One companion asked Prophet Muhammad SAW, Give me some advice by virtue of which I hope for good in the life hereafter, and He said, “Don’t be angry.” Another person asked, what will save me from the wrath of God, and he said, “Do not express your anger.” A third person asked three times, 0 Messenger of Allah, give me an order to do a short good deed, and he said, “Don’t be angry.” Once he asked a question of his companion, “Who among you do you consider a strong man?” They said, the one who can defeat so-and-so wrestler in a fight, and he said, that is not so. The one who is strong is the one who can control himself at the time of anger. He also said that anger is like fire, which destroys you from within, and it can also lead you to the fire of hell by your own expressions of anger unjustly.
Being angry is similar to being drunk. In both cases, we do not know what we are doing, hurting ourselves or someone else, and afterwards when the intoxication is over, we repent.
Sheikh Hassan Al Basri said that one of the signs of the Believers is that his anger does not prevail over him.
Caliph Ali was once fighting in a war imposed on Muslims, and the chief of the Unbelievers confronted him. During the fight, the Ali was able to overcome him, who fell down on the ground and Ali was about to kill him. This person, knowing his fate now, had no choice so he spit on the face of Ali. Ali immediately got up and left him alone. The man came running to him and asked, “You had a chance to kill me since I am a Polytheist; how come you didn’t use your sword?” Ali said, “I have no personal animosity toward you. I was fighting you because of your disbeliever, on behalf of God. If I had killed you after you spat on my face, then it would have become my personal revenge which I do not wish to take.” That Unbeliever chief became a Muslim immediately and testified that ‘There is no god but Allah, and that Prophet Muhammad SAW is the Messenger of Allah’.
When Prophet Muhammad SAW became angry at someone else’s wrong actions or disbeliefs, he never expressed it with his hand or tongue. His companions knew that he was angry by just looking at his face, which would turn red and with some sweat on his forehead, and he would keep quiet for a moment, trying to control himself.
What happens to us physiologically when we are angry?
Our heart beats rate and blood pressure go up; this is a direct effect of excessive adrenalin in our system. Our physical strength increases although spiritual strength decreases. Our intellect or power to reason disappears, and things we would not justify in a normal state become acceptable.
How can we defeat anger?
To root out anger is impossible and unnatural, and may even be harmful. But what we should do is to control this feeling and do not let it lead us to what’s wrong and forbidden in our religion (Islam).
Firstly to avoid too much sensitivity that makes you “deaf, dumb and mute.” For some people getting engaged in something else that diverts their attention away from what’s angers them can be useful. For others, engaging in remembrance of God or meditation might work, but for common folk, they need some worldly tools.
Several Cures for Anger from the Sunnah
1. To say “Audhu billahi minashaytan nirajim.” [Bukhari, Muslim]
The first cure for anger was to say ta’wwudh [ie “audhu billahi minashaytan nirajeem”. ] This cure was given by the Prophet (saw) when a man showed anger in a situation where he was in front of the Prophet (saw). The Prophet (saw) said “I know something that if he says it, his anger will go away and this is “audhu billahi minashaytan nirajeem.” What does this have to do with curing anger? Since anger comes from shaytan, you should seek refuge with Allah from the accursed shaytan.
2. If he is standing, then he should sit. If the anger fails to subside, then he should lie down. [Abu Dawood]
The second cure which is mentioned in the hadeeth mentioned by Abu Dawood is that if a person is standing, he should sit and if his anger doesn’t go away, then he should lie down. This is a very important cure for anger. The Scholars say that the reason that the Prophet (saw) gave this cure is because that when a person is angry and he is standing he is more capable of taking revenge whereas if he sits down, he will be less able and if the anger still does not subside, then he should lay down which will prevent him from acting out in a manner that he will regret later one.
3. A person should remain silent. [Imam Ahmad]
The third cure that was mentioned was not speaking at the time of anger. Ibn Rajab ® declared this to be a very great cure that Rasulollah (saw) has mentioned since it is in the state of anger that a person states a lot of things that he or she may regret later on. Sometimes, regretting one’s actions will not help since once words are spoken, the damage will take effect. For example, a person in anger may question Allah (swt) or raise an objection (may Allah (swt) forbid this). In anger, a husband may divorce his wife. In anger, people say things that destroy relationships and may take years to rebuild. Breaking one’s heart is very easy while joining the hearts is very difficult. Damaging a relationship can be done with one word while building relationships may, in some cases, take years. That is why it is best to refrain from speaking when in anger and to wait until the anger subsides and speak in a calm manner so that a person does not regret what he is saying.
4. Make wudhu. [Abu Dawood]
5. Make ghusl [Abu Nuaim]
The fourth and fifth cures were in regards to making wudhu and taking a bath. Both of these things have to do with using water because some narrations indicate that anger is from shaytan and shaytan has been created from the fire and the way to extinguish this fire is to use water whether it is in the manner of making wudhu or taking a bath. Someone’s anger may go away by just making wudhu and someone else might have to take a bath in order for his anger to subside. A person can see also through experience that when he is angry, his body is very hot so that the way to cool him down is to put water over his body either through wudhu or through a bath.
We must remember one thing that what has been mentioned here is that the anger that has been mentioned here is the type of anger that is disliked in Islam since there are two types of anger. The first type is the anger which is disliked while the other is the type which is liked. The anger which is disliked is the one where a person takes revenge from someone because of himself or herself. The Prophet Muhammad SAW never did this and provided the cures for this type of anger which have been mentioned above. The type of anger which is liked is the type of anger when a person sees a commandment of Allah SWT and His Rasul SAW being broken. This is not only a sign of iman [faith] and liked but is also at times necessary. The Prophet Muhammad SAW became angry like this many times to the degree that his complexion would change.
May ALLAH forgive all our sins and help us control anger,May ALLAH protect us from hell fire and guide us. Ameen YRA