Anger is a tendency that comes from the Shaitan. Only Allah (SWT) knows how much evil and sin results from it. Hence Islam has a great deal to say about this negative characteristic and the Prophet (SAW) described remedies for ridding oneself of this problem and limiting its effects. These include the following:
Seeking refuge with Allah from the Shaitan. Sulaymaan ibn Sard said: “I was sitting with the Prophet (SAW), and there were two men swearing at one another. One of them was red in the face and the veins of his neck were standing out. The Prophet (SAW) said: ‘I know a word which, if only he would say it, this (anger) would leave him. If he said, “A’oodhu billaahi min al-shaytaan (I seek refuge with Allah from the Shaitan),”, this [anger] would leave him.’” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, 6/377).
He (SAW) also said:
“If a man gets angry and says ‘A’oodhu billah (I seek refuge with Allah),’ his anger will cease.” (Saheeh al-Jaami’ al-Sagheer, no. 695).
Keeping quiet. The Messenger (SAW) said:
“If any one of you gets angry, let him keep quiet.” (Reported by Imaam Ahmad, al-Musnad, 1/239; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 693, 4027).
Anger usually makes a person lose control, often to the extent that he may utter words of kufr (Allah forbid), or curses, or the word of divorce (talaq) which will destroy his family, or foul language that will earn him the enmity of others. Keeping quiet is the way to avoid all of these evils.
Keeping still. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:
“If any one of you gets angry, let him sit down if he is standing. If his anger goes away, (that is good), otherwise let him lie down.”
The narrator of this hadeeth was Abu Dharr (RA), who told the following story: he was watering his animals at a trough, when some other people came along. He said, “Who among you will help Abu Dharr to water his animals and ….?” A man said, “I will,” but he broke the trough. Abu Dharr was standing, so he sat down, then he lay down. Someone asked him, “O Abu Dharr, why did you sit down then lie down?” He said, “Because the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said … [and quoted the Hadith].” (The Hadith with the whole story is reported in Musnad Ahmad, 5/152. See also Saheeh al-Jaami’, no. 694).
According to another report, Abu Dharr (RA) was watering his animals at a trough when another man made him angry, so he sat down… (Fayd al-Qadeer al-Mannaawi, 1/408).
One of the benefits of this Prophetic teaching is that it prevents the angry person from doing something crazy and out of control. An angry person could inflict harm or even kill – as we shall see shortly – or he could destroy property and so on. Sitting down makes it less likely that he will explode in this fashion, and lying down makes it even less likely that he will do something reckless or harmful. Al-‘Allaamah al-Khattaabi (may Allah have mercy on him) said in his commentary on Abu Dawood: “The one who is standing is ready to move and destroy things. The one who is sitting is less likely to do so, and the one who is lying is not able to do anything of the sort. It seems that the Prophet (SAW) commanded the angry person to sit down or lie down in order to prevent him from doing anything that he would later regret. And Allaah knows best.” (Sunan Abi Dawood wa ma’ahu ma’aalim al-sunan, 5/141)
Remembering the advice of the Messenger of Allah (SAW). Abu Hurayrah (SAW) reported that a man came to the Prophet (SAW) and said: “Advise me.” He said: “Do not become angry.” The man repeated his request several times, and each time the response was, “Do not become angry.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, Fath al-Baari, 10/465).
According to another report, the man said, “I thought about what the Prophet (SAW) had said, and I realized that anger is the source of all evil.” (Musnad Ahmad, 5/373).
“Do not get angry, and Paradise will be yours.” (A saheeh hadeeth. Saheeh al-Jaami’, 7374. Ibn Hajar attributed it to al-Tabaraani. See al-Fath, 4/465).
Remembering what Allah (SWT) has promised to those who avoid the causes of anger and strive to control themselves is the best way to extinguish the flames of anger. The Prophet (SAW) has told us about this great reward:
“Whoever suppresses his anger at the time when he could express it openly, Allah will fill his heart with contentment on the Day of Resurrection.” (Reported by al-Tabaraani, 12/453; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 176).
Another immense reward is described in the Hadith: “Whoever suppresses his anger when he is able to vent it, Allah will call him before all the people on the Day of Resurrection and let him choose whoever of the hoor al-‘iyn he wishes.” (Reported by Abu Dawood, 4777, and others. Classed as hasan in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 6518).
