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Dealing with Anger

Sufyan Yunus                                 August 22, 2007


Assalamu alaikum.

Anger is an emotion that has no religion, race, gender, creed or political affiliation. It is an emotion we, as human beings, face every single day. Many are too quick to react to this emotion that holds a firm grip on our hearts, only causing the situation to escalate further into a path of destruction. It has a tremendous effect on those around us, but also on us; anger leaves a terrible imprint on our hearts, slowly and slowly causing it to sear. The Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said:

“Some are swift to anger and swift to cool down, the one characteristic making up or the other; some are slow to anger and slow to cool down, the one characteristic making up for the other; the best of you are those that are slow to anger and swift to cool down and the worst of you are those who are swift to anger and slow to cool down.” (Al-Tirmidhi Hadith: 1331)

But the question is how should we deal with anger? How can we try to change our characters so that we are slow to anger and swift to cool? Who do we turn to show us how to overcome our battle with anger? To these questions, there is only one simple solution to extinguish the inflamed heart: to follow the ways of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him).

Firstly, we must understand the why it is essential to control our anger. Ibn Umar (Allah be well pleased with him) said:

“There is nothing that is swallowed greater with Allah in reward than a slave of Allah who swallows and contains his rancour out of desire for the pleasure of Allah.” (Sahih Bukhari)

This hadith clearly shows that the main and most important reason to control our anger is to seek the pleasure of Allah (Glorified is He and Exalted). This, as Muslims, is our main purpose in life: that every single action that we do must always be done in order to please Allah (Glorified is He and Exalted). Therefore, if we have to obtain the pleasure of Allah, we have to try hard to prevent our anger to overtake our hearts.

Another reason that we should control our anger is because anger is one factor that can lead to the destruction of our very faith. Anger is an arrow that focuses on only one target: our Islam. One of the companions of the Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) name Bah bin Hakim (Allah be well pleased with him) narrated:

“The messenger of Allah (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said: Verily anger spoil’s faith just as aloes spoils honey.” (Sahih Bukhari).

This narration obviously shows that anger is in no manner beneficial to us, it only has a terrible consequence: the loss of our faith. Without Islam, we would be bare and nothing would be comparable to it to protect us.

One final reason that it is crucial to control our anger is to develop strength of mind and soul. The battle with anger is extremely exhausting and we regress to a state where we satisfy our nafs, or lower self and ego, immediately; that the best way to eradicate a stressing or difficult situation is to use anger. But we must remain steadfast to battle anger so that it will not run through our blood and reach our heart. Abu Hurairah (Allah be well pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said:

“The person who is strong is not strong because he can knock people down. The person who is strong is the one who controls himself when he is angry (Sahih Bukhari).”

This hadith shows us that a person is not strong because he has the physical means to demonstrate his dominance over others, but the man who is able to control himself when he is angry. This should motivate us to control our anger because in the eyes of the Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) we will be the strong ones. And if we remain in concord with this message of the Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him), then we are obeying Allah (Mighty and Majestic is He). And if we obey Allah (Glorified is He and Exalted), we obtain what we strive to do as servants of Allah (Glorified is He and Majestic): His Pleasure.

But now, one may wonder, “How do I control my anger?” And the simple answer is to learn and apply the character of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) on us. One way in which we can control our anger from taking over us is as the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said:

“When one of you is angry while standing let him sit down and if his anger goes away that is good; otherwise let him lie down (Abu Dawud).”

One may wonder how these techniques would be affective in controlling anger. As Ibrahim B. Syed, president of Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc wrote, anger management advisors in this time and age state that if one wishes to speak while angry, they should count to ten because it will give the person time to regroup their thoughts and become more clearheaded. This will surely cause the person to deal in this situation in a much rational manner. The same logic can be applied to the technique that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) advised us to use. If one is in a standing position when provoked, there is a great probability that the person will lash out. But if he sits down, he changes his posture, allowing him to be more comfortable and gather his thoughts together to deal with this situation in a sensible way. This is the same logic that can be applied when one is sitting down, who then changes his posture to lying down.

Another interpretation of this hadith by Shaykh Riyadh Ul Haq (Allah bless him) is that when we bring ourselves down from a state of standing to sitting, and if necessary, to lying down, we are attaching ourselves to our origin, to what we were made of. When we cling to the earth, we attach to the earth which is lowly, which is dirt, which is base, and then are able to calm down.

Another way in which we can control our anger is through wudhu or ablution. The Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said:

“Anger is from Shaitaan and Shaitaan has been created from fire. Since water extinguishes fire, therefore, when one of you is overtaken by anger let him make Wudhu” (Abu Dawud).

This technique is tremendously helpful because water is the only element that can extinguish fire. Therefore, when one’s heart is inflamed by anger, water must be used to purify oneself to a state of peace. And there is only one form of purity: wudhu. However, if someone is unable to perform wudhu, he can drink water, and if he cannot drink water, let him wash his face with water. The overall theme with this particular hadith is to purify oneself to be calm and be at ease, which is through water for its ability to put out fire.

Some may say that they cannot lie down or make wudhu for whatever reason there may be. And in order to eradicate anger without these methods, one can simply remain silent. The Prophet Muhammad said:

“A person should remain silent when he is angry” (Sahih Bukhari).

This may be the most difficult way to deal with anger, but this applies to what was mentioned above, that we must develop that sense of strength in order to use silence to control your anger. It is an immense struggle, but with the strength that we can develop, we can just use silence to overcome the influences that anger has upon us.

The fight against anger is truly a difficult one. It takes dedication and motivation to do so. But this difficult task should be worth it. We are trying to obtain the pleasure of Allah (Mighty and Majestic is He) when we attempt to control our anger. And if we obtain Allah’s pleasure, are we truly successful. As the Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) stated:

“Do not let your anger be destruction” (Sahih Bukhari).

So, inshaAllah, may we strive to control our anger from leading to further destruction in our lives and the lives of others. And may we be like those who are slow to anger yet swift to cool so that the raging fire that once clutched our hearts will loosen its fingers until it eventually lets it go.



Sufyan Yunus

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