EMOTIONS PLAY A vital role in human life. Beneficial emotions –like love, patience, compassion, gentleness– help man live peaceably. Conversely, harmful emotions, such as jealousy, arrogance, anger, despair, robs one of peace of mind. Islam promotes beneficial emotions and demotes harmful emotions. Islam teaches us how to deal with different types of emotions.
If you have all the resources to live a peaceful and happy life, and yet you harbor harmful emotions, you can’t live peaceably and happily. Besides, whoever entertains harmful emotions, habitually and in the extreme, loses a lot of khayr (good things) and experiences a lot of suffering. To live peacefully, one is wise to deactivate one’s harmful emotions and activate beneficial ones.
Anger is one of the harmful emotions. Anger brings many evils with it. In anger, man uses abusive language, fights about unnecessary things and breaks relationships. In anger, man becomes ungrateful, arrogant and prone to retaliation. In extreme anger, man abuses even God. In anger, man inevitably takes wrong decisions, displays wrong attitudes and follows wrong paths. In short, man unsurprisingly does wrong in anger for which he later needs to repent. Accordingly, one must control anger to the extent that it should not affect his life.
Abû Hurairah narrated that a man said to the Prophet ﷺ, “Advise me.” The Prophet ﷺ said, Don’t get angry. The man said (the same) again and again. Each time the Prophet ﷺ said, Don’t get angry. (Bukhari, The Book of Etiquettes, Hadith No. 6116)
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Abû Bakrah wrote to his son, “Don’t judge between two persons when you are angry, because I heard the Prophet ﷺ saying, A judge should not judge between two persons when he is angry. (Bukhâri, The Book of Judgments, Hadith No. 7158)
Abû Hurairah narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said, The strong man is not the one who overcomes people by his strength. The strong man is the one who controls himself while in anger. (Bukhâri, The Book of Etiquettes, Hadith No. 6114)
Curbing Anger: The Prophetic Way
Sulayman ibn Surad said, “Two men abused each other in front of the Prophet ﷺ while we were sitting with him. One of them abused his companion and his face became red. The Prophet ﷺ said, I know a word, which if he says it, his anger will go away from him. (The word is) ‘I seek refuge with Allah from Satan, the outcast.’” (Bukhâri, the Book of Etiquettes, Hadîth No. 6115)
To curb anger, one should recite, Aʿûdhu b-illâhi min al-shaytâni al-rajîm, repeatedly at the time of anger. This will calm him down.
Abû Dharr narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, If one of you gets angry while standing, he should sit down. If the anger goes away, that’s good; otherwise he should lie down. (Abû Dâwûd, the Book of Etiquettes, Hadîth No. 4782)
Another way to control your actions is that you should say or do nothing at the time of anger.
ʿAbdullâh ibn ʿAmr narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said, The one who has stayed silent is saved [from wrongdoing and thus from bad consequences].” (Tirmidhi, Hadîth No. 2501)
Anas ibn Mâlik said, The Prophet ﷺ never used to say any shameless words, and neither did he curse, or abuse. When he would get angry, he would say merely, What is wrong with him? May dust be on his forehead! (Bukhâri, the Book of Etiquettes, Hadîth No. 6046)
Psychological Treatment for Anger
Emotions are generated by our thoughts. The types of thoughts we feed and cherish in our minds come to the surface in our behavior. Thus, to switch off harmful emotions and to switch on beneficial emotions, we need to analyze and make changes in our thought patterns.
First, let’s look at why man gets angry. One gets angry when something does not happen according to his wish or desire, when something goes wrong, when someone does not talk or behave with him according to his wish or desire, when someone fails to do something according to his wish or desire, when he finds himself weak or deprived, when his basic needs are not met, when he experiences injustice, torture, mischief, mockery, or when something is snatched from him, etc.
To relax oneself, one needs to feed and harbor the following thoughts in one’s mind. Address yourself with the following words at the time of anger:
- Relax, Relax, Relax.
- This world does not run according to my wishes or desires. It runs according to the Will of Allah. We are Allah’s slaves and we have no option but to accept His decision and to obey Him.
- Anger is not a solution to any problem. If I deal angrily with an unwanted situation, the situation may get worse. Therefore, have patience, be relaxed and try to find a solution to the problem.
- Remember, whatever is said and done in anger, later it becomes a cause for remorse and the need for repentance, as well as a cause for losing khayr (good things) and a cause of suffering.
- Remember, whatever is said and done in anger may displease Allah and thus destroy our lives and our hereafter. So, be silent.
- Be Silent, Be Silent, Be Silent.
If you have memorized these thoughts and recall them at the time of need, inshâ’Allâh, you can control your anger.
Within our homes, often estrangement and enmity take place between husband and wife, parents and children, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law just because of anger. To avoid this, one should stay silent when one’s family member is saying something in anger. We don’t become great if we react angrily or silence an addressee.
Those who spend [in Allah’s Cause – deeds of charity, alms, etc.], both in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves al-muhsinin (the good-doers). [Sûrat Âl ʿImrân, 3:134]
Here Allah indicates that silencing our anger and pardoning those who anger us puts us in the category of those who do good!
The above reminders are ways through which you can, inshâ’Allâh, minimize your anger, but you also need to take steps to avoid the situations which make you angry. The following are a few do’s and don’ts:
- Don’t interfere in others’ affairs. When you meddle in matters that do not concern you, people may resent it and react negatively, which can trigger anger in you.
- Don’t make any bad comment about others. Speak only good words, sympathetically.
- Be calm and gentle.
- Accept your mistakes immediately. Every person errs, but the mindful muttaqi’ is the one who accepts his mistakes immediately and corrects them.
- Forgive and forget others’ mistakes immediately. Just as we make mistakes, so do others. If we expect Allah to forgive our sins, then we should learn to forgive others’ mistakes. If you do so, you will get a reward: you will be saved from unnecessary frustration and anger.
- Learn to deal with difficult people and difficult situations. Try to make the situation better. Always try to solve the problem; don’t allow your reaction to make the situation worse with your talk or misbehavior.
- Keep yourself away from difficult people as much as possible, but don’t break off relationships with them — as this is not allowed in Islam. Challenging people may always create problems, no matter how well you behave with them.
- Learn how to talk and how to behave with normal people. Sometimes even normal people may talk or behave in a way that irritates you.
- Be realistic. Accept the realities of life and learn to deal with them effectively. Don’t count on anything from anybody. Don’t keep up too many and lofty expectations.
Anger can make or break you. It is up to you as to whether you curb your anger and make your life sweet, or give it a free pass and suffer from it. Which will you choose?