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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Punjabi Wise Saying 4

aag nal ag naheen bujdhee
Fire is not put out by fire
(Anger is not put out by anger).

Recently, there was a fire down the street from me. Passing by the house while the firefighters were hard at work, , I wondered hat would have happened if the fire fighters had lit another fire to try to put out the original fire. Of course that would have been silly!

Similarly, in our daily lives we encounter many situations, where we might anger someone. It is easy to get angry in response but the better or the more sunnah way (i.e. "tmsw") is to remain calm and deal with the issue at hand (i.e. burn the fire out with proper chemicals).

Also having done a safety course where they asked us to put out simulated fires, I learnt that the proper ay to put out a fire is to aim the "fire extinguisher: at the root of the fire. So in real life you would aim your response to the root of the issue and if you cant do that at that point, then it is better to remain silent till you have the composure to analyze the issue at hand.

To get a better handle on the issue of anger, you can read my previous post on anger.


Anonymous said...

What excellent advice, and very well written :)

Ya Haqq!

khany said...

assalamou alaikum hammad,

i do not want to take away from the sentiment expressed in your post, however, deliberately lit fires are, in fact, an essential and indispensable technique in the firefighter's armory, specially when dealing with a large fire.
although i have no evidence for it, i believe the above mentioned fact is also the basis for the idiom 'fighting fire with fire' . fortunately, it seems we can extend your analogy to reflect greater wisdom.

when the fire (disagreement) is small and it threatens personnel and property dear to us then we can apply direct methods such as applying retardants and extinguishers at the root of the fire (remain calm and discuss core issues).

however, when the fire is widespread, dangerous and all-consuming, (oppression and injustice of an immense magnitude) then we are forced to 'fight fire with fire' (we do not quell our anger but channel it to fight oppression/injustice). applying retardants at the root of such wildfires (trying to reason with these oppressors) is next to impossible given their great extent and the rate at which they spread. the way to control such fires is to isolate them by deliberately initiating smaller controlled fires at the periphery to consume any fuel that the fire may use. in this manner by the time the main fire advances to these frontiers it will find no fresh fuel to propagate beyond the burnt perimeter.

Din said...

Jazakallah KHair Brother Irving!

Khany-you have expanded my analagy. If you do have uncontrollable anger ( i.e. wildfire) then the best way to fight that would be a controlled fire . YOu cant fight a wildfire with a wildfire but can with a controlled fire!

Anonymous said...

Interesting! The longer you take to extinguish the fire, the more damage it will cause. Similarly sometimes remaining silent about a disturbing issue,not cooling down the other person's anger causes more damage.It is not advisable to let the fire down on it owns when one is equipped to set it down.What if the fire ever grows and keeps burning until it gets to you?
So I would say,while you are seeking for the root of the fire, keep throwing water simultaneously to keep the fire down.

khany said...

salam din,

it just occured to me, by way of a discussion with my roommates, that sometimes diseases are also fought by way of vaccination. a vaccination contains live but weakened form of the pathogen. another instance of fighting 'fire' with 'fire'.

in the case of fighting a blaze with another, we aim to waste the fuel before the fire gets to it. however, in the case of the vaccination our goal is to develop capacity to fight bacteria/virii when the pathogen attacks.
in terms of human condition i liken the first strategy to 'eliminating' sources of weakness from our character before they lead us to the fire, e.g. eliminating the love of material goods which can lead us astray. the second strategy is akin to building patience as in fasting. we are dependent on food and we cannot eliminate our dependence on it. through fasting we can build self-discipline and endurance so that in times of dire need our hunger does not lead us to sin.