Anger Management: An Islamic perspective

I would like to talk about one of the diseases of the heart, which is anger. Many people are unable to control themselves and end up arguing all the times and often the ones that they love – their parents, their brothers, their sisters, their husbands or wives.   Today, I will discuss some reasons that people become angry and ways from the Qur’an and Sunnah to overcome this anger and control yourself.

Allah created human beings with the capacity to feel anger.  Allah says in the Qur’an: “And when your Lord said to the angles, “I am creating successors on the earth.” They said, “Will You create on it those who will spread corruption and spill blood, although we celebrate Your praise and extol Your Holiness?” He said,” I know what you do not know.” (Qur’an 2:30)

Allah also says in the Holy Qur’an:  “For Man was created weak.” (Qur’an 4:28)
Anger by itself is not unnatural; it is the wrong expressions of anger that can lead to problems.   Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) gave us the medicine for that when he said:
“Shake hands and rancor will disappear. Give gifts to each other and love each other and enmity will disappear”.

Also Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said:  “A strong person is not the person who throws his adversaries to the ground. A strong person is the one who contains himself when he is angry”.

Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) learned to control his anger toward the Unbelievers.  The best example of this was when the Prophet (saw) went to a place called Ta’if. This was at the time when the followers of Islam were at their weakest and the Prophet himself had suffered the loss of both his wife Khadijah (May Allah be pleased with her) and his uncle Abu Talib. He went to this town in the hope that they would listen to what he had to say. Instead he was insulted and chased out of the town by the children who threw stones at him till (it was described) the blood flowed from his body to his feet making his sandals sticky with his own blood.

Allah (SW) sent down the Angel of the mountains who asked for the Prophet’s permission to fold the mountains together and crush to death all those that lived there.   His answer was “No, I hope Allah will bring from them people who will worship Allah alone, associating none with Him.”  The Prophet had the discipline and control to not let his emotions control his actions and he forgave them.

One companion asked Prophet Muhammad, “What will save me from the wrath of Allah?” and the Prophet said, “Do not express your anger.”  Another person asked three times, “0 Messenger of Allah, give me an order to do a short good deed,” and the Prophet said, ‘Don’t be angry.’ Once he asked a question of his companions, “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.

One of the best examples of controlling one’s anger is an event in the life of Caliph Ali.  He was once fighting in a war imposed on Muslims, and the chief of the Unbelievers confronted him. During the fight, Ali was able to overcome the chief, who fell down on the ground.  Ali was about to kill him when this person, realizing his fate, spit on 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; how come you didn’t use your sword?” Ali said, “I have no personal animosity toward you. I was fighting you because of your disbelief, on behalf of Allah.  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 became a Muslim immediately and testified that ‘There is no god but Allah, and Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is the Messenger of Allah’.

How can we control our anger?  When Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) 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; sweat would appear on his forehead; and he would keep quiet for a moment, trying to control himself. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) advised us that when one is angry, one should try to change his body position. Meaning, if you’re standing up, sit down, and if you’re sitting down stand up. If this doesn’t work, then go and wash and get prepared for salaat.

The first attribute of Allah (SW) that we Muslims are reminded of is Ar Rahman-Ar Rahim, or the Most Compassionate and the Most Merciful.  Allah (SW) Himself said, my mercy overtakes my wrath, and He told us in one of the Hadith Qudsi, “O son of Adam, when you get angry, remember Me.”  Thus, remembrance of Allah (SW) through meditation and salaat will put us on the right track. We pray to Allah (SW) to make us of the merciful and not the angry people.  Ameen.

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