Reflections on ‘Revenge’ Part III

In the Name of God, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful

Besides arrogance and trying to alter the future, one of the most important themes of Episode III – throughout all six films, actually – is anger and the path down which it leads. From the very beginning of the saga, when Qui Gon Jinn wanted to train the young Anakin Skywalker, Yoda objected because of the fear within Anakin. A Jedi master told him, “Your thoughts dwell on your mother.”

“I miss her,” was Anakin’s reply.

“Afraid to lose her, I think,” said Yoda.

“What’s that got to do with anything?” quipped a feisty Anakin.

“Everything!” said Yoda. “Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate…leads to suffering.”

And that was the key, wasn’t it? Anakin’s fear of losing Padme – like he lost his mother before – ultimately led him to become a vicious agent of evil. That fear, however, did not endure. Anakin was quickly consumed by anger, which caused him to almost kill his beloved Padme with the Force.

Anger. It can be a powerful ally, but it is liable to quickly consume the individual and lead him or her down the path of the “Dark Side.” Uncontrolled anger can almost become a psychosis, clouding the judgment of the individual and causing him or her to do harmful, if not downright dangerous, things. Anger has caused traffic accidents, highway shootings, high school massacres, church burnings and bombings, hate crimes of all stripes, rapes, murders, you name it. How many of us – in the midst of our anger – have said horrible things that we never actually mean to those we dearly love? Although arrogance is at the root of all sin and evil, anger is a stalwart companion in many, if not all, crimes against other human beings.

That is why the Qur’an counts among the “righteous” those “who spend (freely), whether in prosperity or in adversity; [and] who restrain anger, and pardon others…” (3:134) [emphasis added]. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) once counseled a Companion, “Do not become angry.” When the Companion asked again for some advice, the Prophet again answered, “Do not become angry.” In addition, the Prophet told us that “the strong person is not the one who can wrestle others to the ground. The strong person, rather, is the one who can control himself when he becomes angry.”

Does this mean, however, that we should never become angry? No. First of all, the Qur’an is full of references of God’s anger, of which these are just a few:

If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (For ever): And the wrath and the curse of God are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him.“(4:93)

Punishment and wrath have already come upon you from your Lord…” (7:71).

Eat of the good things We have provided for your sustenance, but commit no excess therein, lest My Wrath should justly descend on you: and those on whom descends My Wrath do perish indeed!” (20:81)

If God becomes angry – and He is the source of everything in the universe – then it is only natural for human beings to also become angry. In addition, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) also became angry, and such instances are well-documented in his biography. So, what did the Prophet (pbuh) mean when he said “Do not become angry.” He meant, I believe, that we must never let our anger get out of control.

We can see this in the very verses and Prophetic traditions I cited. In verse 3:134, God praises the righteous because they “restrain [their] anger.” He did not say the righteous never become angry. The same is true for the Prophet’s saying about the strong ones: they are able to control themselves when they become angry. So, the righteous believer can become angry, but he or she never allows their anger to consume them.

In the Star Wars saga, the Jedi are not supposed to have any anger in their hearts, a very difficult standard indeed. But Episode III shows us why this is the case: anger can lead to hatred and evil. The same is true in the real world, but in the real world, there are probably very few people – if no people at all – who could never become angry. Succumbing to anger is part and parcel of the human condition. Thus, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) taught us what to do if we ever sense that our anger is beginning to get the best of us.

If our anger beings to consume us while standing, we should sit down. If this happens and we are sitting, we should lie down. Another safety mechanism the Prophet (pbuh) taught us to employ for protection from our own anger is wudu’, or the ritual ablution prior to prayer. The act of going to the wash basin (or washroom) and putting water (usually cold water) on your face, hands, arms, head, and feet not only soothes you, but makes you step back and reflect over the cause of your anger. It is a powerful weapon against being consumed by your anger.

One only wonders what would have happened if Anakin had learned to control his anger. Yet, I don’t think this would ever happen, because then there would be no Episode IV, V, and VI. Nevertheless, the lessons of Star Wars are universal: while anger is a part of the human condition, it must be restrained and controlled, lest it leads to evil, both in word and deed. It is a challenge, no doubt, but it is one which can only make every one of us a much better person in the end.


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