Knowing the high rank and distinction that is bestowed upon the one who controls himself. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said,
“The strong man is not the one who can wrestle another to the ground; the strong man is the one who can control himself when he is angry.” (Reported by Ahmad, 2/236. The hadeeth is agreed upon).
The more angry a person gets, the more highly valued is his self-control. The Prophet (SAW) said:
“The real strong man is the one who gets intensely angry, so that his face reddens and his hair stands on end, but he suppresses his anger.” (Reported by Imaam Ahmad, 5/367; classed as hasan in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3859).
The Prophet (SAW) used an incident that took place in front of his Sahabah as an opportunity to reinforce this lesson. Anas (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) passed by some people who were wrestling, and asked, “What is this?” They told him, “So-and-so is a strong man. No one challenges him but he beats them at wrestling.” The Prophet (SAW) said,
“Shall I not tell you who is stronger than him? A man who is mistreated by another, but suppresses his anger, has defeated his own shaytan and the shaytan of the one who mistreated him.” (Reported by al-Bazzaar. Ibn Hajar said that its isnaad is hasan. Al-Fath, 10/519).
Following the guidance of the Prophet (SAW) with regard to anger.
He is our example, and his attitude towards anger is clearly demonstrated in many ahaadeeth, of which one of the most famous was reported by Anas (RA), who said: “I was walking with the Messenger of Allah (SAW), and he was wearing a Najraani cloak with a stiff collar. He was accosted by a Bedouin who pulled his cloak roughly. I looked at the Prophet’s (SAW) neck and saw the marks left by the collar. The Bedouin said: ‘O Muhammad, give me some of the wealth of Allah that you have!’ The Prophet (SAW) turned to him and smiled, and ordered that he should be given something.” (Reported by al-Bazzaar. Ibn Hajar said that its isnaad is hasan).
Another way in which we may follow the example of the Prophet (SAW) is by making our anger for the sake of Allah (SWT), when the limits set by Allah (SWT) are violated. This is the worthy kind of anger. The Prophet (SAW) became angry when he was told about the imaam who was putting people off praying because his recitation was too long. He became angry when he saw a curtain decorated with pictures of animate creatures in ‘Aisha’s (RA) house. He became angry when Usamah (RA) spoke to him about the Makhzoomi woman who was guilty of theft, and said to him, “Are you interceding concerning one of the punishments prescribed by Allah?” He became angry when he was asked questions he disliked. His anger was only for the sake of Allah (SWT).
Knowing that suppressing anger is one of the signs of taqwa (piety).
Allah (SWT) has praised certain people in His Book, and the Prophet (SAW) highly commended them. There have been prepared for them Gardens as wide as the heavens and the earth. One of their characteristics is that they
“… spend (in Allah’s Cause – deeds of charity, alms, etc.) in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers).” (Al-Imran 3:134)
These are the people whose good qualities Allaah has mentioned, people whom others admire and want to catch up with. Another of their characteristics is that
“…when they are angry, they forgive.” (Ash-Shura 42:37)
Paying attention when one is reminded.
Anger is something natural, with regard to which people differ. It may be very hard for a person not to get angry, but a sincere person, if he becomes angry and is reminded about Allah (SWT), will remember Him and will stay within the limits that He has prescribed. Some examples of this follow.
Ibn ‘Abbaas (RA) reported that a man asked permission to see ‘Umar (RA), and permission was given. The man said, “O son of al-Khattaab, by Allah, you are not giving us much, and you are not ruling us fairly!” ‘Umar (RA) became so angry that he was about to hit the man, but al-Hirr ibn Qays (who was among the people sitting with ‘Umar) said, “O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, Allah said to His Prophet (SAW):
‘Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish (i.e., don’t punish them).’ (Al-A’raf 7:199),
and this man is one of the foolish.” By Allah, ‘Umar (RA) did not take the matter any further when this was recited to him. He adhered to the words of Allah (SWT) (Reported by al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, 8/304).
This is how the Muslim should be, not like the evil hypocrite who, when he got angry and was told about the hadeeth of the Prophet (SAW), and was advised by one of the Companions of the Prophet (SAW) to seek refuge with Allaah from the Shaytaan, said, “Do you think there is something wrong with me? Do you think I am crazy? Go away!” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, 1/465).
We seek refuge with Allah (SWT) from failure. Ameen!
Knowing the bad effects of anger.
