positively in important matters fails to carry out his social responsibilities such as persuading others to perform righteous action and forbidding them from evil deeds.

Treatment of this disease is the same as that which was described in the case of cowardice. The individual affected by this moral vice should know that a true believer in God is never subjected to disgrace, and that God has bestowed honour and dignity on the believer. The Holy Quran says:

....honour belongs to Allah and to His messenger and the believers .... (63:8)

There is a tradition which says:

God has assigned to the believer the duty to [suffer] everything except humiliation of his own self.

The characteristic opposite of self-depreciation is strength of character and self-respect; that is, one should acquire a temperament which is unaffected by anything pleasant or painful, either praise or blame. Imam al-Baqir (A) has been quoted as saying:

A true believer is firmer than a mountain.

In another tradition, he has been quoted as saying:

God has bestowed on the believer three qualities: honour in this world and the Hereafter, salvation in both the worlds, and fear of him in the hearts of the oppressors.

3. Diffidence

It means a feeling of inferiority which results in not making an effort to reach the heights of perfection open to the human being, and being content with lower and rudimentary attainments.

This is one of the consequences of self-depreciation. Its opposite is the trait of confidence, which is willingness to make effort in order to attain felicity in this world and the next and to attain perfection. The virtue of confidence is brought about by spiritual qualities of steadfastness, courage, and self-respect. Its treatment is subsidiary to that of the disease of cowardice, which is the mother of all vices in this class.