Controlling Anger


Controlling Anger


By Rashad Abdul Muhaimin


            Many of us have found ourselves in circumstances that were detrimental to us yet because of the inability to control our emotions, we found ourselves victims of our own anger. Allowing our frustrations to take hold of us and control us is one of the many ways the rejected one, Satan, is able to beguile us with his whisperings. If we lose our faculties of reason and allow rage to dictate our responses to the environment around us, we become more vulnerable to falling into that which Allah has forbidden. We will respond the way our desires would want us to respond and we can easily forget the parameters of our religion. That is why it is very important, as a protection of our religion that we learn to control anger. And we seek refuge in Allah from the deception of Satan and his whisperings.

Indeed, the control of anger stems from the practice of patience.  As Allah says,

Seek help in patience and the prayer. Truly, Allah is with those who have patience. [2:153]

It is a test of ones patience that we are able to interact with others and deal with them, even if we hear things which disturb us from them. It is from the practice of having patience with others that we control our anger and pardon people for the things that they may do or say to us. We will certainly have to be in the company of those we do not necessarily agree with, those who have personalities that simply do not mesh with ours, or any number of reasons that may cause some type of conflict between people. However, if we respond in anger, we respond from our own personal preferences and not from that of Islam. In fact, we could be in opposition to what is in the Qur’an and the Sunnah and the person we are disputing with could be correct. Anger can only irritate something that could have possibly been resolved easily. There will be situations when people of ignorance may address us. How do we respond? Do we respond in kind – displaying the same level of ignorance? Or do we respond as Allah commands His worshippers to respond? Allah, The Most Beneficent, says about his worshippers;

And the slaves of the Most Beneficent (Allah) are those who walk on the earth in humility and sedateness, and when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply back with mild words of gentleness. [25:63]

There will be those who oppose us in our religion. Allah, The All Mighty has already informed us of this so we should not become angry in our responses to them – as if it has come as a surprise to us. Indeed, Our Lord has already given us their responses before they respond, their actions before they act, their thoughts before they think – so what will be our recourse of action? Concerning the Jews and Christians, Allah has clearly given us their position. So it should come as no surprise to us that they attempt to distort our way of life, slander our beloved Prophet صلىالله عليه وسلم, and wage war on Islam. But if we respond to them in anger, we run the risk of removing the blessing of Allah from ourselves because we have chosen our desires as our guide and not the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet صلىالله عليه وسلم. Allah has said about them;

Never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you till you follow their religion. Say: "Verily, the Guidance of Allah that is the (only) Guidance. [2:120]

So how can we become angry for that which we already know and should come to expect from them? It is only when we lose sight of this guidance and begin to fall in love with this world and are so caught up in seeking to please others that we are shocked when we are struck with a jolt of reality. Allah also says;

…and you shall certainly hear much that will grieve you from those who received the Scripture before you (Jews and Christians) and from those who ascribe partners to Allah, but if you persevere patiently, and become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious) then verily, that will be a determining factor in all affairs. [3:186]

We must have faith, which in turn will enable us to be patient, as we believe in the Words of the Almighty when He promises victory for Islam and the Believers.

They intend to put out the Light of Allah with their mouths. But Allah will complete His Light even though the disbelievers hate (it). [61:8]

The Prophetصلىالله عليه وسلم was once sitting with some companions who began to argue to the point where one of them was so angry that the veins in his neck were swollen. The Prophet صلىالله عليه وسلم said,”I know of a kalimah (a phrase) that if he were to say it, all of his rage would leave him and that kalimah is: A’udhu billahi min ash-shaytaanir-rajeem –I seek refuge in Allah from the rejected Satan.” [Bukhari, Muslim] This is because anger is fertile ground for Satan to plant the seeds of deception. As Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen states;

“…Satan ignites the fire within the heart of the son of Adam as would a firebrand with hot coals and in this way adds to our anger. As a result, man becomes feverish in his body, his veins swell and his face reddens and he says words without thinking as well as rushes to do actions without considering the consequences. [Sharh Riyadus-Saaliheen]

Anger is dangerous and should be avoided as is evident in the hadeeth of the Prophet صلىالله عليه وسلمwhen a man asked him to counsel him and the Prophet’s reply was, “Do not become angry.” And the man repeated the request many times but the Prophet’s response was still, “Do not become angry.” [Bukhari]

Also when Allah’s Messenger صلىالله عليه وسلم said;

“The strong man is not one who is good at wrestling, but the strong man is the one who controls himself in a fit of rage.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

This is because by becoming angry and losing patience, one is susceptible to falling into the haraam. The person who is extremely angry at his or her spouse is more vulnerable to commit adultery. The person who is extremely angry at another may put themselves in a position where they commit murder. The parent who becomes too angry at their children may go to extremes in discipline until it becomes abuse. And the worst type of anger is being angry at Allah and not being content with His decree to the point where either the heart, the tongue, or the limbs rebel against the authority of the Most High. This is how anger may in fact lead to disbelief. The scholars have mentioned that having patience is half of eemaan. And part of having patience is to be patient and content with the decree of Allah, the All-Powerful. Inherent within this is that one should not become angry at what Allah has decreed to happen to us and that our anger should never be directed at Allah, who is free of all defects and imperfections. As ibn al-‘Uthaymeen has pointed out in his explanation of Imam An-Nawawee’s classic work – Riyadus-Saaliheen, patience is composed of three things:

  1. Patience in obedience to Allah
  2. Patience in avoiding that which Allah has made haraam
  3. Having patience regarding the decree of Allah

Having patience upon the decree of Allah which may cause mankind some pain or discomfort is what is mentioned because the decree of Allah can be painful for mankind or it can be favorable. [Sharh Riyaadus-Saaliheen]  

If we are struck by a calamity it is indeed a test from Allah. So Allah commands us to be patient and in being patient is not becoming angry as the Prophet صلىالله عليه وسلم has instructed. And the worst form of anger is the anger that is directed at Allah, Most High. As we can see, even in what is apparently a very simple instruction – Do not become angry – contains wisdom that can potentially protect the heart from evil feelings towards our Lord, our tongues from evil words directed at Him, and our actions from doing that which is evil.

And finally the Shaykh, may Allah have mercy upon him, gives some advice on how to cope with anger. He says that, of course, the first thing we do is what the Prophet صلىالله عليه وسلم instructed us to do and that is seek refuge with Allah from Shaytaan…

‘For what is igniting the passions within the heart is from Shaytaan so when man becomes angry he should hold himself back and be patient and seek refuge in Allah from Shaytaan. He should then make wudoo’, for the wudoo’ can extinguish the anger. If he is standing, he should sit, if he is sitting he should lie down. He should also leave the place that he is in until his anger subsides and then he can return after that – and with Allah is the success.’ [Sharh Riyadus-Saaliheen]

And as a final note, in times of stress as well as tranquility, we should always busy ourselves with the remembrance of Allah, as well as reciting and pondering His book. In this way, it is difficult for Shaytaan to assault those who remember Allah much. And the tawfeeq (success) is indeed with Allah, the All-Powerful.