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.