The bad effects of anger are many, harming both the self and others. A person may swear and utter obscenities, and may hit others, lashing out with no control. It may even lead to killing. The following story contains a lesson.
‘Alqamah ibn Waa’il reported that his father (may Allah be pleased with him) told him: “I was sitting with the Messenger of Allah (SAW) when a man came along, leading another by a twisted rope. He said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, this man killed my brother.’ The Messenger of Allah (SAW) asked, ‘Did you kill him?’ He said, ‘Yes, I killed him.’ He asked, ‘How did you kill him?’ He said, ‘He and I were hitting trees to make the leaves fall (so we could use them for animal fodder). He swore at me, so I got angry and hit him on the side of the head with an axe, and I killed him.’…” (Reported by Muslim in al-Saheeh, 1307).
Even if anger does not go as far as this, there may still be broken bones and injuries. If the person with whom a man is angry runs away, he may turn his anger upon himself, tearing his clothes, slapping his cheeks, falling unconscious, or breaking dishes and furniture.
One of the worst things that result from anger and cause social ills and family breakdown is talaq (divorce). Ask many of those who have divorced their wives how and when it happened, and they will tell you, “It was in a moment of anger.”
Lives are shattered and children are lost as a result. Feelings of regret and failure haunt people’s minds, and life becomes bitter – all because of anger. If only they had remembered Allah (SWT) and come back to their senses, restrained their anger and sought refuge with Allah (SWT) from the Shaitan, what happened would not have happened. Going against shari’ah only ever results in loss.
The physical harm that results from anger is very serious, as the doctors describe, such as thrombosis, high blood pressure, fatal heart attacks, diabetes, etc.
We ask Allah (SWT) for good health. Ameen!
The angry person should think about himself at the time of anger.
If the angry person could see himself in the mirror at the time of anger, he would despise himself and how he looks when his color changes, he shakes uncontrollably, his face reddens, the veins of his neck stand out and he behaves like a crazy person. He would be put off by his own appearance, but it is well known that the ugliness that exists inside a person is even worse than any that may appear on the outside. How happy the Shaitan must be when someone is in this state!
We seek refuge with Allah (SWT) from the Shaitan and from failure. Ameen!
This is the believer’s constant weapon. He asks his Lord to rid him of evils, problems and bad characteristics, and he seeks refuge with Allah (SWT) from falling into the pit of kufr and wrongdoing caused by anger, because one of the three qualities which will save a person from Hellfire is being just and fair both at times of contentment and at times of anger. (Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3039). One of the du’aa’s of the Prophet (SAW) was:
“Allaahumma bi ‘ilmika’l-ghaybi wa qudratika ‘ala’l-khalqi aheeni ma ‘alimta’l-hayaata khayran li, wa tawaffani idha ‘alimta’l-wafaata khayran li. Allaahumma wa as’aluka khashyataka fi’l-ghaybi wa’l-shahaadah, wa as’aluka kalimat al-ikhlaasi fi’l-ridaa wa’l-ghadab, wa as’aluka’l-qasda fi’l-faqri wa’l-ghinaa, wa as’aluka na’eeman la yanfad, wa qurrata ‘aynin la tanqati’, wa as’aluka’l-ridaa bi’l-qadaa’, wa as’aluka bard al-‘aysh ba’d al-mawt, wa as’aluka ladhdhat al-nadhr ila wajhika wa’l-shawqa ilaa liqaa’ik, fi ghayri darraa’ mudirrah wa laa fitnati mudillah. Allaahumma zayyinnaa bi zeenati’l-eemaan wa’j’alnaa hudaatan muhtadeen”
(O Allah, by Your knowledge of the Unseen and Your power over all creation, keep me alive so long as You know life is good for me, and bring about my death when you know death is good for me. O Allah, I ask You to make me fear You in secret and in the open, I ask You to make me speak sincerely at times of contentment and at times of anger, I ask You to make me be moderate in poverty and in wealth, I ask You for a blessing that does not end, contentment that never ceases, and for acceptance of Your decree. I ask You for a good life after death, and I ask You for the joy of looking upon Your face and the longing to meet You, with no harmful adversity or misleading trial (fitnah). O Allah, adorn us with the beauty of faith, guide us and let us be a means of guidance for others).” (Reported by al-Nisaa’i in al-Sunan, 3/55; and by al-Haakim. Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1301).
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds.